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Does MMA Work In a Street Fight?

Lee, B. (Director). (1972). The Way of the Dragon(Return of the Dragon) [Film]. 20th Century Fox

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Due to the rapid rise of modern Mixed Martial Arts(MMA), most people have become familiar of how effective MMA techniques are inside the cage after watching UFC fights on TV. However, people often wonder if these MMA techniques can really work in a street fight and not just inside the cage.

If you find yourself in a scenario in which you have to defend yourself against the assailant, MMA works the best in a street fight compared to other combat arts. This is because MMA is the only fighting system that is designed based on a real fight as closely as possible. As a result, what you learn in MMA training will be easily applicable in a street fight.

With that in mind, I will further explain all the reasons why MMA works in a street fight as well as a few of MMA limitations that are important to know.

How Can MMA Help You In a Street Fight?

1. MMA will prepare you to fight wherever the fight takes place

MMA is the only martial art that will teach you how to fight in all areas of fighting. You will learn how to strike on the feet, handle the assailant in the clinch, or submit them on the ground. This is the main reason why many people see it as perfect for self-defense and street fighting.

Since there isn’t a martial art that will prepare you for fighting in all areas, MMA integrates multiple martial arts into one system to cover three fundamental areas of the fighting.

· Standup (Muay Thai; Boxing)

· Clinch (Judo; Wrestling)

· Ground (Wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu)

As a result, MMA fighters are well-rounded and versed in various standup and ground fighting martial arts. Just like skilled fighters who compete inside the cage, you will know how to handle the assailant wherever the fight will take place in a street fight. 

Many street fights often end up on the ground where most people are very uncomfortable with on their back. As an MMA trained person, you will have huge advantage since you can apply various BJJ chokeholds and joint locks to neutralize the attacker on the ground. Or you can use wrestling moves to keep them on the bottom and do damage from top position.

2. MMA teaches you only the best fighting techniques

With MMA training, you won’t spend a second of your life learning unproven moves that seem to work only in action movies. Instead, every single technique you learn is proven to work and can help you in the street fight as a result. 

The reason for this lays deep into what MMA represents as a concept. In the early 90s, MMA emerged with the idea to promote style vs. style matchups. Early MMA events were wild and often seen as street fighting with few rules in place. There were no weight classes, banned strikes, or even time limits. Although these events were violent, they helped us to distinguish which combat art works in fighting and which doesn’t.

Over the years, fighting styles like BJJ, wrestling, and Muay Thai have emerged as very effective. On the other side, martial arts like Aikido and Chinese arts proved ineffective on many occasions. In some way, you can look at MMA fighting as a testing ground in which you can find out what works in real life and what don’t. 

As a result, modern MMA fighters are cross training between different martial arts and learning only the techniques that have been proven as very effective. With MMA training, you will be confident in your fighting abilities because every single technique you learn has been battle tested inside the MMA cage.

3. You will be physically conditioned to outlast your attacker

Mixed with fear and adrenalin, fighting drains your energy really fast. Both you and the attacker might gas out very quickly if you are not fit enough. 

With MMA training, you will be well conditioned to outlast your assailant should the fight goes longer than expected. MMA training is cardio intensive and often seen as a full body workout. Training for just a couple of months will increase your cardio levels and get you in top shape. 

If you look at any MMA fight, you can often see how vital it is to be fit, and how easy it is to beat the opponent who gasses out. At some point, fighter with bad cardio becomes a sitting duck waiting for the end to happen and street fighting is no different if you get tired too quickly.

4. MMA teaches you how to stay composed in a street fight

When you are in a street fight, the key thing is to keep your mind calm and be composed. This is very important since most people tend to hit the panic button and overreact during a fight. Not every human has the ability to deal with such pressure. But, MMA teaches you how to control this sudden rush of emotions and make rational decisions.

All the skills in the world mean nothing if your mind is not locked in place. Fear and adrenalin increase heart rate which forces you to breathe faster and gas out much quicker. They call this pre-fight anxiety. On top of that, it will mess with your reaction time and the way you fight. That’s why MMA fighters must embrace the crowd and magnitude of the moment, keep their head cool and stay composed throughout the fight.

Sparring is the best way to reduce pre-fight anxiety because it simulates the pressure of being in a real fight. Even though you are doing it in a gym and it is all safe, sparring will give you a very similar rush of fear and adrenalin. Over time, you will get used to this feeling and know how to control your emotions, including the fear of fighting. 

Keeping your mind calm in a street fight allows you to make rational decisions, and stop yourself from overreacting. You will have a clear vision of the situation and will know how to apply techniques you learned in training to defend yourself.

5. MMA is the best martial art for self defense

Out of all martial arts, MMA might be the best if you want to learn how to defend on the streets. Even though it was not designed for self-defense, it ended up as superior to most other fighting systems. 

Other martial arts like boxing, BJJ, or karate are simply too one-dimensional. They will teach you only how to fight in one aspect, standing up or fighting on the ground, not both. MMA is superior to any other martial art because it mixes standup and ground fighting techniques together into one fighting system. With MMA training, you will learn how to box, use BJJ submissions and wrestling moves to score takedowns. 

This is crucial because you never know in which area of fighting you might have to defend yourself in street fighting. One moment you can fight the assailant standing up, and in a split of a second you might have to defend on the ground. 

Boxing is great as long as you keep the fight standing. But if the fight goes to the ground, boxer will be in a world of trouble. MMA teaches all aspects and you will feel comfortable wherever the fight takes place. 

MMA Is NOT Effective In These Street Fight Situations 

1. MMA doesn’t include illegal and dirty techniques

There are no laws or rules in street fighting and both parties can use all types of dirty and illegal tactics. Some people may start pulling your hair, gouging eyes or biting. MMA is limited here because it is not designed to put focus on how to defend against these illegal moves. 

Even skilled fighters should never overlook the ability of an untrained person to use dirty techniques. As a trained fighter, you will focus on using the techniques you learned in training, not expecting that someone can hit you in the groins or put a finger in your eye. In your mind, these moves are illegal and you are not conditioned to face dirty tricks and illegal moves. But assailants, on the other hand, will do whatever it takes to win a street fight and their intention can be deadly. 

You may use a wrestling move to take them down but it can prove as a bad move once the assailant starts gouging your eyes. They can cause permanent damage to your eye in a split of a second and turn the fight momentum to their side. 

You may be a better fighter on paper. But, street fighting has no rules and MMA won’t teach you well how to defend against illegal tactics. Fighting systems like Krav Maga are a much better option if you want to learn how to defend against biting, groin strikes, eye gouging and other illegal moves. 

2. MMA is not designed for multiple attackers

MMA is a combat sport that teaches you how to fight one on one and you won’t learn how to handle multiple attackers. There are various fighting systems that “teach” how to fight against more than one attacker. But they all include very questionable techniques that work only in moves and here is why.

Every person has only two arms and a pair of eyes with a limited scope which means our bodies are limited to fight against multiple attackers. In reality, each person attacks differently and our minds are not fully capable of observing multiple attackers at a time. It all goes to another level when you add emotions and adrenalin to it. 

MMA or any other martial art won’t help you much when you are fighting against multiple attackers. The only thing that helps you in this type of scenario is to run as fast as you can.

3. MMA won’t teach you how to deal with deadly weapons

MMA is a hand to hand combat that doesn’t include weapons of any kind. It won’t teach you how to use weapons in a street fight or to defend against one. Disarming weapons requires special type of military or police training.

This is because fighting with and without weapons are two totally different worlds. There is a real science behind knowing how to disarm the attacker.

To snatch someone’s weapon without getting hurt or even killed requires perfect distance, speed and distraction. If you are not trained for these things, you should never, not in any scenario, try to disarm the attacker. Even if you are the most skilled fighter in the world, fighting techniques you know won’t help you this time. 

It is very hard to apply any type of martial art technique against the armed assailant simply because their actions is always faster than yours. It takes only a second for the one to pull a trigger no matter how fast you are as an MMA fighter.

4. MMA is hard to use in certain street settings

Although MMA is very useful on the streets, it is not designed to help you in all street settings. When you train MMA in the gym, you learn new techniques and how to apply them in a safe environment. You don’t have to worry about people around you, debris or where the fight takes place. 

You spend each sessions training in the same gym, most of the time with the same people and the risk of injuries is low. Fighting on the street, however, is chaotic, dangerous and violent. You just can’t simulate all the street settings in the gym.

For instance, MMA will teach you how to fight standing up, in the clinch or on the ground. But it won’t teach you how to fight in the bar full of people, obstacles and limited space. In the bar for instance, you might have a hard time maneuvering because of confined space or slippery floor. Or, you can’t see clear due to dimmed lights. Fighting in this type of settings will limit your ability to apply MMA techniques. 


Can MMA be used for Self-Defense? 

MMA is probably the best fighting style you can learn for self-defense. It teaches you effective techniques you can use in street fighting and how to fight wherever the fight takes place. This is because MMA fighters fight standing up, in the clinch and on the ground. To do so, they must learn the best standup and ground fighting techniques that all work in real life as well. 

Is MMA Better than Boxing for Street Fighting?

MMA is better than boxing when it comes to street fighting because it includes a broader range of techniques. Boxing is good for self-defense but it will only prepare you how to fight standing using only your hands to defend yourself. MMA is much better because it prepares you for any kind of fighting scenario. It teaches you how to use punches and kicks on the feet, score takedowns or submit the assailant on the ground using BJJ moves. 

Every street fight begins on the feet where you can use boxing to neutralize the assailant. But street fights often end up in the clinch or on the ground and boxing won’t help you there. With MMA training, you will know how to score takedowns from the clinch and secure a dominant position on the ground. 

Boxing is one of the best fighting styles. But MMA as a concept is closer to street fighting and it should be your option if you want to learn how to defend on the streets.

Are MMA Fighters Allowed to Street Fight?

MMA fighters can fight on the street like any other person, but this is illegal and the law is the same for all. On the streets, you can put your MMA skills to work only if you are a victim of an attack and your life is in danger. 

Skilled fighters should always use MMA techniques only for self-defense. As a trained fighter, you have a huge advantage over an untrained person and you can hurt them bad pretty quickly. Every skilled fighter should aim at winning a fight while keeping the attacker unhurt and safe. It is a thin line between defending and becoming the attacker yourself.

Most of the time, MMA fighters do their street fighting inside the cage or a gym. They don’t want to ruin their careers fighting on the streets. But over the years, there have been many UFC fighters who got into street fighting without thinking much about their reputation. 

One of the most famous was the former UFC champ, Bas Rutten. Bas got in trouble with six bouncers in a night club in Sweden and went to solve a problem by beating them up. Even though he said he did that to protect himself, Bas ended up doing some jail time.