Why Do MMA Fighters Keep Their Hands Down?

By Logan •  Updated: 12/17/21 •  3 min read

When in a fight, MMA fighters keep their hands down to save energy and allow their arms to remain more relaxed. It lets the fighter unleash punches from angles that a tight, high guard would not allow. It can also occasionally allow for a more forceful strike from certain stances.

Read on to learn more about why MMA fighters keep their hands down.

Why Do MMA Fighters Keep Their Hands Down?

How Do MMA Fighters Conserve Energy By Keeping Their Hands Down?

MMA is one of the most intense and aggressive sports in the world. A fighter must maintain their composure and energy to go on. Keeping your hands down and relaxed is one way of conserving your energy. If you keep your hands up at all times, they will get tired quickly and no longer be useful for fighting. With high level fighters, this is seen by their movement of the shoulders only to block punches or return fire.

By letting their arms relax and stay unclenched, fighters gain more downtime between punches. Holding your fists clenched all the time is a sure-fire way to fatigue your arms. By keeping open hands, you are ready for attacks like sprawls, clinches or grappling.

This is true in both standing and ground positions. The fighter will often keep their hands on the mat, on the ground, on the person they are fighting, or on their own body. Sometimes they will use one hand to help prop up the other arm as they wait for their opponent to make a move.

Is Keeping Your Hands Down In A Fight A Professional Move?

UFC fighters rely on elite-level head movement and footwork rather than blocking or parrying to defend their heads. Furthermore, they have enough ring experience to know when they can and cannot get away with dropping their hands.

You’ll discover that excellent strikers don’t always keep their hands down – they will pick and choose when to do so.

Dropping the guard might be an intentional strategy to get the opponent to attack along a specific line. In MMA, having low hands can provide you with a significant edge when it comes to blocking takedowns.

Hands Up Vs. Hands Down

As a beginner, you should concentrate on your guard and keep your hands high at all times. Dropping your hands, although conserving energy, can be considered a “lazy” way to fight. Professional MMA fighters can be seen dropping their hands due to fatigue and inadequate training.

A novice should keep their hands up to avoid obstructing their view and learning the more advanced “intangibles” of MMA fighting.

Dropping Hands To Intimidate The Opponent

Dropping your hands and guard can be used to ridicule and insult your opponent. MMA fighters employ this tactic to get into their opponent’s brain. Any Connor McGregor fight is a wonderful illustration of this.

This type of taunting and teasing of an opponent can compel them to make a mistake. This taunt can “draw a lead” from the opponent and provoke them into throwing punches by leaving their head exposed. This, in turn, leaves a fighter with the intention to counter-punch when they do attack.

Final Thoughts

The main reason why MMA fighters keep their hands down is to conserve energy. It also gives them more flexibility to react and throw punches from. If you are new to MMA then it is recommended to keep you arms up in a defensive position.


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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