MMA and Fighting Glossary | MMA Phrases and Terms

MMA and Fighting Glossary | MMA Phrases and Terms
UFC: UFC (AKA the Ultimate Fighting Championship) is the premier and most well known brand in combat sports. The UFC roster holds and has held some of the best fighters in the sport of MMA, including legends like Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Georges-St-Pierre as well as rising stars like Conor McGregor, Israel Adesanya, Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

MMA: An abbreviation for mixed martial arts, a combat sport in which athletes from different martial arts disciplines compete. MMA includes disciplines like boxing, jiu-jitsu, muay thai, wrestling, sambo, judo, tae-kwon-do and karate.

Submission: When an athlete taps out or verbally concedes the match due to pain, to avoid injury, to avoid being choked or due to a desire to end the match. An example of this is an athlete caught in an armbar – they can either tap-out if they don’t see a way out and fear that they’ll break their arm or to end the match.

Often times fighters caught in submissions will refuse to submit, forcing the referee to stop the match if they think the fighter is unconscious or at serious risk of injury.

Tap Out: A method in which an athlete submits to his or her opponent by tapping the opponent, themselves, or the mat. Verbal tap outs are also allowed if the fighter is unable to free their hands to physically tap out.

Knockout (KO): When an athlete is knocked unconscious due to strikes or other impact. A knockout is not a technical knockout, but rather one that leaves the fighter physically unable to continue.

Technical Knockout (TKO): Abbreviation for technical knockout, when an athlete is unable to continue, usually due to injury.

Choke Out: When an athlete is choked until he or she loses consciousness. This often happens when a fighter is unable / refuses to submit.

The Octagon: An octagon-shaped ring in which mixed martial artists compete. It’s the squared circle of mixed martial arts.

Dirty Boxing: This is in-close boxing from a clinched position. In traditional boxing, athletes are separated from this position. However in MMA, fighters are allowed to fight from the clinch.

Ground and Pound: Ground and pound is exactly like it sounds - taking a fighter to the ground, placing them in an inferior position and striking until the opponent is knocked out, taps out, or until the match is stopped. An excellent example of ground and pound is Khabib Nurmagomedov when he takes his opponents to the ground.

Guard: A semi-defensive position in which an athlete on his or her back keeps an opponent between their legs.

Open Guard: A guard position in which the feet are not interlocked.

Closed Guard: When an athlete holds an opponent in their guard by interlocking his or her feet behind their opponent.

Half Guard: A guard position in which only one of the opponent’s legs are held between the grounded athlete’s legs.

Butterfly Guard: An open guard position in which the feet are hooked on the inside of the athlete’s legs.

Rubber Guard: This is a guard in which the fighter on the bottom brings one leg up high on the top fighter’s back and hooks the leg under his or her own arm. It controls the top athlete while freeing up one arm for the bottom athlete to attack.

Guard Pass: A technique used by one athlete in another athlete’s guard to move into a mount position.

Mount: A control position in which one athlete is on top of another athlete. A mount usually precedes a ground and pound, but not always.


Side Mount: When one athlete is on top of his or her opponent with their heads at 90 degrees. Also known as side control.

Front Mount: A mount position in which the top athlete is squared to the bottom athlete, with his or her legs straddling the opponent.

Rear Mount: A mount position in which the bottom athlete has his or her back turned to the top athlete.

Reverse Mount: A mount position in which the athletes’ heads are facing opposite directions. Also known as North/South Mount.

Hooks In: When an athlete has a rear mount and locks his or her feet between the legs of the mounted athlete. This prevents the mounted athlete from turning his or her opponent to improve their position.

Muay Thai Clinch: A clinch position taken from Muay Thai boxing where an athlete will grab his or her opponent behind the head with both hands, using his or her elbows to create distance and apply knee strikes to their opponent.



Armbar: A lock in which the arm is straightened, hyperextending the elbow. In MMA, this is most often done by trapping the arm between the legs and extending the hips upward.

Keylock: An arm-lock applied by the athlete on top where the bottom athlete’s arm is bent at a 90-degree angle. The wrist is held while the other arm wraps underneath and is lifted to apply pressure to the shoulder.

Kimura: An arm-lock position in which the arm is bent behind the athlete leading to an arm break or a shoulder dislocation if the athlete doesn’t tap out. It is named after Japanese athlete, Masahiko Kimura. See Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 140 for one of the most brutal kimura finishes in UFC history.

Omoplata: A Kimura lock using the leg, instead of the arm, to trap the athlete’s arm.

Guillotine Choke: The guillotine choke, also known as Mae Hadaka Jime in judo, is a chokehold in martial arts and wrestling applied from in front of the opponent. The choke involves using the arms to encircle the opponent's neck in a fashion similar to a guillotine. See Jon Jones' win over Lyoto Machida for a clinical example of a guillotine choke.

Choke: A submission hold applied to the neck that restricts air flow, blood flow or both. A choke is designed to cause the other athlete to tap out or lose consciousness.

Rear-Naked Choke: A choke applied behind an opponent upon capturing his or her back. A rear-naked choke is one of the most advantageous types of chokes as far as positioning. See Khabib Nurmagomedov's win over Dustin Poirier for an excellent example.

TRIANGLE CHOKE: This choke can be applied using the legs or the arms. Using the arms, the choking athlete drives his or her shoulder into the armpit of their opponent and wraps his or her arm around the opponent’s neck. The athlete then grabs their own hand, arm or head to create pressure.

Using the legs, the attacker places the opponent’s neck in the crux of his or her knee while the other leg comes up the opponent’s opposite arm. The foot is hooked under the crux of the other knee, and the hips are raised while the defender’s head is pulled down to create pressure.



Jab: A lead-hand strike used to stun. Quick, effective and the foundation of any boxer's toolset.

Straight Punch: A punch thrown with the stronger, power hand.

Overhand Punch: A powerful and effective haymaker-style punch that swings up and over. See Dan Henderson vs. Mike Bisping for a stunning overhand knockout.

Hook Punch: A punch with the arm bent that is thrown across the body to strike the opponent from the side.

Uppercut Punch: A bent-arm punch where the punch is thrown straight up. One of Conor McGregor's signature moves - the quick uppercut.

Liver Shot: A combination between a hook punch and an uppercut thrown to the right side of an opponent. Designed to strike the liver, it’s a painful, often debilitating punch.

Superman Punch: An overhead punch in which the athlete leaps at his or her opponent in an attempt to avoid his or her defense. See Anthony Pettis vs. Stephen Thompson for a superman punch finish.

Flying Knee: A jumping knee strike designed to penetrate the opponent’s defense. See Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren for a brutal flying knee finish.



Escape: When an athlete escapes from a submission or choke hold.

Reversal: When an athlete moves from an inferior position into a superior position.

UPA: A roll in which a mounted athlete reverses position, ending in the guard of the other athlete.



Double-Leg Takedown: Similar to a tackle, an athlete lowers his or her head and hooks both legs with their arms and applies pressure to the defender’s body, driving the opponent to the ground.

Single-Leg Takedown: Similar to a double-leg takedown, except only one leg is hooked.

Scissor Takedown: One athlete places their legs on either side of a standing opponent and uses a twisting motion to trip with his or her legs.

Body Slam: When an athlete picks up his or her opponent and throws them to the ground.

Sprawl: A takedown defense where an athlete spreads their legs away from the attacking athlete and applies their weight to the athlete’s back in an effort to deny access to their legs and attain superior position.


Sauna Suit: A set of pants and a shirt/jacket that is typically used to increase sweating, blood circulation and weight loss. It’s usually recommended that sauna suits are to be worn by professionals only, because there can be a risk of losing too much water, which can lead to a host of other issues.

Sauna suits are often worn by boxers, MMA fighters and athletes in other sports to lose the last bit of weight / water weight before a competition. They can be a fantastic way to increase the intensity of your workout and training. The psychological stimulation you get when sweating combined with the increased body temperature can lead to a fantastic training session as well as quicker recovery and reduced risk of injury.


Best Sauna Suit for Weight Loss, MMA and Boxing | MMA and Fighting Terms and Phrases


Bag Gloves: These are primarily used to hit the heavy bag, double end bags and other specialty bags. In many cases, they’re also constructed with a heavier, dense foam, for protection of your fists when hitting a harder heavy bag. These are not the type of gloves you would use for sparring or hitting other boxers, because they don’t have as much resiliency or “give” as sparring gloves.

Sparring Gloves: These are used for making contact with other fighters, replicating a fight scenario by squaring off against a chosen partner during your workout. The best gloves for sparring have laces or have a design that covers the wrap-around closure so that neither fighter gets cut or abrasions from the hook and loop fastening system.

Sparring gloves are usually measured in ounces. Although there’s strict rule, fighters who weigh between 100-126lbs should be sparring with gloves that weigh 12 or 14 ounces. Fighters who are in the 126-160 lb. range should be in 14 or 16 ounce gloves. Fighters over 160lbs should choose 16 or 18 ounce gloves for optimal protection for their hands and their sparring partner. The larger the ounces, the greater the shock absorbency provided.

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