Is Muay Thai Effective in MMA?

Muay Thai is one of the most popular martial arts ever, and it’s used by a lot of fighters of all types. But is Muay Thai effective in MMA?

Muay Thai is effective in MMA as it equips fighters with the ability to leverage several parts of their bodies as weapons, including knees, shins, fists, feet, and elbows. It also builds incredible core strength, which helps MMA fighters endure multi-round fights.

It’s arguably one of the most effective striking arts ever.

But there’s a lot more to know. In this article, we’ll explore why Muay Thai is so effective in MMA and how many MMA fighters know Muay Thai. But we’ll also find out if Muay Thai is the best fighting style for MMA.

Let the fun begin.

Why is Muay Thai so effective in MMA?

Muay Thai is so effective in MMA because it takes the best techniques from boxing, kickboxing, and Jiu-Jitsu and offers fighters the use of their elbows, knees, fists, and shins to use as weapons. It is also deadly and fast.

Now in truth, it doesn’t use the ground techniques of Jiu-Jitsu. But it does utilize the clinch and some of the throws.

But compared to many martial arts, Muay Thai fighters have a lot more options to fight with than if they just knew Karate or something similar. The fighters have also been highly conditioned through a rigorous training regime.

MT is known as the “art of eight limbs”, and this opportunity of leveraging several different parts of the body to attack others is arguably the main reason for its effectiveness.

MMA is so demanding and intense that a few seconds could alter the game in the better fighter’s favor. At a critical moment, an adept MMA fighter who knows Muay Thai can swiftly unleash an unexpected elbow or knee.

And the fight could be over.

Some of the kicks in Muay Thai can be devastating, akin to being hit with a baseball bat. Take the roundhouse kick, for example. It’s executed in a manner that enables it to have maximum impact and is often trained on the ribs or slightly below.

There’s also a great use of clinches where a fighter can grab and control an opponent’s body at a close space as a way to strike them more effectively, and of course, hit them.

But is Muay Thai difficult to learn?

In a recent article, I explored how long it takes to learn and whether it’s something a beginner can learn. But I also shared how many moves Muay Thai has, including the 1 move that has won more MMA fights than any other.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How many MMA fighters know Muay Thai?

Almost all MMA fighters have trained at least a little bit in Muay Thai. But some of the most famous UFC fighters who use it include Anderson Silva, Valentina Shevchenko, and Donald Cerrone.

But here is a longer list of some additional MMA fighters that are renowned for their Muay Thai skills:

  • Jon Jones
  • Jose Aldo
  • Edson Barboza
  • Darren Till
  • Max Holloway
  • Paul Felder
  • Johnny Walker

Suppose you had to choose between kickboxing and MT, which one’s better?

That’s what I considered in a recent article. In it, I shared info on whether Kickboxing and Muay Thai are the same, and whether Kickboxing is safer than MT.

But I also revealed whether Kickboxing is the best fighting style. In truth, they are similar, but there’s 1 brutal technique from Muay Thai that kickboxers don’t use.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is Muay Thai best for MMA?

Muay Thai is one of the best martial arts to know for MMA. However, because it lacks a grappling component, also knowing wrestling, BJJ, or Judo will be crucial to having a well-rounded set of skills to win in the octagon.

Truth be told, there is no style that can be described as the best for MMA. The best fighters employ a variety of styles. One moment they’re leveraging MT.

They’re kicking their opponent in a vulnerable part, and then, before one could say Jack Robinson, they’ve bent down to lift them off of the ground, and then take them down, to unleash a flurry of devastating punches on their face and neck.

But Muay Thai is one of the best styles that astounding MMA fighters employ as one of the cornerstones of their skills.

You’ve probably wondered if Muay Thai is bad for your shins.

Luckily, that’s what I explored in a recent article where I shared how long it takes to condition your shins for MT and whether MT is bad for your bones. But I also revealed how Muay Thai fighters condition their shins.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is Muay Thai effective in a street fight?

Muay Thai is effective in a street fight as there are no unnecessary choreographed routines or philosophies to learn. The primary goal is to eliminate the opponent quickly and efficiently with minimal harm to oneself.

It’s great for crushing your attackers because it’s the “art of the eight limbs”— you’re using several parts of your body as weapons. Your shin, elbows, knees, and hands become deadly weapons after you’ve learned MT.

The goal is to use them to crush your opponent and to do it fast. So, you’re being trained to quickly defeat an attacker or a group of attackers.

The striking techniques in MT are deadly because they’re meant to be delivered with immense strength and swiftness. They are designed to knock out an assailant!

Consider that flying knee kicks to the head or devastating roundhouse kicks to the kidney are all fair game in MT.

It’s lethal! 

Unless your assailant is a superb, trained fighter, it’s accurate to say that with Muay Thai, you’ll have them on the ground in a few minutes. And they won’t know what hit them.

Another reason Muay Thai is good for self-defense is that you’re trained to fight multiple attackers from the get-go. It’s an integral part of the training. And you’ll agree with me that a lot of street fights can be just like that — you have to contend with multiple attackers.

You’re also trained on how to gauge distance so that you deliver the deadliest blows and kicks. Don’t forget that if you sense that you’re outnumbered, the best strategy is to flee.

But can MT cause brain damage? 

This and similar questions are what I addressed in a recent article. In it, I shared why MT is dangerous and whether Muay Thai fighters get CTE. But I also shared whether it’s safer than boxing, which, of course, is known for concussions.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Should I learn Krav Maga or Muay Thai?

Muay Thai is the best martial art to learn for core strength, endurance, or training to fight in UFC matches. By comparison, however, Krav Maga is better if the primary goal is self-defense.

Muay Thai, as we’ve seen, is one of the most effective martial art forms employed in the UFC.

A considerable chunk of some of the most accomplished MMA fighters know it. It’s also great for self-defense. But, if what you’re seeking is a combat system you can rely on outside the Octagon, nothing is better than Krav Maga, seeing as self-defense is what it was specifically designed for.

It equips practitioners with the skills to quickly subdue or incapacitate an assailant without incurring any harm themselves.

It’s formidable because there are no holds barred in it.

As such, there are no rules. Krav Maga experts are like sponges; they absorb the best techniques from many arts and focus on applying them to the most vulnerable parts of an assailant’s body.

In the heat of action, a Krav Maga expert won’t think twice about gouging an opponent’s eyes or kicking them in the groin!

KM is not about the alluring, dance-like moves movies feed us about combat. It can be coarse and gruesome because the goal is to stay unharmed and alive — by any means necessary.

Say you opted for Muay Thai; can you get cauliflower from it?

This is what I explored in a recent article of mine. I shared how you get cauliflower ear and whether you can practice MT without getting it. But I also revealed whether using a headgear stops cauliflower ear.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Muay Thai Fighters vs MMA Fighters: 3 Unbelievable Matches


In the article, we explored why Muay Thai is so effective in MMA especially compared to kickboxing, and how many MMA fighters know Muay Thai.

But we also found out if Muay Thai is the best fighting style for MMA.

Then, we considered whether it’s effective in street fights. Lastly, we wrapped things up by considering whether to learn Krav Maga or Muay Thai.

Image by Christopher Chiu from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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