Glossary For Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), UFC & Boxing

Is there a terminology or phrase from the MMA world that’s confusing you? Below you’ll find easy answers to every new word or phrase from the world of mixed martial arts.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

Diving into MMA first, here’s every term you need to know to take you from a filthy casual to a pro:

Term Explanation
Armbar A submission move where an opponent’s arm is locked between the legs and the arm’s joint is hyperextended.
Cage The enclosed area where MMA fights take place, often octagonal in shape.
Clinch A close-range position where fighters grapple, often used to control an opponent or set up strikes.
Ground and Pound A technique where a fighter on top delivers strikes to an opponent on the ground.
Guillotine Choke A submission hold applied from the front, compressing the opponent’s throat.
Kimura A submission move targeting the shoulder joint, involving arm entanglement.
Mount A dominant ground position where one fighter sits atop the torso of their opponent.
Octagon The eight-sided fighting area commonly used in UFC events.
Rear Naked Choke A submission technique executed from an opponent’s back, targeting the neck.
Sprawl A defensive move to counter a takedown, involving extending legs back to prevent being taken to the ground.
Takedown A technique to bring the opponent to the ground, often leading to ground fighting.
Triangle Choke A submission move executed from the back, using legs to encircle the opponent’s neck and arm.
Walkout The fighter’s entrance to the cage or fighting area, often accompanied by music.
Weight Cut The process of rapid weight loss prior to a fight to qualify for a specific weight class.
Full Guard A ground position where the bottom fighter has their legs around the opponent, controlling their movement.
Half Guard A ground position where one fighter is partly controlled by the opponent’s legs.
Submission A technique that forces an opponent to tap out due to joint lock or chokehold.
Stand-up Game The aspect of MMA focused on striking and fighting while standing.
Ground Game The aspect of MMA focused on grappling and fighting on the mat.
Americana A submission move involving arm entanglement and leveraging against the shoulder joint.
Butterfly Guard A ground position where the bottom fighter uses their legs against the opponent’s inner thighs for control.
Elbow Strike A close-range striking technique using the elbow, effective in clinches and ground fighting.
Featherweight A weight class in MMA; varies by organization but generally around 145 pounds (65.8 kg).
GnP (Ground and Pound) Shortened term for Ground and Pound.
Leg Kick A striking technique targeting the opponent’s thigh or calf to impair movement.
North-South Position A ground grappling position where the fighters are head-to-toe, often used to control an opponent.
Overhand Punch A powerful, looping punch thrown over the top, common in striking exchanges.
Pummel A grappling technique used in a clinch to gain better positioning or control.
Side Control A dominant ground position where the top fighter applies control from the side of the opponent.
Spinning Back Fist A strike where the fighter rotates and strikes with the back of the fist; flashy but risky.
Superman Punch A deceptive striking technique where the fighter feigns a kick and launches into a punch.
Thai Clinch A grappling position where a fighter uses their hands behind the opponent’s head, often to set up knee strikes.
Transition Moving from one position to another during ground fighting, often to gain a more dominant position.
Uppercut A vertical, rising punch aimed at the chin, effective in close-range combat.
Vale Tudo A combat sport with minimal rules, often seen as a precursor to modern MMA.
Zuffa Rules The unified rules of MMA, established under the Zuffa, LLC era of UFC, standardizing regulations.
Strawweight A women’s weight class, fighters must weigh no more than 115 lbs (52.5 kg).
Flyweight A weight class for both men and women, with a limit of 125 lbs (56.7 kg).
Bantamweight Open to both men and women, competitors must weigh no more than 135 lbs (61.2 kg).
Featherweight A weight class for both men and women, fighters must not exceed 145 lbs (65.8 kg).
Lightweight A men’s weight class, with a maximum weight limit of 155 lbs (70.3 kg).
Welterweight For men, this category has a weight ceiling of 170 lbs (77.1 kg).
Middleweight A men’s division, where fighters cannot weigh more than 185 lbs (83.9 kg).
Light Heavyweight In this men’s category, competitors must be under 205 lbs (93.0 kg).
Heavyweight A men’s weight class with the limit set at 265 lbs (120.2 kg), the highest in MMA.
Catchweight A weight class used when two fighters don’t meet on the same weight but a fight is still being promoted that the fans want to see.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

One of the biggest MMA promotions on the planet, the UFC has plenty of unique terms to know:

Term Explanation
Octagon Control A scoring criteria in UFC judging, focusing on a fighter’s ability to dictate the pace and position of the fight.
Fight Night Regularly scheduled UFC events, typically not as high-profile as numbered events but still featuring top fighters.
The Ultimate Fighter A reality TV show and tournament where aspiring fighters compete for a UFC contract.
Pay-Per-View (PPV) Major UFC events that are available via purchase, often featuring title fights and big-name fighters.
Dana White The long-time president of UFC, instrumental in the promotion’s rise to global prominence.
UFC Performance Institute A state-of-the-art training and research center for UFC fighters, based in Las Vegas.
Fight of the Night An award given to the fighters who participated in the most entertaining bout of an event.
Knockout of the Night An award given to a fighter who achieves an impressive knockout victory at a UFC event.
Submission of the Night An award for the fighter who secures the most impressive submission victory at an event.
UFC Hall of Fame An honor given to fighters, pioneers, and contributors who have made significant impacts in the UFC.
Zuffa Era The period when the UFC was owned by Zuffa, LLC, marked by significant growth and mainstream acceptance.
Fight Island A series of UFC events held on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, created as a response to travel restrictions during the pandemic.
UFC Apex A facility in Las Vegas hosting UFC events, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with no or limited audience.
Superfight A UFC fight, typically non-title, featuring high-profile fighters or champions from different weight classes.
Post-Fight Bonus Financial bonuses awarded for outstanding performances, such as Fight of the Night or Performance of the Night.
UFC Embedded A video blog series documenting fighters’ preparations in the week leading up to a major UFC event.
Gate The total revenue generated from ticket sales for a UFC event.
Main Card The primary portion of a UFC event, featuring the most high-profile fights, including the main event.
Prelims Preliminary fights occurring before the main card, often used to showcase up-and-coming talent.
Matchmaker A UFC official responsible for organizing and scheduling fights between athletes.


The base for many mixed martial artists with a rich history of combat sports, let’s explain boxing terms:

Term Explanation
Cross A powerful straight punch thrown with the rear hand in boxing.
Bob and Weave A defensive movement where the boxer bends the legs quickly and moves the head to avoid punches.
Clinch A defensive technique where a boxer wraps their arms around the opponent to prevent punches, requiring a referee break.
Southpaw A boxing stance where the boxer has their right hand and right foot forward, opposite of the traditional (orthodox) stance.
Cutman A specialist responsible for preventing and treating physical damage to a boxer during fights.
Jab A quick, straight punch thrown with the lead hand, used for both offense and defense in boxing.
Hook A semi-circular punch thrown with the lead or rear hand, targeting the side of the opponent’s head or body.
Uppercut A vertical rising punch aimed at the chin or torso, delivered from a bent arm.
Ring Magazine Belt A prestigious championship belt awarded by The Ring magazine to boxers.
Cornerman A coach or trainer who assists the boxer during the fight, giving advice and assistance between rounds.
Technical Knockout (TKO) A situation where the referee stops the fight due to one boxer’s inability to continue safely.
Lonsdale Belt A historic championship belt in British professional boxing.
Boxing Glove Padded gloves used in boxing to protect the hands and reduce the impact of punches.
Hand Wraps Cloth wraps worn under boxing gloves to protect and support the hand and wrist.
Ring Generalship A boxer’s ability to control the pace and style of the fight, effectively dictating the action.
Parry A defensive technique where a boxer deflects an incoming punch with their hand or forearm.
Peek-a-Boo Style A boxing style where the hands are placed in front of the face for defense, with quick head movements and counters.
Rabbit Punch An illegal punch to the back of the head or neck in boxing.
Bolo Punch A flashy, wide-arcing punch used both as a feint and a powerful strike.
Infighting Close-range boxing, where fighters exchange punches at a short distance.
Outboxing A style where a boxer maintains distance and uses longer-range punches to outscore the opponent.
Philly Shell Defense A defensive boxing stance with one arm crossed in front, used to block and counter punches.
Liver Shot A powerful body punch aimed at the liver, often debilitating.
Shoeshine A rapid succession of low-powered punches, usually aimed at the body to score points or set up bigger shots.
Pugilist Another term for a boxer or fighter.
Punching Bag A heavy, durable bag used by boxers for training, to practice punching techniques and combinations.
Speed Bag A small, air-filled bag attached to a rebound platform, used to develop speed, rhythm, and hand-eye coordination.
Light Flyweight A weight class in boxing, fighters must not exceed 108 lbs (49 kg).
Flyweight (Boxing) A weight class in boxing, with a limit of 112 lbs (50.8 kg).
Bantamweight (Boxing) A weight class in boxing, with a limit of 118 lbs (53.5 kg).
Super Bantamweight A weight class in boxing, with a limit of 122 lbs (55.3 kg).
Featherweight (Boxing) A weight class in boxing with a limit of 126 lbs (57.2 kg).
Super Featherweight A boxing weight class, fighters must weigh no more than 130 lbs (59 kg).
Lightweight (Boxing) A boxing division with a maximum weight limit of 135 lbs (61.2 kg).
Super Lightweight A boxing weight class with a limit of 140 lbs (63.5 kg).
Welterweight (Boxing) A weight class in boxing, fighters must weigh no more than 147 lbs (66.7 kg).
Super Welterweight A weight class in boxing, with a limit of 154 lbs (69.9 kg).
Super Middleweight A boxing division with a weight limit of 168 lbs (76.2 kg).
Cruiserweight A boxing weight class between light heavyweight and heavyweight, with a limit of 200 lbs (90.7 kg).
Heavyweight (Boxing) The highest weight class in boxing, with no upper weight limit.