Does Reach Matter In MMA? (Myth Busted)

Many factors affect how a match can play out! The reach of fighters, in particular, is usually displayed before an MMA fight commences, but does reach matter in MMA?

Size matters, in sports, at least. Whether it’s the NBA, NFL, or the MMA, the athlete’s physical attributes play a huge role in their performance!

You may also notice that varying measurements are highlighted pre-fight, such as height and reach. So, why is this information given, and does it imply any possibility of winning? 

This tale of the tap is influenced by the science of boxing, showing that possessing a greater height or long arms increases the chance of the fighting hitting their opponent and avoiding being hit in return. Yet, does reach matter in MMA

Does Reach Matter In MMA

Does Reach Matter In MMA? 

Reach can be a huge factor in MMA. A greater reach acts as an effective defense by separating the fighter further away from their opponent. The opponent will find it hard to land strikes with such a greater distance, but you can still land your own strikes. 

Probing is also easier with a great reach as you won’t open yourself up to attacks. You’re also positioned to devise your attacks properly before going into a full-out attack. 

Reach is considered a gift, but only when fighters know how to use it to their advantage. They should learn to incorporate this competitive edge in their striking techniques, along with speed, accuracy, agility, and great head movements. 

To improve the winning chance, fighters with greater reach also need effective takedown defense and good use of jabs and footwork. These factors all together help you use your reach to its full potential. 

Read More: Best Boxing Gloves 2022

How To Neutralize Reach Advantage?

Yet, reach does not always correlate with success in MMA. There are different ways for less blessed fighters to nullify the advantage of reach or even use it against their opponents. 

Shorter fighters should try to get close to neutralizing their taller opponent’s reach advantage. This should be done creatively and unexpectedly so their opponent cannot deal with it. Unfortunately, the fighter with longer reach often expects this tactic and often counter it with heavy blows. 

Another way to offer the reach advantage is that the short fighter should take their opponent down to fight in a ground match. In ground grappling, the taller fighter has fewer upper hands from their longer reach.

Because the opponent is highly aware when attempting to close the gap, some short fighters use striking combinations, but they are taking down their taller opponent. Alternatively, they can take their opponents to the ground when their opponents are committing an attack. 

Fighters with longer reach are often good at straight punches and uppercuts. These punches are often executed with greater power and leverage than shorter fighters. However, they do not excel in hooking punches. Close-up confrontation (head to head) is also not their domain. 

Does Reach Matter In MMA

Fighters With Longer Reach Are Not As Good In Head-To-Head Confrontation

Therefore, footwork, position, and head movement are instrumental to offsetting the reach advantage. In addition, punches should be given out with high energy and high volume. 

You may want to check out this video to see how shorter and taller fighters stack up against each other: Humorous Matchup Between the Shortest vs Tallest Fighter!! (** A SUBSCRIBER REQUEST!!)

How Is Reach Measured in MMA?

The reach of a fighter is essentially his wingspan. It is measured when his arms are outstretched at shoulder height and parallel to the ground. Then, the distance from the tip of the middle finger from one hand to another is the measurement of the fighter’s reach.

The fighter’s height and shoulder width play a huge role in a fighter’s reach. While the fighter’s arm is the primary determining factor of the reach, the width of the shoulder and the length of the middle fingers add on a bit of length.

Often, the taller the fighters, the longer their reach and vice versa. As a result, MMA fighters typically have a shorter reach than their actual height, with a few exceptions where fighters have a longer reach than their height measurement.

Jon Jones is a case in point here! He is one of the fighters with the longest reach in the UFC. His wingspan is 84 inches with 6ft 4in height, which is pretty impressive.

The Meaning Of Ape Index In MMA

Ape Index in MMA is the term that’s used to measure how the fighter’s arms are in comparison to your height. A common way to calculate Ape Index is having the height subtracted from the arm span. The main purpose of these measurements is to see how different MMA fighters stack up against each other and who has more advantage during a fight. 

Typically, MMA fighters have a neutral size ratio. Nevertheless, some people have an arm span that surpasses their height by a huge margin. The higher the ape index, the higher chance of winning the fighter has. 

However, the fighter with the higher ape index will not always actually win. Other factors such as fighting skills, agility, and speed all add to a fighter’s advantage. 


Does reach matter in MMA? Let’s face it: reach can significantly influence how a fight can play out. In MMA, possessing a longer reach than your opponent can be a major advantage. 

It can help you build a better defense, so you’re harder to hit, and it can keep you safer from takedown attempts. In addition, it can also give you more torque and leverage both striking and grappling.

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