why do mma fighters not use open hands

why do mma fighters not use open hands

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a combat sport that combines various martial arts disciplines. One noticeable aspect of MMA fighters is their preference for closed fists rather than open hands during fights. This article aims to explore the reasons behind this choice and provide a comprehensive analysis from different perspectives.

1. Striking Power and Accuracy

One reason why MMA fighters do not use open hands is that closed fists offer better striking power and accuracy. The compact structure of a closed fist allows fighters to generate more force when landing punches. Additionally, closed fists provide a smaller surface area, making it easier to target specific areas of an opponent’s body.

2. Protection and Injury Prevention

Using closed fists offers greater protection to the hand and wrist. The knuckles, which are the primary contact points during strikes, are more resilient when clenched. This reduces the risk of fractures and other hand injuries that could occur when using open hands.

3. Legal and Regulatory Considerations

MMA regulations often prohibit the use of open hands in striking techniques. This is to prevent eye gouging, which can cause severe damage and potentially end a fight. By mandating closed fists, regulations ensure a safer environment for fighters while maintaining the integrity of the sport.

4. Familiarity and Muscle Memory

Many MMA fighters come from backgrounds in traditional martial arts, such as boxing or Muay Thai, where closed fists are the norm. Utilizing closed fists allows fighters to rely on their existing muscle memory, making their strikes more fluid and efficient.

5. Psychological Advantage

The sight of a clenched fist can be intimidating to opponents. Closed fists convey a sense of power, aggression, and determination, which can have a psychological impact on the opponent. This can create an advantage for the fighter using closed fists, both in terms of intimidation and mental warfare.

6. Ground and Pound Techniques

When fighters take the fight to the ground, closed fists become even more crucial. Ground and pound techniques involve striking an opponent while maintaining control on the ground. Closed fists allow fighters to generate more force and precision in these situations, increasing their chances of a knockout or submission.

7. Defensive Considerations

Using closed fists also has defensive advantages. Fighters can easily transition from a defensive position to an offensive strike by simply unclenching their fists. Open hands, on the other hand, would require additional movement or adjustment, potentially leaving the fighter vulnerable to counterattacks.

8. Blood Flow Restriction

Another reason for using closed fists is that open hands can restrict blood flow to the fingers when striking with full force. The impact and compression of open hands against an opponent’s body can compress blood vessels, leading to discomfort or even temporary loss of sensation. Closed fists minimize this risk and allow fighters to maintain better control during a fight.

9. Cultural and Traditional Influences

In many martial arts disciplines, closed fists are deeply rooted in tradition and cultural significance. MMA fighters often respect and draw inspiration from these traditions, leading them to adopt closed fists as a mark of respect and adherence to their martial arts heritage.


The choice of closed fists over open hands in MMA is a multi-faceted decision influenced by factors such as striking power, protection, regulations, familiarity, psychology, ground techniques, defense, blood flow, and cultural influences. Understanding these reasons helps to appreciate the strategic considerations and complexities involved in the sport of MMA.

why do mma fighters not use open hands

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