At some point in a professional MMA fighter’s career, the fighter may experience envy as they may be envious of another fighter’s formidable punching power or another fighter’s swift escape from side control, and at some point, the fighter will want to have what they have. This may cause some fighters to train harder to become better and improve their fighting styles and techniques but what happens to things that can’t be changed? Things like height and reach? Are they important in the MMA and UFC?
Height and reach is very important in MMA and UFC. Longer reach makes it easier for you to land strikes on your opponents and also makes it difficult for your opponents to land strikes on you too. In addition, Taller fighters find it easier to land hits from outside of range and also work their way inside.
Shorter fighters are at a disadvantage due to the absence of height and reach so they typically need to work their way on the inside to be able to land strikes on their opponents. In this article, I’ll discuss extensively the importance of height and reach while also highlighting their pros and cons.
Does Height And Reach Matter In MMA & UFC
Yes, height and reach does matter in MMA and UFC. Height and reach advantages are two of the most desirable physical attributes in the cage and if you have both, you definitely have an advantage over your opponent if the opponent is shorter and has a shorter reach.
Although having these attributes may make you seem like a better mixed martial artist, it doesn’t guarantee you a win in every situation as there’s the need to apply professional techniques and skills to achieve more success with this advantage.
There is no doubt about the fact that there are significant benefits to having height and a longer reach in MMA and UFC. To break this down further, a longer reach makes it easier to land strikes on your opponent and it also makes it difficult for the opponent to land strikes on you too, especially if you’re highly skilled and also technical.
If you have height and reach advantages, shorter opponents will find it tough when it comes to working their way inside to land a strike on you, given that you’re taller and can hit from outside of range.
If you’re fighting a shorter fighter, the fighter with a shorter reach will certainly feel a little lost when battling you since you don’t have height and reach problems. If the shorter fighter finds it tough to work their way past your strikes, for instance, they will be positioned at the end of the spear and won’t be able to land strikes on their targets, making their efforts ineffective. However, this doesn’t mean that fighters with shorter reach can’t do a lot of damage once they understand how to work past the longer reach and step into range to fire their strikes.
Pros Of Having Height And Reach Advantages
The pros of having height and reach advantages are quite obvious however there’s more to this advantage. Firstly, you must know that height is rarely advantageous when it comes to a fight, however, a long reach is certainly a very considerable benefit while fighting an opponent with a shorter reach.
It’s also important that you understand that the taller fighter doesn’t always have the longer reach too and this has been proven by a number of MMA fighters in MMA over the years who have had long reaches despite having modest heights for their weight class.
As discussed earlier, with a longer reach, you can easily land strikes on your opponent especially if you’re fighting an opponent with a shorter reach. For example, if you’re fighting an opponent with shorter reach who finds it hard to work their way to the insides of your range, it’ll be easy to land jabs on them because they’ll be at the end of the spear since you have a longer reach and you know how to use it to your advantage.
With height and reach advantages, shorter opponents can find it very troubling to work their way inside your range given that you can hit from outside of the range.
It’s not only punches that can be difficult to land for an opponent with a shorter height and reach when fighting a taller foe. Another benefit of reach advantage is that Taekwondo attempts can also be scuffed by longer fighters since they have the luxury of not needing to close in on their target to land their strikes while fighting.
A lot of fighters in MMA possess these attributes and they always make sure to use them to their advantage whenever they can thus making them a more dangerous opponent to fight against.
Cons Of Having Height And Reach Advantage
When shorter fighters with shorter reach fight an opponent with a longer reach, they may feel a little lost especially when the opponent knows how to use the long reach to their advantage. If fighters with the height and reach disadvantages cannot work their way past the long strikes, their efforts will be ineffective as they won’t hit the target directly. This is because the opponent with the longer reach will have the shorter fighter at the end of the strikes.
Although fighters with longer reach have a better advantage of landing a strike, this doesn’t automatically make them better fighters or opponents. This is because fighters with the shorter reach can certainly do a lot more damage once they can figure out a way to maneuver and work past the longer limbs into range to fire their shots. This is why even with the longer reach, fighters need to understand deeply how to use the height and reach to their advantage else this advantage will automatically become a disadvantage for them.
In boxing, Jab exchanges between fighters of varying reach lengths also follow the same patterns. The fighter with the longer reach in most scenarios uses his jab to hold off the opponent with the shorter reach, with the opponent trying to work their way inside the taller and longer reach fighter.
Once the shorter fight with shorter reach is inside, the advantage is nullified, and the fighter with the shorter reach targets the body and head with hooks and uppercuts as a counter-attack.
For better visualization, think of Mike Tyson’s style of fighting opponents with taller and longer reach. Being taller usually means the opponent has a larger and longer torso and in turn, a bigger target that’s more susceptible to body shots.
Relating this principle to MMA, the principles are almost similar except for the quality of each fighter’s grappling skills.
A fighter with a longer reach who cannot fight on the inside or use the reach to his advantage on the outside will suffer a lot of body shots and grappling attacks once the advantage is taken away from him. This is why having height and reach advantage doesn’t automatically make you a better opponent or fighter especially if you do not know how to use it to your advantage and also fight on the inside when you meet a shorter, highly skilled opponent.