Could a Navy SEAL Beat an MMA Fighter?

By Logan •  Updated: 12/15/21 •  4 min read

MMA fighters spend their lives training to win, so it begs the question—who could possibly beat them? Not many athletes can boast such a well-rounded repertoire of fighting skills so you might assume that no one could. But what about someone specifically trained to kill with their hands, such as a Navy SEAL?

In a one-to-one fight, a Navy SEAL would most likely beat an MMA fighter. Compared to MMA fighters, SEALs are trained to quickly dispatch their opponents using all means possible, giving them a leg up. MMA fighters, on the other hand, are trained to survive in a ring.

Don’t believe us? Take a closer look at how SEALs and MMA fighters train and you’ll understand what makes SEALs so much more deadly. From their selection and training to their real-world experience, SEALs truly are some of the most hardcore fighters the world has ever seen.

Could a Navy SEAL Beat an MMA Fighter?

MMA Training

MMA, or mixed martial arts, is a hybrid fighting style that takes techniques from a range of other martial arts, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muy Thai, judo, boxing, and wrestling. It’s designed to give fighters a full range of experience in both hand-to-hand combat and grappling.

There have been several iterations of MMA throughout history but what we think of as MMA today didn’t become popular until the mid-1990s. Professional MMA organizations, such as the UFC and Bellator, launched MMA into the public eye and codified it as an official fighting style.

MMA was specifically designed for sporting events and even bars certain techniques such as eye gauges, headbutts, attacks to the groin, and small joint manipulations. For this reason, it’s considered less brutal than other fighting styles such as hapkido, systema, and Krav Maga.

What Martial Art Do Navy SEALs Use?

Navy SEALs are required to master a range of martial skills—from accurately shooting firearms to placing explosives, fighting with knives, and dominating their opponents in hand-to-hand combat. Essentially every skill a SEAL learns will help them survive in the harshest climates and fight to the death.

During their intense training, Navy SEALs become experts in Krav Maga, an Israeli fighting style designed to take down and incapacitate opponents in as few blows as possible. If you’ve ever seen a Hollywood spy film, you’ve likely seen it in action.

Krav Maga is often regarded as the most brutal fighting style in the world. It relies on fast and powerful blows to opponents’ weakest areas, including the groin, eyes, throat, and small joints. It was developed for the Israeli special forces and, therefore, makes it ideal for real-life situations.

Comparing the two fighting styles, MMA couldn’t hope to stand up against Krav Maga. Most MMA fights end in submission, whereas Krav Maga fights typically end with broken bones, gauged eyes, or ruptured windpipes. One is designed for sport and the other is designed for killing. This is why SEALs would most likely beat an MMA fighter.

While MMA fighters are certainly tough, there’s no comparing them to Navy SEALs. Navy SEALs are selected from the best-of-the-best soldiers in the US Navy and Marine Corps. Even before becoming SEALs, they have an extensive background in combat skills.

After selection, SEALs go through a grueling training program that pushes them to the absolute limits of human endurance. SEALs are drowned, gassed, and forced to carry telephone poles to prove their abilities. From there, they’re trained in explosive ordinance, hand-to-hand combat, marksmanship, and survivalism.

Although roughly 75% of selected soldiers fail out of SEAL training, the remaining 25% go on to become the most elite fighting units in the world. They’re put to the test behind enemy lines, conduct sabotage missions, and engage in counter-terrorism wherever they’re needed.

Final Thoughts

MMA fighters might be professionally trained to take down opponents in a ring but they lack the hands-on experience of fighting to kill. In one-to-one combat, a Navy SEAL’s experience and training would overwhelm an MMA fighter and result in victory for the career soldier.


Hi, I've been an avid MMA fan all my life. I've been training in martial arts for the last 5 years and wanted to share some of the tips and tricks that I've picked up along the way to help to aspiring martial artists get started.

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