Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a thrilling and dynamic combat sport that combines various disciplines, including striking, grappling, and wrestling. In MMA, fighters must possess a well-rounded skill set and adapt to different situations inside the cage. One fundamental aspect that plays a crucial role in an MMA fighter’s success is the stance they adopt. The stance serves as the foundation for movement, defense, and effective striking or grappling techniques.

Understanding the importance of stances in MMA is essential for fighters of all levels. The way a fighter stands not only affects their balance and mobility but also determines their ability to generate power, defend against strikes, and execute takedowns. In this article, we will delve into the significance of stances in MMA and explore the different types of stances commonly used by fighters. By the end, you will have a solid understanding of how stances impact a fighter’s performance in the cage.

How do you stand in MMA?
The Southpaw Stance

The southpaw stance is a unique positioning adopted by fighters in MMA, where the fighter’s right hand and foot are forward, while the left hand and foot are positioned at the rear. This stance is often associated with left-handed fighters, but it can also be used by right-handed fighters who prefer leading with their right hand. Here, we will delve into the definition, foot positioning, advantages, considerations, and notable examples of fighters who effectively utilize the southpaw stance.

In the southpaw stance, the lead foot is the right foot, positioned forward and slightly angled outward. The rear foot, the left foot, is positioned further back, providing stability and a solid base. The fighter’s torso is typically rotated slightly to the right, minimizing the target area presented to the opponent. The lead hand (right hand in this case) is used for jabs and quicker strikes, while the rear hand (left hand) is used for power punches and counters.

In the southpaw stance, the fighter’s weight is distributed evenly between both legs, allowing for balance and quick movement. The lead foot is used for quick direction changes and pivoting, enabling the fighter to generate power and torque. The rear foot provides stability and serves as a foundation for powerful strikes or explosive movements when needed.

Advantages and Considerations of the Southpaw Stance:

  • Different Angles of Attack: The southpaw stance provides a different angle of attack compared to the orthodox stance. This can be advantageous because opponents are more accustomed to fighting against fighters in the orthodox stance. The angles and timing of strikes coming from a Southpaw fighter can often catch opponents off guard.
  • Enhanced Counterpunching: The positioning of the rear hand (left hand) in the southpaw stance allows for powerful counterpunching. As the opponent strikes, the southpaw fighter can effectively use the rear hand to deliver strong counters, taking advantage of their dominant hand being closer to the opponent.
  • Tactical Advantage: The southpaw stance can create challenges for orthodox fighters who are less familiar with facing southpaw opponents. It can disrupt their usual strategies, footwork, and combinations, potentially giving the Southpaw fighter an advantage in the fight.


  • Vulnerability to Leg Kicks: In the southpaw stance, the fighter’s lead leg (right leg) is more exposed to leg kicks from orthodox fighters. Defending against leg kicks becomes crucial for southpaw fighters, as those strikes can significantly affect their mobility and balance.
  • Mirror Matchup Challenges: When two Southpaw fighters face each other, they must adjust their strategies as they are fighting in a mirror image. It requires adaptability and an understanding of the specific nuances that arise from this matchup.

Examples of Fighters Known for Using the Southpaw Stance:

  • Conor McGregor: The former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor is a prominent example of a fighter known for his effective utilization of the Southpaw stance. McGregor’s left hand, combined with his precision and knockout power, has led to numerous victories in the octagon.
  • Anderson Silva: Considered one of the greatest fighters in MMA history, Anderson Silva showcased exceptional skills in the southpaw stance. Silva’s unorthodox striking style, combined with his ability to counter effectively, made him a formidable opponent for many.
  • Joanna Jędrzejczyk: The former UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk is another fighter who has employed the southpaw stance to great effect. Her excellent footwork, long-range striking, and precision punches have led to dominant performances in her fights.

How do you stand in MMA?

The Orthodox Stance

The orthodox stance is one of the most commonly used stances in MMA and. It is characterized by positioning the fighter’s left hand and foot forward, with the right hand and foot placed at the rear. In this section, we will explore the definition and description of the orthodox stance, explain the foot positioning and weight distribution involved, discuss its purpose and advantages, and highlight notable fighters who have excelled while utilizing the orthodox stance.

In the orthodox stance, the lead foot is the left foot, positioned slightly forward and pointing toward the opponent. The rear foot, the right foot, is placed further back, providing stability and a solid base. The fighter’s torso is typically squared off, allowing for a balanced and compact position. The lead hand (left hand) is used for jabs and quicker strikes, while the rear hand (right hand) is employed for power punches and hooks.

In the orthodox stance, the fighter’s weight is distributed evenly between both legs, creating a strong foundation for striking and movement. The lead foot allows for quick forward movement, pivoting, and lateral angles. The rear foot provides stability and generates power for punches and kicks.

Purpose and Advantages of the Orthodox Stance:

  • Familiarity and Balance: The orthodox stance is the traditional and natural stance for right-handed fighters, making it more familiar and comfortable for a significant portion of fighters. This familiarity promotes balance and stability, allowing fighters to effectively absorb and deliver strikes.
  • Power Generation: The positioning of the rear hand (right hand) in the orthodox stance facilitates the generation of power in punches and hooks. The rotation of the hips and torso, combined with the kinetic chain, allows for maximum power transfer in striking techniques.
  • Defensive Maneuvers: The orthodox stance provides good coverage and protection for the fighter’s body. The lead hand can be utilized for parrying, blocking, or setting up counters, while the rear hand offers a strong shield against incoming strikes.

Examples of Fighters Known for Using the Orthodox Stance:

  • Georges St-Pierre: The former UFC welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre, is widely regarded as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. He exemplified the effective use of the orthodox stance, showcasing technical striking, superior footwork, and a well-rounded skill set.
  • Muhammad Ali: Although primarily known for his achievements in boxing, Muhammad Ali’s iconic boxing style translated well into the MMA realm. His utilization of the orthodox stance, combined with unparalleled footwork and lightning-fast punches, made him a formidable force in the ring.
  • Max Holloway: The former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway is another fighter who has achieved great success with the orthodox stance. His dynamic striking, volume punching, and ability to mix up combinations have made him a dominant force in the featherweight division.

Choosing the Right Stance

Selecting the appropriate stance in MMA is a crucial decision that can greatly impact a fighter’s performance inside the cage. Each fighter possesses unique attributes, fighting styles, and training backgrounds, making it essential to carefully consider several factors when determining the optimal stance. In this section, we will explore the key factors to consider, the evaluation of personal attributes, the significance of experimentation, and the role of a coach or trainer in stance selection.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Stance in MMA:

  • Natural Handedness and Footwork: Consider your natural handedness (left or right) and footwork tendencies. Some fighters may feel more comfortable leading with their dominant hand, while others may find that the opposite stance provides an advantage in generating power or executing specific techniques.
  • Body Type and Physical Attributes: Evaluate your body type, reach, height, and overall physical attributes. Certain stances may complement your physicality better, allowing for optimal utilization of your attributes. For example, taller fighters may benefit from a longer reach in an orthodox stance, while shorter fighters might find the southpaw stance advantageous for closing the distance.
  • Fighting Style and Specializations: Assess your fighting style and preferred techniques. Different stances lend themselves to specific strategies and techniques. If you have a strong boxing background, an orthodox stance might complement your skill set. On the other hand, a wrestling background might lead you toward a wrestler’s stance for effective takedowns and grappling.

Evaluating Personal Attributes, Style, and Training Background:

  • Dominant Hand and Striking Power: Determine which hand is your dominant hand and evaluate its power and accuracy. Leading with your dominant hand in the stance can enhance your striking power and precision, as demonstrated by many successful fighters.
  • Agility and Footwork: Consider your agility and footwork capabilities. Some fighters may have exceptional footwork and quickness, allowing them to excel in stances that emphasize movement and angles, such as the southpaw stance.

How do you stand in MMA?Training Background and Skill Set: Evaluate your training background and the skills you have developed. If you have focused extensively on a specific discipline, such as Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, selecting a stance that complements your trained techniques can enhance your effectiveness in those areas.

The Importance of Experimenting and Finding the Optimal Stance: Experimentation is vital when it comes to finding the optimal stance in MMA. It involves testing different stances during training sessions, sparring, and actual fights. By experimenting, you can assess how each stance aligns with your personal attributes, style, and skill set. This process allows you to identify the stance that maximizes your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses.


Stances are crucial in MMA, impacting balance, power, and defense. Experimentation is key to finding the optimal stance. Embrace the process, seek guidance, and adapt. Stances are a fundamental aspect of success in MMA. Find the right stance, unlock your potential, and thrive in the dynamic world of mixed martial arts.

How do you win an MMA fight? Read it here.


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