September 5, 2022

Top 10 MMA Fighting Styles

Getting involved in MMA can be very exciting since you’ll be able to explore a variety of fighting styles. Nevertheless, you’re only going to have time to focus on a handful of them so you’ll want to choose wisely. Which styles are the most effective in combat situations? Which styles are going to provide you with the most benefits and the fewest negatives?

10 Best MMA fighting styles so you can find the ones that suit your needs

1. Boxing

Ultimately, boxing is one of the oldest forms of martial arts. Some may refer to this as western boxing. Nevertheless, western boxing is the technique comprising of punches. This art will require you to learn a handful of punches including jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts.

If you’ve managed to master the art of boxing, you will be able to avoid punches while delivering hard blows of your own. While this martial art is very effective on the feet, you’re going to be left vulnerable on the ground.


  • You’ll be able to hold your own on the feet
  • You can mix up your punches to catch your opponent off guard
  • You’ll gain addition power
  • Your cardio will improve


  • You’re not going to be good on the ground

Is It For Me?

At the end of the day, boxing is one of the most exciting combat sports on the planet. However, you need to make sure it is suitable for your MMA venture. Do you like punching people in the face? Do you want to learn how to slip punches and deliver painful counter blows? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, boxing is for you. It is one of the best MMA fighting styles for brawlers. If you want to stand up and fight, you’ll want to learn how to box.

The only downside is that you’re going to find yourself in a world of hurt once the fight hits the mat. With that being said, it is wise to learn a combination of styles so you’ll be ready to protect yourself no matter where the fight goes.

2. Submission Wrestling

Submission wrestling is one of the most effective styles for mixed martial arts. While submission wrestling is similar to collegiate wresting, it is much different. The submission wrestler will have a clear advantage over its opponent so they’ll be able to lock onto submissions while taking advantage of their wrestling prowess. This may enable them to end the match quickly so they don’t have to worry about taking any punishment. However, the wrestler will need to get the fight to the mat as soon as possible.


  • You can get the fight to the mat very quickly
  • You’ll be able to control your opponent while you catch your breath
  • Nullifying your opponent will be easy
  • You can pull off submissions to end the fight quicker


  • Your stand-up skills will be limited
  • Your takedowns might not be as good as a collegiate wrestler

Is It For Me?

Being a wrestler is tough since you’ll have to get the fight to the ground first. When you’re dealing with a skilled opponent with good takedown defense, you may have to take a few shots first. With this in mind, submission wrestling is only suitable for tough individuals. Make sure you can take a few shots without quitting before agreeing to select this style as your primary MMA fighting style.

3. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

There is nothing more exciting or beautiful than watched a BJJ artist submit an opponent. They’ll quickly work their opponent to the mat before looking for a submission. Whether they’re going for an arm, leg, or neck, you can guarantee that it is going to be quick and painful. BJJ practitioners are one of a kind. They’ll be able to secure unique submissions that others cannot. When everything goes your way, you’ll be able to take your opponent down and secure a submission win without getting hit in the face.

However, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not good on the feet. If you cannot get the right to the ground, you’re going to find yourself in a lot of trouble.


  • You’ll be able to submit your opponents more often than not
  • You can nullify the fight on the ground
  • In perfect situations, you’ll be able to win without getting hit or hitting your opponent


  • Your stand-up game will suffer
  • You may have trouble getting your opponent to the ground

Is It For Me?

BJJ is amazing and it can be used in the real world. If you run into a dangerous individual, you can take them to the ground and hold them there using your BJJ skills. Nevertheless, MMA fighters are professionals. They’ve discovered ways to counter BJJ fighters. Therefore, you may find it difficult to get your opponent to the ground. If this happens, you’ll be out of your element and that can be frightening. Adding BJJ to your arsenal is a good idea. However, you should not rely solely on this martial art since it is going to leave you vulnerable on the feet.

4. Kickboxing

Kickboxing is similar to boxing but there are notable differences. With kickboxing, you’re going to be adding your elbows, knees, and shins to the equation. You’ll also develop a unique stance so you can defend from these attacks. Kickboxers have deadly kicks but their punches may lack power. Nevertheless, any kickboxer will be able to do exceptionally well in combat sports. Their success will depend on the type and skill of opponent they’re fighting. If they’re fighting a newbie with limited wrestling skills, they’ll thrive.

If they’re fighting a skilled wrestler, the kickboxer may find himself on the ground without a chance of getting up. Therefore, it is an excellent art to train but it might not be suitable for everyone.


  • You’ll have more tools to work with
  • You can use kicks to keep your opponent away
  • You might be able to KO your opponent right away
  • You can mix it up and catch your opponent off guard


  • Your ground game is limited
  • If your opponent catches your kick, you’re headed for the ground

Is It For Me?

Kickboxing is a great addition for any mixed martial artist. Nevertheless, it is limited on its own. You’re going to have a tough time fighting off of the mat. You may end up finding herself pinned to the mat for 4 of the 5 minutes. Therefore, it is not suitable for everyone. If you cannot stand the thought of being put into a situation where you’re hopeless, you’ll want to learn a different martial art. If you’re interested in knocking people out, kickboxing will be a good option for you.

5. Judo

Judo has grown in popularity and it is easy to see why. The founder of the combat art also practiced jiu jitsu. So, it has elements of BJJ added into the equation. Nevertheless, judo was designed for people small in stature. This means that you can toss people around even if you’re slightly smaller than them. Over the years, Judo has established itself as one of the most dominant martial arts.

display of judo

It was added to the Olympics in 1964. With that being said, you can see that Judo is legit. It can be a great martial art for anyone who wants to get the fight to the canvas.


  • It works great for smaller fighters
  • You can toss around bigger opponents
  • You’ll be able to get the fight to the ground quickly
  • There are several submissions to enjoy


  • Your options for ending the fight as limited
  • You’re going to be a duck out of water on the feet

Is It For Me?

Judo is not suitable for everyone. If you’re a bigger guy who can toss people around, you may want to go with BJJ since it’ll give more options to end the fight much sooner. Judo is suitable for smaller fighters who want to nullify their opponent on the ground as quickly as possible. You can also use Judo in the real world. Whether you need to stop an attacker or prevent a thief from fleeing the scene, Judo will do the trick. Just remember that you’re going to have a tough time defending yourself on the feet. You’ll need to get the fight to the mat as quickly as possible.

6. Greco-Roman Wrestling

When it comes down to it, Greco-Roman Wrestling is one of the most effective forms of wrestling. It has been used in the Olympic Games since 1896. The wrestling style has been featured in every summer Olympics since 1904. When compared to freestyle wrestling, you will see that there is one minor difference. When you’re involved in a Greco-Roman Wrestling competition, you will not be able to grab your opponent below the waist. This makes things much tougher and places more emphasis on throws. You won’t be able to trip your opponent.

One of the most popular Greco-Roman wrestlers of all time is Randy Couture. He excelled in MMA and you’ll be able to do the same with this style.


  • You’ll learn throws that enable you to get the fight to the ground quickly
  • You will get very strong
  • You can learn a lot about fighting in the clinch
  • You’ll learn how to use underhooks and that will make a huge difference in MMA


  • Your striking ability will not be impressive
  • You’ll need to use the cage or mat to find success

Is It For Me?

Greco-Roman Wrestling has been used by some of the world’s top MMA fighters including Randy Couture, Matt Lindland, and Dan Henderson. There is a good chance you’ve heard of these individuals. If you like and want to emulate Couture’s fighting style, you’ll want to learn Greco-Roman wrestling. It is a good choice since you’ll be able to hold your opponent against the cage or ground. You’ll be able to slam your opponent to the ground and immediately take control of the situation. You’ll be able to punish your opponent in the clinch too. Greco-Roman wrestlers have a great chance of excelling in MMA.

7. Sambo

It is rare to see someone use Sambo in MMA. Nevertheless, it is one of the most effective martial arts for combat sports. With this skill, you’ll learn how to defend yourself. Sambo stands for “self-defense without weapons”. It was developed by the Russian SFSR in the Soviet Union and has been around since the 1920s. There are several big name MMA fighters who practiced Sambo including Fedor and Andrei Arlovski. The latter didn’t use it very much but Fedor did. Current UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, practices Sambo as well.

The only downside to Sambo is the fact that many strikes have been outlawed. While Sambo allowed soccer kicks, groin strikes, and headbutts, MMA does not. Nevertheless, Sambo is an effective technique that will prove to be great for any MMA fighter.


  • You’ll be able to get your opponent down quickly
  • You can use a range of strikes to punish your opponent
  • You’ll also be able to submit your opponent at will


  • Your opponent may have an advantage on the feet

Is It For Me?

If you’re a big fan of the Russian fighters, you may like Sambo. It is similar to wrestling but it takes things to a new level. Sambo is a little more violent making it good for street fighters. Just remember that you won’t be able to soccer kicks, headbutts, and groin strikes in MMA. You can use them in combat sambo but you’ll have to remove them from your arsenal before being involved in an MMA contest. Either way, Sambo is a good option for many people. If you like wrestling but want something different, you should give it a try.

8. Shoot Wrestling

Next, you have shoot wrestling. This style of wrestling combines aspects of catch wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling, Muay Thai, and so much more. Shoot wrestling attempts to rely on more realistic moves. When you learn shoot wrestling, you’re going to experience full contact moves. This will increase the excitement for the fan while ensuring that you’re able to control your opponent. Shoot wrestling has become very popular. It was trained at the Lion’s Den and the Shamrock Martial Arts Academy.

Bas Rutten worked with Masakatsu Funaki who is a legendary shoot wrestler. This technique can be very effective in MMA as long as it is used properly. Some forms of shoot wrestling place more emphasis on submissions than others. Therefore, you’ll need to find a trainer who is offering what you’re after.


  • You’ll be able to combine various wrestling disciplines
  • You can submit your opponent
  • Getting the fight to the ground won’t be tough
  • You can expand on this form of wrestling to make it more effective


  • Standing and banging is not a good idea
  • You may gas out early on

Is It For Me?

Ultimately, shoot wrestling is not suitable for everyone. It can be tough and you struggle at first. After all, you’re learning various techniques from many different wrestling disciplines. Nevertheless, it’ll pay off in the long run. With shoot wrestling, you can prevent your opponent from hurting you. You’ll also be able to score points and win. Remember that your fight might be considered boring. Therefore, this style of wrestling is not for everyone.

9. Catch Wrestling

Wrestling is one of the best techniques for winning an MMA fight. However, you need to make sure that you’re using the right style. Catch wrestling will prove to be very beneficial. This style of wrestling combines wrestling and jiu-jitsu. Therefore, it is very effective for taking the opponent to the ground and submitting them rapidly. This type of wrestling has been around since the late 1800s but it is becoming more popular in MMA. Many former UFC Champions relied on this style to achieve their dreams. For instance, Frank Shamrock and Josh Barnett implemented catch wrestling techniques into their fighting styles.

Also, Kazushi Sakuraba was a well-known catch wrestler and he managed to dominate the Gracies. Catch wrestling is great but it does have some limitations.


  • You can take your opponent down
  • You’ll learn how to submit your opponent
  • It has been proven successful by Frank Shamrock, Sakuraba, and Josh Barnett


  • You have to take your opponent down
  • You may get hit in the face too much

Is It For Me?

Catch wrestling is suitable for almost everyone. It doesn’t take long to learn the techniques but it’ll take a long time to master them. Nevertheless, you can begin finding success in MMA immediately. If you get good at catch wrestling, you’ll be able to take down the top strikers and nullify their strengths. If this sounds exciting to you, it is a good idea to learn more about catch wrestling.

10. Freestyle Wrestling

Freestyle wrestling is easily one of the best wrestling styles for MMA. As a freestyle wrestler, your options will be plentiful. You’ll be able to grab your opponent anywhere so you can secure the takedown. For instance, you’ll be able to shoot in for single and double legs. This ensures that you’ll have a far better chance of getting the right to the mat. Even if your stand-up skills are lacking, your freestyle wrestling prowess will ensure success.

Tito Ortiz, Mark Coleman, and Kevin Randleman have used freestyle wrestling to secure UFC Championships. There is a good chance that freestyle wrestlers will continue to dominate the sport. Others cannot find a way to get back up allowing the wrestler to nullify the fight and score points. You’ll also find ways to punish your opponent from the top position.


  • You’ll use double leg takedowns
  • You can score points on the ground
  • Your opponent won’t be able to get back up
  • You won’t have to worry about getting hit too much


  • If you can’t get them down, you’re in trouble

Is It For Me?

Ultimately, freestyle wrestling is one of the best martial arts for any MMA fighter. It’ll enable you to control the fight at all times. If you’re getting hit in the face too much, you can stop that by securing a takedown. If you’re getting tired, you can snag a takedown and recover. Freestyle wrestling is the most effective martial art since nobody has found a way to overcome its strengthens. Just remember that you shouldn’t stop here. Once you’ve learned how to freestyle wrestle, you should add other skills to your arsenal. Do that and you can become an unstoppable MMA fighter.


How Many Martial Arts Are There In MMA?

At the end of the day, there are tons of martial arts in MMA. Simultaneously, you have to understand that mixed martial arts has evolved over the years. In the past, it was common for fighters to practice only one martial art. This allowed wrestlers to test their skills against boxers. Then, submission fighters were able to do the same. Today, most fighters are going to combine various disciplines to get the desired results. With that being said, there are hundreds of martial arts used in MMA and they’re growing.

What Is The Most Deadly Martial Art?

Combat Jujitus is believed to be one of the most deadly martial arts in the world. This style is utilized by the United States Special Forces and it is believed to be the deadliest known to man. Some others that may rank high on the list include Krav Maga, Sambo, Muay Thai, and Silat.

What Fighting Styles Are Not Allowed In UFC?

Ultimately, most fighting styles are allowed in the UFC. However, that fighting style will need to conform to the rules and regulations of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. However, Aikido is not allowed. This is the case because this style uses illegal finger locks.

Eugene Hardy

Eugene is a professional Muay Thai fighter, with several years of experience. Also, a black belt holder. He actively participates in tournaments and provides training to his students. Eugene started this blog to share his experiences with Martial Arts.

View all posts by Eugene Hardy →

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