Reach is one of the most talked-about measurements for boxers and UFC fighters. The longer a fighter reach is, the farther away from their opponent they can be when they throw a punch. Being so important, how is reach measured in the UFC and boxing? 

Reach in UFC and boxing is measured by standing against a wall, reaching your arms out wide at a ninety-degree angle from your body, and measuring from middle fingertip to middle fingertip. Fighters with a longer reach have an advantage because they can punch their opponent from further away. 

This article explains what reach is, how it’s measured and how it’s related to leg reach. As you’ll see, reach is important for any fighter. But even if you have a short reach, you can overcome this disadvantage.

What Reach Is in Boxing and UFC

Reach is the same in boxing and UFC. It’s the measurement of how far your arm extends from your body. Reach is also sometimes called wingspan. 

People often discuss reach together with the ape index, which is the ratio between your height and your reach. The standard ape index is zero, which means your height and wingspan are the same. A positive ape index means your arm span is higher than your height. A wingspan under zero means your height is more than your wingspan. 

Here is a video from MMA Access on YouTube that explains the relationship between reach and the ape index: 

How To Measure Reach in the UFC and Boxing 

To measure reach in UFC and boxing, you need to do the following:

1. Prepare for Your Reach Measurement

First, you need to warm up your arms and muscles. This will allow you to be at your most flexible. If you don’t stretch first, you will not be able to accurately measure your reach. Since your muscles are not performing at their best, your measurement would end up lower than your actual reach 

You should focus on stretches that work your arms. For example: 

  • Arm circles 
  • Bicep stretches 
  • Tricep stretches 
  • Wrist stretches 

Other exercises that work your whole body are also great for before you measure your reach. You can do a light jog, some jumping jacks, or push-ups.

Here’s a helpful stretch you can do before measuring your reach. Stretch your arm across your body as far as you can towards the other arm. Hold it there for thirty seconds, then release and stretch the other arm. 

2. Get in the Measuring Position

Now that you’re stretched, it’s time to measure your reach. But before doing so, you need to get into the proper position. All you need is a wall. 

Take off any clothes on your top half, except for sports bras. Most clothes can get in the way of accurate measurement. 

Next, stand with your back to the wall with a straight back and flat feet. Hold your arms out against the wall so they are at a ninety-degree angle. Turn your hands so that your palms are flat up against the wall. 

Your middle fingers, elbows, and shoulders should all be in a line to get an accurate measurement. Finally, stretch your arms out as long as possible.

3. Measure the Reach

You should be standing against the wall with your arms in a line and stretched out straight. Now it’s time to measure.

Draw a line on the wall at each point where your middle fingertips are. Middle fingers are the longest, which is why they’re used for this measurement.

Get a tape measure and measure the distance between the two lines. The measured distance is your reach. It’s typically measured in inches or centimeters. 

This video on YouTube from ExpertVillage Leaf Group explains how a reach is measured in boxing: 

Interpreting Reach 

We all know reach is important in boxing and UFC. But when does reach start to be good? What is the average reach? 

The longest reach in UFC history is 85 inches (216 cm). If you want to learn about the UFC fighters with the longest reaches in history, check this video on YouTube: 

While looking at the average reach of UFC fighters, we also need to consider height. After all, taller people tend to have the longest reach. Here are three weight classes with their average heights and reaches: 

Lightweight Class(155 lbs. or 70.3 kg)5’8’’(172.7 cm)71.8’’(182.37 cm)
Middleweight Class(185 lbs. or 83.9 kg)6’1’’(185.42 cm)75.2’’(191 cm)
Heavyweight Class(265 lbs. or 120.2 kg)6’2’’(188 cm)77.4’’(196.6 cm)

Why Reach Matters 

Reach is a crucial measure in boxing and UFC fights. A longer reach means the fighter can throw a punch while being at a longer distance from their opponent.

Someone with a reach of 70 inches (177.8 cm) will have a significant advantage when fighting someone with a 60-inch (152.4 cm)  reach. The fighter with the 70-inch (177.8 cm) reach will be able to punch their opponent much easier.

Why Reach Is Good for Offense and Defense

A fighter with a bigger reach does not need to get as close to their opponent when throwing a punch. More reach also means a longer arm, which leads to more power behind each punch. The harder the punches you are throwing, the less time you need to win against your opponent. 

A longer reach is also good for defense because you can stay further away from the other fighter. In other words, you do not need to advance on them to fight. 

Overall, reach gives fighters a significant advantage over their opponent. This video from Marvin Cook on YouTube explains how fighters with a smaller reach can overcome this advantage: 

When Reach Does Not Matter

Even though reach is important in boxing and UFC, it’s not the only thing that matters. In fact, fighters can win a match even without a big reach.

The Case of Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson is a great example of someone who succeeded without having a long reach. Mike Tyson has a reach of 71 inches (180.34 cm) and is five foot ten inches (177.8 cm). He won fifty of his fifty-eight boxing matches. 

His reach was short compared to many of the other top boxers. However, he was very fast, aggressive, and he had a strong defense. His strength in these skills made up for his shorter reach and made him a successful boxer. 

Mike Tyson wrote a book called the Undisputed Truth, available on Amazon. There, he details his journey as a fighter and how he defeated the odds to become the boxer he did. It goes deeper than just his boxing career. He talks about his family, his upbringing in a poor Brooklyn neighborhood, and other important events of his life. 

Why Footwork Matters

Improving footwork is important for all fighters and boxers. But it’s even more important for someone with a lower reach.

Great footwork allows you to get into punching distance of your opponent even if you have a short reach. It will also let you back away quickly without exposing yourself to the opponent’s punches.

The book Footwork Wins Fights, also available on Amazon, is all about footwork and how you can improve yours. You will learn the basics, mechanics, and rules for footwork. There is also a list of footwork drills and moves you can use in a fight. Each footwork move has an explanation of the technique, strategies, and pictures to help you practice and master each one.

Leg Reach 

Leg reach is a measurement for boxers and UFC fighters that’s similar to reach. As the name suggests, leg reach measures how far your leg stretches out when you fully kick outward. Leg reach is measured from the hip bone to the heel. 

You may expect taller fighters to have a longer leg reach than their shorter counterparts. However, this isn’t always the case. Leg reach does not vary as much as arms reach. 

For example, Jack May is 80 inches (203.2 cm) tall, while Shawn Jordan is 72 inches (182.88 cm) tall. Despite the 8 inch (20.32 cm) height difference, their leg reaches only differ by 2.5 inches (6.35 cm). 

Final Thoughts

In both UFC and boxing, reach is the distance between your middle fingers with your arms extended.

Having a longer reach gives fighters an advantage over their opponents. However, reach is not everything when it comes to succeeding in boxing. Fast feet and good defense can help you win a match even when you are at a reach disadvantage.

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