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For some people, combat sports is a way of life, and for others it's the thrill of the knockout, the thrill of the submission, or the thrill of the actual battle itself. Whether the combat is Mixed Martial Arts, or K-1 Kick Boxing, the thrill of watching different styles like modern kick boxing vs muay thai boxing, Jiu Jitsu athletes taking on boxing champions, or even the traditional boxing vs kick boxing fights.

What this article covers:

Most people would expect the UFC to be the most popular combat sports organisation in the world, especially with its reach to over 250 million viewers worldwide. One Championship has become the most prolific platform for both Mixed Martial Arts, and kick boxing fights, as their organisation boasts over 400 million viewers world wide. This is a tell tale sign that kick boxing has gained more popularity than most forms of combat in the world.

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kickboxing and mma compared

Mixed Martial Arts burst onto the scene in the 1990’s, and over the last thirty years the evolution of the art has seen a cohesion between all styles of Martial combat. Mixed Martial Arts does incorporate kick boxing into its arsenal, along with other forms of combat like Judo, Wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. A pure Mixed Martial Artist has a more all rounded style of combat, and this is because they need to be dynamic on their feet, lightning fast with their striking ability, capable of taking their opponent down to the mat, and still functional in evading an opponent's takedowns. A kick boxer can afford to be more aggressive, and this is because their opponent's cannot use takedown maneuvers. Instead they will be more evasive to counter strikes, and more attacking with their lead kicks. Both forms of combat are extremely effective, and on any given day each of these styles could defeat the other.


Kick boxing is the culmination of different styles of combat like Karate, Taekwondo, Boxing, and Kung Fu. This style of combat is seen as a hybrid version of Martial Arts, and even though the art is derived from many traditional Japanese, and Chinese forms of combat, the term kick boxing was only developed, and then established in the 1970's. In fact 1974 was the very first kick boxing world championship, which was held in Osaka, Japan, by the Professional Karate Association, or the PKA. This more modernised form of combat incorporates a highly dynamic series of kicking techniques, coupled with a technical focus of boxing fundamentals. Depending on which type of kick boxing an athlete will use, this can determine how successful they can be inside of the ring. 

American kick boxing only allows kicks above the waist, which means their footwork can be different, compared with an art form like Muay Thai, which allows brutal kicks to the thigh of their opponent. Muay Thai will also allow elbow strikes, and knee strikes, which makes athletes from this form of combat sports extremely brutal by nature. This is the same with Lethwei fighters, which was traditionally Burmese boxing, will allow their athletes to utilise the nine limb philosophy, which is where an athlete will use their fists, their feet, their elbows, their knees, and their head to strike their opponents. Whichever form of kick boxing an athlete will use, they have the ability to employ a range of high calibre kicks like the front kick, the side kick, the roundhouse kick, the spinning back kick, and many other extremely athletic kicks, along with other striking elements, like punching, and using the clinch to control an opponent.


Mixed Martial Arts has become one of the most popular forms of combat in the modern era. Since Royce Gracie first introduced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu into the inaugural UFC event, the rest of the combat world was put on notice. Athletes began realising how important it was to have a combination of different fighting styles, and so the Mixed Martial Artist was born. The perfect balance for athletes is to mix Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and some form of striking, whether that is Karate, Muay Thai, Boxing, or Kick Boxing. In Mixed Martial Arts, athletes will need to become proficient in striking, as well as executing takedowns, stifling takedowns, controlling an opponent, submitting an opponent, and combining all of these elements together is how an MMA athlete can build a comprehensive, and reputable game style.

In Mixed Martial Arts, an athlete has a wider range of weapons in their armory. The contest begins with two athletes on their feet, as they are allowed to use punches, kicks, knee strikes, elbow strikes, standing submissions, and takedowns. Dynamic Judo throws, or technical Wrestling takedowns can be administered from the standing position. Once the fight is taken down to the mat the athletes can employ ground and pound, which is elbows, and punches to the body, or the head of a grounded opponent, knee strikes are also permitted, but only to the body of a grounded opponent. Athletes can also utilise a range of different submission maneuvers, and incorporating all of these elements together makes an MMA athlete one of the most deadliest Martial Artists in the world of combat sports.


Training in the art of kick boxing requires an athlete to be extremely dedicated to their cause, to show consistency within their training, and to persevere through all of the adversity they may face during their learning process. An effective training method begins with an athlete's mentality, and this means to train with humility, which is the best way to be open to learning a systematic, and intense form of striking combat. Arrogance is something that has no place in combat sports, and athletes that show too much ego during training will often struggle learning even the most basic of striking concepts. Employing the right attitude is the only way to truly improve in such a complicated form of striking like kick boxing.

Get the FUNDAMENTALS OF FUNCTIONAL STRIKING from renowned combat coach Stephen Whittier and DynamicStriking.com!

the pros and cons of kickboxing and mma

Kick boxing training requires athletes to warm up before any full contact training. This is a crucial element for any combat athlete, as they need to warm up their bodily systems, including increasing their heart rate to pump blood into all areas of their body, and to deliver oxygen to all of their muscle systems. This is the most effective way an athlete can feel good, and maximise their efficiency throughout their training sessions. In kick boxing a warm up consists of jogging, or skipping to get the blood flowing, before engaging in more systematic exercises like switch punch extensions, multi directional lunges, raised shoulder extensions, and rotational arm and leg swings. Shadow boxing is another good warm up exercise that allows an athlete to warm up their systems considerably, as well as engage all of their core muscles. Not only is a shadow boxing workout a good warm up exercise, but it is also used for increasing an athlete's overall level of skill, form, and rhythm, without the added stress of high impact training. 

Moving into the bulk of a kick boxer's training regime involves these athletes utilising different striking equipment, like the focus mitts, the Thai pads, the kick shields, and the boxing bags. These elements are used to help an athlete train their accuracy of punches and kicks, the speed and power in how they deliver their strikes, and the cohesion between striking and evading, by using good footwork and form on the training pads. Although this can be dangerous, full contact sparring is always one of the best ways for an athlete to combine all of their training elements, and fight strategies into one systematic series of movements. Kick boxing is all about taking control in a fight, and using all of their weapons they have sharpened, to defeat their opponents.


Training in Mixed Martial Arts can be extremely grueling, and even more so than regular striking Martial Arts. It can be quite difficult for a Mixed Martial Artist to train in all of the components needed to become an all round fighter. Athletes will need to improve their overall striking ability, including attack formations, and defense strategies. They will also need to have a comprehensive control game by utilising different wrestling techniques, so they can use positional control to trap, and grind out an opponent. They must also be capable of taking their opponent down to the mat, and again Wrestling or Judo will help them to obtain this. Lastly their submission skills need to be on par, as they will need a systematic series of submission techniques in order to finish their opponents, but also to be able to defend, or escape from these difficult positions.

It can prove quite difficult to effectively train in Mixed Martial Arts, as an athlete will need a well balanced training schedule. This means to have enough time to develop their skills in striking, wrestling, submissions, and takedowns, all while still adding cardio based workouts, strength and conditioning exercises, and taking significant rest periods for both physical, and mental breaks. Mixed Martial Arts is an extremely tough sport, and all athletes that compete seriously can vouch for how grueling a fight camp for a professional fight is. All athletes must train consistently, and not sporadically. They must show continuity in their training regimes, so they can maximise their ability to increase all of their attributes needed for professional, and amateur fights inside of the ring, or the cage.

A good system for an MMA athlete would be to separate their intense strength and conditioning workouts, from their full contact sparring sessions. Athletes need rest days in between extremely grueling workouts, and even a rest day could be light sparring, technique, or mobility exercises. Understanding how their body works is imperative to being successful as an MMA athlete, and understanding how to increase their overall ability with a consistent balance is pivotal in improving in not just one aspect of Mixed Martial Arts, but all of the aspects combined. Inside of the ring or the cage, the most successful athletes are the most well rounded ones, and these are athletes that have proficient skills in Striking, Wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, and takedown techniques.


Self defense has become increasingly important in the modern era, especially for many people from all walks of life. The necessity to defend one's life, or possessions is increasing due to the high level of criminal activity, and from the abusive situations that people may find themselves in. When a civilian is looking at finding some form of Martial Art to use as a self defense method, they will often look to compare different types of combat. For example they may look at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu vs Muay Thai striking, Mixed Martial Arts vs Wrestling, or a kick boxer vs marine combat specialist. Developing hand to hand combat in a street application requires any person to have proficient skills in both offensive striking, defensive striking, takedown maneuvers, takedown defense, controlling and submitting an assailant, as well as a definitive level of cardiovascular ability. 

Even though kick boxing is a formidable style of combat, and may often win in a real life street application, if the fight is taken to the ground, which is a common occurrence in a street fight, then a kick boxer may be well out of their depth. On the other hand a Mixed Martial Artist has all the tools necessary to deal with a real life conflict scenario. This means they will have proficient skills in striking offense, striking defense, takedown offense, takedown defense, Wrestling to control an opponent, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to submit an opponent. Mixed Martial Arts is basically the evolution of early forms of pankration, which were seen utilised by ancient Greek, and ancient Indian forms of combat. Both kick boxing, and Mixed Martial Arts can be extremely effective in a self defense situation, but in terms of the more proficient one, Mixed Martial Arts has the clear advantage over a kick boxing athlete.


Like all forms of combat, working out who would win between two different types of Martial Artists will always come down to the individual skill, and the experience level of every athlete. It is easy to sit back and say a kick boxer could easily beat a Mixed Martial Artist, but there will always be a definitive difference between professional athletes, and amateur ones. Looking at both skill sets that each Martial Artists have, a kick boxer does have an aggressive nature of being capable of using high calibre striking systems that can prove extremely deadly to an opponent. A Mixed Martial Artist also has a formidable nature of being highly capable at striking, with the added bonus of being able to take an opponent down to the mat, and use a proficient series of grinding positional control, and a high calibre of submission artistry.

Get the FUNDAMENTALS OF FUNCTIONAL STRIKING from renowned combat coach Stephen Whittier and DynamicStriking.com!

mma vs kick boxing

Obviously on any given day each athlete can achieve the victory, as commonly seen in Mixed Martial Arts fights, kick boxers can win, but then again so can submission experts. It does not matter how long an athlete has trained for, or how hard they train, because at the end of the day all that matters is which athlete is better inside that moment, who can take control when the fight gets tough, and who has the bigger heart and will power to achieve success. This is the true nature behind how an athlete can secure the win. The fight game is a game of inches, and the athlete that has the most tenacity, resilience, and conditioning, in most cases will get the win. An MMA athlete will always hold an advantage over a pure kick boxer, and this is abundantly clear from the diverse range of techniques that a Mixed Martial Artist can use, compared to a kick boxer. Even though a kick boxer is more of a specialist in their striking component, an MMA athlete just has too many attributes for a kick boxer to handle, and this means that a Mixed Martial Artist will take the win against a kick boxer in most cases.

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