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Muay Thai Vs Combat Sambo: A Head-To-Head Comparison

muay thai vs combat sambo comparison
muay thai vs combat sambo

Muay Thai’s lethal clinch is one of the most dangerous positions to deal with in the world of martial arts. On the other side, Combat Sambo brings superb leg locks, armbars, quick strikes, and excellent trips and takedowns.

In Muay Thai, you’re trying to beat your opponent by any means necessary, while in Combat Sambo the majority of bouts end via points. But when they meet in the MMA world, the Russian martial art mostly wins. But what makes it so special? It’s time to deep dive into Muay Thai Vs Combat Sambo comparison.

And keep one thing in mind – Sambo strikes and submissions are very tricky, but a good Thai warrior always has a chance! Read on to discover critical differences and similarities!

Oh, if you doubt my knowledge, check out the top 70 Muay Thai blogs, my blog is among the top ten in the world! It’s time to learn something new my lovely diehard Muay Thai fans!

Rule Comparison – What Is The Difference?

Combat Sambo is also called sports Sambo, and it’s a mixture of striking and grappling. Two fighters compete in an 8-meter ring for five minutes, and the bout kinda reminds me a lot of an MMA battle.

In Combat Sambo, you are allowed to strike the opponent, but a painful hold (submission) leads to a total victory. The majority of fighters are fishing for the opponents’ mistake and a victory via choke, armbar, or a leg lock. In Muay Thai, you mustn’t hit the downed opponent, but you can throw everything you have at him until the referee starts counting or stops the fight.

Muay Thai prohibits all kinds of throws above the level of the rival’s ankle, but Sambo offers a different ruleset. You mustn’t throw the opponent to his head, hit him when his head is pressed against the ground, try spine locks, and much more… the video below explains it all.

Muay Thai Vs Combat Sambo – Which Stance Offers More Options?

Combat Sambo’s stance is very similar to the most often MMA stances. It gives you a great ability to change angles, stuff takedowns, and take the fight to the ground. It is easy to connect boxing and kickboxing strikes, but landing counterstrikes is not an easy job. I’d call Sambo’s stance “a mixture of wrestling and MMA stanza”, as the weight is slightly shifted to the front foot.

In Muay Thai, hands are high, weight shifted backward, leading leg serves to block and protect. It is way easier to cover up and defend in Muay Thai stance, plus you can kick better. Thai warriors should be able to connect combos faster.

Yet, Combat Sambo’s stance gives you better takedown offense and defense, lateral moves, and outstanding reactive takedown counters. Yet, the problem of the Sambo stanza is the poor ability to block low kicks and critical forward-backward movement.

Which Martial Arts Offers Better Trips And Transitions?

Unfortunately, there are limits in Muay Thai, only sweeps are allowed. You shouldn’t tilt your head down too often or the opponent’s knee will end up on your nose and you’ll be knocked out cold. Combat Sambo is mostly based around grappling and takedowns, good strikers rarely end the fight in the stand-up. Most of the fights end up via submission or ground and pound.

Muay Thai vs Combat Sambo comparison makes no sense here. Thai sweeps will knock you off balance, but when a Sambo master wraps his arms around your waist, you’ll be in a bad spot, as he can easily drag you to the ground and control you. Transitions and trips go in the favor of Russian martial art. They can even end their foes with a standing submission, or a submission switch on the ground (for example, ankle lock to a heel hook).

Thai fighter is dangerous when he grabs the opponent’s leg or catches the foe when one leg is in the air. Sambo warrior threatens with a takedown from every single position.

Which One Offers More Fluidity?

This is a very interesting area to explore. I’ve heard so many people calling Muay Thai “non-fluent” martial art. Well, the majority of fighters land one or two strikes, but good masters of the game connect combos and piece their foes up with violent level changes. According to my opinion, the difference between an average and a great Thai fighter is – fluidity.

But what about Combat Sambo and its fluidity? Well, I’ve got to tell you that I’m impressed with chain wrestling and the ability to transition from defense into offense and vice versa. The master of Russian martial art can piece you up on the feet, then slam you on your back and continue the destruction on the canvas.

Muay Thai limits ground game, but a fighter who attacks with both of his hands or legs in the same combo is fluid. In Combat Sambo, you can base your fluidity on wrestling or striking. So this parameter depends on the fighter.

Muay Thai vs Combat Sambo – one point for… I’d choose the Russian fighting style because of a greater number of options. Yet, a Thai boxing level change specialist might make me eat my words.

Clinch Game – Is Muay Thai Really Better Than Combat Sambo?

This is the most important Muay Thai vs Combat Sambo comparison in the whole article. Muay Thai clinch is lethal, especially when you get pummeled. A knee or an elbow to the face leads to a fight-ending blow. But now let me explain some great sides of Combat Sambo.

First of all, clinch in Combat Sambo reminds me of the combination of “dirty boxing” and the combination of Judo and wrestling. You can land violent punches, slam your foe to the canvas, or try to put him down with a trip. Also, submission specialists can even try to go for a flying triangle, armbar, and kneebar and spectacularly finish you.

I will have to compare step-by-step, every single position:

  • Pummel – no doubt, Muay Thai is way better here – elbows, knees, punches… choose your destiny;
  • Single-collar clinch – I’d rate them equally, but Combat Sambo allows flying submission attempts and throws, which are illegal in Thai boxing. Yet, don’t forget about powerful knees to the body or elbows to the face.
  • Crossface defense – this is not a good position for the master of Russian martial art, as it allows only a few throws. He’ll have to improve position, while a Thai fighter can barrage your head with violent knees.
  • One under-hook in – Combat Sambo all day, trips and throws are going to work, while Muay Thai is limited to sweeps and some knees;
  • Double under-hooks – Combat Sambo wins again, you can lift your opponent in the air and slam him on his back, plus there are many more ways to take the control of the situation;
  • Back control – Muay Thai fighter is completely helpless, even when he’s on the opponent’s back, hits to the back of the head and spine are not allowed. It limits a lot of knee, punch, and elbow options. On the other hand, Combat Sambo specialists might destroy you with a German suplex in Kevin Randleman style.

Well, I think Muay Thai vs Combat Sambo score is tied here. Kinda hard for me to claim the winner.

Which Strikes Are More Lethal?

I know what you think – this is a silly question. Well, I have to agree, Muay Thai rocks in this aspect of the game. Combat Sambo low kicks are pretty much narrow, made to earn points or defend you.

Muay Thai outside or inside leg kicks will chop you down in the split of a second. Sambo’s most powerful body strike is the defensive version of a sidekick.

Elbows are more likely to cut the opponent than punches, so even the greatest Sambo striker will technically create less damage than a regular Muay Thai fighter. Knees are also better, plus Muay Thai fighters are more successful in changing levels.

There is only one advantage of the Russian fighting style here – counters. But it’s not enough, clean victory for the ancient Siamese martial art.

muay thai strike

Which One Is Better For Self-Defense?

Well, both martial arts can come in handy, even in a limited space. A Muay Thai fighter will try to pummel and knee his way through a bully, while a Combat Sambo specialist tends to drag the fight to the ground and finish the attacker via leg lock, choke, or a barrage of heavy fists.

Muay Thai might be better when you’re dealing with multiple opponents as you’ll try to stay on your feet by any means necessary. Yet, if you’re attacked by one cocky bully, Combat Sambo will help you teach him a lesson he’ll never forget. For example, scissor takedown is a real cold shower for a guy with big muscles. You don’t need massive strength to perform it.


I am pretty sure both martial arts can be very dangerous. Muay Thai offers more options from long and mid-range, but Combat Sambo fighters are trickier to deal with.

In close-range, the Sambo specialist might throw you to the ground, take you down, go for a flying submission attempt or simply hit you all over your head or body. Thai boxing brings more lethal kicks, knees, and elbows, while it’s hard to choose a punch winner.

Sambo punches are awesome for counters, while Thai fists lead to brutal damage to your foe when you march forward. Combat Sambo turns you into an all-around fighter and lets you win the fight in more different ways.

So, what are your thoughts on Muay Thai vs Combat Sambo comparison? Who’s your winner and why?

Last Updated on May 21, 2022 by Deni

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Hi, I started training Muay Thai back in 2016 and fell in love with it. So I decided to create this blog in the pursuit of this passion and share my experience with you.

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