Boxing vs. UFC

The debate between boxing and UFC has been around for decades. Both sports have their own unique sets of rules, techniques, and strategies that make them popular among fans.

Boxing is a sport that involves two participants using only their fists to fight in a ring while UFC features unarmed combat with the use of various martial arts techniques such as striking, grappling, and submissions.

While both sports involve physical contact between opponents, they differ greatly in terms of rules and approach to competition. It’s up to each individual fan to decide which type of fighting they prefer; however, it’s important to understand the key differences between these two combat sports before making an informed decision on which one you would like to watch or participate in.

In this article, we will explore the differences between boxing and UFC in more detail.

Table of Contents

boxing vs ufc

What is boxing?

Boxing is a combat sport wherein the participants fight with fists. Traditionally, it was also referred to as pugilism meaning “fistfight.”The fight takes place in the ring and consists of timed rounds. The winner was decided through points or by knocking out the opponent. 

During the fight, a boxing referee runs inside the ring, and the judges outside the ring decide about the winner of the boxing match. The fighters wear boxing gloves and attack their opponents with their fists.  Boxing comes in different types. These types include Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Fitness boxing, and Shadowboxing. 

What is UFC? 

UFC means Ultimate Fighting Championship. It is a mixed-martial-arts (MMA) promotion wherein a series of fights take place worldwide. It is also called fight nights. UFC is the premier organization in MMA. MMA is full-contact combat which allows different fighting skills and techniques.

UFC fights are held in a fenced area or a ring. Bandages are distributed across the hand of the fighters. Fighters also wear a mouthguard. Male mixed martial artists wear groin protectors. On the other hand, female fighters wear chest protectors. 

What’s the difference between boxing and UFC?

The main difference between UFC and boxing is what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. In UFC, almost anything is a fair game, while in boxing, the fighters are only allowed to use punches, and you can hit only above the belt. 

The ring used in MMA is usually an octagon, but it can depend on different promotions. The octagon ring is usually 30ft in diameter with a 6ft high fence. In boxing, a square ring is used between 16 and 20 feet in dimensions. 

The number of rounds is also different in both sports. The fights in boxing can last up to 12 rounds of 3 minutes each, with a minute rest in between. In UFC fights, the fighters fight for about 3 or 5 rounds, depending on if it’s a main event or championship. Every round in MMA lasts for about 5 minutes, with minutes rest in between. 

UFC and boxing come with slightly different rules. The fights in boxing are governed by the 3-knockdown rule. So, the fight is called off if the fighter gets knocked down three times. In MMA, the results of the fight will depend on the referee’s decision. Even though a fighter gets knocked down several times, the fight continues if the fighter is still moving. In some instances, the referee stops a fight to protect the fighter against damage due to several knockdowns. 

The two sports also have different fighting styles. Boxing fighters can punch only above the belt. However, in UFC fights, almost anything is allowed. The MMA fighters can kick, punch and use elbows and knees. UFC combines grappling, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and other mixed martial arts. Meanwhile, the fighters cannot use elbows in a 12-6 position. 

Boxing vs. UFC popularity

Both UFC and boxing are among the most popular sports all over the world. Well, which is more, popular between the two sports? 

UFC is considered among the fastest-rising sports worldwide when it comes to popularity. Meanwhile, boxing has been the most famous combat sport for decades.

Even though there’s no detailed research on what’s more popular between the two sports, UFC has a fast success. UFC is getting more popular because they give the fans fights they want to see. The UFC fights drive more excitement for the fans. 

What pays more, boxing or UFC?

The top boxing fighters still earn more compared to UFC fighters. However, average UFC fighters can possibly make more than small professional and amateur boxers. Generally, boxers earn more than UFC fighters for the following reasons:

  • Boxing generates more revenue
  • Boxing is more established and longer-standing compared to UFC
  • Boxing has more variations

Is boxing harder than UFC?

According to former heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko, UFC is a tougher sport compared to boxing. He said that it was harder to excel in UFC because of the fierce competition. He added that it is challenging to be a champion and remain successful in the sport because it is a very competitive sport. 

Which is better for self-defense?

Both boxing and MMA are great for self-defense and other real-life situations. You can train boxing for self-defense. Thus, boxing skills allow you to punch with both of your hands. Boxing is excellent for stand-up fights. 

However, your boxing skills are not enough if fighters grapple on the ground. With that, you can improve your UFC skills. It also depends on the sport wherein you’re more passionate about. Both skills in the two sports are beneficial for self-defense.

Which is more dangerous?

According to studies, UFC fights are bloodier, but it is less dangerous compared to boxing. Even though mixed martial arts is considered among the most brutal of all combat sports, boxing still poses a greater danger for serious injury, according to a study from the University of Alberta. 

UFC fighters can be prone to minor injuries. On the other hand, boxers are more likely to get serious harm from loss of consciousness, concussions and other head trauma, smashed noses, eye injuries, and broken bones. You can get more injuries in mixed martial arts, but the severity in boxing is more than in UFC fights. 

Boxing vs. UFC weight classes

The following is the summary of weight classes in boxing and UFC. 

Number of divisions in men – Boxing:18 UFC: 8

Lightest – Boxing: Atomweight (102Ib) UFC: Flyweight (125Ib)

Heaviest – Boxing: Unlimited UFC: 265Ib

Brackets – Boxing: 3 to 25 Ibs UFC: 10 to 15 Ibs

Approx. No of Athletes (men’s division) – Boxing: 21k+ UFC: 470

Generally, boxing has more weight classes compared to UFC.

Boxing vs. UFC gloves

The gloves in UFC separate the fingers like regular gloves. It leaves the fingertips and final knuckles exposed. 

The amount of padding can determine the difference between the gloves in UFC and boxing. MMA gloves are thinner, sleeker, and less padded. The MMA gloves are designed to accommodate kicking, grappling, and submission maneuvers. The gloves in boxing are heavily padded and usually have a pound of soft material. 


To sum it up, both boxing and UFC are the top sports in the world. The two sports have different rules. With the help of this article, we hope that you have learned about UFC and boxing. Are you an aspiring boxer or UFC fighter? If yes, you should have the proper training and the best UFC and boxing equipment.