Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a combat sport combining martial arts of various styles. Due to this, MMA fighters tend to develop their own MMA fighting styles, which vary from fighter to fighter. Some athletes focus on grappling techniques, trying to take their opponent to the ground and submit him/her, while others prefer striking techniques and look for knockouts. Mixed martial arts has seen athletes become successful with a variety of fighting styles over the course of its short history. This article will provide an overview of various forms of mixed martial arts fighting to help you determine which is the best combat fighting style for you.

The Three Main MMA Fighting Styles

In MMA, there are three main approaches a fighter can take when choosing his fighting style. The first and safest strategy is to use grappling techniques. Grappling techniques are used in martial arts, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Luta Livre, Sambo, Judo, and wrestling. The goal is to throw an opponent to the ground and control or submit him. This is a very safe approach to fighting because the fighter can avoid getting punched and taking significant damage. However, it is tough to master grappling techniques, and it can often be considered boring for the fans.

Another strategy is for fighters to rely on striking techniques and master martial arts such as Muay Thai, Boxing, and Karate. Often called strikers, these fighters use punches and kicks to knock out their opponents. This is the most attractive way of fighting, as fans can always expect flashy KOs out of nowhere. Using this approach can be somewhat dangerous since striking exchanges are often risky.

Since mixed martial arts is becoming a recognized combat sport, many modern fighters use a mixed approach to fighting. In other words, they combine striking and grappling techniques to become complete martial artists. Great examples of this are well-rounded fighters such as Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, and Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. Let’s examine the best fighting methods used in mixed martial arts.

Striking Fighting Styles

Strikers have always been fan favorites in mixed martial arts, and nothing gets fans more excited than seeing a great knockout. In order to become a great striker, a fighter needs extensive knowledge of martial arts, such as boxing and Muay Thai. This is because MMA involves kicks, punches, elbows, and knees. However, another problem strikers may have is the MMA fighting stance, which requires a wider base and a lower posture to prevent takedowns. Some of the best striking martial arts used in MMA are boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and karate. Let’s know about them further.


One of the most popular striking martial arts is definitely kickboxing. This combat style incorporates kicks, punches, and knees and is highly respected in the world of mixed martial arts. Kickboxing matches are shorter than MMA, and rounds are three minutes long. In addition, kickboxing allows clinching, but it is very regulated, and there are no throws allowed. Although some kickboxers have had tremendous success in mixed martial arts, a big problem they encounter is their stance. Kickboxing has a very upright posture, making takedowns such as double legs easy. Because of this, kickboxers must adapt and use an MMA fighting stance. Some famous fighters with a kickboxing background are Alistair Overeem, Israel Adesanya, Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Hunt, and many more.

Muay Thai

Undoubtedly the most effective striking style in modern mixed martial arts is Muay Thai. This form of kickboxing, developed in Thailand, heavily emphasizes leg kicks, clinch, knees, and elbows. Because all these are permitted in MMA, Muay Thai fighters can adapt quickly to the rules. In addition, Muay Thai allows foot sweeps, which you can also use in mixed martial arts. Another crucial element of Muay Thai is leg kicks, which are an essential part of mixed martial arts and a great weapon against wrestlers. Some of MMA’s most popular Muay Thai representatives are Jose Aldo, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, and Valentina Shevchenko.


Karate was often regarded as a traditional Japanese martial art which was ineffective in mixed martial arts. However, throughout the years, one form of Karate known as Kyokushin Kai has proven effective under MMA rules. This is because Kyokushin involves a lot of movement and has a wide stance, making it very difficult for an opponent to attempt takedowns. In addition, the Karate fighting style has a lot of unorthodox punches and kicks, which can confuse kickboxers and boxers. However, Karate fighters tend to keep their hands low, making them vulnerable to aggressive overhand punches. Two of MMA’s most famous Karate-style fighters are Lyoto Machida and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.


The most popular striking martial art is undoubtedly boxing. This ancient form of fighting uses only punches and is known as one of the most challenging combat sports in the world. Regarding MMA, boxing has proven to be very effective when paired with other skills, such as takedown defense. MMA gloves are much smaller than regular boxing gloves, making punches more effective. However, boxers must also adapt to the MMA stance and learn to protect themselves from takedowns and leg kicks. Some popular fighters that incorporated boxing into their MMA fighting styles are Conor Mcgregor, Nate Diaz, Holly Holm, Cody Garbrandt, and many more.

Grappling Fighting Styles

A big difference between mixed martial arts and other combat sports, such as boxing and kickboxing, is that MMA includes grappling techniques. The primary objective of grappling is to throw an opponent to the ground where he is vulnerable and to submit him. Throughout its history, MMA has seen many dominant fighters with grappling backgrounds. Fighters such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Fedor Emelianenko, Demian Maia, and Georges St-Pierre are all excellent examples of how a fighter can use dominant positions on the ground and emerge victorious. Let’s look at the most popular grappling martial arts used in MMA.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

One martial art that made grappling an integral part of mixed martial arts is Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Initially, MMA tournaments would pair different fighting styles against each other to determine the best. These were all tested in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tournaments. Royce Gracie won the first two competitions, representing the Gracie family and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Royce used his BJJ techniques to submit opponents and prove that his family’s fighting style was the most dominant. This made Brazilian jiu-jitsu very popular, and since then, many MMA fighting techniques have come from this martial art.

BJJ focuses on takedowns and submission techniques, and due to its complexity, it is often called “the game of human chess.” BJJ has had many representatives in MMA, the most popular being Demian Maia, Gilbert Burns, Ricardo Arona, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and many more.


Sambo is a Russian martial art that combines the elements of judo, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. The purpose of sambo is to throw an opponent to the ground or submit him. In addition, sambo has a combat version that also involves punches and kicks, making it quite similar to MMA. In the world of mixed martial arts, there have been a few dominant sambo champions, such as Fedor Emelianenko, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Islam Makhachev. They knew how to combine striking and ground techniques, making them extremely hard to fight against. Due to its heavy emphasis on takedowns, submissions, and strikes, sambo is an excellent fighting style that you can easily adapt to mixed martial arts.


One combat sport that has proven to be highly effective in mixed martial arts is wrestling. This martial art has been popular since Ancient Greece, and many important figures were avid wrestling practitioners. The goal in wrestling is to throw an opponent to the ground and hold him in one place, called a “pin.” For a very long period, wrestlers were not considered martial artists by many, and wrestling was deemed a sport. With the development of mixed martial arts, many talented wrestlers decided to test themselves in fights, and they had tremendous results.

The biggest advantage wrestling has over other combat sports is that it can dictate where the fight will occur. If a wrestler is better on the ground than his opponent, he can take him down and fight on the ground. Conversely, if a wrestler is a superior striker, he can keep the fight standing and outstrike his opponent. This ability to decide where the fight takes place is crucial, and wrestlers have used it for a long time to dominate mixed martial arts.

Many excellent wrestlers have competed in mixed martial arts, and more UFC champions come from a wrestling background than any other combat sport. Among the fighters that have backgrounds in wrestling are Daniel Cormier, Cain Velasquez, Tyron Woodley, Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington, Matt Hughes, Henry Cejudo, and many more.

Hybrid Fighting Styles

As the sport of mixed martial arts was developing, fighters saw that combining striking and grappling was much better than focusing only on one particular style. This resulted in the development of many different types of MMA styles, and the sport evolved independently. Fighters combining techniques from disciplines such as wrestling, BJJ, and boxing were all regarded as the first true mixed martial artists, as they could use multiple skills to win. Two excellent examples of this would be Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre, who were competent in all elements of mixed martial arts. Let’s look at some of the best martial arts combinations in MMA.

BJJ and Boxing

The first combination we will cover is the mixture of boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. This is one of the best fighting methods in MMA since opponents find it difficult to figure out what to do. If you have superior boxing skills than your opponent, you will probably be able to win the fight standing, making him try to take you down. Unfortunately for him, if you have Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills, you might submit him, making this a scary combination. Nick and Nate Diaz are the two most popular fighters who combined these martial arts. They were both known as excellent boxers, and their ground technique was tremendous. Nevertheless, fighters with powerful leg kicks and good wrestling can counter this combination.

BJJ and Muay Thai

A more advanced combination than the one we mentioned previously is Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai. A fighter who masters both martial arts can cover all essential aspects of striking and grappling, making this a deadly combination. An excellent example of this fighting style is Charles Oliveira, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with phenomenal Muay Thai technique. The most significant advantage of this style is that a fighter can freely use his striking techniques without worrying if he will get taken down. Nonetheless, it is still possible to counter this type of fighter if he is matched against a superior grappler with good wrestling skills.

Wrestling and Boxing

Of all styles mentioned previously, this is the best combat fighting style you can use in mixed martial arts. It is common for wrestlers to have a well-developed lower body, which allows them to produce a lot of powerful punches. Additionally, their wrestling skills will allow them to throw punches without fear of getting taken down. An added bonus is that both wrestling and boxing require good footwork, which makes it easy for wrestlers to learn boxing and vice versa. Examples of this are fighters such as Tyron Woodley, Cody Garbrandt, Kamaru Usman, and many more.


In this article, we have talked about different MMA fighting styles and how they can combine with each other. There are three main types of MMA fighters: strikers, grapplers, and fighters who combine these two. We have seen that grapplers usually prefer martial arts such as BJJ, sambo, and wrestling, while strikers use boxing, Muay Thai, and karate. Between these two distinct fighting philosophies, MMA fighters combine various MMA fighting techniques to create new hybrid styles that can be used in mixed martial arts. Thank you for reading the article; I wish you safe training!