success using boxing in MMA

Ok fellas, here is a how to thread that is based on PARTICIPATION. This will be one for the archives if we can get some of the great knowledgable people on the forum to help contribute on this one.

Lets first lay down the ground rules. For the sake of arguement, I don't want to get into your opinions on pure boxers being able to beat mixed martial artists or any other stylist or vice versa. We will assume that boxing is part of the over all arsenal here of a fighter. But lets assume that someone wants some tips on using boxing in his game. This will be a very genearl thread and then we can spin off from there. Obviously not every technique will work for every fighter or against every opponent.

There are different approaches to using boxing successfully in MMA just as there are different approaches to being successful in a boxing match. I think its a good idea to stay basic, and be yourself when using hands. Obviously you must be aware of take downs and of kicks, but also don't forget your opponent can box you as well!

I think its a good idea for someone who is going to use boxing in mma to learn to keep the weight on his front foot only as he steps, hooks or jabs. Weight on the front foot can be dangerous as it makes a single leg takedown more easy, also leg kicks and trips become more easy.

A good boxer can shift his weight foot to foot with ease. Become fluent at shifting your weight with your punches. But in a rest or defensive position rest your weight on your back leg. Many thai instructors teach fighters to continually "tap" their front foot on the canvas. This is a stylistic choice I will use this technique only when sparring kickboxing.

In boxing, The shoulders are not squared, the body is turned making less of a target for another fighter to hit. The arms stay inside close to the body and the fists rest close to the jaw. The feet stay shoulder width apart and the legs remain underneath the chest and torso. The knees are slightly bent. There are many successful variations on this stance. Vanderli Silva, a kickboxer crouches, Elbows extended out more away from the body and the legs are at a much longer range. This is very effective for him. He is an extremely aggressive fighter and the widened stance gives him great power on his punches. He wants to engage you coming in and throw knees or punches. Vitor, at his best, was a crouch fighter. He fought as a southpaw and threw many leaping lead left hands. This is a risky technique but also effective for him.

To emulate Vanderli's stance is risky at best. The extended legs lend themselves to takedowns and leg kicks. Vanderli is great at using a sprawl into knees. He accomplishes this by using speed and a more squared up stance that enables him to sprawl quickly. To attack someone with a stance like this with boxing, its probably best to fire quick straight shots over the top. I'm not telling you how to beat Vanderli. If I knew that, and could pull it off, I'd be the champ in PRIDE. I'm telling you my ideas on how to beat a prototype fighter with a similar stance. The squared up crouched over the top stance makes it hard to use effective head movement if you make a guy move back. If Vanderli had the Vitor fight to do over again, I am sure after he was tagged with the initial left hand lead, he'd "get on his horse" or circle instad of running straight back. Never run staright backward.

Don't be afraid to practice a "bob and weave" many fighters think that this techniuqe will lead to bad things because of the allowance of knees in MMA. However, if you watch the Frank Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz fight, the sequence where Frank really starts to finish off Tito he uses this techniuqe to stun and tire out Tito. Tito was against the fence after Frank had scrambled up. With Tito's back against the fence, Tito threw a punch Frank bobs under and weaves to his left, coming over the top with a good left right combination that clearly stunned him. Tito tried a takedown out of desperation and he eventually tapped. But that sequence was excecuted brilliantly by Shamrock. If are careful about using it, the bob and weave technique will work in any arena. Remember to keep your back straight and bend at the knees and not the waist. If someone is punching, they can't sell a fake and pummell before you pivot and land up top. Shamrock also uses another technique not often seen in MMA, body punching with good effect. Bas Rutten is the best at attacking the body I have seen in MMA. Liver punches hurt and they will paryalize your opponent if you can utilize them effectively. But you have to use the techniuqe a the right time.

Mid kicks are a fantastic technique because when they land they can really take a lot out of even the most well conditioned fighter. But there is adherant risk involved. If the leg is hooked it can lead to a single (as we saw in Rutten vs. Randleman) Bas landed a huge mid kick and was taken down. Or the leg can be hooked, you can be spun around and hit with an inside trip or any number of other techniques. Even though Mid kicks are risky, they are often employed, but body punching is tought of as too little reward for too high a risk. A good wrestler will tie you up with ease if you are going to the body (ala Randy Coture) but if you turn a man and use straight hard punches to the body this can easily transition into other techniuqes for you. You can shoot well from here or even try to cut the angle and get the back from here.

Another great techniuqe is to try fake a shot and throw a right hand from a conventional stance (ala Brad Kohler) This is devistating if you can sell it because the fighter defending the takedown will often drop his hands to push your head down and lean his head into the punch, making it more effective. Many wrestlers also conversely throw a jab and fake a second, making the opponent cover or slip and then get a clear and easy shot (Ron Waterman used this technique well vs. Tim Lajic)

I think its a good idea for a boxer to turn hips a little more squre, this helps defend the takedown and if you don't have one side, (the lead side) of your body closed off you can check kicks with much more ease by raising your front shin and pointing it outward toward the oncoming kick.

Don't be afraid to move forward with boxing. Many fighters are not prepared for an onward assault. But you have to be careful, if you close distance for them in a split second a lot of of fighters can easily shoot and take you down. A guy like Mark Coleman can shoot from way farther than someone could punch or even kick and land the shot easily. A bad idea is running in and loading up on a punch. This will almost certainly lead to a takedown.(Coture ended a fight in his first championship winning tournement against a much larger opponent this way) If you want to move forward a good tape to watch would be Millitech vs. Carlos Newton. Millitech moves in behind a stiff jab which he doubles and even triples. Millitech confuses and frustrates Netwon for much of that match before being choked out. Don't be afraid to punch in angles and always remember to not close off your body too much because it will make the person shooting have an easier time at a single leg takedown.

Jabbing works, use your jab. Make sure you work on getting it stiff an pumping. If you can close the distance well you can take away leg kicks inside of the pocket. Although his jab was a little sloppy, Gary Goodridge used it with some success early against Igor Vovchachin. Jabbing once while standing still is not an effective techniuqe. Fighters who are more patient like Rizzo and Maurice Smith have good success with bringing fighters to them, however, they also understand when to move in and when to move out. Moving out of range is a valid technique. Moving inside, throwing your strikes and then moving out quickly is a good idea, extend your arms to the shoulders, back foot back and lead foot follows. If you can get your opponent to follow you, you may be able to trick them into walking into a solid right hand lead you plant on. Running in wildly and throwing punches may mow some people down but its also very riskly. With clothing or a gi a lot of guys can pull guard on you. Even without its risky. Watch Levern Clark vs. Fabiano Iha. Clark hits him with some good bombs and has him moving backward, Iha falls off balance and falls but is able to statch the leg of Clark and nearly seizes a a submission before the referee stops it because of Iha's cut. If you are going to attempt a "straight blast" be weary of someone who is good at pummeling inside. A Muay thai fighter can and will clinch inside and knee you in the face and a good wrestler will clinch and use "dirty boxing" like Coture is so excellent at. A good ju jitsu player will look to pull guard or clinch, put a foot inside of your solar plexus and fall backward, causing you to fall into his guard. Running across the ring or cage is stupid. Here you will get taken down or front kicked (Ala Pat Smith or Renzo) Its better to close to a reasonable distance and then begin working. If someone is attempting to tie you up remember, it is much more difficult in boxing, or in mma if you keep your hands moving! If someone is worried about defending against punches it makes it much harder to worry about getting a good offensive movement. If you are clinched behind the head, block the knees with your hand straight (I feel that this is a better defense than arms bent or elbows facing knees. To see why, watch Matsui vs. Vanderli Silva) Push straight with both hands on the chest of the person cliching you and get out of there. Its best not to try to work that position to your advantage. I would rather escape and try again.

Straight rushes can also wear you out. Watch Tra Tellegman vs. Pedro Rizzo. Tellegman had great success against Rizzo early and moved him backward. Rizzo had poor defensive movement and didn't lauch much offense moving backward. However, he was able to weather the storm and Tellegman was clearly arm weary. Rizzo destroyed Tellegman who's arms were at his sides for much of the fight after the initial rush.

Remain relaxed. A fighter who is relaxed has an enormous advantage. Their movements are more fluid, their timing is more in sync. And they are able to move away from shots more easily and incur less damage from shots because they aren't so tensed up.

who else has good tips or opinions before I add more? Is this type of thread helpful or interesting to people?

"Is this type of thread helpful or interesting to people?"

you should know my answer - ALWAYS!

Keep going please!!!

good stuff, Buddie!

A lot of people wonder about elbows vs. punches. Here is my personal take on elbows vs. punches. A solid uppercut will do more actual damage to an opponent than an upward elbow. Its also safer. An elbow across will do a lot of structural damage but probably will not hurt an opponent the way a left hook will. Forearms are a different story. If you can add in a strong forearm between your punches, it can be devistating, however, I feel like this technique is better reserved for ground fighting.

Again, be weary of moving backward. Running backward as an opponent is punching, kicking or chasing is a bad idea, circle but don't run backward. If you do move backward, for a few steps, make sure your defense is strong, back out to a kneeling opponent, your hand son his shoulders or better yet his head. If you can control a fighters head, you can control him. Push down on the head and he can't punch effectively, you can knee or sprawl with much better efficiency. But you have to be weary of the fake. If he fakes a takedown and comes over the top of your extended arms as you lean in, it will be devistating.

Standing straight up and down is not what I personally like to do. This makes you a bigger target and much easier to take down. Fighting out of a crouch makes your punches explosive and lends less of your body to punch or kick. Keep actively moving, stationary targets are easy to hit while active opponents who move a lot lend to deception. One thing you can affect is your hustle. If you move actively and smartly without wasting excess energy, you can confuse almost any opponent. Because in MMA, there are so many weapons to hurt you, a constantly moving opponent gives your adversary pause. Watch Randleman befuddle Maurice Smith on his feet. Its obvious Smith was a much better stand up fighter, but Smith was neutralized by Randleman because the movement made him constantly think DEFENSE! If you are going to kick at the legs, step out with your back foot or shuffle forward with your front and kick. Always punch before you kick. Use your punches to measure distance. I like to see kickers kick the opposite side they punch to. Fore example jab - right hand - left knee, jab -right hand - left hook - right leg kick. This will make your opponent focus on blocking one side of his body and will open up numerous spots for you.

Defensive techniques of boxing will also bennefit you. If someone jabs at you, practice a parry with a dip to the right. Work on your counter punching but also try dipping to the right and stepping with your back foot clinching around the backside of your opponents left shoulder and taking his back from here, takedowns are easy. Can excecute a choke, a neck crank or a takedown from this position. To avoid this, be aware of the technique, drill it and most importantly, bring your punches back quickly and keep actively moving. This technique can be excecuted from either side. The parry is the key. If you make someone respect your power early they will be weary of trying this type of technique. Bas Rutten has said that he like to throw everything hard because an opponent has to worry about defense. That's a good idea but don't try to kill people with every punch, that'll just make you tired and less effective.

In a crouch position, it also makes it easier to slip punches and kicks. If someone throws a high kick you can shoot beneath after the duck under. Watch Goodrige vs. Yvel to see why standing straight up against a solid kicker is a bad idea.

Use decepetion. Bas Rutten used open hand strikes under old Pancrase rules to destroy opponents. He ended the Jason Deluca fight by holding up the right hand and making Deluca pull his hands up high to defend, he then used his right hand and struck the liver and ended the fight. I like to sometimes throw a right hand out to my side and make someone's periferial vision move to their right and slam home a left hook or a big body punch.

Another way to open spots up is to move up and down. You see this used on the ground a lot especially by Pat Millitech. He'll throw 2 punches to the body in mount and one to the head. If you throw 2 punches to the body the hands are likely to move downward that will open up space upstairs. Holding the head and hitting is devistating. If you want to hold the head and hit, make sure your left hand is fully extended and that your shoulder covers your chin. Don't try to hold on too long or you'll get taken down or tied up easily.

Many times an inexperienced fighter will try to grab your head and knee from way too far out. If this happens you can excecute a number of techniques including punching over or uppercutting under the arms.

The standard ju jitsu attack is one arm straight out, the other protects the jaw, the weight rests on the back foot and they fake a kick inside and go for a take down. If you encounter this, try to cut distance by cutting around to the outside of their extended arm and foot. As you turn them, throw with your opposing hand. For example if they extend their left hand I will step outside with my right and punch with my left this will open up a long right hand. You can also easily push them off balance here, but it all hinges on avoiding the kick. They want you to try to rush in or better yet grab the kick. Instead, illude it and play your game.

I'm done now for a while, someone else chime in. There are too many smart boxing people here to have this thread run by one guy.

(:-How can anyone else chime in buddie? You've hit on just about everything. Great info!!!

I would just reinforce your point about going straight back. This is a tough habit to break in any form of stand-up fighting. My natural reaction is to back-up when being pressured. I've been forcing myself to take no more than 2 steps back before circling or pivoting away. It's coming slowly but surely.

Very good advice on keeping more weight on the back foot too. That's a tactic that many fighters aren't taught or just neglect when sparring.

This is a kick-ass thread buddie. I would like to put in my two cents about some "dirty-boxing," since I am a wrestler at heart.

The most important thing about clinch fighting is head control. Usually this is done by grabbing the head. One common mistake people make is that they grab the neck of their opponents. Don't grab the neck, cup your hand high over the back of your opponents head. This will naturally cause his head to drop and his ass to stick out. This not only neutralizes his ability to throw a solid punch, but it also takes explosiveness away from his shoot.

And just don't reach up with your elbow out to grab the head. Keep your elbow in tight to your body (this will help give you a little bit of defense) and plant your forearm against his collarbone. This does two things: 1) it acts as a fulcrum against which you can exert pressure on the head, and 2) it puts your arm between him and a shot. Now fire away with upper-cuts and hooks (depending on his defense). Watch Couture vs. Vitor for examples on how to do this. Henderson is a good fighter to watch also.

Another way to control your opponents head is by using your own head. This means crouching, getting down low, underneath and inside of your opponent. Now place the top of your head under your opponents chin, bringing his head up and standing him upright. Slug away at the body, and when he tries to come down (because you are jacking him up), step back, let him come down and unload a shot to his head.

You can also place your head on the outside of his chin. Work inside, get an angle and place your head on the side of his chin. This will turn his head away from you. Again, fire shots to the body and when he tries to turn back toward you let him turn right into a right cross.

The whole concept behind head control is to twist your opponent's head into an uncomfortable, unnatural position. You also have to be dynamic with head control and "dirty boxing," (I really don't like this term too much, can we just say in-fighting?). Don't just try to latch on to the top of the head and slug away. It is actually a lot more of an art than that. You will need to alternate hands and switch sides as your opponent moves against your head holding. If he tries to stand straight up because you are pulling him down, let him stand into a clean shot, and then work inside and underneath him. Ultimately the body follows where the head goes. Use your wrestling to put his head in weird positions, twist up his body, and fire away.

Remember, this is MMA, not boxing. Grab, hold, step on his toes, and do all those things that you are not supposed to in boxing. This will only make you a better MMAist.

I will post a little bit more on wrestling shucks, pulling and popping, and shoulder punches later.

Train hard.



I have some questions for you. I am now learning the importance of "establishing my jab" in the boxing ring (before I would just try to wade in there and brawl). It helps set up everything else I am trying to do. However, is this really a strategy that you can use for a 10-15 minute MMA match?

I haven't seen too many matches featuring a fighter working outside with his jab, making his opponent leary of it, and then opening up with combo's. Bas Rutten says he never uses the jab in MMA because he feels that it is useless. He thinks that it is better to just go for power shots right away since people will be trying to take you down.

What do you think?


great thread on in-fighting 5 o'. Interesting question about the jab. I know that Bas has said this however, he trains with a 1-2 and a 1-2-3 combination in his work outs and I know he uses it. So I assume what he means is that he thinks a "singular" jab is useless. I think a jab move jab would be hard to pull off against a skilled opponent. However, I am a big advocate of a still jab to measure distance and make someone bring defense up. This can set up a clean leg shot and make someone stand up high or it can really keep them at bay if used with a solid leg kick. Mo and Rizzo both use the jab to their advantage. But Mo will come in, jab to keep you blocking and stationary and then back out and throw a hard leg kick and begin the sequence again. This is a tactic he uses to set up leg kicks and he eventually breaks guys down with it. He was masterful at using this against Coleman! Rizzo will throw a solid jab at you and then move off. But Rizzo doesn't throw as many leg kicks as one might expect and he almost never throws knees. He has said he is afraid of the legs being "caught" the jab will keep a man at bay after he jabs and keeps them from advancing further, he retreats and throws his power shots. He did this vs. Coleman, Barnett and Tellegman. Throwing one jab at a time is dumb. You can't expect to jab, and move your head, jab and move your head because clinching is allowed. But like I said before, if you move inside and double or triple the jab, this is an excellent tactic for keeping your adversary off balance. This is especially useful against good aggressive strikers. This is the primary way that Tellegman was able to outbox Vovchachin. He used a stiff jab that opened up room to hit him with his right hand. Igor isn't comfortable, because he isn't used to being, backed up. This is the way that Hoost beat him down in K-1 also I hear. Although I admit I have not seen that match. The one thing you have to be careful of is over commiting to the jab. Its a good idea to jab-jab-jab in a consistant solid rythm and then shift, and move or shift and throw a right hand or even leg kick. You can't jab and then stop or even double or triple and stop because that is the transition point your opponent will cease. Because an opponent can take a long step back and counter with a solid leg kick or wait for a pause between your last jab and shoot an easy single. Its good to practice a whizzer out of the weight on the front leg stance. This will help maintain a standing position and is a good counter to the leg attack of wrestlers. You can also combine it with a right knee. Jabbing is a good weapon if you when you jab you commit and make sure you keep a good solid and varied rythm. One jab is predicatable, two jabs will break your opponents balance, three may make him move back unaturally. Its unrealistic to expect to jab and move your way like a boxer to a victory. A jab in boxing is a set up blow, just like a smart outside leg kick. It slows your adversaries attack and helps you set up your big blows. When someone is rushing in, unlike in boxing you don't have to throw a jab, many times you can sucker a guy to run face first into a lead right hand because the guy is going for a body lock or a thai lock up. (see Vanderli vs. Vitor)

PS shoulder punching is old school dirty boxing! That's a trick old timers used to get away with! Coture is a genius for employing it on the bottom. Holyfield is the best I have seen at using it (and disguising it) in the boxing ring but Hopkins also uses it very well.

5 o' clock shadow, your threads are some of the best I have seen on the forum.

Anderson Silva uses his jab beautifully in MMA fights.

Anderson Silva is awsome, but too inconsistent! If he let his hands go and didn't mix it up so much he could be a top striker!


So you are saying that I should use my jab as a part of a combo, like 1,2,3 or 1,2 etc.? This makes sense, but in this case, there seems to be no "establishing your jab" as a singular weapon, making your opponent mindful of it, and setting up other strikes with it.

Perhaps this strategy, although it works in a boxing ring is not practical in MMA given the variety of attacks that are available (especially takedowns).

Thanks for the kind words about my posts. Hopefully other people can chime in and we can make this post the definitive post about boxing in MMA.