Which Martial Arts Backgrounds Are the Best For MMA?

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a multifaceted sport that combines elements from various combat styles. For those looking to embark on an MMA career, starting with a strong foundation in certain martial arts can offer a significant edge. This article delves into the key disciplines that serve as the best background for MMA.


Wrestling, one of the oldest forms of combat, has proven to be an invaluable background for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters. Its techniques and principles offer several advantages in the MMA arena.

Wrestling excels in teaching control over an opponent, particularly in clinch situations. Wrestlers are adept at executing takedowns, enabling them to dictate where the fight occurs, whether standing or on the ground.

Once on the ground, wrestlers typically have superior top control. Their ability to maintain dominant positions and prevent opponents from escaping or reversing is crucial in MMA, where ground control can significantly influence the outcome of a fight.

The training is rigorous, focusing on building exceptional physical strength and endurance. This conditioning is invaluable in the physically demanding environment of MMA, where stamina and strength can be the difference between winning and losing.

The mental resilience developed in wrestling – the ability to endure intense training and competition – translates well to MMA. Wrestlers are often praised for their grit and determination, essential qualities for facing the diverse challenges in the cage.

Wrestlers typically have a strong foundation for learning other martial arts disciplines, particularly grappling-based styles like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, making them well-rounded competitors in MMA.

Kickboxing and Muay Thai

Kickboxing and Muay Thai are striking arts that have become fundamental in the training regimen of successful Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters. Their techniques and principles offer unique advantages in the stand-up aspect of MMA.

Both disciplines provide a comprehensive striking toolkit. They include punches, kicks, and knees, allowing fighters to strike effectively from various ranges and angles. This versatility is crucial in MMA, where adaptability in striking is key.

Muay Thai is particularly renowned for its effective clinch work. Fighters learn to control an opponent in close quarters using elbows and knees, which is highly beneficial in MMA during cage fighting and in tight spaces.

On the other hand, kickboxing, in particular, focuses on agile footwork and movement. This skill is invaluable for maintaining distance, evading attacks, and setting up strikes, offering a tactical advantage in MMA stand-up exchanges.

Training in both of these disciplines involves high-intensity workouts, significantly enhancing cardiovascular fitness and stamina. This level of conditioning is crucial for the fast-paced and physically demanding nature of MMA.

Fighters with a kickboxing or Muay Thai background often find it easier to transition into MMA. They already have a solid base in stand-up fighting, and with additional training in grappling and ground fighting, they become well-rounded competitors.

The blend of diverse striking techniques, effective clinch work, power and precision, advanced footwork, and cardiovascular fitness makes kickboxing and Muay Thai ideal backgrounds for MMA fighters. They provide the necessary skills for dominance in stand-up combat and a robust base for developing a comprehensive MMA fighting style.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), a martial art focusing on ground fighting and submission holds, has gained immense popularity worldwide, not just as a stand-alone discipline but also as a foundational skill for various combat sports, including Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). This article explores why BJJ serves as an excellent background for anyone interested in martial arts.

BJJ emphasizes technique over brute strength, making it accessible and effective for practitioners of all sizes and strengths. This focus on skill and strategy enables a smaller, weaker person to successfully defend against and overcome a larger opponent, which is a fundamental principle in martial arts.

Most real-life fights and combat sports encounters end up on the ground. BJJ’s comprehensive ground fighting techniques equip practitioners with the skills to control, neutralize, and submit opponents in ground combat, a crucial aspect often overlooked in other martial arts.

BJJ is often likened to physical chess due to its complex and strategic nature. Practitioners learn to think several moves ahead, developing mental toughness and problem-solving abilities. These skills are invaluable in MMA.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s emphasis on technique, ground combat, mental fortitude, self-defense, physical fitness, and community make it an excellent background for martial arts enthusiasts. Whether the goal is self-defense, competitive fighting, or personal development, BJJ provides a solid and versatile foundation for mixer martial arts fighters.

Blending Disciplines for MMA

The integration of various martial arts techniques is what makes MMA unique and dynamic. For instance, a fighter with a background in both striking and grappling art is often more versatile and prepared for the unpredictable nature of MMA fights.

While having a solid base in one discipline can be advantageous, adaptability and willingness to learn across multiple styles are key. The most successful MMA fighters are those who can blend techniques from different martial arts to create a unique fighting style.


The best background for starting in MMA is not limited to a single discipline. Instead, a combination of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, Muay Thai, Boxing, and Judo forms a robust foundation. These arts provide the necessary skills for both offensive and defensive strategies in MMA, preparing fighters for the sport’s diverse and challenging nature.

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