Muay Thai vs. MMA

Muay Thai vs. MMA

Muay Thai vs. MMA is another hotly contested debate between fans of the sports. They are two of the most effective and exciting fighting styles that make for an interesting matchup.

Here is a breakdown of how a Muay Thai vs. MMA fight would likely go down. Check out the similarities and differences between the styles below and the game plans they’ll need for winning the fight.

Muay Thai vs. MMA: The Histories

Before we break down the Muay Thai vs. MMA battle, let’s go over their rich journeys. Both styles have gone through interesting paths to become two of the world’s biggest combat sports.

The History of Muay Thai

King Naresuan
King Naresuan

The art of eight limbs known as Muay Thai has thousands of years of history. Ancient warriors during the Siam kingdom and even before used the same techniques that modern Thai boxers use today. 

Using all parts of their bodies to fight and defeat their enemies. Modern Muay Thai began to take shape during the 15th and 16th centuries.

The king of Thailand put on festivals and got his best warriors to put on sparring exhibitions. These exhibitions became a tradition, which continues to this day. 

Modern Thai boxing as we know it began to take shape when the Thais were introduced to western boxing. They took everything from the format, rings, gloves, and weight classes to create the modern sport of Thai boxing.

Today, Muay Thai is both the national sport and martial art of Thailand, which is ingrained into the nation’s culture.

The History of MMA

History of MMA

The modern sport and martial art of mixed martial arts (MMA) is only a little over 4 decades old. However, its creation was developed over decades of martial arts fighting one another.

One of the places that these fights took place was in Brazil, which were called “Vale Tudo.” These Vale Tudo fights were no rules bouts, where fighting styles would prove which was the best.

One of the styles that fought frequently in Vale Tudo were Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters. Rorion Gracie, the son of BJJ co-founder Helio Gracie took the concept of Vale Tudo to co-create the UFC in 1993.

A no-holds-barred fighting tournament where fighters of all styles faced each other. These fight tournaments led to the creation of the sport of MMA and later the sport.

Today, MMA is one of the biggest combat sports in the world watched by millions. It has also become its own hybrid martial art, which is considered one of the most effective styles in the world.

Muay Thai vs. MMA: The Differences 

MMA and Muay Thai do share some similarities, but the two styles have some big differences. Here are the main differences between Muay Thai vs. MMA.

Standing vs. Ground 

The main difference between Muay Thai vs. MMA is where the fight goes. Thai boxing is strictly performed from a standing position, while MMA is performed both from standing and the ground. This is the glaring difference between the two fighting styles.

The Rules

Going along with the difference between fight positions are the rules of the combat sports. In MMA, fighters are permitted to do certain ground strikes to the front of the face and body.

Thai boxing does not permit any type of strikes on the ground. A Thai boxer can score by sweeping their opponent, but they can’t follow up and hit them on the ground.

The Gloves 

Another big difference between the two fighting styles are the gloves that are used. Muay Thai uses boxing gloves, while MMA uses 4 oz MMA gloves.

The Fight Areas

Historically, Muay Thai has predominantly taken place in a boxing ring. MMA predominantly takes place in a cage, but both have taken place in both rings and cages.

Places of Origin

Muay Thai was created within the nation of Thailand, while MMA doesn’t have a country of origin. It is a hybrid style, which is a mix of various different styles which were developed around the world.

Muay Thai vs. MMA: The Similarities 

Muay Thai and MMA actually share a lot of similarities and actually complement one another. Here are some of the main similarities between Muay Thai vs. MMA.

MMA Fighters Learn Muay Thai 

Thai boxing is a vital part of the sport of mixed martial arts. To be a good MMA fighter, a fighter must possess good Muay Thai skills.

This has led many MMA fighters to extensively learn Muay Thai. Many MMA fighters have even ventured to Thailand to learn Thai boxing from the best Muay Thai gyms in the world. 

Everyone from Alex Volkanovski, Khalil Rountree, and Petr Yan have all spent expensive time training in Thailand. Some MMA fighters have even gone to Thai boxing and many Thai boxers have transitioned to MMA.

The Clinch

The clinch is a vital position in both Muay Thai and MMA. This is another reason that many MMA fighters spend a lot of time learning Thai boxing to learn how to clinch.

MMA fighters like Anderson Silva developed an incredible clinch game, which led to him becoming a GOAT combat athlete.

The Fight Areas 

Muay Thai predominantly takes place in a ring and MMA in a cage respectively. Now thanks to promotions like ONE Championship, these combat sports take place in both cages and rings. 

Caged Muay Thai(Thai Boxing w/ MMA Gloves)

Another blending of Thai boxing and MMA is the sport of caged Muay Thai or Thai boxing with MMA gloves. One of the first to introduce this concept was Muay Thai legend John Wayne Parr.

This style of combat sport was adopted by ONE Championship and it’s now one of the promotion’s most-watched events. If you’ve never seen Thai boxing with MMA gloves, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Muay Thai vs. MMA: The Game Plans 

If an MMA fighter and Thai boxer fought each other, they’d have to follow strict game plans. Here are the game plans for a Muay Thai vs. MMA fight.

The Thai Boxer’s Game Plan

If a Thai boxer is fighting an MMA fighter under Muay Thai rules, they will have no problem. However, if the bout is under MMA rules, the Thai boxer will have a big problem to solve.

Either way, they will have to take control of the fight range and use their superior striking skills. They will have a problem dealing with the takedowns, but they can handle themselves in the clinch. 

If they can stay off the ground, they will have an easier path to victory. But under MMA rules, they will have some difficulty.

The MMA Fighter’s Game Plan

MMA Fighter’s Game Plan

The game plan of the MMA fighter will also depend on the rule set of the fight. Like with the Thai boxer, MMA rules will favor them, but they’ll be in trouble under Muay Thai rules.

MMA fighters train Muay Thai, but their skills are far below the level of a top pro Thai boxer. If the fight is under MMA rules, they have to mix up their strikes and quickly get it to the ground.

The longer they stand with a Thai boxer, the more they are at risk of losing the fight. This is why they have to get the Thai boxer down and either submit them or finish them with strikes.

The Verdict

In a Muay Thai vs. MMA fights, the outcome would depend solely on the rules of the match. The Muay Thai fighter has the edge under Thai boxing rules and the MMA fighter has the edge under MMA rules.

The best example of these advantages can be seen in the great hybrid match between Demitrious Johnson vs. Rodtang. The champions of MMA and Thai boxing met one another at ONE X under hybrid rules. 

The first part of the fight was under Thai boxing rules, while the second was under MMA rules. Mighty Mouse ran for his life during the Muay Thai promotion of the bout. Stalling until the bout went to MMA rules, when he easily submitted Rodtang.

This bout beautifully shows the strength and weaknesses of the two styles. Both are effective styles that you should consider learning.

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