Boxing vs. MMA: Which is more dangerous?


With the strides made in the sport of MMA over the last decade (more states allowing the sport, more main stream media coverage, etc.), it was surprising to a lot of fans that the Australian press corp recently maligned the sport as “barbaric.” This begs the question, just how injurious to it’s participants is MMA in comparison to its cousin, boxing? The answer should not surprise those fans who understand and appreciate MMA.In 2006, the American American Association of Neurological Surgeons estimated that about 90% of boxers end up sustaining brain damage, pointing out that a direct hit in the ring, to the head, is equivalent to being hit with a 12 pound wooden mallet travelling at around 20 miles per hour.

Yikes! With that comparison in mind, it does not take a doctor to understand why 12 rounds of this type of activity could cause serious damage to a fighters noggin. This has not gone unnoticed by our elected officials as protections have been passed and boxing is highly regulated (for e.g.: The Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996, The Mohammed Ali Boxing Reform Act).

Now, compare the above to what happens in an MMA event. Rather than focusing on the only two areas of the body to inflict damage in a boxing match (head and body), the MMA fighter is free to focus on legs kicks, take downs, and the various submissions that result from manipulation of the limbs, joints and the neck. Couple this with the limited amount of time in which to fight (as compared to 12 rounds of boxing), and it becomes obvious that, although scarred and bloodied, an MMA fighter is much less likely to sustain permanent, debilitating brain damage as a result of fighting in the sport. 

This opinion has been brought home as recently as this month when, on February 19, 2010, a 26 year old Japanese boxer, Hirokazu Yamaki, died after a boxing match due to brain damage.  Despite this, the Australian news reports attacked the UFC as being barbaric due to the presence of blood during UFC 110.

When one attains an intelligent understanding of the sport of MMA and it’s effect on the body, as compared to round after round of direct blows to the head seen in boxing, it becomes apparent that the more “barbaric” of the two sports is boxing. Unfortunately, because most cannot focus past the blood, ignorance often rules the day in the main stream media.

  • MMA is more dangerous

  • I had to favorite this article. Very good!

  • Thanks. I hope the Aussies don’t take offense; we have retards in the press too.

  • Boxing does more damage. But there are ways to get your neck broke from takedowns,suplexes etc. in MMA.

  • As with anything, you have to define your terms. Dangerous in terms of injuries sustained? Or dangerous as in death? Most people would agree that dying is a lot more dangerous than pretty much any injury.

    I only know of there being one death in MMA. It was in Russia, and under dubious sanctioning.

    Several boxers die every year, like the case cited in the article. This is because….

    The smaller MMA gloves may create nastier looking cuts and welts, but the the large surface area of boxing gloves transmit the force of the punch over a wider area, creating a larger shock wave to the brain.

    And because there are no standing 8 counts or knock down rules, the fighter in MMA doesn’t have the chance to recover and get beat on some more. Most concusions and serious brain injuries in combat sports come from repeated blows to the head.

    I think the answer is pretty obvious. MMA only looks dangerous to people who don’t understand the sport. I’d be happy for my kid to learn MMA but I’d do every thing I could to stop him from boxing.

  • Well said.

  • Not to mention the ten-count! Knock a guy out, let him try to stand up for a LONG ten seconds, and let a guy that is totally rocked, yet full of adrenaline so he is able to stand on his feet, go out and get knocked out again. THAT is barbaric. And it is much more dangerous hitting someone when they are already hurt.

    In mma on the other hand, knock a guy down/out, the other guy jumps over him and the ref stops the fight. First of all, a lot safer, secondly, a lot more realistic to a real fight.

    Who even invented the stupid ten count system?

  • The world is a shithole of backwards behaviour, were expected to shut up and get drunk and let corporations take care of us. Not unlike the corporate emtities that own and manage boxers.

    People with more money push around their enemies and sabotage their business.

  • Based on what exactly? People die in boxing, they retire and their brains are mush.

  • They ought to take away the standing count in boxing, and maybe even require head-gear. And to make MMA safer, they ought to use small closed handed gloves (across the fingers, due to frequent, sometimes damaging eye pokes). Then you might consider head gear and/or other padding if you really want to make it safe and not be considered a brutal sport. Also make actual breaking of limbs illegal (and why not?). It doesn’t serve anyone justice when it happens, except those crappy fans that like to see gore.

    So as it stands, boxing is more dangerous, but either could easily be changed to be less dangerous. Now which is more violent in terms of engagement? Obviously MMA is: it draws more blood and results in more minor to medium level injuries. In fact, if it weren’t for modern medicine and expensive surgery, a lot of fighters would be having rather short careers and leading more limited lives, seemingly far more so then in any other sport.

  • Good point, well made.

  • Hey, if someone thinks MMA is more dangerous that doesn’t make him stupid or a non-fan. Afterall, how many broken arms or legs are there in boxing. There are points on both sides of the arguement. And while a few boxing brains are mush (e.g. Leon Spinks) we haven’t yet seen and old MMA fighters yet have we. Think about BJ’s head after Matt Hughes had him in the crucifix or the second concussion on Bisping’s head after Hendo KO’d him. Second KO / concussion syndrome is dangerous.

    I’m an MMA fighter and fan but I’m just saying…

  • Thanks bro …forget about those freaking moron !

  • They talking about Boxing history …moron ! MMA new in the business ,how about taking kneel into ur stupid head,slamped ur stupid head down…and don’t tell me in MMA they don’t punch ur stupid head

  • Moron..just kidding ! if talking about which more dangerous is still quesionable ! Boxer due to brain damage more .. and why they keep punching ur stupid head only !!! but MMA don’t tell me they don’t fly kneel to ur god dam head ,kicking ur stupid face, elbow to ur head,break ur arms,legs,neck choked due to brain what ? etc .and remember that MMA glove much thinker than boxing ,there are already some of the MMA fighter die due to brain damaged depress commited suicide report in MMA midle weight

  • Good point

  • What?

  • i watched Facing Ali, and joe fraizer sounds like he might have left a few brain cells in manilla, as for ali its sad to see how much his health has deteriorated, but amazing he truely was. the only person i can think of who’s started to mumble more when talking is chuck

  • I’d say boxing, because there’s higher chance of getting hit in the head and because the padding adds too substaning damage without getting knocked out. A TKO in MMA is the equivelent to 3 TKOs in boxing considering the persons down on the mat. I can be KO’d for a split second in boxing 2 times in a round but still fight as long as I get up within 10 seconds, in MMA a split second knock out can easily lead to a TKO cause you have no time to recover before someones on top of you.

  • Good explained man

  • That is what is so dangerous about boxing where they give you a few seconds to get up and take more punishment, in MMA when you are down you get finished and its over. Early days in boxing it was the whole thing about being repeatedly beaten to the ground over and over again that eventually killed people. In MMA more often then not a fight ends with just the 1 big shot.

  • sharp and cool, agreed

  • You’re not a big fan of ground fights are you? Any kind of protective gear would change the entire game of MMA. Also if you make breaking limbs illegal why would anyone tap to an armbar? Should actually chocking people out be illegal as well as it looks grouse when people go limp or maybe also make KO’s illegal since its considered brutal to KO people…. where does this train of thought end?

  • Yeah I think Tito is a perfect example of that MMA doesn’t really do that much damage, I mean if MMA really did leave lasting impressions you’d think Chuck would have already knocked some sense into that fool, no?

  • And before boxing changed the rules for how many times you could get knocked down etc a lot of people were dying.

  • Yankee, you are a shit head. Blueclearsky, if you don’t like it don’t watch nobody gives a shit! Don’t come on an MMA site to complain about it, pussy! there are on average 3 deaths a year in boxing, I don’t know of any deaths in MMA, but even if there were, there are many more in boxing. Oh, and learn how to type bitch, you could barely understand what you’re trying to say.

  • No personal attacks, racial slurs or insults; no vulgar, lewd or threatening comments… should show yourself a respect and learn to watch your mouth ! ,nobody here said that ,I don’t like MMA and complain ,where do you came up with that number average 3 deaths a year in boxing ? you just nobody here too !

  • i saw on tv how a mexican young boxer was fights julio cesar vhacez son and died between rounds, its diferent because mma gets cuts easy but try to stand in front of a wall and kock your head for 12 rounds then you will notice the difference

  • Chuck’s been mumbling ’cause he drinks like a phuqing fish.

  • If you look back boxing is the more dangerous sport. They have far more rounds, therefore more hits are taken. MMA is obviously dangerous, but the most that usually happens is broken bones, and gashes.

  • I think they are focusing on permanent damage, i mean ya your arm can get permanent damage, but you’ll still live. Brain damage doesnt heal once it become grey matter, so its a little bit more serious, and thats all they are trying to say…

  • In Boxing you get hit to the head non stop that makes boxing worst

  • I actually thought this was sharp despite the amount of weaks on it. Everything can become safer, but sometimes it might **** up the fun of the sport.