MMA Fighting Styles Explained: With the 7 most effective styles!

MMA Fighting Styles Explained
Two MMA Fighters Training

MMA, or mixed martial arts, is one of the most competitive fighting competitions in the world. With competitions like the UFC giving people international recognition and paying large sums of money, it is no wonder many people want to get into MMA.

However picking the right fighting style can be daunting, but this MMA fighting styles article should help you better understand your choices.

But what is the best MMA fighting style? When it comes to starting your MMA journey, choosing the right fighting style is one of the first things you need to do. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is one of the most popular in the modern era. It is often used as a base fighting, which would be combined with other supplementary styles.

While this one might be the most popular, there are hundreds of other fighting styles that we often see on the MMA circuit.

To give you a better idea and some insight into these various fighting styles, we have broken them down and will look at some of these styles, which could help you become a better and more rounded fighter.

You might also enjoy reading: 6 Different Types of Karate (Which one should you pick!)

Most Popular MMA Fighting Styles

To help you get started, we will look at some of the most popular fighting styles that many people use in the MMA arena. These are made popular by numerous world champions, and they are renowned for delivering a couple of world champions.

If you are to get started, you would probably want to pick one of these styles:

1- Karate

Karate is one of the most popular fighting styles in the world and comes from the small country of Japan. Karate became increasingly popular during older 60s and 70s due to older Japanese films, and many people take it up from a very young age. The sport is also heavily featured at the Olympic games.

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is by far one of the most successful fighters to utilize karate as a base fighting style. Additionally, Conor McGregor is also renowned for his karate stance when fighting.

However, McGregor does not use the traditional kicks that we would often see in many karate competitions. 

Check out the video below to learn more about the pros and cons of practicing karate.

2- Muay Thai

Muay Thai is one of the most popular fighting styles, and it is believed to have originated in Thailand. The sport is so popular in the country that it is often celebrated in the same way as Americans would celebrate football.

Muay Thai forces the fighter to make use of all their limbs, and the fighting style focuses on kicking, punching, and hitting with the knees or elbows.

One of the most prominent fighters who used Muay Thai was Edson Barboza. However, he heavily focused on the use of Muay Thai for fighting, which often left him vulnerable to the grappler.

He often struggled against wrestlers. Due to this fact, it is often important that fighters have more than one fighting style in their arsenal.

If you are interested in Muay Thai, I wrote a whole article comparing Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai; how do they differ, and which one should you choose?

Watch the video below to see how MMA fighters use Muay Thai.

3- Boxing

Boxing is by far one of the most aggressive and popular sports in the world. Many people learn boxing from a young age, and the sport has become extremely popular.

Since the days of Muhammad Ali, many people have fallen in love with boxing as a sport. It is also one of the most celebrated fighting styles in the world.

Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal are two of the most prominent boxers on the MMA circuit, and due to the techniques developed through boxing, these fighters can easily defend themselves.

One of the downsides of boxing is that kicking is not part of the training, and this is often where many of the fighters who only do boxing have a weakness.

You might also enjoy reading: Top 11 Benefits of Shadow Boxing (It’s your time to get started!)

4- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become increasingly popular in recent years, and the submission or grappling style of the discipline has given many fighters an edge when going to the ground.

The main principle of BJJ is that no matter how small you are, you can use your opponent’s weight against them, which will help with takedowns specifically.

Demian Maia is probably one of the most successful UFC fighters who habitually beat opponents with the use of BJJ. Fighters like Brock Lesnar, who has an amateur wrestling background, have adapted to BJJ quite well. This has led to him winning numerous championships.

One of the best things about BJJ is that you will learn plenty of life lessons on your journey to the purple belt. Check out our comparison of BJJ vs. Jiu-Jitsu!

Check out the video below to learn more about BJJ.

5- Wrestling

Wrestling is often considered one of the weaker fighting styles by many fighters. However, it is also the most used fighting style.

If you cannot keep the distance between yourself and your opponent, you are bound to lock horns and grapple. The important thing is that you understand what you must do when grappling.

Daniel Cormier is one of the most prolific wrestlers on the MMA scene and has made a habit of beating his opponents with the use of wrestling moves.

Wrestling is also one of the oldest fighting styles to be seen on the MMA circuit, and many fighters have to learn the basics. If you cannot wrestle in MMA, you are going to have a hard time at some point.

Watch the video below to learn to rules of wrestling and take your skills to the next level.

6- Judo

Another fighting style hailing from Japan is Judo. This is also one of the top base fighting styles, often used by smaller fighters to beat bigger ones. The main goal of Judo is to throw your opponent or take them down.

It is one of the most similar fighting styles to wrestling, and many wrestlers integrate this. By far, the most complete Judo fighter in MMA has to be Ronda Rousey.

Even though she combines this with BJJ, she can take down larger opponents and use the weight of opponents against them. This has led to numerous victories for Ronda Rousey, and she quickly rose to prominence through these fighting styles.

If you are interested in Judo, I encourage you to read this article comparing Judo and Karate: How do they differ, and which one should you choose?

7- Kickboxing

Finally, we have to look at kickboxing as a fighting style, and this is one of the most aggressive fighting styles you can have. It focuses on the hands and feet and helps the fighter become faster and more agile on their feet. 

Andrson Silva and Alistair Overeem are two of the most popular names that often use kickboxing. However, most fighters would combine kickboxing with another fighting style due to their limited skills on the ground.

Adding something like Judo or even BJJ to the mix can make you a better-rounded fighter. Find out the differences between kickboxing and boxing!

Supplementary Fighting Styles You Should Know About

While these fighting styles are very popular, they are often combined with various other styles. Styles like Capoeira are not as popular, but they offer the fighter flexibility and can often help them to improve their fighting positions. Here are some of the most popular supplementary fighting styles we see in MMA.

  • Capoeira: Capoeira combines dance and rhythm and often involves plenty of speed for the fighter. It is not an aggressive fighting style but would greatly improve movement and agility.
  • Taekwondo: Taekwondo is by no means an aggressive fighting style and is often used for self-defense. Many MMA fighters supplement their fighting styles with the use of additional Taekwondo.
  • Traditional Jujitsu: Many fighters also add traditional Jujitsu to their fighting styles, bringing another element of discipline and defense. Using this would also help the fight be more cognizant of their surroundings.

This is only a handful of the different fighting styles you will encounter on the UFC scene. Numerous others can also be infused with the main 7 fighting styles. However, it is recommended that you have one attacking style and one that could help you with defense to ensure versatility.

Which Fighting Style Is The Best?

It is hard to directly say that one fighting style is better than the other, and there are various factors to remember when making such a distinction. However, wrestling is the oldest and most popular fighting style because it is the first style many people choose to use.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is another impressive fighting style you will see as the second most successful. These submission fighting styles are perfect for those fighting on the ground and allow the fighter to make their opponents tap out.

Nowadays, BJJ is the most popular base fighting style for many fighters to use. 

Wrapping Up

MMA fighting styles can be diverse, and the main goal is to have a fighting style that will successfully allow you to beat your opponent.

MMA fighting styles can vary depending on the fighter and the situation. It is often best to choose one aggressive fighting style and one defensive fighting style to ensure you have everything covered.

Let us know which is the best for you in the comment section.


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