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Muay Thai Vs MMA: Know The Difference Here!

muay thai vs mma

There is no point in concluding which is better- muay thai vs mma. Both of these combat sports are equally good and accurate in their ways. Muay Thai is a martial art form hailing from Thailand that uses the elbows, punches with fists, knees, feet, shin, and defense to score points. Whereas, MMA or mixed martial arts is also referred to as cage fighting. MMA is not as restrictive as Muay Thai. MMA is actually a full-contact type of combat sport that uses moves like ground fighting, striking, and grappling. These moves have been derived from other martial art forms, hence called mixed martial arts or MMA. 

MMA got popular around the early 20th century. The term mixed martial arts was founded in 1993. However, Muay Thai has a history that goes way behind, responsible for a lot of cultural and historical events in Thailand. It is evident how muay thai vs mma is a rising concern when deciding what martial art form to choose and practice. Muay Thai and MMA have been both a significant part of the world of martial arts. MMA has derived moves from Muay Thai, Western-style boxing, freestyle boxing, amateur wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, Judo, and several other martial arts. 

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What is the Stance in Muay Thai vs MMA?

The regular MMA stance is very different from the Muay Thai stance because they have separate needs and importance. The posture of a player sharply reflects the most preferred next move of the player. Sometimes, it is wise to be blatantly open about your preference and sometimes not reveal the weapon or attack for your opponent to predict. 

  • Muay Thai stance will be very straight forward with square hips, tucked chin, and straight body posture. It is made sure that bodyweight is on the back leg more than the front leg to check the kicks quickly.
  • However, mixed martial arts requires one to have a broad and wide stance, being very forward and bent a bit down. Hands are to be held loosely before your face so that it is more accessible to sprawl when there is a takedown, sudden strike or when you need to jump to avoid an attack. The front leg is to have all the weight placed on it. 
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What is the Difference in Movements in Muay Thai vs MMA?

Mixed martial arts and Muay Thai have a very striking difference in the movements or patterns of moves used. Muay Thai practitioners prefer to stand where they are and trade. Whereas, MMA fighters prefer to jump around and judge their blows and stance.

  • Muay Thai fighters will not rush to score a point or hit each other hastily for a position. It is more restrictive and game of trading blows and stance. 
  • However, MMA uses the ‘swarm’ or ‘bull rush’ tactic to swing and strike by being more forward. 
  • Foot movement in Muay Thai is the least defensive and has a tiny sidewise movement. Fighters guard themselves against any blows by staying more or less in their location, and when he/she finds the perfect moment, he grabs the head of the opponent. Artistic merit is emphasized in the scoring method for Muay Thai, that is, the strikes that you throw at your opponent are not just to be counted, but also be judged based on how beautiful they are. Muay Thai fighters, for this reason, the fight is a straight line, moving forward and backward. If the player backs off, it is evident that the player is trying to guard against being hit by the opponent.
  • Whereas, Mixed martial arts or MMA is not given points based on how long a fighter stays in his or her place. MMA involves a lot of moving around. Footwork in MMA is not very specific or defined. One can walk around in any direction. One has to use footwork to jump around a lot to avoid strikes or blows. Sometimes players with training in Muay Thai utilize the under-used footwork to score. 
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How Does the Match Begin in Muay Thai vs. MMA?

  • In MMA, there is a total of 3 rounds, each lasting for five minutes and not more than that. The battle occurs in a ring or a cage that is at least 20-32 sq feet. The competitors are decided based on the same weight categories. Fighters have to begin only with legal moves like strikes grappling and throwing technique. Any foul play will lead to a loss of score. 
  • In Muay Thai, in a square ring of at least 24 sq feet area, two fighters are to move counter-clockwise and stop at each corner to bow and pay homage. The Wai Kru dance may also be performed by participants to do the same. There are three rounds of 3 minutes each 2 minutes gap between each round. The legal moves to be used to start the bout or foul play will lead to getting negative marking, that is, losing that round. 


Thus, Muay Thai is completely different from MMA as a combat sport. There are some major differences in the clinches, punches, kicks, strikes, and the stance used in muay thai vs. mma. The debate over the differences between Muay Thai and MMA has been thoroughly discussed. We can conclude that mixed martial arts practitioners can face fatal injuries when the pure muay thai practitioners use thai moves, especially moves like the rarely used elbow strikes in a clinch or a regular stance. Knee strikes, too, are fatal for mixed martial arts practitioners who do not expect such rare moves to come from their opponents. However, the scoring method of both Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts are almost the same. The difference in scoring comes with the stance and footwork used in both these martial art forms. Muay Thai does not encourage any sideways movement and prefers to have you move in a lateral line, whereas MMA uses a lot of jumping around.