Kickboxing vs. MMA: (Difference Between Them and Muay Thai)

kickboxing vs mma lg

Both kickboxing and MMA are highly popular, super-effective, lethal sports. They’re similar because kickboxing is often part of what MMA fighters learn. So, which is better: Kickboxing vs. MMA?

MMA is better for those with the goal of competing professionally. It is also a more well-rounded art, whereas kickboxing is great for fitness but does have some self-defense applications.

MMA (mixed martial arts) has an edge over kickboxing because, as its name implies, it’s a mix of a couple of martial arts, sometimes including kickboxing.

But many MMA fighters also know Muay Thai and kickboxing.

So, one could argue that kickboxing, too, is a combo of punching and kicking. But, MMA is a richer package, especially as Kickboxing is almost always a part of MMA.

Let’s dig in a bit deeper…

Is kickboxing good for street fighting?

Kickboxing is good for street fighting because practitioners are taught highly effective ways to punch and kick. It is also great because of the element of surprise it involves, as opponents may not be expecting a powerful head kick.

A kickboxer could quickly change from that to unleashing a lethal kick, which could disorient the other party and give the kickboxer an edge. The average person is not great at kicking and punching.

Of course, they’re convinced they are.

A trained kickboxer, on the other hand, has been taught several ways to punch and kick in a precise manner. So, they’re not just attacking the other driven by aggression. They’re leveraging techniques. They know different ways to execute what many untrained folks would think of as a simple kick.

A roundhouse kick, for example, could knock someone out cold if it’s properly deployed.

But, truth be told, kickboxing, or any other martial art for that matter, may not be enough in all cases. If the other fighter in a street brawl is also a trained fighter and if they’re bigger and stronger, the kickboxer may have a hard time beating them.

Is MMA useful in a street fight?

MMA is incredibly useful in a street fight. Because it is a combination of several martial arts, MMA fighters are trained to punch, kick, grapple, throw, or flip and will be ready for almost any form of attack or against multiple attackers.

It is a rich arsenal of weapons.

A street fight is almost always a chaotic medley, and there are no rules. MMA is an incredibly close approximation. One could argue that a seasoned street fighter would be stunned if they ever went toe-to-toe with an MMA fighter.

MMA’s usefulness lies in the fact that it’s akin to a “one-stop” full-contact combat.

The fighter can strike, punch, take down, choke…their opponent. They have way too many ways to attack the other, and they’ve also been trained in how to defend themselves.

Even if the other fighter is trained and bigger, my money would be on the MMA fighter. They’re not only hyper-conditioned, but they’re also greatly skilled. In 2 or 3 “simple” moves, an MMA fighter could submit their opponent. So yeah, it’s super-useful in a street fight.

Why is Aikido not used in MMA?

In a recent article, I explained that Aikido’s philosophy is not aligned with what’s employed in MMA, where the goal is to win at all costs. Even if it means injuring the other party, it’s fighting for money. Aikido is against harming others.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is kickboxing effective in MMA?

Kickboxing is highly effective in MMA. The best MMA fighters have a solid grasp of both punching and kicking and kickboxing is one of the go-to sports used to dominate opponents as it blends the best of boxing and kicking. 

Some of the top champions in the UFC, such as Mirko Filipovic and Anderson Silva, leverage kickboxing a lot.

Kickboxers can kick almost any part of their opponent’s body, even from a distance, and they’re trained to be able to dodge shots and strikes from an opponent.

Watching Anderson Silva is one of the best ways to see how effective kickboxing techniques are. He’s swift, light on his feet, his reflexes are sharp, and his kicks are almost invincible.

But kickboxing is not enough since it lacks a grappling component, and this is vital to be a complete MMA fighter. So, many fighters complement this by learning BJJ and wrestling. That way, they can be well-rounded fighters that can take others down and submit them.

Karate or Kickboxing: which is better for self-defense?

In a recent article of mine, I explained why kickboxing is a better choice. It offers a lot more than karate because it’s a blend of Boxing, Karate, and Muay Thai. It takes the most effective moves in all three and blends them into a more powerful style.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What martial arts are most often used in MMA?

The martial arts that are most often used in MMA include wrestling, BJJ, boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, and Karate. Of these martial arts, wrestling is the one that has produced the most winners. 

It is probably because most of the other martial arts are stand-up arts and the fighters are not skilled in how to grapple and protect themselves against takedowns by wrestlers.

Wrestlers are also highly conditioned, and most have been training for almost a decade or more.

Interestingly, it’s another martial art close to wrestling that is the second producer of champions. It is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).

Like wrestling, it’s a grappling art. In addition to their several skills, BJJ fighters are awesome even when they’re on their back.

What many would shrink from is something they would take advantage of — they can submit an opponent even when they are pinned to the floor because they can attack almost any part of the body.

It’s interesting to note that UFC 1 was a contest that showcased fighters with boxing, kickboxing, Kempo, wrestling, BJJ, and sumo wrestling. Roy Gracie, an iconic BJJ fighter, was the winner by using a rear-naked choke.

In recent times, the following have also been highly featured in UFC fights: Judo, Karate, Kung Fu, and boxing. But, interestingly, wrestling and BJJ are still the dominant martial arts.

Is it easier to learn kickboxing or MMA?

It is easier to learn Kickboxing than MMA because the latter is a combination of several fighting styles. One would have to learn about 5 different fighting styles to “master” MMA, while kickboxing is just one style.

However, learning MMA is usually more rewarding, and it even involves kickboxing.

If you opt for MMA, you’d have to master the following, or at least be highly proficient in them. They include Muay Thai (Thai boxing), Kickboxing, Karate, Boxing, and BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu).

As you know, learning one martial art takes a lot of effort and time. So, to master a couple would be a demanding thing to do. Learning how to kickbox is no walk in the park, but it is incomparable to learning several fighting styles.

Why is it vital to learn martial arts in the first place?

You’ll learn invaluable self-defense skills. You’ll boost your confidence, build resilience and focus and improve strength, flexibility, coordination flexibility, and awareness. In a recent article, I went into details about how they can be achieved.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What are the key differences between MMA and kickboxing?

Bear in mind that MMA, as the name literally indicates, is a combination of multiple martial arts. Kickboxing, by comparison, has different styles. Some can be done purely for fitness, or it can be a combat sport; it all depends on where you are taking the class.

MMA is probably most often a mix of Judo or BJJ, Muay Thai, and traditional boxing. Of course, there are exceptions, and some UFC fighters such as Conor McGregor even know lesser-known arts like Capoeira. But we’ll focus on what I mentioned at the start.

But for comparison purposes, we’ll be looking at the more combat sports oriented version of kickboxing. Here are the moves the overlap between the two:

  • Roundhouse kick
  • High kicks
  • Low leg kick
  • Punches – jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts
  • Knee strikes

And here are some MMA moves that you won’t see in kickboxing:

  • Grappling
  • Throws
  • Takedowns
  • Leg sweeps
  • Submission holds

What’s the difference between American Kickboxing, Japanese Kickboxing, and Dutch Kickboxing?

Japanese kickboxing is a full-contact sport that combines different techniques from Muay Thai, Kyokushin Karate, and Boxing.

By comparison, Dutch Kickboxing focuses heavily on traditional boxing with just small amounts of Karate and Muay Thai.

American Kickboxing is a little more rules-heavy. For example, there are no elbow strikes allowed or kicks below the waist. The knees are also off-limits.

Japanese Kickboxers can clinch as wrestlers do, but that is also forbidden in American Kickboxing. Shin kicks, always allowed in Japanese Kickboxing is barred in certain segments of American Kickboxing depending on the association holding the match.

Is Kickboxing similar to Muay Thai?

Muay Thai fighters are also known as Thai boxers. They use traditional boxing techniques in conjunction with Kickboxing techniques to form the perfect self defense system.

So a Muay Thai fighter might kick, use an elbow strike, or a straight punch, all in close range waiting for the perfect opportunity to take out an opponent. It is a brutal form of stand-up fighting.

Kickboxing, on the other hand, especially American Kickboxing, is similar, but a lot more restrictive and limited in the movements and techniques.

What is the main difference between Boxing, Kickboxing, & MMA? | FightCamp


We looked at kickboxing and MMA to decide which one was better.

It depends on your aim. If you want to make a lot of money as a professional fighter, MMA is the way to go for many martial artists. We looked at why kickboxing is good for street fighting, and we also checked out MMA’s pros when it comes to street fighting and self-defense situations.

Then we considered whether kickboxing is effective in MMA, what martial arts are most often used in MMA, and which one it’s easier to learn kickboxing or MMA.

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