There’s this theory going around that an experienced street fighter is going to be much more lethal in a street fight than a mixed martial artist.
Granted, MMA fighters are usually trained within a certain ruleset that a street fighter doesn’t care about. But that doesn’t negate MMA skills entirely.
There can be certain situations where the street fighter might come out on top, so keep reading to learn more about these scenarios.
Table of Contents
How MMA skills demolish street fighting
Street fighters will have real-life experience fighting in car parks, ball games, and other random hooligan settings.
And they probably don’t care about breaking any rules to win the fight.
But a street fighter is still going to be infantile in skillset to defend against what an MMA fighter can do.
Most notably, mixed martial artists are extremely difficult to hit, which is what a street fighter needs to rely on.
Because they probably have zero ground fighting experience unless they had some knowledge back from their wrestling high-school days.
The streetfighter has to worry about a variety that a mixed martial artist can deliver, like grappling, striking, and submissions.
MMA fighters learn grappling from Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and even Sambo classes. Some might even have Judo experience.
They also learn striking from Boxing, Muay Thai/Kickboxing, and sometimes extra knowledge comes from Karate or Taekwondo.
And their submissions largely come from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, where they learn to choke out opponents until they fall asleep or pull on their limbs so articulately that their enemy will beg them to stop.
All that being said, the streetfighter can get close and go for lethal attacks with more ease due to their lack of rules in comparison.
Mixed martial artists are more measured, usually to their benefit, but a street fighter’s reckless abandon could be their best feature.
In the end, it can come down to experience and comfort with different fighting scenarios. All else equal, mixed martial arts would win over street fighting hands-down.
One other debating point is how an MMA plus street fight experienced person might fair up against a street-only fighter.
There are quite a few notorious street fighters that became MMA and UFC professionals, like:
- Eddie Alvarez
- Kimbo Slice
- Jorge Masvidal
It shows that street fighting gives a good level of experience of being punched in the mouth, but it might not always translate to being an extraordinary MMA fighter.
Alvarez has had a solid career in MMA, that’s for sure. But Slice (RIP) struggled in MMA, having no grappling, and Masvidal (recently retired) was always mostly a striker, too.
Street fighter’s advantages over MMA
Although a mixed martial artist has most of the advantages, there are some key situations where a street fighter would win.
First, a street fighter often isn’t the most friendly neighborhood fighter-man.
If a person literally defines themselves as a street fighter, then there’s a good likelihood they are a drug dealer, psychopath, or gang member.
And herein lies the point, if there’s one guy overly willing to fight in the streets, then they are likely to have a couple of hooligan-minded friends nearby.
Even if you are as good as Khabib Nurmagomedov, being outnumbered is the easy route to a beating.
Another clear advantage that street fighters may have is that they were never trained in the first place, which could make them more unpredictable.
I have seen examples of mixed martial artists in street fight situations, and while they are usually very dominant, they are more used to sparring with other professionals.
Professional fighters have a mixture of patience and purpose in their attacking and defending.
MMA fights are much more like playing Chess than people realize, as it’s often about judging, predicting, and countering the expertise of their opponent.
With a street fighter, this kinda completely goes out the window.
A street fighter is likely to be rushing forward, erratic in their posturing, and throwing haymakers.
Haymakers are easier to predict and counter for a pro, but they are also extremely dangerous.
Even a professional fighter can’t always eat an overhand haymaker to the mouth — it could knock them out in a flash.
By extension to this lack of training, street fighters also don’t care about any rules that an MMA fighter has in their training.
Groin strikes, biting, eye gauging, strikes to the back of the head and spine, and kicking a downed opponent — are all illegal strikes in a professional format, but not to the street brawler.
Most people have a certain level of gentlemanly rules by nature, but you can’t count on that in a random brawl.
UFC fighters in a street fight
A UFC fighter is essentially one of the best performers in the world at fighting in a competition.
But just because it’s a sport, don’t let that fool you into thinking that they couldn’t take this ability outside of the octagon.
One thing you might have going for you as a martial artist is having better footwork and speed than your opponent, who will likely rely more on brawling or boxing skills.
Most boxing skills from your average street fighter aren’t trained but perhaps partially learned from being involved in fights.
Martial artists focus heavily on training time to perfect their abilities before they fight.
In fact, MMA fighters like those in the UFC might only spar a few times per week unless they are in a fight camp.
There has already been plenty of news reports about high-level UFC fighters involved in street fighting or bar brawls — often coming out on top.
Knowing how to dodge and move fluidly can only be learned by significant hours in the gym.
And most UFC fighters out-class ordinary people in every method of footwork, head movement, and picking shots.
If you’re going to pick a fight, don’t pick it with one of the most experienced fighters in the world.
How to beat an MMA fighter in a street fight
A person trained in MMA would have more advantages over an untrained opponent when it comes to a physical altercation on the streets.
So the best way to beat a mixed martial arts fighter in a street fight is by using dirty tactics.
I’m not recommending that you use these tactics, but I think they would work in theory:
Strike them when they’re not expecting.
Whatever a street brawler can do to be unpredictable and take the professional fighter by surprise will help them win the fight.
Attacking from behind.
If a street fighter attacked from behind the MMA fighter, they’d be at an obvious advantage. Most of their perception and defenses are at their front.
Go for the stomach to slow them down.
Look at any combat sport, and you might see that a great tactic for overcoming a difficult opponent is by disarming them.
One way to do this is by hitting hard to the body, especially the lower gut or a liver shot.
Other tools and implements found on the ground in the fighting area would help even things out a little.
Please don’t hit someone over the head with a brick. This is purely hypothetical!
Go for the sensitive areas.
Another strategy might be targeting sensitive areas, which may make them very uncomfortable.
A swift knee or kick straight up between the legs often will do the trick to disable any kind of opponent.
Most effective martial arts for a street fight
Most street fights take place on the feet, so having a good knowledge of boxing techniques will be a big advantage.
However, a martial art like Muay Thai would give you a few more options to defend yourself.
That being said, some martial arts take things to a whole other level.
Muay Thai offers the most variety and mixture of attacks and control to be helpful in a street fight.
As most street fights happen on the feet, Muay Thai will give you the art of eight limbs to attack and defeat your opponent.
Although it won’t help you much if the fight reaches the ground.
A lot of imbalances and weight being pushed around can quickly cause some trips and stumbles for fighters to end up on the ground.
Muay Thai fighters are great at tripping up opponents but not so great when they are on the floor themselves.
If you’re in an actual street fight, most likely, your best action is to get the hell back up to your feet so you can adequately defend yourself or flee if necessary.
With a good base in Muay Thai, you’d have a lot at your disposal, like throwing kicks to ward off your opponent or even sending them crippling to the ground quickly.
And if things were to get in close, Muay Thai also teaches you how to grapple up close with your opponent on the feet and trip them up – turning things to your advantage very fast.
Muay Thai is highly effective in a street fight because of the high knockout potential of attacks.
Muay Thai fighters can use their elbows and head kicks which can easily cause their opponent to blackout and end up on the floor.
Many mixed martial artists would agree that Muay Thai is highly effective. It is a common part of any pro mixed martial artist’s skillset.
Attacks like the knee, elbow, and head kicks are pivotal winning attacks in any MMA fight; the same would apply to a street fight.
It would be tough for an untrained person to handle an elbow or knee strike. They’re swift and unpredictable for the novice.
MMA has become its own martial art in its own right.
It offers a unique variance for handling any given situation.
The training is a cut above any single form of martial art. The problem can be being able to master an extensive list of MMA techniques.
I rate it very highly for self-defense situations. Closely with Krav Maga.
Being well-educated in MMA fighting will help you respond to a variety of attacks.
It’s a good idea to be trained well in various styles for whatever could come your way.
Boxing is the classic and most well-known martial art, and everyone has some natural ability to punch.
It can be pretty handy to have some time and experience in Boxing for the streets.
A boxer cannot compare with the threat output of an MMA fighter if they are permitted to use all techniques in a street fight.
Grappling, submissions, and sweeps are just some of the enormous advantages an MMA fighter would have over a boxer.
When comparing boxing and MMA, the main difference between these styles is in the grappling.
A boxer will never grapple with their opponent.
Mixed martial artists will always be looking to take a ground opportunity — especially when they know their opponent has no skill there.
Grappling (BJJ & Wrestling)
If you are a skilled wrestler or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, street fights will probably take a different angle for you as your main aim will be to take the opponent to the ground.
For someone who doesn’t know how to defend a takedown attempt or get out of a tight guard, it will be frustrating for them.
Not only that, but the kinds of submissions that an experienced ground fighter might know will probably send your attacker into shock.
They’ll want to get out of that situation very fast. I remember my first BJJ class as a white belt…
There’s just one thing, ground fighting experience does almost nothing for you if there are multiple attackers.
To handle multiple offenses, you need to stay on your feet and be able to counterattack, dodge and flee at the right moment.
So relying on grappling alone is never the complete option.
Final word on MMA fighters vs. street fighters
Most martial artists go through a significant amount of training for a fight.
Even if that fight is inside of a ring or octagon and with some rules, they are still very experienced in fighting.
The overwhelming majority of skills that can be taken over into street fights still makes them the clear favorite, even against a street-fighting guy, in my opinion.
MMA training makes a better fighter, period.
An untrained fighter against a trained one (especially in MMA); the latter is always coming out on top.
What to read next
Now that we’ve covered the MMA vs. street fighter situation and you know that MMA fighters will beat a street fighter on most days of the week, you might find these next articles illuminating: