Before an MMA match, fighters are compared side-by-side so that viewers can get an idea of how they stack up against one another. The fighters’ height, weight and age are all important measurements to consider. But reach is also an incredibly important metric that, when used properly, can completely change the course of a fight.
In this article we’re going to be going over what reach in MMA, how to measure reach in MMA, as well as why reach is an important metric in the MMA world..
WHAT IS REACH IN MMA?
Generally, the reach of a fighter is their arm span - the distance from the tip of their middle finger of one arm to the tip of the middle finger of the other arm.
Another commonly used term for reach in other sports is “wingspan”.
Reach is influenced by shoulder width, arm length and hand length. Some fighters can have a reach that is longer than what’s normal for their height, which can lead to a pretty significant advantage in the octagon.
One example of this is Jon Jones. Aside from being an incredibly skilled fighter, Jon Jones boasts a reach of over 84.5 inches despite being 76.5 inches tall (6 foot 3 inches). Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, two of the all time great heavyweights, are about the same height as Jones but have a reach of 81 inches and 79 inches, respectively.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE REACH IN MMA?
To measure your reach, all you need to do is spread your arms out parallel to the floor and measure the length from the tip of your left middle finger to the tip of your right middle finger.
Bam, there’s your reach (AKA wingspan AKA armspan).
In this image, you can see Conor McGregor's reach being measured. Arms extended outwards, parallel to the floor. measuring tip of 1 middle finger to the tip of the other middle finger.
WHY IS REACH IMPORTANT IN MMA FIGHTS?
If a fighter uses their reach properly in an MMA fight, they can control the fight and keep their opponent at a distance. Famously, Jon Jones is incredibly skilled at using his reach to his advantage. Some people argue that it’s an “unfair” advantage, but just like how Michael Phelps is “built” for swimming, Jones is “built” for MMA. Talking about his reach as if it’s his only advantage would be discounting just how good Jones is. He’s a highly skilled mixed martial artist, and his reach is just another reason why he’s so dominant.
If you watch Jones fight, you’ll notice he always has his arms extended forward facing his opponent. This allows Jones to size his opponent up, control the distance and stay prepared for whatever they throw at him.
Similarly, Conor McGregor also has a significant reach advantage in both the lightweight and featherweight divisions. At 5 foot 9 inches tall, McGregor’s 74 inch wingspan allows him to control fights and maintain distance the same way Jon Jones does.
REACH IN MMA: CONCLUSION
In general, the fighter with the longer reach can have an advantage. They can control the distance, which can leave the shorter fighter at a disadvantage if they can’t properly close the distance. If the fighter with the shorter reach can close the distance, then that advantage is gone.
To measure reach in MMA, just extend your hands to your sides, parallel to the floor, and measure the length from the tip of 1 middle finger to another.