MMA Vs Muay Thai: Which Is Better For You?

What Is MMA

MMA incorporates techniques from various arts around the world such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), Boxing, and many others. The first mixed martial arts competition was held in 1993. MMA is also referred to as cage fighting or ultimate fighting in some countries. In the early 20th century, different countries such as Japan and Brazil held various contests in which fighters from different styles fought with little or no rules. CV Productions, Inc. created the first regulated MMA league in the United States. The league was named “The Tough Guy Contest” and later renamed “Battle of the Superfighters.” With time, individual fighters incorporated multiple martial arts into their styles. This led to the adoption of different rules by MMA promoters to ensure competitors’ safety.

What is Muay Thai

In Muay Thai, the fighters use eight points of contact, which involve incorporating fists, feet, knees, shins, and elbows in a fight. The art was used to train soldiers in hand-to-hand combat and as a sport during some festivals. Kicks are delivered by using the flexor and extensor muscles of the legs or hip and knee joints. In the late 20th to 21st century, Muay Thai spread internationally. Practitioners from Thailand started competing in kickboxing and mixed-rules matches around the world.

MMA Vs Muay Thai – Which is Better For You?

MMA is way better than Muay Thai. Specifically, MMA is more effective for fighting as it involves striking, grappling and ground fighting. Whereas, Muay Thai only focusing on striking.

If you are interested in fighting, you might have to consider MMA because of the following aspects:

It is a Good Way of Relieving Stress

Sports and exercises are effective ways of relieving stress. Hitting something and releasing aggression leads to more stress being relieved. MMA training is a fun physical workout that will help you relieve stress and teach you many useful techniques.

It Teaches You Respect and Discipline

MMA training helps you realize the importance of life and never take things for granted. MMA training sessions also teach you how to protect yourself and care for your body. The training also guides you on how to resolve conflicts without fighting physically. MMA training also helps learn how to respect every martial art instead of comparing them.

It Builds Your Competitive Spirit

The MMA sport was founded on the basis of competition. As a result, MMA training helps you develop a competitive spirit and urge to win. Developing this mindset will enable you to overcome the challenges you face in life.

It is Effectively Realistic

Most martial arts are effective but don’t simulate all the possibilities of a fight in a real-life situation. MMA training develops techniques that are useful in real life. Striking and grappling techniques will help you when you get attacked in the streets.

It is an Excellent Full-Body Workout

MMA training is a unique workout process that includes various routines found in various martial arts. Many of the routines involve both aerobic and anaerobic workouts. A typical training session will engage every part of your body, helping you burn excess calories.

It can be Practiced by Anyone

Mixed martial arts is suitable for anyone regardless of age, size, or gender. MMA training is easily accessible at gyms near you. Rich Franklin, a former UFC Middleweight Champion, was a high school teacher before venturing into professional fighting. He is proof that MMA is a great sport for anyone who has a competitive personality.

It is Perfect for Strength and Conditioning

MMA requires its practitioners to be physically fit and strong. MMA will help you build your flexibility, balance, and coordination. It will also increase your strength, cardiovascular performance, and endurance. This will enable you to use movement-correct techniques to prevent injuries.

MMA Vs Muay Thai: The Differences Explained

Muay Thai and MMA differ in many ways.

In Short, Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a combat sport that involves strikes, grappling, and ground fighting. Muay Thai uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques.

In further detail, the main differences include:


The range in both sports is completely different. In Muay Thai, a fighter stands up to exchange blows with the opponent. The fighter doesn’t back away from the fight and rather stays trading punches, elbows, knees, and kicks.

In MMA, the fighter looks to attack and defend while avoiding damage. The fighter is always looking to create distance with strikes that are thrown with enough power to knock out their opponents. MMA fighters are allowed to jump in and out of the fight according to the situation and are always looking for a takedown.

The Main Weaponry

The kick is the fundamental weapon for a Muay Thai fighter, and it is considered a long-range weapon in the sport. Muay Thai fighters with longer legs and quicker leg rotations throw kicks faster.

In mixed martial arts, there isn’t any main attack weapon. This is because a fighter can take out an opponent using different ways. The fighter can make the opponent tap out using several submission moves available or knock them out using a single punch.

Gloves Used

In MMA, open-fingered gloves are used. This makes it easy for fighters to make grappling and submission moves on their opponents.

The gloves used in Muay Thai sports are completely different. They are similar to boxing gloves with much paddling on the front to protect the fighter from deadly kicks and punches.

Rules and Regulations


The rules used in MMA are many since it comprises several martial arts techniques. Fighters compete in the steel cages and display their grappling and striking skills. Some of the rules and regulations that should be adhered to in MMA fights include:

• Matches can end via knockout, submission, disqualification, and decision.

• Fighters cannot headbutt, attack the groin area, eyes, and the back of the head.

• Fighters are not allowed to push opponents out of the ring intentionally.

• Fighters are to wear the 4-oz open-fingered gloves and boxing shorts.

• Three judges should be sitting beside the cage, taking scores using the scoring machine from boxing.

• Fighters must wear the groin protection cup.

On the other hand, Muay Thai rules are few and straightforward.

Muay Thai:

Some of the rules and regulations that need to be observed in Muay Thai matches include:

• Matches can end via knockout, decision, or disqualification.

• No strikes are allowed on the groin or the leg joints.

• Clinching is allowed as long as one fighter is active within the clinch.

• Once the bout begins, fighters can attempt to win the match by utilizing their feet, fists, elbows, knees, and shins to defeat their opponent.

Techniques Used

MMA is a more complex sport than Muay Thai since it involves grappling, striking, and ground fighting techniques mixed into one fighting style.


Some of the famous techniques used by MMA fighters include:


This is a stand-up technique used mostly to defend against takedowns. Fighters use this technique to keep standing and avoid takedowns.


In this technique, the fighter uses the clinch-hold to prevent the opponent from getting enough distance outside the striking range. The fighter keeps striking with punches, knee strikes, elbow strikes, and stomps to take down the opponent.

Score-Oriented Fighting:

This is a technique used by fighters with strong wrestling backgrounds when facing skilled stand-up opponents. Fighters using this technique take down their opponents to score. Fighters land clear strikes and try to control the octagon. For a fighter to win, they should master defense techniques to avoid being taken down.


In this technique, the fighter takes down their opponent and tries to get them into a submission hold until the opponent yields. Submissions are important in many disciplines such as Judo, Sambo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


In this technique, the opponent is taken down to the ground with a throw. The fighter gets on top of the opponent and, with a grappling position, strikes them with fists, elbows, and hammer fists.

Muay Thai:

On the other hand, Muay Thai techniques are simple and easy to understand. Fighters use their limbs as weapons to strike opponents. Some of the techniques used by Muay Thai fighters include:

Elbow Strikes:

Elbow strikes include the elbow slash, uppercut elbow, horizontal elbow, and the spinning back elbow. Elbow strikes are effective in close-range attacks. Fighters use this technique to block the opponent’s vision by cutting their eyebrows. The elbow slash effectively delivers a knockout by hitting the opponent’s chin.

Punching Techniques:

Punching techniques include jabs, the superman punch, uppercuts, swings, and the shovel hook. In the past, Muay Thai punches were limited to straight jabs and circular punches. However, this has changed with the globalization of Thai boxing.

Knee Strikes:

Muay Thai knee techniques are one of the most powerful strikes in martial arts. The flying knee strike is powerful and is used to weigh down opponents in a clinch.

Muay Thai Kicks:

Powerful kicks play a major role in Muay Thai performances. Types of the kicks you should know as a good Muay Thai fighter include:

Push kick:

This technique is basically a long-range straight foot thrust. It is also known as the teep kick. The fighter uses this kick to target the opponent’s hips, abs, solar plexus, and face. This kick helps set up an attack and keep the opponent at a distance.

Jumping Kick:

This technique requires the fighter to jump while aiming the kick. This is an impressive move when performed right. This kick takes time to learn, but it is effective when mastered. The power generated during the kick is high, making it one of the strongest Muay Thai techniques.

Straight Foot Jab:

This technique helps the fighter counter their opponent’s attack and throw them off balance. It is aimed at the mid-section of the opponent. This helps the fighter prevent their opponent from moving in on them.

Low Kick:

This technique targets the sciatic nerve, which is the body’s longest and widest nerve. This nerve starts at the lower back and continues through the thighs and legs to the feet. The fighter targets the opponent’s lower leg and thighs repeatedly. This damages the opponent’s muscles, bones, and ligaments resulting in decreased mobility. This technique is effective in breaking the opponent’s will to fight. As a fighter, you should remember to protect your body and head from counterattacks while performing this kick. The kick is executed perfectly when a fighter places their leg ahead of their body.

Switch Kick:

This variation of the roundhouse requires fighters to switch their stance quickly. The switch kick technique misleads the opponent with good, clever footwork and great timing. The switch kick technique can be used for a wide range of attacks. The fighter is supposed to remember not to jump on both legs when changing their stance. The fighter should alternatively take a couple of quick steps to perform this kick perfectly. Placing the lead leg back and bringing the back leg forward ensures the fighter remains grounded and maintains their balance while moving quickly.

Learning Experience

MMA: is a complex sport that takes a lot of time to master. It is not an easy sport to learn because it requires a lot of discipline, dedication, and focus. Fighters need to train in at least three martial arts techniques to be good in MMA. Beginners have to train more than twice a day. MMA training is an interesting process because each session involves different concepts.

Muay Thai: focuses mostly on striking, which may take a short time to learn. The fighter learns how to use their hands as weapons. The techniques taught in training are straightforward, and students have an easy time picking on the basics.

MMA or Muay Thai for Self-Defense

MMA works better in self-defense. This is because it is versatile and trains you to use techniques you learn from Muay Thai. It also adds grappling and ground fighting techniques to it. Students learn how to be calm in stressful situations, which helps them a lot when it comes to self-defense. Being calm and collected in an attack allows one to develop the best technique to deal with the situation. MMA techniques also help one be confident in their ability to defend themselves.

Muay Thai is a better choice for striking in self-defense. Fists, elbows, knees, and shins can deliver powerful strikes which subdue attackers quickly and effectively. Gaining the mastery of Muay Thai’s techniques enables one to string together complex striking combinations that are difficult to defend against. Muay Thai’s striking techniques are also fast and explosive. The strikes deliver stunning knockout blows and end the attack faster. Developing speed and powerful strikes will leave attackers with little chances of defense.

Muay Thai techniques give you the ability to defend yourself against multiple attackers. Crafty footwork, sound defensive tactics, and explosive offense are some of the techniques used in these situations. These Muay Thai techniques will help you gauge the distance and fight from range.

MMA Vs Muay Thai in a Street Fight

MMA fighters have a higher chance of winning a street fight than Muay Thai fighters. This is because MMA fighters have more weapons at their disposal. A conventional Muay Thai fighter will struggle out in the streets because their skills are highly limited. Muay Thai fighters are masters at fighting on their feet and will easily knockout MMA fighters if the fight stays in one place.

In an unconventional fight setting such as the streets, skilled MMA fighters will easily defend and counter against techniques used by Muay Thai opponents. MMA fighters have the knowledge of striking and grappling, which gives them an upper hand in a street fight. The MMA fighter can use their hands to grapple and beat their opponent down to subdue them.

Muay Thai techniques revolve mostly around striking. As a result, fighters might struggle in dealing with takedowns. MMA fighters will use this opportunity to their advantage, thus increasing their chances of winning in a street fight. Many successful MMA fighters have had to put much effort into developing their grappling techniques.

Why Muay Thai is Effective in MMA

Muay Thai is very effective in MMA and is seen as the best striking art for MMA. Successful cage fighters have incorporated Muay Thai techniques and strategies into their game. This is due to encounters with opponents using other martial arts techniques. Muay Thai is effective in MMA due to the following reasons:

Muay Thai Kicks Are Crucial for MMA

Muay Thai puts emphasis on fast and powerful kicks, which are crucial for MMA. Legs have become one of the best weapons in MMA, and most fighters are using them to defeat their opponents. The famous roundhouse kicks can lead to serious damage in a fight. A fighter needs to execute these kicks perfectly, and their opponent will have no chance of winning the fight.

Muay Thai Plays a Key Role in the Clinch Battle

The clinch technique is very important in MMA, and Muay Thai fighters are experts in this skill. MMA fighters are subjected to a clinch against the fence. This position is suitable for fighters who can change their levels for a single or double-leg takedown. The position also favors fighters who can do damage to their opponents with their elbows and knees. These fighters tend to imitate the famous “Thai clinch.”

There are several ways of inflicting injuries on an opponent when using the clinch technique. The key is to control the opponent’s neck and head, forcing them into a broken posture. From this position, the fighters can use their knees to cause damage to the opponent. Short punches and vicious elbows strikes are suitable at a close distance. Elbow strikes are brutal and can cause deep cuts and severe bleeding. Muay Thai’s emphasis on aggression and damage makes it suitable for MMA fights. Fighters are driven by the motive of knocking the opponent out cold with every strike.

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