One of the MMA world’s elite strikers announced this month that he was leaving the UFC to return to his kickboxing roots and sign with GLORY.
Pat Barry had some good times in the UFC’s famous Octagon but, like many fighters who come from a striking base, he never fully felt comfortable with the grappling aspects required in Mixed Martial Arts. He just didn’t enjoy it.
Now Barry – who once lived in Amsterdam and trained under Ernesto Hoost – has followed his heart back to kickboxing. Now, in his training camps, he will be aware that things will be different – although striking in MMA and Kickboxing looks the same to the man in street, there are some significant differences
1. Fighting in a ring is completely different than fighting in a cage. The UFC uses a 750 square feet octagon while in GLORY all the contestants fight in a 388 square feet ringIn the GLORY ring there is no room to dance around or avoid the action and because of the square shape it is easier to “cut off the ring”, chase down and corner your opponent. This means the fight goes at a more constant pace and you exchange a lot more strikes.
- The regular fighting time at an MMA match is of three rounds of five minutes while in GLORYKickboxing we use three rounds of three minutes.Think that is a short time for a professional fight? Watch one. Kickboxing culture has produced a mindset of constant attack – the fighters throw everything they have. The pace starts high and stays high. Fights are action packed and super high paced. Continuously striking for three rounds is very tiring and Barry needs to be ready for this.
- MMA uses four-ounce open-finger gloves, while in GLORY we use ten-ounce closed kickboxing gloves. This makes a huge difference in how you put up and use your guard to protect yourself from punches. In MMA there is more emphasis on evasion and distance when in the striking phases, often with a loose open guard trying to intercept punches and kicks before they land. In kickboxing you will see a closed guard more often, with both hands touching the forehead. This is because the gloves are bigger and thus can protect a bigger area, allowing the fighter to ‘shell’. One side effect is that they remain in range to immediately counter-attack when the opening is available.
- The MMA stance is much lower than the kickboxing stance. In MMA fighters should have both of their legs bend with the knee of the front leg just above the toes. This stance is lower so it will be easier to defend takedowns or take the opponent down. In kickboxing the stance is much more upright with a little more weight on the back leg. This way it is easier to defend low-kicks to the upper leg and also to throw kicks.
- Different fighting sports have different distances. Wrestling is almost entirely in the clinch, for example, while boxing has the outside-striking and inside-striking ranges. In kickboxing we have kicking distance, punching distance and also some limited clinch, with fighters moving between the three. MMA has the most ranges, but very often the contestants move around in what I call the ‘Comfort Zone’. It’s a non-combat zone where neither one of the fighters is able to hit each other. From this distance fighters can move in with kicks, punches and shoots (takedowns). The distance between the two combatants is considerably bigger than the Kickboxing distance.
- MMA contestants usually use single striking attacks or maximum a combination of 2 or 3 strikes. Rarely do you see long, diverse combinations. In GLORY, you will see the kickboxing athletes usually throwing a punch-kick combination of at least 3 strikes with his opponent then countering with a combination of his own. In kickboxing, long combinations with strikes of mixed intensity can be used to distract the opponent and open him up ready to be finished with a power strike. In MMA most of the strikes thrown are ‘power strikes’, with the fighter trying to gain maximum damage from each blow before moving out to safe distance again, or in to a clinch.
- The unified rules in MMA allow the fighter to use elbow strikes. The Unified Rules of Kickboxing, as used by the GLORY World Series, forbids elbow strikes entirely. We don’t want fights stopped early because of a cut. These seven key differences are important for MMA fighters who would like to make the transition to kickboxing. Although it looks the same from a distance, striking in MMA and Kickboxing is quite different. Pat Barry started with Kickboxing and then moved to MMA so for him to return to his initial passion will be an interesting transition. Personally I can’t wait to see him fight in GLORY and I would love to hear your suggestions for his first opponent.