Interview with a Chicago MMA Fighter Jeff Curran About Adjusting Boxing for MMA

When you ask most MMA fighters about the key components to
MMA training, they testify that they are boxing, Thai kicks, wrestling defense
and Brazilian jiu jitsu.  Although
this is rarely disputed, there are more layers to this answer than the mere
practice of these 4 different sports. 
In fact, MMA has evolved into its own system – An American martial art
system.  Sole style practitioners may think that MMA today still offers
them an open invitation, but without taking on a MMA training regiment that
adapts these four components,it is hard to survive for long in the game. 


Conventional boxing training
does not fluently translate for the MMA arena.  It once was a common comparison, the equivalent to a
playground conversation amongst men – the old Batman verse Superman match-up,
but instead the players were Mike Tyson and Ken Shamrock;  hardly a fair comparison.  I have always expressed that they were
apples and oranges.  Boxers do not
train the same game as the MMA fighter. 
Although the punching skills from boxing are one key to MMA fighting,
they have been adapted differently for the rules and threats each MMA fighter
faces.  Local fighters like Jeff Curran
(who has competed as a boxer and MMA stylist) and Mark Miller (who I featured a few weeks ago) both have strong affinities with boxing and love the stand up game.  But also concur that MMA is its own
system – the punch training used may have derived from boxing, but the drills,
stance-work and even defense implored to accurately prepare for a MMA fight
have been highly adapted to accommodate the knees, elbows, kicks and

Jeff Curran ( 29-12-1,
fights at 145lb.  Has won 3.5 % of
fights by TKOs, 62% by Submission, 35% by Decision ) has a considerable background in boxing training.  But his fight career has been very committed
to the MMA arena.  He is considered to be balanced and well-rounded.  Curran also has strong ground skills – both in
wrestling and jiu jitsu, Curran a Pedro Saur representative even adapts his JJS training for MMA like the mitt and pad work.


Interview with Jeff Curran

KO:  Can you
give me an example of a traditional boxing drill that does not have much value
for an MMA fighter?

JC:            I
would say the least important drill of a boxer’s workout that doesn’t do as
much as the rest would be speed bag drills.  Unless your biggest thing is
your hand speed, with the smaller gloves, less punches are thrown than in a
135lb title bout in boxing for example. 

KO:  Can you
give me an example of a traditional boxing drill that every MMA fighter should
include in their training?

JC: Focus Mitt training for sure.  Having a coach, or
another practitioner feed pads so you get the timing and combos down…and of
course… Sparring.  Timing sparring and Full Gear with full output as well!

KO:  As an MMA
fighter that has also built a career in professional boxing – give us insight
into how you change your mental outlook in preparing for a boxing match verse
MMA (besides the obvious – of worrying about ground and takedown)?  Do you
think this cross over is valuable for an MMA fighter or can it hurt their
rhythm and instincts?

JC:  The mental
outlook that needs to be changed, especially for a grappler base fighter, is to
be ready to throw more punches.  Not look to be defensive, rather to be
much more offensive and always fire back.  Mentally, know that your fists
need to touch the other guys chin in order to get anywhere.  MMA guys
sometimes have the problem of trying to mix it up too much because they have
that option.  In boxing you don’t.

KO:   As a
coach – what are the key components to take from boxing for MMA?

JC:   Footwork is very important and
often neglected in MMA, so as a boxer who trains for just boxing at times in my
career, I always make a big emphasis on cutting off the angles and working the
fighter to the corners.  I think MMA guys fight too straight forward and
need to move more laterally.  Makes the opponent have to be able to follow
your footwork to keep up.  In a sense, if all the skills are equal across
the board, in boxing or MMA, the fighter with better footwork wins.

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