Navy SEAL Vs MMA Fighter: Who Would Win?

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Updated on January 10, 2022

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In each UFC fight night, it’s easy to see the prowess and abilities of an MMA fighter. But you often hear a lot about Navy Seals being some of the strongest and most versatile fighters in the world; you just don’t always get to see it!

In this article, I’m going to compare these two kinds of ultimate fighters to find out who would win in a fight!

If you’re in a hurry, here’s the short answer on who wins:

A Navy Seal would likely be beaten by an MMA fighter in a street fight. MMA fighters train every day and learn the skills to knock out or submit their opponents as efficiently as possible. A Navy Seal spends most of their deployment time on essential training, communication, and patrolling.

For more facts to settle this debate, keep on reading.

Fight Skills Of A Navy SEAL

Three members of a Navy SEAL team on patrol

Navy Seals are often considered the toughest people on the planet, with the phrase “A Navy Seal is trained to kill” often being the punchline.

Whilst that is likely true, it should include the ending “the most efficient way possible”. As Navy Seals are trained to kill with weapons, particularly knives and guns, more than any other kind of training they do.

The quickest way to get the job done is with one of these weapons. Guns allow a Navy SEAL to eliminate threats from a distance and work well as a grouped effort with extremely regimented military patrols and area sweeps with their comrades.

The knife skills of a Navy SEAL are developed to ensure they always have a final defense of eliminating the enemy as quickly as possible. A SEAL’s knife can be very versatile for a variety of situations to make it useful in many scenarios.

These skills with the gun and the knife don’t relate very much to a fistfight with the talents of a mixed martial artist.

Whilst Navy SEALs undergo a lot of physical challenges to earn their status, actual hand-to-hand combat training time is mostly spent on using a knife. They don’t use a lot of their training, or even downtime, to become deadly with their limbs. The reason is that it just doesn’t seem the most practical when you have an extremely lethal knife in your pocket.

Navy SEAL’s Martial Arts Training

Navy SEAL soldiers learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

A Navy SEAL’s primary fight training isn’t any one particular martial art. Instead, they are taught optimized versions of self-defense to make them extremely efficient in hand-to-hand combat. Again, the focus is always on beating the opponent quickly and (usually) eliminating them entirely.

Navy SEALs don’t spend training time on any specific martial art, unlike mixed martial artists. Most of their training time is spent on what is considered more important skills, like underwater diving, parachuting, communication, working as a unit, guns, and knife-fighting.

The only time a SEAL will spend on specific martial arts is in their downtime or in rare martial arts training with their teammates. So they’re not actually trained as a requirement in any martial art that you would expect with a mixed martial arts fighter (like the UFC).

Some Navy SEALs do, however, have an invested interest in learning all kinds of fight skills and specific martial arts being just one kind. Ex-Navy SEAL Jocko Willink is one of those people, who even prioritizes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a priority to learn for self-defense:

There’s no doubt that Navy SEALs are seriously strong, seriously tough, but they simply don’t have the requirement to learn martial arts like an MMA fighter does. And when it comes to a street fight without weapons, they might not have what they need to win.

Fight Skills Of An MMA Fighter

Two MMA fighters sparring in a gym

An MMA fighter is exceptionally physically fit and conditioned. They often have trained in specific fighting skills regularly and for many years, which is what makes them so strong in a fight. Even outside of a cage with no rules, an MMA fighter often has an advantage against a SEAL.

The fighting ability of an MMA fighter is usually broad and varied, with a considerable amount of hours put into any particular martial art.

An MMA fighter might start their training with Boxing, or Muay Thai, and then commonly expand into Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Some fighters have their abilities expanded into lesser-known arts like Kenpo Karate, or Krav Maga.

In a single week a dedicated martial artist – at a diverse MMA gym – can train for 5-10 hours a week on each of the primary martial arts in MMA. In a few months, a year, and over several years this time adds up considerably to produce one extremely well-rounded skill set for an MMA fighter.

If a mixed martial artist is learning all of the different kinds of striking and ground-fighting martial arts available to them, they become a serious force to be reckoned with in a fight.

Who Would Win In A Fight Between A Navy Seal Vs MMA Fighter

Navy SEAL vs MMA fighter side by side

In a street fight without any weapons, a Navy SEAL would likely be beaten by an MMA fighter. An MMA fighter has training in a range of martial arts that makes them hard to beat as they can adjust for any situation, whether on the ground or on the feet.

If the environment involved tools, implements, or even weapons, then a Navy SEAL is then put at a serious advantage as they have way more experience training and being deployed inside of unknown areas and buildings where they have only their reactions and awareness to rely on.

It’s common for a Navy SEAL to be dealing with unknown threats, in completely random intervals, and in entirely unpredictable environments. This makes them highly effective at using their environment to their advantage.

An MMA fighter on the other hand only ever trains in padded flooring and equipment that is designed to keep them injury-free. The training space is tidy, spacious, and predictable. The only unpredictable element is their sparring opponents, which is with what they are best at reacting from.

Imagine a fight kicking off in a kitchen between a Navy SEAL and an MMA fighter. There’s a kitchen island in the middle, cupboards, pots, and pans, and a cutlery drawer nearby… I know who I would put my money on.

Would A UFC Fighter Beat A Navy SEAL?

UFC fighters are a collection of the greatest mixed martial artists on the planet. Whilst some less experienced MMA fighters could fall short against the strength and fitness of a Navy SEAL, it’s unlikely for a UFC fighter to have that problem.

A UFC fighter could be one of the most pampered individuals on the planet due to their fame and success, like Conor McGregor, which has the potential to make them “softer” in real-world situations. But then again, there are also pro-MMA fighters that are ex-Navy SEALs like Mitch Aguiar.

It’s pretty common for professional fighters to think of themselves as bigger than they are, outside of the octagon and in the real world.

There’s plenty of risks and ganging up to come at you in a fight in the real world, whereas they could be too used to facing off in a cage with just one other person.

It’s a whole different show when there’s more than one opponent to deal with. And this is another thing that military-trained people, like Navy SEALs, are best at.

Could An MMA Fighter Beat A Navy SEAL In The Cage?

In a cage fight, the MMA fighter is more experienced at dealing with the situation and so has the advantage against a Navy SEAL. As long as the MMA fighter uses their striking most and avoids the strength of a Navy SEAL they are very likely to win.

Whilst a Navy SEAL is very good at responding to close-quarter situations, in an actual octagon the MMA fighter is still king.

MMA fighters are used to using the cage to their advantage, understanding its shape, and even rebounding off it for repositioning or even launching attacks.

The other key advantage they have is knowing how to take and hold octagon control. As part of any boxer or martial artists training, ring control is a fundamental skill. Keeping your opponent away from you, or getting close to them, or pushing them up against the ropes/cage. These are all skills to master that only an MMA fighter could surely have.

By now you should understand that in a comparison of Navy SEAL vs MMA Fighter: the latter usually comes out on top in a fighting situation. But sure, when things get more complicated than a cage fight then the SEAL is likely to do the damage.

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