Popular MMA Fighting Styles

One of the most important strategies to becoming an effective and profitable
mixed martial arts bettor is properly educating yourself on as many aspects of
the sport as possible. The cliché phrase “Knowledge is power” could not be truer
when it comes to any type of sports betting, regardless of which sport we’re
talking about. Now, no one has time to learn EVERYTHING about a sport, so it’s
important that you focus your time and efforts on learning what is the most
beneficial to you and making correct predictions and more profitable bets.

With mixed martial arts, the absolute most important thing that you can learn
to improve your chances of being a successful bettor is the different fighting
styles employed by fighters and how they lend themselves to mixed martial arts.
Understanding which forms of martial arts a fighter excels at and which they
lack in is important to help you understand what their game plan is going to be.
What is MORE important is to know how that style is going to match up with their
opponent’s style (or styles) and which is going to be more effective. When you
can effectively piece these pieces of information together, making your
predictions and picks will become immensely easier, and you should see your
accuracy increase.

Now, before we get into the particulars of the different styles, we want to
bring a few things to your attention that you must know to digest this
information properly.

Many Fighters Specialize in Multiple Fighting Styles

In the early days of mixed martial arts, fighters only knew how to do one
thing. They never really “mixed” the martial arts as the name of the sport would
indicate they might. The term “mixed” usually just meant that each fighter might
have their own single style. As the sport has evolved, fighters have learned the
importance of being great at multiple fighting disciplines. The important
takeaway here is that you should always make sure not to classify a fighter only
by their main discipline, but look to see if they have been improving at or
specialize in a secondary fighting style. Their skill level in their secondary
style can change very rapidly as well, as they may be dedicating a lot of time
to it with some of the best coaches in the world. The learning curve may be
significantly steeper (faster) than it would be for a normal person or a
first-time martial artist.

Understand That There are Variations of These Styles

It’s important to note that there are a lot of different variations of all of
the styles we’ve listed below. Why is this important to you? It’s important
because some variations of a certain martial art are going to lend themselves
better to mixed martial arts-style fights than others. We don’t recommend
exhausting yourself by trying to learn every single variation of style there is,
but we do want you to be aware there are going to be some differences that you
may want to look into if you’re picking an important fight.

Fighters Don’t Always Stick to What They’re Good at

This one is a bit perplexing, but we do have a few reasons we think it
happens. First, let’s make sure you know what we’re referring to. A lot of times
you will have a fighter who is an expert in one type of martial art choose to
predominantly use a different fighting style that they aren’t as proficient in.
From a strategic standpoint, this really doesn’t make a lot of sense unless it’s
a style that doesn’t match up well against their opponent’s or they think that
their opponent will do worse against their secondary style.

There are a few reasons we think fighters might defer away from their
expertise in a fight. The first might be ego. A fighter that is used to
grappling or submissions may want to stand and bang with an opponent who has
taunted them into doing so. Another might be a fighter looking to test their
skills and see how much they’ve improved in a certain discipline. Whatever the
reason, you should pay attention to fighters that don’t utilize their strong
suits as much as they should. These fighters can be liabilities when it comes to
sports betting on them.

Styles Will Vary on Effectiveness Under the Standard Rules of Mixed Martial Arts

This is an extremely important point for you to be aware of. Certain martial
arts are fantastic when they are fighting against untrained opponents in the
street in a self-defense situation or when pitted against a similar style in a
one discipline only competition format. When other styles are introduced,
though, some of these styles become much less effective or can become dangerous.
It’s important to pay attention to the adaptations of each fighting style to a
mixed martial arts fight. With each style below, we’ve done our best to draw
your attention to the more important advantages and disadvantages of the style
when used in mixed martial arts. Specifically, regarding the disadvantages, some
practitioners will struggle with these while some have learned to adapt their
style and eliminate these making them much more effective. Make sure you pay
attention to this when researching fighters and making your bets.


Our first style we’re going to look at is boxing. Boxing is a form of
fighting that utilizes punches and only punches. Fighters wear relatively heavy
gloves and are only allowed to punch their opponent above the waist. If you’ve
ever watched boxing on TV or in the Olympics, this is the style we are referring
to. While boxing is a major sport all on its own, it does play a large part in
the mixed martial arts realm. There are actually very few fighters that classify
themselves as boxers when asked about fighting styles, but plenty of mixed
martial arts fighters study boxing and utilize some of its strong points in
their fighting style.

Advantages for Use in Mixed Martial Arts

Knockout Power

It’s surprising how many mixed martial arts fighters on the professional
level still are not the best at throwing a proper technical punch. Whether they
don’t know how to or they just get carried away in the fight and want to throw
haymakers, the result is the same. You end up losing a lot of power on your
punches. A well-trained boxer or someone trained in boxing will be skilled in
throwing punches for maximum power with maximum accuracy. This is going to
result in a higher knockout percentage as well as more damage done from their
strikes that are going to land more often. Basically, standing toe to toe with a
boxer and exchanging punches can be a nightmare if you aren’t as equally skilled
in the art.

Defensive Footwork

One of the biggest things that will help a boxer be successful in their
career is getting hit less. Boxers will spend just as much time as they do on
offense learning how to move their feet and use angles to get out of the way of
attacks. This might not sound like that big of a deal, but until you step in the
ring with someone who is a master of footwork, it’s hard to understand how
utterly frustrating it can be to fight against. A lot of people knock Floyd
Mayweather (one of the most famous boxers ever) for being a boring fighter and
always “running.” While we agree this makes for boring fights to watch, it is
important to note that this is not him running away but him expertly using his
footwork to avoid shots and get in, land his strikes, and get right back out.
While it’s boring to the casual fan, those that appreciate the art that is
boxing love it.

Disadvantages and Dangers for Use in Mixed Martial Arts

Strike Susceptibility

In a strictly boxing match, you have the luxury of only having to worry about
two weapons coming your way – the left hand and the right hand. In mixed martial
arts, though, most fighters are utilizing eight different weapons (two hands,
two elbows, two legs, and two knees) as well as takedowns and submissions. This
can create a lot of problems for boxers if they don’t learn to deal with these
other attacks and defend themselves accordingly. Boxers are trained to place a
lot of their body weight on their front leg to allow them maximum reach and
maximum power on their shots. Try this in mixed martial arts, though, and
another fighter is going to leg kick you into oblivion or get you off balance
and takedown where your fancy footwork is worthless.

It is important to note that boxers do well learning how to get out of the
way of certain shots because of their ability to understand angles. Though, this
only happens if they take the time to learn and have adequate sparring partners
that can show them all the different types of attacks. Pure boxing usually does
not do great in mixed martial arts without some supplementary training, adapted
movements, and a different game plan.

Brazillian Jiu Jitsu

A ground fighting system, Brazillian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), focuses on submitting
your opponent through the use of chokes, joint locks, and other creative
methods. It’s somewhat rare that a great self-defense art translates well to the
rule based mixed martial arts system, but BJJ is definitely good in both areas.
BJJ practitioners will look to put their opponent in a position where they are
forced to tap and admit defeat or risk serious bodily injury or being rendered
unconscious. While there are hundreds of different submissions in BJJ,
there are several moves that you see utilized in mixed martial arts. These moves
are much more popular due to the fact they are higher percentage/easier to
finish, and they don’t sacrifice position or risk putting you in a bad spot if
you aren’t able to finish the move.

A Few Popular Submissions

Rear Naked Choke

Contrary to what people might think, this submission attempt does not require
the removal of any clothing. The rear naked choke is a submission done by
placing your arm under your opponent’s neck and applying pressure and leverage
with your hips and the other arm. The submission is done when you are on your
opponent’s back (known as having their back). This looks like a piggy back ride
but only on the ground and is arguably the worst position that you can be in
during a mixed martial arts fight. This submission attempt is also probably the
safest for a fighter to utilize as if they miss the submission or can’t finish
it, they rarely lose their dominant back control position. If a skilled BJJ
practitioner gets your back, be ready to most likely be finished with this
submission in a mixed martial arts fight.

Here is a breakdown of how this submission is done. Please be careful and
don’t try this at home and all that safety stuff etc., etc.

Arm Bar

This submission can be done from a lot of different positions but is most
commonly seen in a mixed martial arts fight by the fighter that is on the bottom
when the two are grappling on the ground. This submission traps the opposing
fighter’s arm behind the elbow and applies a joint lock that will break the arm
if enough pressure is applied. While this is a great submission, you do run the
risk of giving up positioning if you miss the submission. Because of how you are
forced to move your legs, you risk allowing your opponent to advance into a much
more dominant position. Some experienced grapplers will even bait their opponent
into trying this submission so they can smash down and move to the more dominant
position. Still, an experienced BJJ practitioner can effectively pull this off
and end the fight in the blink of an eye.

Here is a breakdown of how this submission is done. Again, please be careful
and don’t try this at home and all that safety stuff, etc., etc.

Advantages for Use in Mixed Martial Arts

Grappling Experience

Most BJJ practitioners are also fairly skilled with general grappling. A lot
of times they will have wrestling experience, Judo experience, and just a lot of
experience working with their body weight in tough situations. This, as you can
probably imagine, translates into a huge benefit in the cage as they’ll be able
to dictate where the fight goes. If they want to stay standing, they’ll have
experience shrugging off takedowns, and if they want to get it to the ground and
use their Jiu Jitsu, they will certainly know how to handle that. Ultimately,
it’s a martial art that is studied alongside other arts extremely frequently.

Disadvantages and Dangers for Use in Mixed Martial Arts

Sweat and Blood

Finishing submissions require you to trap certain parts of your opponent’s
body and not allow them to escape. In the beginning parts of a fight, this is
significantly easier because you are able to grip your opponent well without any
troubles. As the fight progresses, blood and sweat are usually present and can
make the fighters slippery. This can make using submissions much more
challenging and can end up resulting in a fighter losing dominant position due
to slippery submission attempts. This certainly doesn’t mean that submissions
don’t happen late in fights, but they just become a bit more challenging and
need to be done with expert precision.

Extra Importance of Adaptation

Before being used in mixed martial arts, Brazillian Jiu Jitsu was designed as
a self-defense art and was also developed to be used in BJJ competitions. The
problem is that a lot of the moves designed specifically for these two instances
do not translate well to mixed martial arts competitions, specifically the
competition style moves. In a BJJ competition, there is no striking. No one can
punch or kick you which allows a lot more freedom to set up submissions. You
also don’t have to worry if your face is exposed to getting struck as it’s not
legal. In mixed martial arts, though, striking is legal and significantly
changes the game. Certain submissions should not be tried, and others must be
adapted to fit the dynamics of the fight. Thanks to its self-defense roots, this
is an easy adaptation, and most fighters are well versed in it though we do
occasionally see a fighter too aggressively going for a risky submission that
results in them getting their face smashed in.


This form of martial arts has been made famous by several fighters including
probably the most famous Judoka, Ronda Rousey. Judo is known for its throws and
takedowns and its ability to get an opponent to the ground whenever you want.
Unlike wrestling or other takedowns, Judo typically involves highlight reel
style throws that inflict damage on top of getting the opponent where they are
wanted. Traditional Judo does teach some strikes, but they are not practiced in
their form of sparring and therefore shouldn’t really be weighed in your fight
predictions. Some Judo is taught on the ground and resembles a lot of what you
would see in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. This SHOULD be noted when making your fight
predictions as it is an active part of the martial art.

Advantages for Use in Mixed Martial Arts

Damage Inflicting Takedowns

Getting your opponent to the canvas when you want to is already a big win in
a mixed martial arts fight. Being able to do it while simultaneously inflicting
damage is extra credit that goes a long way. There have been fighters hit with
Judo throws that have been knocked unconscious the second they hit the mat. The
ability to possibly end the fight with just a takedown or hurt your opponent
where controlling them on the ground becomes a lot easier is a huge plus of
having Judo in your arsenal.

Threat of Takedowns

Sometimes just being capable of something is enough to alter the course of
the fight. If you are fighting someone who knows you are capable of highlight
reel style Judo throws, they’re going to be forced to fight a totally different
fight against you. They won’t be able to fight inside as much as they might like
to due to fear of being viciously tossed around the cage. They may even
look to limit the number of kicks they throw to prevent this, though, this is
more common against wrestling style takedowns.

Disadvantages and Dangers for Use in Mixed Martial Arts

Competition Moves

Like we say with Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, Judo is also a competitive sport. It’s
actually in the Olympics, and they have major tournaments worldwide all the
time. There are several throws in Judo that even when completed and done
properly will result in you landing in a bad position. Some throws, when done
correctly, might hurt your opponent but will land you on the ground giving up
your back. Throws when done incorrectly also run this risk quite often. Fights
have been lost by fighters missing one Judo throw and not being able to recover
from the lost position. Regarding betting, you’ll want to research the fighter’s
Judo ability and look how well they’ve been able to adapt it into past mixed
martial arts fights. Don’t pay too much attention to how they’ve done in Judo
competitions, though, it is still important.


This is a style that we see less frequently than some of the others on our
list, but it is definitely one that needs to be discussed as there have been
several top level fighters using it effectively. It’s also important to point
out that out of all of the styles on this list, this is the one with the most
variations. While the general idea of the martial art is the same across all
variations, there are a lot of subtle differences that will have a profound
effect on its effectiveness in mixed martial arts.

Advantages for Use in Mixed Martial Arts


Karate is fairly famous for using a lot of different types of strikes that
are very unconventional in the world of mixed martial arts. If you’ve never seen
these strikes before or have limited experience defending against them, you’re
going to have a big challenge on your hands fighting a Karate fighter. Not only
are the methods of striking unorthodox, but the angles at which the attacks come
at you will be varied and can really throw a fighter for a loop. Even though
there are Karate schools and Dojos everywhere, it can still be a challenge to
get a sparring partner who understands the combat effectiveness of Karate and
can give you decent sparring practice.

Disadvantages and Dangers for Use in Mixed Martial Arts

Combat Effectiveness | Power

Over the years, Karate has taken a lot of guff for being a martial art that
looks cool but isn’t that effective when it comes to inflicting damage on your
opponent. There are probably two reasons for this. One, there a lot of Karate
schools that have forgotten the combat effectiveness of the art form and are
teaching a watered down version that looks to be trying to make money first and
train students second. When the priorities get out of whack like this, the art
form loses its punch. The second reason could be due to the fact that Karate
competitions are designed to be very low impact. While this is smart to protect
the competitors, it teaches them to adopt a style that is more about scoring
points than it is about being effective. If you’ve ever watched a Karate points
competition, you can quickly see that most of what they are perfecting would be
worthless in a real mixed martial arts fight. Though this is the case with a lot
of Karate schools, it’s not the case with all and some fighters are still
effective using the style.

Muay Thai

Time and time again, Muay Thai proves to be one of the most effective forms
of striking and defense in mixed martial arts. Originating in Thailand, Muay
Thai has made its way into mixed martial arts cages thanks to its vicious style
and intense training. Muay Thai fighters are trained to attack with more than
just their fists. They use all eight of their limbs including hands, legs,
knees, and elbows.

Advantages for Use in Mixed Martial Arts


It’s no secret that Muay Thai fighters have some of, if not the most intense
training of any martial art on this list. They train intensely on toughening
their body and hardening their shins to absorb more punishment and keep
fighting. It’s not uncommon for Muay Thai fighters to fight weekly or monthly
and spar hard several times a week. As it’s impossible to block all eight
attacks, they must be conditioned properly to keep going in a fight. This
translates extremely well over to mixed martial arts as it makes them extremely
difficult to finish via strikes. The mental hardship they put on opponents who
have thrown everything in their arsenal and not dropped them is intense and
extremely effective in mentally breaking their opponents.

Diversity of Strikes

Much like Karate, Muay Thai works with a lot of different strikes by using
the entire body as a weapon. This diversity of strikes allows the fighter to
keep their opponent off balance and unsure about what attack is coming next.
Just when you think you’re getting a handle on a couple of strikes, your
opponent could throw several new ones at you and completely throw you off or
knock you out. This can be overwhelming and is extremely effective in winning

Disadvantages and Dangers for Use in Mixed Martial Arts


To be completely honest, there really isn’t a drawback to using Muay Thai in
mixed martial arts. The art form doesn’t really need to be tweaked at all and is
extremely effective “as is.” The only thing a Muay Thai fighter needs to learn
is some form of a ground game or the ability to stay on their feet versus
takedowns. Even this is already touched on with clinch work of Muay Thai, so the
fighters have a head start.


A lot of the most successful fighters in mixed martial arts have come from
some form of a wrestling background. Whether freestyle or Greco-Roman, wrestlers
seem to have a great ability to succeed in mixed martial arts. Wrestling is all
about controlling your opponent. This could mean controlling them from the feet
and taking them down to the ground or controlling their position while already
on the ground. Most wrestlers will use their skills to get their opponent to
ground, hold them there, and land ground and pound. It’s fairly common to see
fights get stopped with the wrestler on top pounding away at an opponent that
can’t seem to find a way to escape.

Advantages for Use in Mixed Martial Arts

Ability to Dictate the Fight

When you have the ability to stay on your feet and defend takedowns and the
ability to take down your opponent at will, you have complete control to dictate
where the fight is going to take place. If it’s someone that you think you can
beat on the feet, then you’re able to keep the fight there. If you’d prefer to
take down the fighter because they’re a skilled striker, you can when you
choose. This can help you stay protected and negate their supreme striking
skills. If you do choose to take your opponent down, you are usually much more
skilled in how to keep them there than say, a Judo fighter might be. This sort
of control goes a long way to finishing fights and also to controlling and
sometimes winning less than exciting fights.


A lot of times when fights hit the ground there is a point where there is no
established position, and the fighters are scrambling to gain the dominant
position. This can usually look like a sloppy mishmash of flailing and speed,
but it is actually calculated efforts. Wrestlers, most likely due to the nature
of their training, seem to excel at scramble positions and do seem to come out
on top (literally) majority of the time. This might seem like something small,
but the fighter that is winning the scrambles is usually the one that is also
going to be winning the fight.

Disadvantages and Dangers for Use in Mixed Martial Arts

The Turtle Problem

We are not referring to the actual position of turtle, but we’re referring to
a real life, living and breathing turtle. They’re pretty functional when they’re
climbing on top of things but put them on their back, and they are helpless.
This tends to be a big problem for wrestlers as most of their training and
control is done from the top position. For this reason, they tend to avoid being
on their backs like the plague. The good news for them is they usually have
great takedown defense and can avoid this, but they do fall into this position
occasionally after scramble or maybe by a BJJ fighter that pulls guard.