What Is the Best Body Type for MMA? (Fully Explained)

Three body types photo by Granito Diaz

Are you wondering what the best body type for MMA is?

In this article, we’ll look at the best body type for MMA by exploring the three body types and the strengths and weaknesses of each.

What Is the Best Body Type for MMA?

On average, the best body type for MMA is the mesomorph body type.

Of the three body types, ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph, mesomorphs have the least weaknesses. They’re well-balanced with strength, cardiovascular endurance, explosiveness, reach, and height – among other factors.

Although MMA fighters are competing in weight classes which ensure two competitors weigh in at a maximum weight limit before a fight, fighters come in all different shapes and sizes.

What separates the body types is generally the thickness and length of bones and muscles. So, to best understand why mesomorph is the best body type for MMA, let’s take a closer look at the three different body types and the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Ectomorph Body Type for MMA

Ectomorph fighters are generally taller with longer and thinner bones and muscles, have a narrower body with thin waists, and have a narrow shoulder-to-waist ratio.

Ectomorphs also have the highest metabolism, meaning they burn the most calories at rest and can therefore eat more and have higher energy because their maintenance calories are highest.

It also means they generally find it harder to build muscle and store body fat and may look on the “skinny” side.

Ectomorphs are considered the lanky fighter who often has a height and reach advantage – think Jon Jones, Tony Ferguson, Israel Adesanya, and Sean O’Malley.

Because of this height and reach advantage, ectomorphs are generally strongest in striking, second best in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (Bjj), and worst in wrestling.

When it comes to striking, ectomorphs control the range of a fight and pick their opponent apart from a distance because of their height and reach advantage.

They can easily grab their opponent’s hands (probing) which allows them to anticipate and evade strikes, as well as set up strikes of their own.

A study by Thomas Richardson in 2021, found that statistically, both male and female UFC fighters with longer arms win a greater percentage of their fights – however, only by 0.8%.

Another study by Tesla Monson in 2018, found a positive association between fighters having a larger arm span-to-height ratio and success in MMA, by looking at a loss-to-win ratio for MMA fighters.

Yes, shorter fighters can have a large arm span to height ratio, but most often it’s taller fighters who have this trait.

The long length of their limbs also allows ectomorphs to generate a lot of power in strikes (especially hooks) and they’re usually the fastest and most agile strikers because they’re not muscle-bound.

Having less muscle also gives them great cardiovascular endurance, as larger muscles require more oxygen.

For the most part, ectomorphs try to avoid grappling because they have the least body strength (particularly lower) and the least stability due to having a higher center of gravity. This makes them most easily controlled in the clinch and taken down.

Despite this, their long limbs allow them to reach for takedowns that other body types can’t, such as connecting their hands in a clinch for a double-leg takedown.

When on the ground, ectomorphs can be effective depending on who they’re fighting and the skills each have. Ectomorphs generally have the least strength on the ground in terms of grappling and submissions because they have long limbs.

With an opponent in the top position, it can be hard for ectomorphs to explode from the bottom, scramble, or get the feet on the hips to push an opponent away – making them the most easily controlled on the ground.

Their long limbs make them vulnerable to heel hooks, kimuras, and Americana submissions. However, ectomorphs can reach for submissions others can’t – making them deadly with triangle chokes, d’arce chokes, and arm bars.

Their long legs also create a strong guard when on their back, which presents them opportunities to attack or defend (avoid strikes and waste time) with submissions.

This is their best option here because they can often struggle to get back to their feet – but it often sees them lose the round.

Mesomorph Body Type for MMA

Mesomorph fighters are generally average to tall in height (shorter than ectomorphs) with regular-length limbs and a wider shoulder-to-waist ratio.

Mesomorphs have thicker bones than ectomorphs and find it easiest to add muscle mass while also keeping their body fat low – they’re the most athletically gifted.

Mesomorphs also have a high metabolism, which is also aided by having a lot of muscle mass (more muscle mass means more calories burned at rest).

Regarding the three fundamentals of success in MMA: striking, grappling, and Bjj, mesomorphs are the most well-rounded of the three body types and good in all three areas. Having no specific weakness is why mesomorph is the best body type for MMA.

When it comes to striking, on average mesomorphs are only slightly bettered by ectomorphs. Mesomorphs have more power and explosiveness in their strikes and movement, but they’re slightly slower, less agile, and have shorter limbs than ectomorphs.

Mesomorphs are also great at wrestling, both standing and on the ground. They’re more powerful and have a lower center of gravity than ectomorphs, and are quicker, more agile, and springy than endomorphs – mesomorphs have the perfect balance for wrestling.

They’re great at securing takedowns, dominating in the clinch, and controlling opponents on the ground from the top position. They’re also the best at defending takedowns because they can keep their distance well and explode with sprawls.

If taken down, mesomorphs have the explosiveness, strength, and flexibility to get up by pushing an opponent’s hips, scrambling, or exploding out.

In terms of submissions, mesomorphs have the best balance of strength, flexibility, and length of limbs to reach for and overpower the opposition. Any submission is great for a mesomorph.

Overall, mesomorphs don’t have a weakness and are strong in all facets of MMA.

Endomorph Body Type for MMA

Endomorphs are generally short to average height, have thicker and shorter limbs and muscles, and also have wide shoulders and waists. Endomorphs have the slowest metabolism, are predisposed to store body fat and find it easy to build muscle too.

Regarding the three fundamentals of MMA, striking, grappling, and Bjj, endomorphs are strongest in grappling but weakest in both Bjj and striking.

Endomorphs generally have the shortest reach and height which puts them at a disadvantage against both ectomorphs and mesomorphs because they get picked apart at range.

Not only are they lacking reach but they also have the worst cardiovascular endurance, meaning they tire earlier than others.

However, endomorphs are the most powerful and explosive strikers known for their knockout power – think Derrick Lewis, Daniel Cormier, and Cain Velasquez. Not known for crazy output, if they find the right punch it’s usually lights out for their opponent.

In terms of striking, endomorphs are always looking to close the distance and fight in the pocket. They like technical boxing but also incorporate a lot of dirty boxing because they’re thick and can absorb damage, often have a great chin, and like to fight fire with fire.

Overall, endomorphs have great strengths and glaring weaknesses when it comes to the striking department.

Wrestling or grappling is the bread and butter for endomorphs. They have a low center of gravity and incredible strength in their legs, which they use to easily secure takedowns and dominate in the clinch (especially against ectomorphs) if they can close the distance.

When in top control on the ground, endomorphs are at their most dangerous. Their concentrated body mass makes them feel much heavier and the opposition often tires out trying to escape.

Endomorphs are the best at wearing opponents down with grappling but also finishing them with ground-and-pound.

In terms of Bjj, endomorphs again have great strengths and glaring weaknesses.

Their lack of length hinders them from reaching for certain submissions such as the triangle and d’arce choke, but they excel with leg attacks (kneebars, ankle locks, heel hooks), kimuaras, Americanas, and chokes (rear-naked, guillotine) because they can overpower opponents.

The Bottom Line

So, what is the best body type for MMA?

The best body type for MMA is mesomorph.

This is because mesomorphs are very well-rounded and have no weaknesses, whereas ectomorphs are generally weak and can be exploited in grappling, and endomorphs are generally weakest in striking and can be exploited because of their poor movement, speed, and cardiovascular endurance.

Most undisputed UFC champions and the majority of UFC fighters have been and are mesomorphs because top-level MMA requires well-roundedness.

There can also be a case made for ectomorph being the best body type for MMA – at the elite level. This is because there have also been many dominant ectomorph UFC champions such as Jon Jones, Israel Adesanya, Charles Oliveira, Max Holloway, and Anderson Silva.

For the most part, these are all ectomorph fighters with elite striking skills that have also developed a great takedown defense and the ability to separate themselves from a clinch, so they can keep the fight standing and at range.

Essentially, they’ve continually worked on their grappling until it’s no longer a weakness at the elite level. 

On average though, mesomorph is still the best body type for MMA across all levels.

Taking a look at the UFC rankings, which displays the top 15 UFC fighters from each weight class division, the overwhelming majority of fighters are mesomorphs. Much less common are ectomorphs, and only a handful are endomorphs.

Endomorphs are most frequent in the heavyweight division as there’s a much bigger spread between 205 lbs and the heavyweight limit of 265 lbs. In other divisions, fighters are extremely ripped, and extra body fat is a hindrance.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy the best martial arts by body type.

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