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When we look at the world of combat sports, there have up until quite recently only been two where you could make a real living. So with so few viable choices available in which to compete. Some have asked should I become a boxer or an MMA fighter?
Deciding to become a boxer or MMA fighter should be done after asking yourself some very specific questions. Like what do I hope to achieve? How long before I can turn professional and exactly how important is my health?
And these are all very valid questions you need to ask in order to work out what is the best fit for you. While having some similar characteristics, both sports are indeed very different.
In terms of combat sports, who did you look up to while growing up? For me, it was Mike Tyson. When I was 11 I got my first dog which I named after my personal hero.
So for many years, I was a fan of boxing in general. But living away from any urban centres there was no boxing gym. So I built my own weights bench and punching bag so that I could try to mimic what I was seeing on the TV.
But this was some thirty years ago when there was no MMA. No mainstream kickboxing worth talking about and no such thing as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which we were aware of!
And it wasn’t until many years later that k-1 kickboxing began to take root. And we began to see bits and pieces about the Ultimate Fighting Championships, Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock and more that things began to change.
So I suppose what I am really trying to say here is, who are your heroes? Who has inspired you to begin this lifelong journey? And I believe this answer will very much form the base for your decision going forward?
Why Are You Becoming A Fighter
But why are you becoming a fighter? Have you always had a desire for competition? Maybe you were one of those kids with boundless energy who sought an outlet that included being able to physically and mentally overpower other people?
What is your background in terms of sports? This can generally have a lot to do with how quickly you can progress. As those athletes with a solid grounding in collegiate level wrestling have dominated the ranks of the UFC more than any other.
But on top of all that what are you looking for from any sport? Are you looking to simply make enough to survive, to become wealthy? Or just be a champion and the rest will hopefully follow?
Because it’s great to have a clear vision of where you want to go. But don’t for a second fall foul of your own misguided beliefs about your own potential. Be as realistic as you can and avoid the X factor effect.
The reason I say this is because for every Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey or Canelo Alvarez. There are literally tens of thousands of fighters who barely make enough to put food on their table.
And these are the guys and gals you never hear about. But gyms around the world are just chockablock full of boxers and MMA fighters with broken dreams. People who dedicated themselves to their craft, who were perhaps highly regarded on the local scene. But in the end, went nowhere.
Boxing vs MMA Who Would Win
Perhaps you just want to be a good fighter. Although you have to decide what the term fighter now means? Because there was a time when boxers were considered the ultimate fighting machines.
But with the arrival of mixed martial arts. We now have a new sport that takes elements from the best martial arts on the planet. And incorporates them all under one umbrella to create this new hybrid.
So there are debates about who would win in boxing vs MMA? In a free fight situation on the street where anything goes, who is most likely to walk away the victor? Possibly in a life and death struggle!
Because street fights are not at all like most people imagine. With far too many people dying a year in and year out, sometimes from one kick or one punch. You really need to be prepared for anything that might happen.
And in today’s world, if you ask me which I would recommend? I just have to go with MMA on this.
While there’s no doubting a boxer wins in a standup fight. Most fights don’t stay on the feet, especially if there is more than one assailant. So you do not want to be like a turtle on its back when things hit the ground.
While a boxer may land that clean punch which KO’s their opponent. In all likelihood that is probably not going to happen. And you need to be prepared to either finish someone on the ground. To escape from being held down on the ground.
But also have good enough standup to take out the average person who picks a fight.
Boxing vs MMA Popularity
You may think that when compared to boxing, MMA is now the most popular sport. That is at least for now not in fact true. While the UFC has created several massive stars in recent years. Boxing still holds the cards when it comes to worldwide popularity.
And for this reason, the big-name boxers make significantly more than their counterparts in MMA. With Canelo signing an 11 fight $356 deal with Dazn. There are no UFC fighters in that league. As even Conor McGregor had to make the jump over to boxing to make his estimated $100 million in the Mayweather vs McGregor megafight.
And within their respective sports, these athletes are outliers. Individuals who for one reason or another are head and shoulders above the rest. So don’t take what you see as the norm. As when you scratch just below the surface the true story of being a fighter become apparent.
Is It Harder to Get Started In Boxing or MMA
There are so many factors involved in this question, so it depends. Where are you located and what kind of local infrastructure in terms of competition is open to you? Might you have to move if there’s nothing suitable in your immediate locality?
How far along are you in your training and at what level are you? Some people train for just six months, while others may train for several years before competing. Much of it comes down to how fast you can learn and really just how good are you?
But one thing is for sure. And this is that there are plenty of unscrupulous promoters out there looking for cannon fodder. With up and coming fighters, they are looking to push to the fore. They are more than happy to take a less experienced, likely less talented fighter and throw them to the wolves.
And I know this after speaking directly with trainers. Who has arrived at events only to find out their guy will be thrown in against someone with significantly more experience. In the knowledge that their fighter will get the win and with little regard for what might happen to the green newcomer.
How Important Is Your Health
I have left this until last as for me it’s the most important question of all. Because taking damage in any combat sport is part and parcel of participation. You will at one point or another get hurt and so you need to decide how much you are willing to risk?
Both sports have pluses and minuses in this regard. With MMA often resulting in some pretty nasty injuries. Ranging anywhere from bad cuts to broken or dislocated limbs.
With boxing, the injuries tend to not be less widespread. And are focused overwhelmingly on the major organs and brain. With boxers taking the vast majority of punches to the head.
CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a very real condition that results from taking too many impacts on the brain. Which in turn can lead to its degeneration and effects including slurred speech, depression, memory loss, personality changes and much more.
And while CTE is a very real threat. In MMA, as a possibility, it is lessened by the fact that there are more ways to win. From submissions to leg kicks or indeed punches. With the use of 4 oz gloves, you don’t see as much repeated trauma to the head as we do in boxing.
You can recover from most injuries related to MMA. From cuts to dislocations, sometimes even breaks. But when it comes to repeated long term damage from head trauma, there is no escape.
Some Final Thoughts
So I hope you found something worthwhile in my thoughts on whether boxing or MMA is for you. As there is no clear cut answer that will apply across the board to everyone.
It very much comes down to what you want from the sport? So you must weigh up all the pros and cons. Look where you are now, what you want to achieve and what you are willing to put in.
Then once you have all the cards laid out on the table and are honest with yourself. Only then is it time for you to make your decision.
But no matter what that might be, I can but wish you the very best of luck. As it’s not an easy road to take, with so many potential pitfalls along the way. Just make sure you are well prepared for any eventualities.
Hi, I’m Ross, at 40 years plus, I have been involved in the Martial arts for most of my life. Along with my first pet Collie dog named Tyson, RIP. My journey in the world of Martial Arts is something I want to share. So that others too can learn from my experiences.