Although it is merely a single part of mixed martial arts, boxing is one of its most significant components. Most elite fighters choose to focus on training their boxing in one form or another because it truly is an ingredient to success.
Boxing is the science of punching. It uses the upper and lower body to gracefully maneuver in the ring or in the cage, mashing up offense and defense in a seamless sequence. Knowing how to properly and effectively use your hands in a fight or in competition is essential to your success as a mixed martial artist.
Furthermore, boxing as a martial art and as a sport has been around for centuries, long before professional and modern-day MMA was even invented. People have practiced boxing and have passed down its knowledge and tradition from generation to generation. This also means that before there were even MMA fighters, there were boxers.
A lot of MMA fighters today came from the sport of boxing or had extensive and very impressive boxing backgrounds. They have utilized their punching skills effectively in the cage, stifling their opponents with beautiful combinations and expert footwork.
Let’s take a look at some of these incredible athletes. Today, Evolve Daily shares five MMA fighters with great boxing backgrounds.
1) Cody Garbrandt
Long before Cody Garbrandt won the UFC Bantamweight title in the Octagon, he was honing his fighting skills inside the boxing ring.
Raised in Uhrichsville, Ohio, Garbrandt began training in boxing at the age of 15. He was introduced to boxing and was initially trained by his uncle, who was a former Olympic alternate in the sport.
Although Garbrandt racked up accolades while competing in both wrestling and football during high school, he ultimately turned his focus over to boxing, competing in several amateur bouts in his home state.
Garbrandt won the ABA Junior Boxing title back to back in 2007 and 2008. He finished his amateur boxing stint with a record of 32 wins and no losses.
In 2012, Garbrandt then switched his focus to MMA and turned professional. Today, he is a former UFC World Champion.
2) Holly Holm
Former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm is not only a former boxer, she is also a former kickboxer. Her striking skill set is simply unparalleled in women’s mixed martial arts.
Before she ever even stepped foot inside the Octagon, however, Holm was an accomplished professional boxer. She is a multiple-time world champion in the sport, who defended her titles a total of 18 times across three different weight divisions. She also won the prestigious Ring Magazine “Fighter of the Year” award two times (2005, 2006). Popular boxing website Boxrec lists Holm as the second-best female professional boxer in history.
In 2011, however, Holm decided to take her fighting talents to the cage. She won her first 10 fights, including a stunning second-round knockout of Ronda Rousey in 2015 that made her a global superstar.
3) Jorge Masvidal
Although UFC welterweight contender Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal is definitely a former professional boxer, it was his time in toiling in the backyards of the late Kimbo Slice that turned him into a Youtube star.
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Masvidal is of mixed Cuban and Peruvian descent. He was often embroiled in street fights as a teenager. In fact, Masvidal does indeed have recorded videos of fights that took place in Slice’s home, wherein he defeated the latter’s protege “Ray”.
In 2005, Masvidal made his professional boxing debut. He defeated Joseph Benjamin via 4-round majority decision. And he hasn’t competed professionally in boxing since. After stints in both Strikeforce and Bellator, Masvidal made his UFC debut in 2013. The biggest names he has beaten in the Octagon include Michael Chiesa, Pat Healy, Jake Ellenberger, and Donald Cerrone.
4) Anderson Silva
Before he became “The Spider”, UFC legend and one of the most dominant mixed martial arts World Champions in history, Anderson Silva, was a professional boxer in his home country of Brazil.
His tall and lanky frame spelled trouble for his opponents atop the ring. After some time competing in the amateur ranks, Silva turned professional 1998. Unfortunately, he lost via TKO and wouldn’t return to the ring until seven years later when he finally won with a knockout over Julio Cesar De Jesus.
It’s no wonder that Silva has some of the most terrifying hands inside the Octagon. That’s all due to his experience as a boxer early in his fighting career.
Despite competing in boxing professionally just two times whilst compiling a 1-1 pro record, Silva remains one of MMA’s best boxers. He has effectively used his punching skills to build a reputation as one of the best knockout artists in the UFC.
5) Conor McGregor
Although he is one of the most popular mixed martial artists in the modern era, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor actually started his fighting career as an amateur boxer.
Representing his home country of Ireland, McGregor began boxing at the age of 12 when he trained at Crumlin Boxing Club. He would later become an All-Ireland Champion at the youth level.
Today, McGregor’s boxing is usually considered his best asset. He joined the UFC in April 2013 and has since built a name for himself as one of the most exciting and most talented punchers in all of MMA.
At the peak of his powers, McGregor used his notoriety and fame to land a high-profile bout with boxing legend Floyd “Money” Mayweather. In a historic event, McGregor made his pro boxing debut against the undefeated prizefighter and lost via 10th round knockout.