UFC Fighting Styles: Unveiling the Secrets of Mixed Martial Arts [2023]

ufc fighting styles

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a dynamic combat sport that combines various fighting disciplines to create a unique and thrilling spectacle. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the premier organization in the world of MMA, showcasing some of the most talented fighters and diverse fighting styles. In this comprehensive guide, our team at MMA Ninja™ will dive deep into the world of UFC fighting styles, uncovering the secrets behind the techniques and strategies employed by these skilled athletes. Whether you're a seasoned fan or a newcomer to the sport, this article will provide you with valuable insights into the exciting world of MMA.

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Welcome to the electrifying world of UFC fighting styles! MMA has rapidly gained popularity due to its raw intensity and the display of skill and athleticism from its fighters. The UFC, as the pinnacle of MMA, has seen champions rise and legends made within its octagon.

In this article, we will take you on a thrilling journey through the various fighting styles found in the UFC. From the striking finesse of boxing to the grappling mastery of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, we will explore the techniques, strategies, and nuances behind each martial art. Let's dive in!

What is MMA

Before we delve into the intricacies of UFC fighting styles, let's have a quick overview of what MMA is all about. Mixed Martial Arts is a full-contact combat sport that allows fighters to use a wide range of techniques from both striking and grappling disciplines. Unlike traditional martial arts, MMA combines elements of boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, and other combat sports to create a dynamic and exhilarating spectacle.

Fighting Styles

UFC fighters are renowned for their versatility and ability to seamlessly transition between different fighting styles. Let's explore some of the most prominent styles observed in the octagon:

1. Boxing

Boxing, known as the "sweet science," is a striking-based martial art that focuses on punches and footwork. It emphasizes quick and accurate punches, head movement, and defensive tactics. While boxing alone might not be enough to succeed in MMA, the techniques and principles of boxing can be adapted to create a formidable striking arsenal. UFC fighters like Conor McGregor and Israel Adesanya have showcased their boxing skills to devastating effect.

Key Techniques and Strategies:

  • Precise punches (jabs, hooks, uppercuts)
  • Head movement and footwork
  • Defense and counterattacks

2. Kickboxing and Muay Thai

Kickboxing and Muay Thai are two stand-up combat sports that incorporate punches, kicks, knees, and elbows. They both have their unique styles and rule sets, but the fundamentals of striking play a crucial role in both disciplines. In the UFC, fighters who have a background in kickboxing or Muay Thai possess devastating striking power and techniques. Notable fighters like Anderson Silva and Joanna Jedrzejczyk have displayed their mastery of these styles.

Key Techniques and Strategies:

  • Leg kicks
  • Knee strikes
  • Clinching and the use of elbows

3. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling-based martial art that focuses on ground fighting and submission holds. BJJ practitioners aim to dominate opponents through superior control, joint locks, and chokes. In MMA, a strong foundation in BJJ is essential for both offensive and defensive tactics on the ground. UFC champions like Demian Maia and Charles Oliveira have proven the effectiveness of BJJ in high-level competition.

Key Techniques and Strategies:

  • Guard variations (closed guard, butterfly guard, etc.)
  • Sweeps and reversals
  • Submission holds (armbar, triangle choke, rear-naked choke)

4. Wrestling

Wrestling is a combat sport that emphasizes takedowns, throws, and ground control. Wrestlers are known for their exceptional strength, explosiveness, and ability to dictate where the fight takes place. Many high-level UFC fighters come from a wrestling background, as it provides a strong base for both offensive and defensive techniques. Former UFC champions like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Daniel Cormier have utilized their wrestling skills to great effect.

Key Techniques and Strategies:

  • Double-leg and single-leg takedowns
  • Ground control and position dominance
  • Escapes and reversals

5. Karate

Karate is a striking-based martial art that originated in Okinawa, Japan. It emphasizes quick and powerful strikes, evasive footwork, and strong stances. While Karate might not be as prevalent in the UFC as other styles, fighters like Lyoto Machida and Stephen Thompson have demonstrated the effectiveness of Karate techniques, particularly with their elusive movement and destructive kicks.

Key Techniques and Strategies:

  • Strong stances and precise strikes
  • Unpredictable angles of attack
  • Effective use of the front kick (Mae-geri)

6. Taekwondo

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art known for its high, fast, and flashy kicks. It places a strong emphasis on agility, flexibility, and speed. While not as frequently seen in the UFC as other styles, fighters like Anthony Pettis and Yair Rodriguez have showcased the capabilities of Taekwondo with their spectacular kicks and acrobatic maneuvers.

Key Techniques and Strategies:

  • High kicks (head kicks, spinning kicks)
  • Speed and agility
  • Effective use of the roundhouse and side kick

Methods of Victory

In the thrilling world of MMA, fighters can achieve victory through a variety of methods. The Octagon provides a canvas for explosive knockouts, technical submissions, and hard-fought decisions. Let's explore the different methods of victory in the UFC:

  1. Knockout (KO): A fighter wins by knocking out their opponent, rendering them unconscious or unable to continue.
  2. Technical Knockout (TKO): The referee stops the fight when a fighter is unable to intelligently defend themselves or if the safety of the fighter is in jeopardy.
  3. Submission: A fighter forces their opponent to concede defeat by applying a joint lock or chokehold, causing them to tap out or verbally submit.
  4. Decision: If the fight goes the distance without a knockout or submission, the judges score the bout based on effective striking, grappling, octagon control, and overall dominance.
  5. Disqualification: If a fighter commits a serious foul or violates the rules, they may be disqualified and lose the fight.
  6. No Contest: If an accidental foul or an unforeseen circumstance occurs that significantly affects the outcome of the fight, the bout may be declared a "no contest" and result in a tie.

It's worth noting that each method of victory adds an extra layer of excitement to the sport, keeping fans on the edge of their seats throughout the event.

Terms to Know

As with any sport, MMA comes with its own set of unique terms and jargon. Here are some essential terms to familiarize yourself with:

  • Octagon: The eight-sided cage used in UFC bouts.
  • Ground and Pound: A fighting strategy where a fighter takes their opponent to the ground and delivers powerful strikes from the top position.
  • Sprawl: A defensive technique used to counter a takedown attempt by sprawling one's legs backward to maintain a standing position.
  • Clinch: Close-range grappling, where fighters engage and attempt takedowns, strikes, or position control.
  • Guard: A grappling position where a fighter is fighting from their back, utilizing their legs and hips to control their opponent.
  • Mount: A dominant position where a fighter sits astride their opponent on the ground, often leading to ground and pound or submission attempts.

These terms will help you better understand the action inside the octagon and appreciate the strategies employed by fighters.

MMA Weight Classes

To ensure fairness and safety, MMA competitions are divided into weight classes. Each weight class imposes certain limits on the fighters' weights, creating more balanced matchups. The UFC currently features the following weight divisions:

  • Strawweight (up to 115 lbs)
  • Flyweight (up to 125 lbs)
  • Bantamweight (up to 135 lbs)
  • Featherweight (up to 145 lbs)
  • Lightweight (up to 155 lbs)
  • Welterweight (up to 170 lbs)
  • Middleweight (up to 185 lbs)
  • Light Heavyweight (up to 205 lbs)
  • Heavyweight (up to 265 lbs)

The divisional structure allows fighters to compete against opponents who are similar in size, ensuring a level playing field and reducing the risk of severe weight disparities.


How many fighting styles are in MMA?

MMA encompasses a wide range of fighting styles, with fighters often having expertise in multiple disciplines. While there's no definitive number, it's common for MMA fighters to train in at least two or three fighting styles to become well-rounded combat athletes.

What is UFC style?

UFC style refers to the unique blend of various fighting styles and techniques employed by fighters in the UFC. It combines elements from striking arts, such as boxing, kickboxing, and Muay Thai, with grappling arts, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling. UFC fighters aim to showcase their versatility and adaptability by seamlessly transitioning between different styles during a fight.

What is Israel Adesanya's fighting style?

Israel Adesanya, one of the most prominent fighters in the UFC middleweight division, utilizes a style heavily influenced by kickboxing and traditional martial arts. Adesanya incorporates precise striking techniques, such as effective feints, rapid footwork, and devastating kicks, along with fluid movement and defense inspired by his background as a kickboxer and Karate practitioner.

Can you learn multiple fighting styles for MMA?

Yes, learning multiple fighting styles is highly beneficial for MMA fighters. By acquiring skills from different disciplines, fighters can adapt their game plans to exploit their opponents' weaknesses and create a well-rounded approach to fighting. Learning different styles allows for greater versatility and the ability to adapt to different situations inside the octagon.

Is boxing an effective fighting style in MMA?

While boxing alone may have limitations in MMA due to the absence of kicks and certain grappling techniques, the fundamental principles of boxing, such as footwork, head movement, and efficient striking, play a crucial role in the success of many UFC fighters. Boxing skills complement other fighting styles, enabling fighters to deliver precise and powerful punches while effectively evading their opponents' strikes.

Quick Tips and Facts

  • Tip: Strive to be well-rounded. While excelling in one particular style is valuable, being proficient in multiple fighting styles will give you an edge over opponents who are less versatile.
  • Fact: The UFC was founded in 1993 to determine the most effective martial art in real-life combat scenarios. The early events featured fighters from various styles, leading to the creation of MMA as we know it today.
  • Tip: Conditioning and cardiovascular fitness are essential for MMA. The intense pace of a fight requires fighters to have exceptional endurance and stamina.
  • Fact: The UFC has weight divisions for both men and women, allowing female fighters to showcase their skills and compete at the highest level of the sport.
  • Tip: Study and analyze fights. Watching and learning from experienced MMA fighters will enhance your understanding of different strategies and techniques.
  • Fact: The top UFC fighters often train with athletes from different gyms and fighting backgrounds. This cross-training approach helps them expand their skill set and develop versatile fighting styles.


  1. UFC Official Website
  2. UFC Women's Weight Classes
  3. Top Striking Techniques in MMA
  4. The Evolution of MMA
  5. Understanding MMA Weight Classes
  6. Key Grappling Techniques in MMA

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