Do Big Muscles Help In A Fight? 💪 (MMA)

It’s easy to be misled by big muscles when it comes to fighting. A common misconception, often propagated by movies, is that someone with a strong physique is tough. Maybe you’ve questioned this, and you’re asking yourself, do big muscles help in a fight?

Big muscles do help in a fight. That’s actually why there are weight divisions in professional fighting. However, many things also help in a fight, such as technique, speed, defense, and confidence. A good fighter has a balance of these well-developed attributes.

In this article, I will discuss the role that muscles play in a punch, punching mechanics, and the other factors that contribute to making somebody a good fighter. Let’s get into it!

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What Makes a Strong Punch?

It makes sense to assume that strong muscles help in a fight because the bigger your muscles, the stronger your punch, right?

The answer is yes, but it’s important to give proper context to this answer; otherwise, it is a little misleading. Let’s be clear: although strength plays a role in the power of your punch, it is not the most important factor. The most important factor is the technique. That means that if a skinny guy who’s mastered technique fights a bodybuilder who has no experience fighting, the bodybuilder will get beaten so bad it’ll be humiliating. 

The Mechanics of Punching

The power of your punch actually comes from your legs. Surprising, right? If you deconstruct the entire sequence of movements required to deliver a punch, you’ll notice that the very first movement is a twist of the leg. A trained fighter knows that a punch is not a movement of the arm but rather a movement of the entire body.

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If you want an analogy, most people see a punch as a 100m sprint. However, that’s just an illusion that affects the untrained eye. Somebody trained in MMA or any other martial art that includes punching knows that a punch is actually a relay race. The arm is the final runner that crosses the finish line. 

After the leg throws the punch, the power channels through the core, then chest, shoulders, forearms, and finally, the fist carries the baton across the finish line (which happens to be his opponent’s jaw). Most people who haven’t been trained in fighting neglect the vast majority of the race; they focus on the movement of their arms and fist. By doing that, they seriously limit the potential power of their fist.

On the other hand, the MMA fighter has trained that exact sequence of movements thousands of times, to the point where he/she is unconsciously competent (meaning he delivers a good punch without even thinking about it). 

The Role of Muscle in Your Punch

Power = Force x Velocity. Although most fighters are probably not avid physicists, they all use this equation. There are weight divisions in professional fighting because a fighter’s weight affects his/her potential punching power. The power of a punch comes from the combination of the force and velocity of the attack. If a fighter applies a lot of force and is also very fast, he becomes very dangerous. 

If you want an example of a heavyweight with great speed, think of Muhammad Ali. Ali was the first fighter to get the heavyweight champion title three times. One of the things which allowed him to be successful was his speed. He was very fast on his toes, which meant he was very good at defense, but he could also throw punches at lightning speed. If you want to see the champion in action, check out this video:

What Do Other Factors determine Who Wins a Fight?

We’ve established that strength plays a role in delivering a good punch, but that technique is more important. To have strength and technique is what you want for a good punch. But a great fighter should have other qualities besides a strong punch.


Speed is essential in a fight. I’ve already mentioned Muhammad Ali’s speed, and if you watched that video, you’d have noticed how speed can make you dangerous in a fight. You could have a strong punch, but if your opponent can see it coming a mile away, you’re not going to land it. The ability to throw a fast punch makes you unpredictable to your opponent, which is a very good thing. 

Being unpredictable will increase the number of punches you land on your opponent, which will increase the damage you do. It will also instill fear into your opponent. If the person you’re fighting has figured you out and knows he can anticipate your every move, he’s going to be relatively calm. If he notices you’re unpredictable, he’s going to be much more anxious, which is exactly what you want. 

Fighting is as much mental as it is physical. If you’re able to instill fear and doubt into your opponent, you’re one step closer to victory. Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson were both very good at this. Conor McGregor is a modern example of somebody who has understood the role of psychological warfare in combat sports. Check out the video below to see how he systematically demoralizes his opponents:

By the way, if you want to improve your speed and accuracy, I’d recommend the DricRoda Double End Speed Bag. It’ll allow you to develop fast strikes, better reflexes, and it’s great for your fitness!

DricRoda Double End Bag for Boxing Leather Hanging Punching Bag, Double End Speed Bag Punch Ball with Pump for Gym MMA Boxing Sport
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DricRoda Double End Bag for Boxing Leather Hanging Punching Bag, Double End Speed Bag Punch Ball with Pump for Gym MMA Boxing Sport
  • ♥Pear Shape Design: Our punching speed bag has a pear shape design that cuts through the air ensuring a fast and balanced rebound with a lightweight latex bladder included. The pear shape provides easy targeting, allowing you to get accurate punches and good rebounds without messing up your rhythm.
  • ♥Durable Material: Made of durable and easy to clean PU leather, double stitched with reinforced seams for long lasting durability. Each speed bag has a smooth finish allowing for flawless operation, quick and accurate response to blows.
  • ♥Super Elastic Rope: The speed training ball comes with high elastic hanging rope,with strong extension and high elasticity, length can be adjusted freely. Speed ball about 13.38 x 9.05inches, elastic rope 23.6 inches(each).


You could have a strong punch, but if you don’t know how to defend yourself, you’re going to get hurt. Every punch contributes to points for your opponents, and it also makes you weaker. Not only that but taking a punch is also exhausting. A single round in MMA lasts five minutes. That’s not five minutes of running; it’s five minutes of fighting. An MMA match typically lasts three rounds, although main events in the UFC usually last five rounds. 

So if you’re taking punches continuously throughout those rounds, you’re going to be moving very slowly by the last round since you’ll be so tired. Defense allows you to protect yourself from both injury and exhaustion. 


This is so crucial. I’ve already touched on the fact that fighting is just as much mental as it is physical. That’s why Conor McGregor berates and intimidates his opponents in and out the ring – he wants to shatter their confidence. 

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“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” This is a quote from Henry Ford, the American Industrialist who founded the Ford Motor Company. This principle is as applicable in fighting as anywhere else in life. Maybe even more so. Because when you’re fighting someone, your confidence doesn’t just impact your performance; it impacts your opponent’s performance. 

Think about it: if the guy you’re fighting looks like he’s scared of you, how does that affect your confidence? It increases it! But if you see, he looks fierce and confident and doesn’t display any sign of fear; your confidence may be negatively affected. That’s why a poker face is important in fighting – even if your opponent hurts you, you don’t want him to know that.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, big muscles do help in a fight. But not bodybuilder-big. You don’t want your muscles to be so big that they slow you down; you want them to be developed enough to allow you to deliver strong punches. As we’ve seen, many other factors help in a fight, such as speed, defense, and confidence. If you want to be a good fighter, train your strength, but make sure you train everything else too.