Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full-contact sport that is growing in popularity around the world. While it utilizes some of the kicking and punching moves found in kickboxing, the two sports are very different.
Kickboxing is a mix of boxing and karate. There are several different styles of kickboxing such as Muay Thai, Savate and American kickboxing. These styles have a few variations among them, but they are essentially the same.
Kickboxing has found a middle ground between traditional American and Thai called K1 which involves leg kicks and clinching with one knee allowed.
Kickboxing matches are held in a ring that is similar to a boxing ring. Participants wear gloves that are almost identical to boxing gloves. Pads are worn on top of the feet. There are timed rounds in kickboxing as in boxing.
During the course of a match, kickboxers use punches as a boxer would. Kicks are used, and a minimum number of kick attempts are required per round. Kicking is only allowed above the waist.
Kickboxers will clinch when in close as boxers do. However, throws and grappling are not allowed.
While MMA uses the kicking and boxing movements of kickboxing, many more types of strikes are allowed. In MMA, a fighter can kick both above and below the waist. Those fighting in an MMA match can also use knee throws. These are not allowed in most forms of kickboxing.
MMA contestants are able to use spinning backhand punches and traditional punches. Unlike kickboxing, MMA contestants can use elbow blows.
Fighters can throw each other to the floor, and much of a match can take place on the mat as one fighter tries to gain position on the other. While on the ground, various types of holds can be placed on a fighter to try to get the fighter to submit.
MMA participants fight in a cage and not in a ring. The time limit of an MMA match is shorter than a kickboxing match, and the pace of action is often more intense due to the time limit. There is more of an emphasis on achieving a knockout in MMA. Kickboxing is scored much like boxing with decisions on points often occurring.
An MMA fighter uses very light fighting gloves that leave the fingers free for grappling. No padding is worn on the feet in MMA as opposed to kickboxing.
As evidenced by the type of ring, the equipment and the striking rules, kickboxing and MMA are very different. MMA is more like a controlled street fight.