5 Most Used Martial Arts in MMA | Explained

Different types of martial arts are used in every MMA fight that occurs, but which are the most used martial arts in MMA?

In this page we'll cover the most popularly used martial arts in the sport of MMA, why they're used so much, and who uses them.

most used martial arts in mma

Table of Contents

  1. Wrestling
  2. Boxing
  3. Muay Thai
  4. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  5. Judo

1. Wrestling

Wrestling has proven time and time again that it is one of the best bases in mixed martial arts.

Successful collegiate (division 1, 2, 3 & NAIA) and Olympic wrestlers have been able to transition into MMA in masses.

wrestling in mma

Due to the size of the octagon, fighters only have a set amount of distance that they can use to get away from wrestlers.

Wrestlers can use this to their advantage as they can even use the cage for leverage, to transition into different types of takedowns.

One of the best examples of this is the new phenom Khamzat Chimaev, who has lit the world on fire in his short time in the UFC.

In his 4 fights in the UFC, he has been hit an absurd 2 times as he has ran through his opposition, finishing all 4 of his opponents.

Some of the greatest Mixed Martial Artists of all time have a background in wrestling, or have mastered the wrestling aspect in the cage including:

  • George St-Pierre
  • Jon Jones
  • Daniel Cormier
  • Demetrius Johnson
  • Kamaru Usman
  • Stipe Miocic

2. Boxing

Boxing is another fundamentally important martial art in MMA, as every fight starts with both fighters standing up.

boxing in mma

Fighters who have been able to use their boxing skills to delivery masterclass performances, and even earn knockouts have immediately become fan favorites.

The skill gap in the UFC when comparing those that are solid at boxing, versus those that are elite at boxing (in mixed martial arts) is large.

Fighters such as Conor McGregor & Petr Yan who have a background in boxing and have put on a clinic on their opponents, have skyrocketed in popularity.

3. Muay Thai

Muay Thai is literally Thai boxing, a type of striking where they use their hands, elbows, legs and knees to incapacitate an opponent.

muay thai

Due to the complex striking system that involves more than just the normal hands and feet, Muay Thai has translated extremely well into MMA.

It has allowed MMA fighters to be able to check different types of leg kicks, fight in the clinch, and understand how to deal with elbows, punches and kicks.

Some of the greatest fighters of all time have a background in Muay Thai including:

  • Anderson Silva
  • Valentina Schevchenko
  • Jose Aldo
  • Joanna Jedrczejczyk

4. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that changed the perception of Martial artists and fans forever.

When the UFC first began, it was intended to bring fighters from all different types of backgrounds and martial arts, in order to figure out which one was the best martial art.

jiu jitsu in mma

Royce Gracie was a very skinny and tall Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner, who entered into the first 4 UFC tournaments, fighting at open weight against massive, scary heavyweights.

Despite being at a large size disadvantage, he managed to choke all of these 'killers' out using moves that nobody knew how to deal with, as he would go on to win the first 3 of 4 UFC tournaments.

Jiu Jitsu is still widely used today, however unlike the early days where it was rare, it is now expected to have as part of a fighter's arsenal.

Some of the scariest BJJ practitioners who have transitioned into MMA and had success include:

  • Nate Diaz
  • Charles Oliviera
  • Jacare Souza
  • Fabricio Werdum
  • Gilbert Burns
  • Damien Maia
  • Brian Ortega

5. Judo

BJJ actually evolved from Jiu Jitsu, and many early fighters took the MMA world by storm using the clinching techniques, transitioning into takedowns, and securing the submission.

judo in mma

Most notably Ronda Rousey and Fedor Emelinanenko had massive success as Rousey finished all 12 of her wins using Judo, and Fedor amassed an insane 31-1 record at one point.

  • Ronda Rousey
  • Fedor Emelianenko
  • Hector Lombard
  • Dan Kelly