Boxing vs MMA – My 80/20 Theory

Boxing vs MMA – My 80/20 Theory

by Fran on August 15, 2017


This is my first ever MMA-related video in over 7 years of running my blog.

I am a boxing coach – I have no significant expertise in MMA.

I get asked lots about not just MMA, but also street-fighting.

Those things are not my specialism so I can only ever give theoretical responses and I always err on the side of caution.

I don’t want my misplaced advice, however well-intentioned, to get someone hurt.  I take this stuff seriously – I take your well-being seriously.

What I have done is talked some of my theories through with practicing MMA guys.

However, for me to truly know this stuff I would need to spend a couple of technical sessions per week with an MMA fighter and do that over a 6 to 8 week period to truly know and watch them execute it in the octagon.

I’ve never done this.

This being said, I do have a theory and it’s an 80/20 theory.

I reckon that 80% of what I could coach a fighter would get an MMA fighter hurt in their chosen sport.

But I also reckon that 20% of what I coach a fighter could give an MMA fighter a unique advantage in the octagon.

I want to talk very briefly through:

  • The similarities between the two codes – boxing and MMA
  • A couple of key differences
  • Then examine the key differentiator and why this is the key to applying boxing in the MMA environment.

The Key Similarities Between Boxing and MMA

  1. Both sets of competitors climb the steps in the first place – this means that I have massive respect for the combatants in both codes
  2. Tactics are of vital importance – pressure, southpaw/orthodox etc.
  3. Punches are used.

The Key Differences Between Boxing and MMA

  1. There are the obvious things – gloves, fight platform, round duration etc.
  2. Whilst punches are used in both a bunch of other stuff is used in MMA; grappling, clinching, kicks and groundwork.
  3. The Stance – my focus for this video

The Boxing Stance vs the MMA Stance

Boxing stance ‘fencing style’ – MMA (kickboxing) square

80% of detailed coaching in boxing involves mid and short range.  A boxer’s stance at mid/short range in MMA is an absolute liability.

So, the 20%.

Boxers do use the square stance, but generally not at long range.

Using a square stance at long range means that shot length and and mobility is impaired.

At close range the square stance can increase hooking and uppercut power.

The Key for the MMA Fighter

Manage a fight at long range – a boxer can retreat under control whilst throwing shots much more quickly than an attacker can advance under control and with less risk.

Know when to drop into your conventional MMA stance to avoid the takedown and deal with the horrors of close range MMA work (horrors to me anyway).

Key takeaways:

  1. At long range use the conventional boxers stance, phased attacks long range shots and controlling range.
  2. Change the stance at the right moment to the square model to deal with your conventional MMA tactics.

Love to hear your thoughts.



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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

steven king October 18, 2017 at 1:44 am

found all comments interesting but a bit disappointed that outside boxing range where a boxer can be very vulnerable to kicks was not discussed much


Fran October 18, 2017 at 6:35 pm

I’m going to plead ignorance on that one Steven – I just don’t have the background to really go deep on it. My ‘boxing’ assumption is that seeing a kick coming at long range might be easier than seeing a punch coming. However, I am here to be educated and I’m sure I could be over-simplifying things. Thanks for the comment mate.


Gaiter Robert August 17, 2017 at 1:50 pm



Fran August 18, 2017 at 6:35 pm

Thanks Gaiter 🙂


Frank Mitchell August 16, 2017 at 12:59 pm

No experience in MMA, but I was a Brown Belt in Judo, and I once did Contest Karate. I got taught how to put my fist through a wooden plank. Since then I have an aversion to actually hitting anybody. To me it’s like actually breaking your opponent’s arm during a Judo match. I myself got TKO’d twice during Karate sparring.

To me the crucial difference between Boxing and MMA is that they work at entirely different ranges. The kicks in MMA keep the opponents further apart. They don’t need to “cover up” at this range, and they neglect to do so when they really should.

MMA kicks can be ludicrous. They keep trying high “Mawashi-Geri” roundhouse kicks, but they never got taught how to flick their leg back properly. Result: Their “Mawashi-Geri Jodan” goes flying past the opponent’s head, and half the time they fall over.

I don’t understand the MMA “Mount” technique. Judo Groundwork is entirely different. It gives the guy on top room to manoevre and apply Arm-Locks or Strangle-Holds. MMA people know about the “Blood-Choke”, but they don’t seem to know any bent-arm locks, only the Sraight Arm Bar.

Occasionally you see an MMA contestant who really did learn Judo, and can pull off an effective throw. Mostly though they’re stuck with the Wrestling “Shoot” technique. I don’t see why this is expected to work. They keep getting stuck on the cage when a proper Judo throw could soon put one of them down.


Philip Handley August 16, 2017 at 1:28 pm

I did judo and karate in my youth, boxing and MMA after that, I’m forty five and still occasionally compete. All I can say is the only real answers you’ll get can only be gained by participation and experience.
Fran’s theory is very accurate because of his years of experience, and even then he stipulated it’s just a theory.
Yours seem to be based on inexperience and very little knowledge, if it’s genuine understanding you want you’ll have earn it by doing it.


Fran August 16, 2017 at 7:05 pm

Definitely just a theory of mine Philip, can offer views of boxing but my MMA background is next to nil. Frank’s spent a lot of time around this stuff, he’s our senior by a few years 🙂

Thanks for your comment mate, all adds to people’s ability to learn of this stuff.



Frank Mitchell August 17, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Okay, I’m 68 years old, so I’m unlikely ever to get experience in MMA. My comments were based on what I’ve seen on TV, and I’m not usually impressed. What’s the use of high kicks if you’re going to fall over? And most of the MMA guys who claim they practiced Judo obviously didn’t. My interest is in Self Defence, because I got threatened by a Bogus Doorstep Caller. I don’t believe he’d have been worried if I’d told him I did Contest Karate 40 years previously. But he seemed concerned when I said I worked out with weights. Boxing Fitness seems to offer the best core skills, if a situation ever arises.


Fran August 16, 2017 at 7:03 pm

Thanks for your contribution Frank. As always very well thought out and considered, very much appreciate your work


Breyden August 16, 2017 at 4:13 am

Great video.


Fran August 16, 2017 at 7:02 pm

Thanks Breyden


Daniel lincon August 16, 2017 at 12:19 am

Hope all is well Fran

Great work and discussion
On the topic that is stirring the pot.
Have you tired reaching out to
Connor McGregor with your theory.
If he was a smart and wise fighter
I think he could use what you have to offer
To his advantage in his next bout.
I Have have been silently following your work for the past 5 years. Your consistency and devotion always show and I am glad to be apart of
If the circle which you influence.
Keep up the great work friend.
Hope to hear back from you.


Fran August 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Hey Daniel

Thank you very much for your kind words, I really appreciate it.

As for reaching out to Mr McG, no I haven’t. I would hope that he has some good advice in his camp – not sure how much any advice will help to be honest. Going to post a vid tomorrow with my thoughts.

Thanks very much for taking the time to write to me Daniel


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