If you’ve ever watched UFC (MMA) or boxing then you probably noticed that one of the fighter’s measures is the reach. It is a weird metric for anybody who doesn’t watch combat sports and you probably wondered at least one time how did they measure it.
How do they measure reach in boxing or MMA?
Generally, when we are talking about the reach of the fighter we are talking about his arm span. This basically means that the reach is the distance from the tip of the middle finger on your arm to the tip of the middle finger on your other arm when your arms are stretched out to the side parallel to the ground.
Reach or wingspan is heavily influenced by the fighter’s height and shoulder width. Some fighters have a longer reach than their actual height while some might have a shorter reach.
A perfect example is Jon Jones who is one of the fighters with the longest reach in the UFC.
His arm span is 84 inches while sitting at 6ft 4in tall which is pretty impressive.
Another metric that is often used in boxing is arm length. It is measured from the armpit to the end of the fist. It is a more consistent metric and harder to manipulate while you can manipulate the reach with shrugging your shoulders, for example.
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Why reach is important?
Obviously, the fighter with a longer reach has an advantage. Usually, the fighter with the longer reach will try to keep the distance while the shorter fighter will try to close the distance and land punches from inside.
A perfect example of this is Mike Tyson usually being the shorter fighter trying to get inside and land a devastating punch.
An example of the other side of the coin would be Muhammad Ali using jabs and footwork while keeping his distance.
Both styles have their pros and cons. However, the most important thing is the skills of the boxer – being able to keep or close the distance, dodge punches or launch an attack.
The reach can have a huge impact on how one boxer or MMA fighter fights.
Having the reach advantage over your opponent is good. However, it is certainly not the most important metric in a fighter’s profile.
Being able to use that reach is a skill that is hard to obtain especially against fighters that are good at closing the distance.
So what stays more important is working on your skills and training hard!