What Is Dirty Boxing In MMA and Boxing? The origins of the style, the fighters who use it, and the limits of permissible.

While watching any boxing or MMA event, you can often hear broadcasters using the term “dirty boxing”. But this may confuse many fight fans who don’t know what “dirty boxing” means in the fighting world. Even though it is a bit complex when you look deep into it, it is not that hard to understand what’s dirty boxing all about.

Dirty Boxing Techniques

Dirty boxing refers to the various unconventional techniques and tactics that fighters use in combat sports. Some techniques are legal, while others border on illegal. This is why it is called “dirty boxing,” as experienced fighters are often able to throw illegal punches and get away with it. If the fighters do it correctly, dirty boxing can be legal and a very effective technique.

In this article, we will look at the term in more detail, discuss fighters who use dirty boxing techniques, as well as tell you where the line is allowed. Enjoy reading!

Where Did The Term Dirty Boxing Come From?

It is not known who the original person use the term “dirty fighting” there are no records. This term was inspired by the striking aspect of Filipino martial art, Suntukan. Suntukan isn’t a sport. It emphasizes self-defense as well as using “dirty street fighting” techniques like eye gouging, groin strikes, and other such tactics. You will also find some of the most disgusting boxing moves in modern boxing or MMA, such as:

  • Forearm strikes
  • Shoulder butts
  • Hammer fists
  • Back fists
  • Elbow Strikes
  • Headbutts

Is Dirty Boxing Effective For Self-Defense?

Dirty Boxing and Self Defence

Although dirty boxing isn’t a martial art, it is a collection of self-defense moves. These moves can be learned by learning martial arts such as MMA, Muay Thai, or boxing. These arts can teach you how to do dirty boxing moves such as:

  • Clinching
  • Hammer Fists
  • Elbow strikes
  • Forearm strike
  • Knees in the clinch

Street fighting is dominated by dirty boxing. Street fighting involves intense close-range pulling, grabbing, and ground fighting. This chaos is very different from the MMA or pro boxing fighting you see on TV. These are the circumstances in which dirty boxing shines.

One of the best dirty boxing moves is the clinch. Being in this position, you have the ability to deliver strong Muay Thai-style kicks or elbows. Or there are more traditional techniques sunken, eye-poking, headbanging, hammer fists – very effective techniques, but also very dangerous because you can hurt the person much more than he can hurt you, so these techniques are used only as a last resort if you can really die, but in any case, it is important to know that in most cases it will be illegal and not to resort to this method of conflict resolution

Which Dirty Boxing Moves Are Used In Boxing?

Let’s face it, when we hear the phrase “dirty boxes”, the first thing that comes to mind is a professional boxing match. Boxers don’t use more dirty moves than other fighters. The term has become part of boxing culture over the years.

These are some of the most iconic dirty moves in modern boxing. Some of these moves may be illegal, but we must admit that they are not all legal.

Create a referee blind spot:

This is a dirty move in boxing that creates an angle where the referee cannot see what you are doing. The aim is to get the opponent into a clinch, and then maneuver him in a way that the referee cannot see. This allows boxers to use illegal strikes such as headbutts and sneaky elbows and get away with them.

Bernard Hopkins was a master at moving an opponent into a similar position. He would first press the opponent against the ropes to create a blind spot. He would then hit his opponent with illegally short elbows or hold their wrists.

Clinching to recover:

Clinch is a common outcome of boxing fights. It is important to know how to fight in this situation. Most boxers duck to protect themselves from their opponent’s attack and then go into a clinch. This can also be very helpful if the boxer is injured.

The worst thing that can happen to a boxer when he gets hit is to continue the attack. To stop them, the injured or tired boxer will grab his opponent by the neck or waist to stop the attack. It will then take a few seconds for the fight to end or for the referee to separate the boxers. This is a common tactic that you will see in almost every boxing match.

Forearm push:

This is one of the most dangerous moves in boxing that can lead to a brutal knockout. During close-range sparring, the trick is to position your forearm against the opponent’s forehead. This will limit your opponent’s vision and make it difficult for them to see the follow-up punch, which is often a powerful one. We all know that punches you can’t see often result in a KO.

Head positioning:

Boxing matches often feature fighters fighting for their head positions. People may assume that they are simply resting and relying on one another. Head control is an important technique in dirty boxing that can give you an advantage in many situations. You can maneuver your opponent to where you want them to go, or even set up a punching combination.

Which Dirty Boxing Moves Are Used In MMA? 

What is dirty boxing

Modern MMA is dominated by dirty boxing, perhaps even more than boxing. Because MMA fighters have the freedom to use all limbs for weapons, whether they are fighting in the clinch, standup or grapple, or on the ground, this is possible. MMA offers more opportunities for dirty boxing than boxing. These are the best dirty boxing moves you can do in MMA.

Clinching to wear out the opponent:

MMA rules allow fighters the freedom to fight in the clinch whenever they wish. The referee will not separate fighters if they aren’t active for a specific period. This allows MMA fighters to use the clinch as a way to rest and recover from injuries. Clinching is also more versatile than boxing because MMA has more benefits.

Fighters might press their opponent against the fence, and then wear them out with intense pressure. This strategy is great against strong opponents because they gasp quickly when they are pressed against the fence.

Shoulder bumps/Strikes:

It’s a great technique for dirty boxing, although it may seem strange at first. You may remember Conor McGregor’s shoulder blows against Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 in 2020. McGregor won a spectacular victory by technical knockout, breaking Cerrone’s orbital bone.

There are many positions in which shoulder strikes can be used during a clinch. McGregor, in his fight with Cerrone, used the most popular of them, the “over-under.” These punches are usually delivered at the cage, but fighters can also deliver them in the middle.

Elbows and knees in the clinch:

Muay Thai training is the best source of elbow and knee strikes. They are also some of the most effective dirty boxing techniques used in MMA. We can all agree that they can cause the most severe injuries, including deep cuts, swellings, and even broken ribs if used correctly. To break the opponent’s posture, fighters would wrap their hands around their necks and pull the “Thai crunch”. From this position, MMA fighters would throw a vicious knee to their stomachs or jump high to their heads.

The process for elbow strikes is similar. They can be landed from a variety of positions including Thai clinch. If placed correctly, these elbows can cause a lot of damage to the opponent and even knock them out.

Single collar tie:

This is one of the most effective dirty boxing moves MMA fighters use to land hard strikes, especially uppercuts, in the clinch. To get the clinch, they fake their way into an opponent’s reach with a jab and other strikes. They would then grab their opponent’s neck with one hand and then blast them with the second. Fighters from this position can land elbows, hooks above the top, and uppercuts.

Famous MMA Fighters Who Often Used Dirty Boxing

Nick and Nate Diaz

Nick and Nate Diaz, are well-known for being some of the best modern MMA boxers. Their ability to box dirty against the fence was what stood out in their boxing game. They can also box from the outside, using long strikes as Nate did against Michael Johnson.

They would put their heads on the chests of their opponents and then explode with a barrage punch. Their dirty boxing skills can be seen in Nate’s fight with Conor McGregor and Nick’s bout against Paul Daley.

Randy Couture

Randy Couture is a former UFC champion in two weight classes and is perhaps the most prominent example of dirty boxing in MMA. He used his head movements to avoid the strike and reach the opponent’s range. He would then place his head on the chest of his opponent and tie a single collar.

Couture was able to change their posture and strike them with his other hand. Couture was an expert at this. Couture used one collar tie to balance his opponent. He also used both hands to move them from side to side.

Daniel Cormier

Although most people know Cormier as a skilled wrestler and he was a great standup performer, he also used MMA’s dirty boxing moves. If you are looking for an example, take a look at his fights against Jon Jones and Stipe Mifcic.

Famous Boxers Who Used Dirty Boxing

Bernard Hopkins

Bernard Hopkins, former world boxing champion, used many dirty boxing moves during his fights.

He knew how to go into a clinch and maneuver to create a blind spot for his opponent. Then he made illegal moves, such as grabbing his opponent by the wrists and elbowing him slyly, while evading the ref’s gaze.

Floyd Maywheather Jr.

Floyd “Money” Mayweather is undoubtedly the greatest boxer of our time. One of the secrets of his success is his incredible dirty boxing skills. Floyd Mayweather was a great fighter in the clinch, although most people know him as a distance boxer.

To interrupt his opponent’s vision, he would put his lead arm out in front of him and then land a powerful punch that usually hit exactly on target. This technique, which most boxers do not practice, may surprise them.

Examples of dirty boxing moments in the ring:


Is dirty boxing legal?

As long as your moves are legal, dirty boxing can be legal. In some cases, the referee may not be able to see your actions and you can still get away with illegal moves. Muay Thai, MMA, and boxing are the three most common sports where you will see fighters use dirty boxing moves.
It is used by boxers to land legal and illegal strikes, such as elbows when they fight in the clinch. Dirty boxing, which is a large part of MMA, allows fighters to use a wider range of dirty boxing moves.

Where I can learn dirty boxing techniques?

There are many striking arts that can teach you dirty boxing moves, such as boxing, MMA, and Muay Thai. You won’t be able to learn dirty boxing as a beginner because it is an advanced group of techniques. This is one of those skills that takes years of practice and fighting in the ring. Before you can add dirty boxing to the game, you need to have a solid foundation.
Muay Thai and MMA are our top choices for dirty boxing. They are more versatile than boxing. Learn how to throw elbows and knees, how to position your head in the clinch, how to strike with “hammer fists” while fighting on the ground.

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