The sport reached a new peak of popularity in North America in December 2006: a rematch between then UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and former champion Tito Ortiz, rivaled the PPV sales of some of the biggest boxing events of all time, and helped the UFC's 2006 PPV gross surpass that of any promotion in PPV history. In 2007, Zuffa LLC, the owners of the UFC MMA promotion, bought Japanese rival MMA brand Pride FC, merging the contracted fighters under one promotion. Comparisons were drawn to the consolidation that occurred in other sports, such as the AFL-NFL Merger in American football.
Boxing is a combat form that is widely used in MMA and is one of the primary striking bases for many fighters. Boxing punches account for the vast majority of strikes during the stand up portion of a bout and also account for the largest number of significant strikes, knock downs and KOs in MMA matches. Several aspects of boxing are extremely valuable such as footwork, combinations, and defensive techniques like slips, head movement and stance (including chin protection and keeping hands up) commonly known as the Guard position. Boxing-based fighters have also been shown to throw and land a higher volume of strikes when compared with other striking bases, at a rate of 3.88 per minute with 9.64 per minute thrown (compared with Muay Thai at 3.46 and 7.50, respectively). Fighters known for using boxing include Cain Velasquez, Nick Diaz, Junior dos Santos, B.J. Penn, Dan Hardy, Shane Carwin and Andrei Arlovski.
Is it for you? If you have any dreams of competing, this is a good way to go. Many MMA fighters use Muay Thai as the basis for their striking game and amateur kickboxing matches aren’t hard to come by. If you’re already flexible, you’ll probably have an easier time at the start, especially with the kicks. From a self-defense standpoint, it’s in the middle of the pack in terms of practicality.
While you can’t depend on boxing solely as a skill, it is an important part of MMA training. The advantage of sharpening your boxing skill set is that you will improve your hand skills, and boxing includes a great deal of conditioning that will make you a stronger MMA fighter. Find an MMA gym with skilled boxing coaches that offer classes ranging from beginning skills to professional-level boxing. However, don’t expect to simply rely on those boxing skills. Many a tough boxer has been thrown to the ground by an expert wrestler.
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