The Main Differences Between MMA & Wrestling

Ronda Rousey armbars Raquel Rodriguez

Wrestling continues to be one of the top global sports and is enduringly popular across the USA. This sees millions of people tuning in to watch the biggest events in wrestling each week. Many wrestling fans also like to keep an eye on other combat sports in their spare time, and mixed martial arts is one that seems especially well-loved.

The differences between MMA and wrestling can make watching mixed martial arts clashes a nice

change from top-class wrestling action. But what are some of the main differences between these two sports?

MMA can be more accessible to bet on

Although it is possible to bet on both wrestling and MMA at online sportsbooks, doing this for mixed martial arts bouts is usually a lot easier. This is because all top sportsbooks now tend to cover the main MMA competitions (such as UFC) and make it very accessible to wager on them.

There is also normally a good range of specific MMA markets to bet on outside who might win, and this helps to bring greater variety to betting on the sport. UFC betting odds and MMA odds in general can also be more competitive than wrestling odds. This is down to MMA bouts being harder to call and harder to predict.

Although you can find wrestling as a sport to bet on at online sportsbooks, it is not as widely covered as MMA and does not normally come with as comprehensive a range of betting markets. You tend to find only the very top events in wrestling are available to wager on (such as WrestleMania 40 in 2024) and there is not much choice outside who might win.

Wrestlers play fictional characters

Another key difference between these two sports is how wrestling relies on fictional characters to entertain fans and how wrestlers usually end up playing a character when fighting. This can often see wrestlers have stage names that bear no resemblance to their real name – The Rock being a prime example. In addition, wrestlers may also play characters with a completely different personality and/or image than their own in real life.

MMA does not rely on those involved with it playing made-up characters to entertain fans. Fighters are 100% themselves and showcase their true personality each time they enter the octagon.

Wrestling bouts are planned out in advance

Of course, this is the major difference between the two sports for many. Everyone knows that wrestling bouts are planned out in advance and the outcome of a wrestling match is scheduled to play out in line with popular storylines. This is easy to see when you look at a review of AEW Collision in March 2024 and see how matches finished to help certain storylines develop.

Mixed martial arts, on the other hand, are not planned out in advance and do not have a pre-arranged outcome decided before the action starts. The two fighters simply meet in the octagon and then slug it out to see who comes out on top.

MMA allows for more strikes and techniques

It is no surprise to learn that only wrestling moves are allowed in wrestling. This is only common sense and in line with a sport like boxing, for example, which only allows punches. MMA is very different and allows for a far broader range of attacks.

This means mixed martial artists can punch, kick, elbow, knee, throw, and grapple. Although there are certain things you cannot do in MMA (such as bite or gouge), it does have a far greater range of attacks permitted than wrestling.

MMA and wrestling are similar in some ways

Although the above sets out a few interesting ways that wrestling is different from mixed martial arts, the two also share some similarities, which bond them together. Both, for example, are wildly popular and attract huge crowds to watch events in person or on TV.

Both are also classed as combat sports and see athletes competing at the peak of their physical powers. The two sports have some iconic names attached to them from the past and present. This includes Ric Flair (who was one of Hulk Hogan’s favorite wrestlers), the Ultimate Warrior, The Undertaker, and Roman Reigns, for wrestling. For MMA, names such as Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, and Islam Makhachev stand out.

MMA and wrestling continue to wow fans

With the constant drama in AEW and WWE, wrestling fans are not short of entertainment or things to talk about. By the same token, MMA supporters also have lots of exciting news to keep up with and dramatic fights to watch. Whilst the two sports undoubtedly share some differences, there is also a lot that links them.