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Why MMA fighters cannot compete at a high level of boxing

Conor McGregor famously fought Floyd Mayweather in 2017. He lost the boxing match, but he made way more money from that match ($100m) than he ever earned as a UFC fighter.

Perhaps due to the amount of money involved in boxing, many MMA fighters are getting into boxing. A few of them have already made their boxing debut. And nearly all of them lost. Interestingly, MMA fighters sometimes lose to inexperienced boxers like Youtuber Jake Paul.

Why are MMA fighters so poor in boxing? Why do they struggle outside of the Octagon?

The Level of Expertise

When boxers call out MMA fighters, they target people they can defeat comfortably. High-level boxers rarely box people who will give them a tough time.

There’s a perfect explanation. In boxing, it’s in the fighter’s best interest to protect his record. A great boxing record can earn an athlete hundreds of millions of dollars over time.

Take Floyd Mayweather as an example. Ever since he beat Manny Pacquaio, he’s mainly be doing exhibit matches. YouTuber Jake Paul might be an amateur to many boxing fans.

But he’s also pretty picky with his fights. When he challenges an MMA athlete, he calls out UFC retirees or fighters who can’t punch to save their lives.

 This technique helps the YouTuber build his brand. On the other hand, these lopsided boxing fights help bettors make easy money. It doesn’t matter what record an MMA fighter has. When they fight a professional boxer, you better back the pro boxer.

Now, not every sportsbook features boxing exhibitions. But that’s alright. There’s a variety of options. Choose the best boxing betting sites and you will have access to hundreds of boxing bouts every year.

MMA is a Multidisciplinary Sport

Professional boxers train for one job only—boxing. They spend years training to be fast with their feet, great at defense and aggressive with their punches. They follow rulebooks that train them just how to excel in boxing.

With MMA, a fighter must learn boxing, wrestling, kickboxing, jiujitsu and Muay Thai, all of which take time to master. Essentially, a boxing match between a boxer and an MMA fighter is unfair.

The professional boxer probably spent all his life training how to box. On the other hand, his MMA opponent is just above average in boxing. To put some perspective, Mayweather beating McGregor is the equivalence of Jon Bones beating the worst-ranked heavyweight fight in the UFC.

That being said, it’s possible for an MMA fighter to defeat a boxer. But a challenge of rules would be needed. For starters, allow the MMA athlete to use his feet and wrestling skills.

 Secondly, give them more time to train. Most bouts between boxers and UFC athletes are organized within weeks. It’s not enough time for a kickboxing or wrestling expert to become proficient in boxing.

Boxing Restricts Fighters’ Weapons

There’s a reason why the sport of MMA is growing rapidly. Unlike boxing, UFC fighters can use their legs, knees, elbows, heads and fists to win. This makes the sport exciting. 

But it also makes it difficult for an MMA fighter to transition into boxing. Imagine you’ve trained your entire life to use your elbows and knees. Then you get into a fight where you are limited to fists.

It wouldn’t matter if you’re undefeated in the UFC. If you can’t utilize your weapons of choice in the ring, you will lose. This is what happens when a UFC fighter faces off against a boxer.

The MMA athlete trains to use different winning strategies. They know if the opponent ducks, they can knee him to the head. If he miscalculates his punch, he can take him down and force him on a chokehold.

Boxing works by different rules. And these rules mainly favor the high-level boxer. He’s used to boxing. As such, he has no problems fighting anyone, especially an opponent who’s an amateur boxer at best.

Number of Fights

For an MMA fighter to become a good boxer, he would have to fight a lot more often. In the UFC, most athletes have 2-3 fights per year. In the boxing world, it’s not unusual for a fighter to have more than 5 matches every year.

Boxers have an even higher number of bouts at the amateur level. Some of them fight up to 30 times every year. Keep in mind boxers are allowed to start competing at the age of 18 years

More fights mean better chances of perfecting the art of boxing. It also gives a boxer vital experience in defense and offense. As we mentioned earlier, an experience boxer will always win a boxing match against an inexperienced opponent.

For an MMA fighter to transition into the boxing world successfully, time spent in training would be important. A UFC athlete with great boxing skills would need a year or two before they can become good enough to defeat an average boxer. To beat the best boxers in the world, he would require a lot more time in preparation.

More Stamina is Needed in Boxing

MMA athletes fight for about 17 minutes for a 3-round match and 29 minutes for a 5-round fight. In boxing, men fight three minutes per round for a maximum of 12 rounds. This translates to about 36 minutes of fighting. Women have 10 rounds, with each round lasting two minutes. 

Although the difference in time isn’t big, consider it’s a boxing match. In the UFC, fighters don’t spend the entire period boxing. They use kicks, grappling, elbows and knees.

Using multiple weapons means less stress to a specific part of the body. When you’re forced to fight with fists alone for half an hour, it’s nearly difficult to defeat someone who specializes in boxing.


There’s no doubt that MMA fighters can beat boxers. Anderson Silva famously beat Julio Chavez Jr., a former boxing champion. However, this rarely happens. Silva beat a boxer who was past his prime.

When an MMA athlete faces off against a high-level boxers, the odds almost always favor the professional boxer.