Transitioning Into MMA From A Boxing Base

Boxing can be an excellent base for MMA if you make the proper adjustments to your training. Boxing is the most popular martial art in the world, which has led to boxing becoming the most refined combat sport. Boxing is a billion-dollar business, so a lot of money has gone into polishing the art as coaches and promoters look to give their fighters an edge. 

As a result, a well-trained boxer understands the science of striking much more than fighters from other martial arts. Muay Thai is no exception, even though it allows fighters to use their elbows, knees, and legs as weapons. 

Head movement is a simple example of boxers being more refined than strikers from other martial arts. Good boxers constantly move their heads, making them significantly harder to hit, but you rarely see Muay Thai or Karate fighters using much head movement. Little things like that make boxers more refined than strikers from other styles.

Boxing is a lot more than throwing punches. You learn things like footwork, head movement, parrying, and angles on a level no other striking art can match. 


Making The Transition From Boxing To MMA

Boxers have many skills that give them an edge inside the ring, but you need other skills to stand a chance inside a cage. You don’t want to end up like James Toney, do you? That’s what happens when you think boxing alone is enough to compete in mixed martial arts. It’s not. 

Some of the skills you should work on as you transition to mixed martial arts include: 


1) Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

One of the first styles you should start training in while making your transition is BJJ. BJJ is arguably the most complete grappling-based martial art, so start there if you’re new to grappling. BJJ teaches everything you need to survive inside the cage, from reversals to getups. You also learn submissions that can end fights at any moment. 

Find a gym with high-level instructors and students like Evolve MMA and start training with them. Rolling with black belts will do wonders for your submission defense. If you can get out of their submissions, you’ll be able to do the same inside a cage. 

At a minimum, you should be close to blue belt level before competing in MMA. You know enough to escape dangerous positions on the ground at that point. Aim for a black belt if you’re serious about climbing up the ranks since you’ll eventually run into some world-class grapplers on your way. 

Try training without a gi as much as possible, and don’t get sucked into the hype surrounding training with the gi. Yes, people who train BJJ with the gi tend to be more technically knowledgeable than no-gi BJJ players, but your opponents won’t be wearing a gi inside the cage, so you won’t have the luxury of grabbing on their gi. Train how you’ll fight inside a cage: without a gi.

Once you get some BJJ experience under your belt, start training with MMA gloves. Grabbing things with gloves is a bit tricker than without, so you want to give yourself some time to get used to grappling with gloves. 


2) Wrestling

Adding wrestling to your training regimen will make it harder for opponents to take you down inside the cage. Most of the successful boxers in MMA have pretty decent takedown defense, at the very least. 

Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm is an excellent example of a boxer who has had lots of success inside the cage. Holly won several titles as a professional boxer and defended her belts 16 times before transitioning to MMA. She dedicated so much time to improving her wrestling that she was one of the toughest fighters to take down in her division right from the start. 

Holm even managed to stuff Ronda Rousey’s takedown attempts during their title showdown before defeating her via a roundhouse kick to win the belt and hand Rousey her first loss in MMA. 

Focus on improving your takedown defense and getups when you first start wrestling since those are the skills you’ll need the most as a boxer. However, don’t stop there when you learn the basics; aim to be the most complete wrestler you can be. You never know when those offensive wrestling skills will come in handy. 

The most dominant welterweight in UFC history, Georges St. Pierre, transitioned to the sport as a striker and added wrestling to his training. He became so good as a wrestler that it became the central part of his fighting style. 


3) Muay Thai

You’ll have to deal with kicks, elbows, and knees during your MMA fights, so you’ll need some Muay Thai training to prepare you for that. Learning Muay Thai will be much easier for you than the average person since you already understand fundamentals like footwork, distance, and head movement. You’ll be able to use many of the skills you learned in boxing during your Muay Thai classes. 

You don’t need to waste time with fancy techniques like spinning heel kicks if that’s not your style. Stick to the fundamentals like front kicks, low kicks, and roundhouse. Focus on the front kick in particular since it allows you to manage distance inside the cage. 

Spend lots of time sparring in Muay Thai settings, so you’re used to getting kicks, knees, and elbows thrown at you before you step inside a cage. 


Mix It All Up

You should have sparring sessions in MMA settings as you learn the skills you need to compete in mixed martial arts. Stopping takedowns during wrestling class is one thing; stopping takedowns while you have to worry about punches, kicks, elbows, and knees coming at you is something else. The same goes for striking since takedowns make landing the shots you want more challenging. 

Join an MMA fight team like Evolve MMA’s Fighter Program so you can learn how to mix the different styles you’ve learned together. They can also help you to organize amateur MMA fights before you make your professional debut. 


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