Thai, also known as Thai Boxing, is a martial art that consists of punches and kicks delivered from a standing position. Muay Thai differs from other combat sports like boxing and kickboxing in that it allows for strikes with the shins, knees, and elbows, earning it the name “the art of eight limbs.” Known for its effectiveness, Muay Thai has made a significant impact on the world of mixed martial arts. In this article, we will look at how Muay Thai has influenced the sport of MMA.

Muay Thai Popularity

Muay Thai’s popularity extends far beyond its impact on MMA. In its home country of Thailand, Muay Thai enjoys an immense following and holds a prominent position in the nation’s culture. In fact, Muay Thai is so popular that you can even find Thai boxing-themed casino games at Thai online casinos. Muay Thai was first introduced to the Western World after athletes that had perfected the techniques competed in kickboxing and mixed-rules fights throughout the late 20th century. This immediately led to the popularization of the sport across the world, with fighters from outside of Thailand traveling to the country to learn more about the skills required. Muay Thai is closely related to a number of other MMA styles, including Muay Chaiya, Muay Boran, and Lethwei.

The sport’s popularity once again reached new heights in 1995, as the World Muay Thai Federation was established to officiate the major competitions on the international calendar. Another step toward modernizing the sport and accelerating its growth was made in 2014, as it was included in the International World Games Association, making it part of the World Games schedule in 2017. That success has continued throughout the modern era, with reports in 2020 claiming that there are now just under 4,000 Thai boxing gyms located outside of Thailand.

Best Muay Thai Fighters

Muay Thai has grown in popularity in large relation to the success achieved by the UFC throughout the modern era. That has been aided by some of the brightest talents in the world of MMA strutting their stuff in front of millions in the octagon on some of the biggest nights in UFC. But, who are some of the most successful Muay Thai fighters in the UFC?

Anderson Silva

Anderson Silva is largely considered one of the greatest Brazilian MMA fighters of all time.  This view is shared by UFC commentator Joe Rogan as well as UFC CEO Dana White. Throughout his career, Silva was the dominant force in the big league, and he owns the record for the longest title reign in UFC history. His UFC Middleweight reign began with a win in 2006, and he held the title for 2,457 days before losing it to Chris Weidman in July 2013. However, his place at the top of the sport has been secured with the announcement that he will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2023.

Jose Aldo

Another famous Brazilian Muay Thai expert comes in the form of Jose Aldo. The Brazilian is widely regarded as one of the most dominant fighters in the featherweight division, having successfully defended his title in the UFC on seven separate occasions. His unbeaten run as a professional lasted for just over ten days, winning 18 consecutive fights before losing to Conor McGregor at UFC 194 in December 2015. But, despite that defeat, he remains the top featherweight in history, according to Sherdog.

Valentina Shevchenko

Valentina Shevchenko has been one of the most dominant female fighters in the UFC during her career. The former professional Muay Thai star made her MMA debut in 2005 and has amassed a tremendous record, winning 23 of his 27 professional fights. She is recognized as one of the best female MMA fighters of all time, having defended her Flyweight title seven times. She is also the only woman to have successfully defended the Flyweight belt, and she has won more Flyweight championship battles than any other woman in history.

Final Thoughts

Muay Thai has made a lasting mark on the world of mixed martial arts. Muay Thai grew from its ancient roots to become a globally recognized martial art and Thailand’s national sport. Its influence on MMA is far-reaching, as its methods and techniques have blended seamlessly into the sport with some of the world’s most successful fighters emerging from the Muay Thai discipline. Looking ahead, it is clear that Muay Thai’s enormous effect and enduring presence will continue to alter and redefine the ever-evolving martial arts world.