Although MMA is the ultimate form of fighting, it’s impossible to separate it from its building blocks: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, boxing, etc. Yet, it’s sometimes easy to forget that last piece of the MMA puzzle. Often times, it seems like you can either love boxing or MMA but not both. The truth, though, is that if you want to be good at the first, you must constantly practice the second.
It’s Great for Conditioning
When it comes to building your stand-up conditioning, boxing is a great use of your time. As just about any boxer can attest to, the Sweet Science will punish anyone who can’t stand and deliver for minutes at a time.
Too many fighters rely solely on jogging or jumping rope to build their conditioning. While those exercises certainly have their place, boxing is the most relevant, plus you get to practice striking at the same time.
Increase the Rate of Your Reflexes
As there are no takedowns in boxing, fighters can get much closer to each other. Consequently, when one throws a punch, their opponent has to react much, much faster than an MMA fighter does in the same situation.
Therefore, when you train boxing, you learn how to react quicker. The difference in space only seems inconsequential to an amateur. If you’ve ever done MMA and boxing, you know that the close proximity required by the latter makes a world of difference.
Increase the Rate at Which You Think
Furthermore, boxing is far faster than MMA. Two minute rounds fought between fighters who are so close hardly resembles our sport. Wrestling, BJJ and even judo are far slower by comparison. Score a takedown, lock up, shove your opponent against the cage, etc. – these all give you time to think, even if it’s just a second.
Although boxers definitely lock horns and have time to strategize before the ref breaks them up, it’s still very different. Boxers are forced to think much faster and this is something that can benefit you greatly inside the cage.
It Balances Out Far-Reaching Attacks
Kicks and takedowns are great, but they’re not always possible – or, at least, wise – when you’re in close quarters. This is where the more experienced boxer can quickly take advantage of an opponent who built their strategy on having adequate space. Given that all it ever takes is one punch to finish a fight (or start moving things in that direction), knowing how to box can make you especially dangerous when attacks from a distance are no longer options.
Boxing enthusiasts use a certain term for fighters who have made the sport their own: slickness. This is a vague reference to the way that some boxers have mastered the sport and then used it to create their own style. Floyd Mayweather definitely has it. Roy Jones Jr. became infamous for the way he could move in and out of striking distance without ever picking up his feet and then brutalize an opponent at will. This was also slickness.
Boxing helps develop “slickness” because it leaves so much room for improvisation. As a beginner, you need to strictly adhere to the techniques. It’s not long, though, before you must learn to adapt them to your body type and fighting preference or you’ll be on the losing end of combo after combo.
Never become the one-dimensional fighter who excels at one building block but foregoes all the others. That being said, building your abilities as a boxer will make you a fearsome competitor in the cage; there’s no doubt about it.