MMA vs. Street Fighting

Televised bouts of “no holds barred” fighting such as Ulitimate Fighting Championships or Pride matches have done wonders for raising the awareness of self defense beyond the traditional karate class down at the corner strip center.

This “new” way of fighting was termed “mixed martial arts” because when it came to REALLY winning a fight, contestants found that they needed a combination of skills from wrestling, boxing, and any of a bazillion other martial or combat arts systems.

There’s no doubt that mixed martial arts competitors are some of the most highly skilled athletes on the planet.

But how would they fare in a real street fight against a real street FIGHTER?

Of course we could debate this topic until we’re all blue in the face with “My master can beat up your master” nonsense.

In the end, we’d all be idiots if we didn’t acknowledge that it really comes down to the fighter’s experience (among other things of course) that will determine the victor.

So let’s talk about that “experience” for a minute because this is where I want to make my point…

While even the earliest, bloodiest forms of mixed martial arts competitions were pretty raw…

…there are NO RULES in a real street fight!

Law enforcement and military units have learned that you’ll perform on the “battlefield” as you train…and that’s WHY you train.

Same goes for fighting.

Mixed martial artists may train for a “submission”…criminals “train” for life or death.

Mixed martial artists may train for 5 minute rounds…criminals fight for 5–10 second devastation.

Mixed martial artists are not allowed to pull hair, bite, hit or kick the groin, or stomp on the head of a grounded opponent…

…the street criminal has learned that these are ALL valuable tools to destroy your opponent in the shortest amount of time.

Now the answer to preparing for this kind of violence is NOT to begin walking into biker bars and shouting out that they all need training wheels and then fine-​​tuning your skills in the back alley.

BUT, if you’re only training for mixed martial arts type matches and ignoring the implementation of more brutal (and street valuable) attacks, then you may one day find yourself going for that arm bar while your attacker sticks a finger deep in your eye or motions to his friend to begin stomping on your head.

Combine the conditioning and versatility of mixed martial arts with a street-​​ready arsenal of options and NOW you have a virtually undefeatable self defense program!



  1. Darin says:

    Did you not see what happened to Kimbo Slice n(the “street fighter”) in the UFC? There is a world of difference between hand to hand combat in Iraq or Afghanistan (the intent is to kill) and a sport. To compare a street fight, the battlefield and MMA? Thats like asking who is better– Special Forces or the SEALS? Their jobs are totally different!

  2. Dominick says:

    Darin-​​Psst just fror your own imformation our jobs are not totally different —— –we work togeter ——— in both my tours to Iraq and to kjosovo ———– we were togeter –doing the same missions

  3. Tom says:


    Excellent article! I do have to ask, wouldn’t even the highly trained mixed martial artist realize his environment and easily switch tactics in a street fight? While they train for the ring, I would think they are well aware of the more lethal tactics since they have to train to avoid them while competing.

  4. Neckbone says:

    well said jeff, i have been in to many street fights to count ( conservatively 50 +). in my younger days mommy always told me 1.never hit first (worst advice ever), hit first and hit hard. if you are in a street situation i guarantee there is only 1 rule, there are no rules. i have been hit with a variety of utensils from baseball bat to brass knuckles, hence,i have no problem punching an attacker in the throat, kicking, (especially in the groin) or eye gouging, very painful and effective when the eyes start to water. because of no holds approach to street attacks, i am able to share this today. as for kimbo slice, i dont think he will ever dominate inside the octagon, he is a street fighter. i’m sure it would be a whole different out come with street rules.

  5. Will says:

    Why is it that so many RBSD guys assume that a MMA practicioner cannot implement tactics like biting or nutshots, but every other Joe Schmoe in the world with no training whatsoever can?

    I assure you we know and can use these tactics. However, I also agree that you will fight how you train. Because our techniques are less “lethal” we can train all of them hard, to completion, against resisting opponents. Like the trusty revolver vs the untested ray-​​gun — I’ve finished literally hundreds of rear naked chokes; how many eyes have you gouged out?

  6. Al Jackson says:

    I once saw an “MMA trained ******” (his words) try to tap out during an actual fight in a bar. Made me laugh and reminds me to train as I fight whenever possible.

  7. Alexander Layko says:

    If you’re unable to punch or grab someone in the ring, why would you be any more likely to punch or grab them “on da streets”?

    In the early UFC there were no rules, yet what prevailed? Wrestling, shootfighting, boxing, muay Thai, and Brazilian jiu-​​jitsu. Contrary to ******** Bruce Lee movies, it’s difficult to kill someone who is actually defending themselves. People have had their heads stomped hard while they were on the ground only to leave with a small bruise. Most “deadly moves” these crappy martial arts brag about are meant to be used against defenseless people. If you are able to get your opponent in a defenseless situation in MMA the referee will stop the fight and determine a winner.

    You expect me to believe some scrawny “street thug” who has no idea how to properly perform a punch or a leg take down can beat an MMA fighter who has scientifically studied fighting inside out? Sorry but no. And hundreds of real life testimonies can attest to this.

    • Sargeslide says:

      Yes, there were rules in the original UFC fights. Which were nothing more than a ploy by the Gracie’s to show BJJ. And, I have to hand it to them, it worked.

      Did you see biting, kicks to the crotch, eye gouges, ear pulls, trachea collaspes or chokes? No, so they had rules, because all of these would be used outside of the ring by a streetfighter.

      Yes, I do and have seen a scrawny kid, who had not one care that the guy acting like a total *** was a MMA fighter (which he let everyone know more than a few times) Who was picking on the kid.

      The kid had some girl with him I guess the MMA thought should be with him, and drunk and full of himself challenged this kid. Before I and my buddy could get there to break it up the kid slammed a beer mug into the side of the guys head as he went for a takedown, in a crowded bar. He was out and the kid was on him, beating the crap out of him. We pulled him off and got him and his girl out before the cops showed.

      MMA guys are good fighters, no doubt, but they train for the ring, not the unexpected and rely too much on thier training instead of thier awareness of the situation. Some scrawny kid maybe the baddest fighter you ever met, who because of growing up being bullied, is used to fighting, taking shots, and has the constitution of a raging bull.
      MMA guys are too often too full of themselves, and too secure in thier “*********” to think someone can down them easily. Now, are all MMA guys like this, no, but a majority I have net are like Gracie BB’s, to quick to let me know what they know, letting me figure out how to proceed. I am a Self defense guy, so normally I leave, he can call my a ***** as I walk out the door. I have a life and I would like to keep it.

      Fights outside the ring go for seconds, not minutes, and usually it is full out until someine gets the right shot in, be it a fist, boot, bottle, knife, or gun. How many MMA guys train for this? Very few. If you really want to know self defense, look up Bas Rutten, MMA ******, Self Defense ******.

  8. W James says:

    Training within the safe controlled atmosphere of any gym/​dojo in any type of Martial Arts,RBSD,Combat systems etc… will never duplicate or fully prepare you for the reality of becomming involved in a serious physical assault upon your person.The shock and sheer violence of such incidents can only be understood,unfortunately, by persons who have been involved in such occurances.

    But i can guarantee you this much,if you want to undertake training and be as prepared as you possible can be, MMA type training is at the top of the heap.Training in such will get you in exceptional physical condition,you will aquire skills to fight in all ranges of combat(standing,clinching,grappling) you will experience and aquire skills to be able to adapt/​defend against an all out assault on your person from an opponant and will be conditioned to be able to absorb considerable impact due to the full contact nature of the training.

    A lot of people overlook this most important fact of being conditioned to absorb physical impact,i can assure you that in any physical altercation you are going to get hit and probably multiple times no matter how well trained you are. I’ve seen many a person exhibit almost shock like behaviour when getting a solid punch to the face for the first time.

    In regards to the rules of full contact fighting,they obviously have to be in place to avoid serious and continual injury in training.But what they can use is used at full force and thus the “fight like you train” advantage.

    Regards to MMA training not being able to use techniques like strikes to the throat,eye gouging,groin strikes etc…no style of training can actually use this,you may train the technique in how it is done but no amount of force or actual effective contact can be used without serious risk of injury to your training partner, thus carry over into an actual conflict will be minimal while you are under the adrenal dump and experiencing high stress.

    • I definitely agree that ANY training is useful for staring an “opponent” in the eyes and giving and taking blows. Even traditional martial arts despite many who say it’s worthless. Mixed martial arts is even better in that you do have to master various distances and fight dynamics and I have huge respect for MMA practitioners and fighters.

      But to truly apply these skills to street fighting, you must find a way to train with the techniques that aren’t allowed in these sport events. Yes, it is possible, including eye strikes, full blown elbows to the head and solid kicks to the groin. We recently ran a special “Survival Retreat” at the http://​www​.RMCAT​.com facility and I can tell you that the entire weekend, not one single punch was thrown. All of the tactics used were to high-​​value targets (eyes, groin, throat, head, etc.) and with full force high value strikes (elbows, knees, gouges, etc.)

      Probably a better analogy (than basketball?) is the concept of sport shooting and a tactical firearms class. Just because you can shoot using the sights on your Glock and get a 1″ shot group doesn’t mean you’re going to hit a bad guy running full speed at you with a knife (and I promise, you won’t be using your sights when he’s in close).

      Thanks for the comments guys!

      • W James says:

        I just recently discovered your web site and i must say it is one of the better sites that provide straight forward realistic advice and information and i will continue to read your articles.I am also impressed at the fact that you are actually monitoring the comments made by posters in real time and taking the time to actually respond in a constructive/​informative manner thus lending much credabilty in the information you are providing.

        I do stand by my comments and respectfully agree to disagree.I make my comments from the experience of being involved in the martial arts for 30 yrs and being involved in more physical altercations than i ever wanted to be in,27 yrs and counting in Law Enforcement.

        Keep the articles/​videos comming and i will continue to read and watch.

        W James

  9. Tyrell says:

    Those NBA basketball players wouldn’t last 5 minutes playing streetball without all their little “rules”.

    They play basketball for “sport” and “money”. I do it for survival.

    See how silly that sounds?

  10. AB says:

    “Street fights” are not “combat” any more than MMA is combat. Combat involves complex environments and lots of equipment, including PPE such as helmets and body armor, that makes “street fighting” and martial arts techniques quite hard to employ.

    And for you “street fighters” out there: don’t use being a “street fighter“who “fights dirty” as an excuse not to train. Anybody can fight dirty. It helps a lot to be really good at fighting clean to be able to fight dirty. Lots of MMA and jiu jitsu guys work as cops, bouncers and security and subdue or kick the crap out of “street fighters” every night.

  11. Sargeslide says:

    I think most of us in the RBSD end of things, do not discount MMA guys in a street fight. They train very hard to do what they do and can take and dish out alot of punishment, no doubt.

    I think more what we try to say is when you add weapons into the mix, they are ill prepared, and the things they do in the ring would quickly get them injured or killed. Also, some of the things that happen in the ring, will not go well outside of it. Please try and single or double leg me, it will be a bad day for you. If you get me to the ground, I am going for your ears, eyes, nose, and throat to do damage. It is hard to protect those places and try to “submit” me (for lack of a better term”

    I have worked with MMA trained folks, they can hit very well, and very hard, they can grapple very well. Those who train in MT, can kick so freaking hard, all those things can end a fight quickly. I think what the guy above is saying if you train within a set of rules, you will fight that way also, we always run back to “Momma” under stress, I do it myself.

    I am far more scared of a guy who has no training than I am of a trained fighter, untrained guys go until you are done, maybe dead. Trained fighters know how to knock you out, and then it is over. Who is more dangerous, someone like me who has trained in knife techniques, and knows what a knife will do to a person, or a ****** off woman who grabs a steak knife from a drawer in the kitchen? She will kill you, I won’t unless absolutely I have no other choice.

    Just something to think about

  12. Sargeslide says:

    Sorry I disagree, street fights are the most basic form of combat there is. Or does your definition of combat only apply after WWII? Why do you think we still train in H2H? because Murphy has proved it valuable, over and over again.

    And yes, those trained in fighting dirty can defeat streetfighters because we train in thier techniques, and know what to look for and expect out of them. But ask any Cop or Bouncer, they will tell you that no one knows what will happen in any fight not in the ring, and many times you do not walk away from them.

    Fighting dirty is not a reason to NOT train, it is the opposite, to see what you can think, develop, and implement to make your self safer. I teach SD and dirty is were we start and go from there. I know trick that MMA guys have never even thought of because they don’t have to rely on them.

    I have a 100lb, 5’3″ female that will wipe out a MMA guy, quickly, because she has the aggression of a Tasmainian Devil if you provoke or attack her. She know every trick in the book, and some not in the book, because she has to defend against men twice her size.

    Look into the subject a little deeper and don’t be so close minded, you’d be suprised at what you would learn.


  13. Alexander Layko says:

    Yes, many mixed martial artists are full of themselves, especially the newer generation who wear TapouT clothing. Most of these newer kids who are fans of the sport don’t know the first thing about real submissions or the “guard”. They’re poseurs.

    Whether you like MMA or not, it’s the most realistic form of unarmed one-​​on-​​one combat that is legal. And it has shown the masses what works in these particular situations and what doesn’t. Modern MMA has been around since 1993 (UFC and Pancrase) yet misconceptions and myths about fighting still prevail.

  14. saroyo says:

    Here are the mistakes most guys make that get them hurt (or killed):

    #1: You train with someone who doesn’t fight regularly. Of, worse, a black belt who has never actually hit another person save his own hide. (That’s about 99.99% of the black belt “teachers” out there.)

    #2: You train for years in a style that doesn’t actually work in the real world. Hospitals are filled with guys who confidently dropped into their fancy stance at the start of the fight … and ended up on the ground a second later getting the crap stomped out of them.

    #3: You never learn even the basics of the “fighter’s mindset”… that special vicious way of thinking that actually turns you from a mild-​​mannered human into a lethal beast in the blink of an eye.

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Jeff Anderson

Jeff Anderson is a 10 year veteran of the U.S. Army, a Master Fitness Trainer, and Master Instructor of Close Quarters Combat self defense. A full time fitness and self defense author, Jeff has trained thousands of men and women in the practical application of advanced military fitness methods as well as close combat tactics for "real life" self defense.

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