TKO Vs KO: UFC, MMA & Boxing Differences Explained!

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Updated on September 18, 2022

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If you’re a fight fan, then you’ve probably enjoyed watching combat sports across different disciplines like MMA, Boxing, and maybe even Kickboxing. There are also the other fight promotions from various companies like the UFC or Bellator for MMA and Showtime for Boxing.

Sometimes, the rules can change between the different styles of fighting. In this article, I will break it down and answer everything.

If you’re in a hurry and want to know what is a TKO Vs KO?

A TKO is when a fighter is declared unable to fight by the referee, usually when one fighter cannot defend themselves from being hit repeatedly. A KO is generally when one fighter gets knocked unconscious or, in Boxing, when they don’t recover past the referee’s 10-count.

Keep reading to learn about the unique differences of TKOs Vs KOs across UFC & MMA and Boxing!

The TKO Vs KO Debate

Boxer on the ring floor after being knocked out

It can get confusing to understand the subtle differences between TKO (Technical Knockout) and KO (Knockout). So let’s dig into the details and get a proper understanding before looking at the different fighting styles and their rule differences.

Are TKO and KO The Same Thing?

A Technical Knockout (TKO) and Knockout (KO) are not the same, but they are similar. Technical Knockouts in fighting usually means one fighter could not keep fighting back, whereas a Knockout usually means a fighter lost consciousness from a hit.

The referee can declare technical Knockouts due to a fighter not responding fully by the end of a 10-count (in Boxing) or when a fighter receives too many blows and doesn’t show signs that they can continue protecting themselves (in both Boxing and MMA, but most commonly in the latter).

Is TKO Or KO Better?

A KO is sometimes considered better than a TKO in Boxing and MMA because it’s more exciting for the audience. Whatever is most exciting to watch often translates to better success and revenue for the fighter in future matchups, so getting a KO is worthwhile.

Having a certain number of knockouts on your fighting record is sure to get a lot of attention coming to you as a fighter.

Especially in Boxing, where your record is often read as Wins, X Wins By Knockout, Losses, Draws. You’ll see this nugget of information right under the record and name watching a fighter on the TV.

It seems a bit too far-fetched, though, as most of those “Knockouts” in Boxing aren’t true one-hit knockouts. They’re usually count-outs by the referees. Still, it’s a badge of honor to have a lot of KOs with your record.

And that’s not the only thing. Keep reading the next section.

Does TKO Count As A KO On A Fighter’s Record?

A TKO counts as a KO on a Boxing fighters’ record. Both TKOs and KOs are combined because their opponent was knocked out of the fight that they couldn’t continue. When their wins are read out, they usually come paired with the number of knockouts.

Whenever you might read that Tyson Fury (the “Gypsy King”) has had 32 fights, 31 wins, 22 by knockout, it means that those 22 KOs were their opponent “being knocked out of the fight,” which includes TKOs, unconscious KOs, and count-out KOs.

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How Does A Fighter Actually Get Knocked Out?

Being knocked out is losing consciousness, which can happen from a sudden and traumatic strike to the head around the jaw or temples. These strikes can cause a cerebral concussion, making the brain shut off the lights to protect itself.

If fighters experience too many blows to the head, and particularly knockouts, over their career, then it has been known for it to cause some severe long-term damage in terms of memory loss and depression.

There have even been studies about how a punch can knock you out, in which they make several hypotheses without being able to come to clear conclusions.

The study notes that most knockouts come from a hook to the side of the jaw, causing a sudden horizontal twist to the receiver’s head. Uppercuts were moderately effective at producing knockouts, while straight punches to the face were sporadic.

Much more is yet to be learned about how unconsciousness occurs from strikes to the head.

Next, I’ll focus on explaining the differences between UFC Vs MMA and Boxing and knockouts.

Knockouts In UFC & MMA

MMA fighter knocked out in the octagon

I’m diving up Technical Knockouts and Knockouts across two sections for UFC & MMA and Boxing separately. The considerations and definitions can change slightly. First up, UFC & MMA.

What Is A TKO In UFC

In the UFC (and other MMA competitions), a Technical Knockout (TKO) is usually called by the referee when a fighter appears to be losing the fight. The fighter could be struggling to defend themselves and taking too many strikes either on the feet or on the ground.

Many fights end with a TKO in the UFC and MMA because even when a fighter takes a heavy hit and gets knocked down, they still have the chance to defend themselves laid on their back by using their legs and arms while recovering.

Also Read: Why Do UFC Fighters Have Weird Ears?

It’s not uncommon for UFC fighters to get knocked down to end up on their back, but either win from the grappling position with submissions or recover to their feet and get a knockout themselves.

What Does TKO Stand For In UFC?

TKO stands for Technical Knockout in the UFC. TKOs can be called by the referee when they think one fighter cannot defend themselves or is beginning to lose consciousness from repetitive strikes, usually to the head.

Fighters who can knock down their opponent inside the octagon usually need to finish the job by crowding their opponent, finding a top position using grappling, and landing successive punches to the face until the referee calls it a Technical Knockout.

TKO’s are far more common in the UFC & MMA because most fights end in this way where the referee has to step in between.

What Is A KO In UFC

The referee usually calls a Knockout (KO) in the UFC and MMA as soon as one fighter appears to have lost consciousness from a big strike, often to the head. You will see the referee moving between the fighters and waving both hands to signal the stoppage.

Knockouts in the UFC & MMA generally work differently than Boxing because of ground fighting in mixed martial arts. Being knocked down to the octagon canvas doesn’t necessarily end your ability to fight, as it puts pressure on the attacker to finish the encounter.

Knockouts In Boxing

Referee calling a technical knockout in a Boxing match

Now let’s get into the details about Technical Knockouts and Knockouts in the Boxing world. Everyone loves a Boxing knockout, but they’re probably rarer in this sport.

What Is A TKO In Boxing

The referee calls a Technical Knockout (TKO) in Boxing when a Boxer is still conscious but unable to defend themselves safely. It could be combined with a knockdown where the fighter can’t recover (like wobbly legs) or up against the ropes when taking many hits.

What Is A KO In Boxing

A Knockout (KO) in Boxing is when one fighter gets hit, usually falls down, and goes unconscious. The referee will often perform a 10-count before declaring them as knocked out, but sometimes they could do it immediately when it’s obvious they won’t recover.

Knockouts can also be declared in Boxing in a few different scenarios, so let me explain them:

  1. Full Knockout: One Boxer is hit with enough force or skill that they fall straight to the floor, often like a wooden board because they go unconscious and the brain stops sending signals to the rest of the body. They hit the mat, and are visibly unconscious, then the referee immediately calls the end of the fight and a KO.
  2. Knocked Down But No Recovery: A Boxer is knocked down to the floor and it might appear they are close to unconscious. The referee will start a 10-count. The Boxer will try to get back to his feet and the referee will assess their consciousness. If the Boxer looks too wobbly in the legs, or are unable to answer the referees questions or tasks (like “walk over there and back to me”) then they might be declared KO.
  3. Knocked Down But Not Out: A Boxer is hit down to their knees and forced into a 10-count, it could result in them being declared KO if they don’t get back up by the 10-count. More on that in the next section.

What Is A Knockdown In Boxing?

A Knockdown in Boxing is when a fighter takes a big hit that forces them to touch the mat of the ring with a body part other than the soles of their feet. This often looks like kneeling to rest or sometimes when forced into the lower ropes of the ring.

Being knocked down forces the Boxer into a 10-count from the referee. It gives them time to recover but is likely to give them negative points on the judge’s scorecards for suffering the knockdown.

If the Boxer cannot continue by the end of the 10-count, then the referee could declare it as a Knockout (KO).

On a rare occasion, Boxers have even knocked each other down in what’s called a double knockdown.

When two Boxers are of the same fighting stance, it’s common for them to hit each other at the same time when they both throw the same punch. A jab or left hook or cross can all connect from both fighters simultaneously, and it’s pretty entertaining when it lands!

If both Boxers are knocked down simultaneously, then the referee has the tricky job of giving the 10-count to both fighters simultaneously. If one of the fighters gets up, but one doesn’t before the end of the count, then they’ve just been knocked out!

Now you should know precisely what the differences are between TKO vs KO and how they can change in MMA and Boxing worlds. It can still be tricky to understand when watching the fights because things happen so quickly, but in that case, return to this article to help you.

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