Bodybuilding vs MMA – Who will emerge victorious?

  • By: Dave Moffat
  • Date: June 21, 2023
Bodybuilding vs MMA

In the world of physical contests, different skills, and physical attributes play a significant role in determining the victor.

In a combat scenario, an MMA athlete would likely prevail over a bodybuilder, thanks to their diverse and dynamic skill sets.

However, in a pure strength showdown, it’s quite apparent that the bodybuilder, with their chiseled physique, would have the upper hand.

This difference between how well something works in battle and how strong it is makes for an interesting debate about hard work and training.

Musing over the vast earnings difference between notorious MMA fighter Conor McGregor, who netted a staggering $180 million in 2021, and Mr. Olympia champion Big Ramy, who received a comparatively meager $400,000, we are moved to question the rationale for such disparity.

Do both sports demand the same level of commitment, or is it a matter of a wider fan base, individuated talents, and raw appeal that creates such an enormous income gap?

Is MMA More Effective Than Bodybuilding?

When talking about whether MMA is better than bodybuilding, it’s important to remember that “better” is a subjective term that depends a lot on the preferences and goals of each person.

While MMA fighters generally earn more money than bodybuilders, this may not be the primary concern for someone pursuing the right sport.

In terms of health and safety, mixed martial arts (MMA) might be the better choice because it involves both physical and mental training. Bodybuilding, on the other hand, may only focus on building muscle mass at the expense of overall fitness.

Ultimately, the right sport for an individual will depend on what they are most passionate about. MMA could be a good choice for someone who likes the mental and strategic challenges of outsmarting opponents, while bodybuilding might be a better choice for someone who wants to be the biggest and strongest.

Can Bodybuilders Compete in MMA?

While it is clear that bodybuilders possess the physical capabilities to compete in mixed martial arts (MMA), it may not always be a prudent decision to do so.

The MMA genre requires a well-rounded skill set that goes beyond raw strength, which is predominantly the focal point of bodybuilding.

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So, bodybuilders might be at a disadvantage when fighting people who are better at tactics and have more techniques.

Still, Mariusz Pudzianowski, who has an impressive 16-7-0 record, is a good example of a bodybuilder who made the switch to MMA and did it well.

His success shows that it’s not always a good idea for physique-based athletes to compete in MMA, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t do well there.

Are Bodybuilders Effective Fighters?

Fighting takes both physical and mental skill, so the question of whether bodybuilders make good fighters is a complicated one.

Even though bodybuilders have a lot of physical strength, they often move slowly and aren’t as agile as other people. This could make them less effective in a fight.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, on the other hand, have honed their skills to maximize both power and speed. This has given them an undeniably better anaerobic capacity, which means they can fight longer without oxygen.

In the end, a person’s effectiveness as a fighter depends on how well they balance physical strength and skill with mental toughness and strategic thinking. This makes it hard to say that bodybuilders naturally have the right mix of traits to be successful in combat.

Should MMA Fighters Bulk Up?

MMA fighters are always trying to find the best way to balance their bodies, which means they have to think about the pros and cons of bulking up.

On the one hand, muscle is the contractile tissue of the body. It is a key part of both voluntary and involuntary contractions.

MMA fighters will get stronger in the cage if they gain more muscle mass, which will also improve their overall performance.

But it’s important to know that having too much muscle can slow you down and make it hard for you to move around.

Even though losing fat may also help a fighter improve his or her skills, the best way to perform at your best in the arena is to keep a good balance between muscle and fat.

So, MMA fighters should be careful and precise when thinking about how they could improve their bodies.

Do Bodybuilders Punch More Powerfully?

While one might assume that bodybuilders, with their impressive muscle mass, would naturally pack the most powerful punch, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Take, for example, Francis Ngannou, a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter who holds the record for the hardest punch recorded in 2017 at 129,161 units, equivalent to the force of a small family car.

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Even though MMA fighters don’t lift as much weight as bodybuilders, they usually have a stronger punch.

This can be attributed to the fact that training and good form are just as critical as strength when it comes to delivering a powerful blow. Hone your technique, and your punch may very well outclass that of a beefed-up bodybuilder.

Are Bodybuilders Strong?

Bodybuilders like Ronnie Coleman, Dallas McCarver, and Jordan Peters, are often synonymous with immense strength.

This is evidenced by their impressive feats of physical prowess, such as an 800lbs squat or an 845-lb deadlift. Strength is integral to bodybuilding, as it is through heavy lifting that these athletes sculpt their incredibly muscular physiques.

However, it is essential to highlight that the focus of some training styles may not be solely on peak strength.

For example, Phil Heath, another renowned bodybuilder, utilized a high-volume training approach, primarily aimed at muscular growth rather than the development of maximum strength.

Still, there is no denying that the sport of bodybuilding shows a level of physical strength that is amazing.

Can Bodybuilders Do Pull-ups?

Contrary to popular belief, pull-ups are a well-integrated exercise among bodybuilders for their ability to effectively target the back and bicep muscles.

Pull-ups are a common part of these athletes’ workouts, especially on days when they focus on their backs or pulls.

Some people find it hard to make consistent progress with pull-ups, which is why most people choose pulldowns as an easier alternative.

Pulldowns work the same muscles as pull-ups and are easy to measure, so many bodybuilders choose them when they want to improve their strength and muscle growth.

Can Bodybuilders Go Running?

Running, a popular exercise enjoyed by children and adults alike, offers numerous benefits, such as improved strength and cardiovascular health.

Contrary to popular belief, bodybuilders can participate in this activity as well. While onlookers might find their appearance amusing during a run, it’s important to keep in mind that bodybuilders can benefit physically from running just like anyone else.

Still, they need to figure out if running fits with their specific bodybuilding goals, because it may not always help them reach their goals.

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Is Bodybuilding Beneficial for MMA?

The question of whether bodybuilding is beneficial for MMA (mixed martial arts) fighters has long been debated among fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike.

Some people say that MMA fighters can benefit from weight training, but it’s important to remember that bodybuilding and MMA training and diet are very different.

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Bodybuilding focuses on muscle growth and looks, which can lead to a bigger body. MMA training, on the other hand, needs a more practical approach that focuses on strength, speed, endurance, and flexibility.

Because these goals are different, bodybuilding might not be the best way for MMA fighters to get the most out of themselves in the ring.

Instead, they should look for training programs that are made for the specific needs of their sport. This will help them reach their full potential and stay ahead of the competition.


The distinction between bodybuilding and mixed martial arts (MMA) lies primarily in the goals and training methods of each discipline.

MMA fighters focus on getting a wide range of skills to improve their functional strength and performance in the ring. Bodybuilding focuses on building size and symmetry to create a body that looks good.

Even though they are different, both sports require a lot of discipline and hard work to be successful.

Bodybuilders and mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters both train by doing a lot of hard work and never giving up on their skills.

In the end, these different but challenging sports help athletes develop the physical strength and mental toughness that define them.

Dave Moffat
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Hi, I'm Dave Moffat the founder and Chief Editor of and certified International Personal Trainer and Certified Nutritionist. My passion has always been bodybuilding but with 15 years' experience in weight loss programs too, it's hard not to mention all that when you're working at your fitness level fullest (I hope). When Im not in the gym or spending time away from my family i often think about what advice would help others achieve theirs goals just like these inspired mine.