Reach advantage is a term that you often hear in MMA/UFC fights. But what does reach mean exactly in MMA/UFC and why is reach important in MMA/UFC fights? We’ll go over what it means and how reach is measured.
What is Reach and How it’s Measured
Reach is the total length of the fighter’s both arms. Reach is measured when a fighter is standing with both arms stretched out to the side like a cross. The length of the reach is then measured from the middle fingertip to the other middle fingertip in inches. This is the most traditional way of measuring the reach in MMA/UFC including boxing. The reach is also known as a wingspan which means the same.
Why Is Reach Important in MMA/UFC?
An MMA fighter with a longer reach can punch his/her opponent from a greater distance away from the fighter with a shorter reach. At the same time the fighter with a short reach has to get closer to his/her opponent in order for their punch to land on their opponent’s targeted area. As a result, if the fighter has a short reach, it takes more effort and requires more strategy to get closer to their opponent to land their punches. On the other hand, the fighter with the longer reach can fight from a greater distance so their opponent’s punch can’t reach them.
Therefore if you ever wonder why every UFC fight displays the tale of the tape where it mentions the reach of the both fighters, it’s because having a longer reach is considered an important physical advantage to win in MMA fights.
Can A Fighter With Short Reach Succeed in Combat Sports?
You can definitely succeed in combat sports with short reach. Having a long reach doesn’t mean that you will always have a tremendous advantage of winning a fight. Longer reach just means having a physical advantage which doesn’t equate to skill advantage. When you look at boxing legend Mike Tyson who has short reach, he was knocking out just about every taller opponent with longer reach during his prime years.
Despite having a short reach, Tyson had speed and agility that made him extremely good at closing the distance. In other words, Tyson’s boxing skills made up for his lack of longer reach. Tyson’s moved so fast that his opponents could not hit Tyson despite having much longer reach than Tyson did. In addition, Tyson’s lengthy opponents weren’t able to avoid Tyson’s punch when they got hit because Tyson’s punches were lightning fast.
Having a longer reach is definitely a physical advantage for a fighter. But if the fighter is not skilled in fighting by not knowing how to utilize his long reach to his advantage, the long reach doen’t mean anything in combat sports. For this reason, if you have a longer reach advantage, you still have to learn how to best utilize your physical advantage. On the flip side, if you have a short reach, train smarter by improving your speed and agility which will overcome your opponent’s physical advantage. Therefore it’s important to remember that fighting is a complex game with many different variables. No advantage is 100 percent advantage.