why do mma fighters have circles on their backs

why do mma fighters have circles on their backs

Why do MMA fighters have circles on their backs?

When watching Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights, you may have noticed that many fighters have circles on their backs. These circles, often referred to as “cupping marks,” are the result of a traditional therapy called cupping. Cupping involves placing glass or plastic cups on the skin and creating a vacuum to draw blood to the surface. There are several reasons why MMA fighters use cupping therapy, and in this article, we will explore them in detail.

1. Pain relief and muscle recovery

One of the main reasons why MMA fighters use cupping therapy is for pain relief and muscle recovery. The suction created by the cups helps to increase blood flow to the muscles, promoting the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. This increased blood circulation can help reduce muscle soreness and speed up the recovery process after intense training or fights.

Furthermore, cupping therapy is believed to stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced by the body. This can provide additional pain relief for fighters who may experience various injuries or muscle strains during their training or fights.

2. Improved flexibility and range of motion

Cupping therapy can also help improve flexibility and range of motion for MMA fighters. By increasing blood flow to the muscles and surrounding tissues, cupping can help loosen tight muscles and fascia, which are the connective tissues that surround muscles and organs. This can enhance a fighter’s ability to move freely and perform complex techniques without restrictions.

Additionally, cupping therapy can help break up scar tissue and adhesions that may form in the muscles due to repetitive movements or injuries. By reducing these restrictions, fighters can improve their flexibility and prevent future injuries.

3. Stress reduction and relaxation

Fighting in MMA can be incredibly stressful both physically and mentally. Cupping therapy offers a form of relaxation and stress reduction for fighters. The process of cupping is often described as soothing and therapeutic, which can help fighters unwind and alleviate the stress accumulated from training and competing.

Moreover, cupping therapy is known to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s rest and digest response. This activation can induce a state of deep relaxation, allowing fighters to recover not only physically but also mentally.

4. Detoxification and immune system support

Cupping therapy is believed to have detoxifying effects on the body. The suction created by the cups can help draw out toxins and metabolic waste from the muscles and tissues, promoting their elimination from the body. This detoxification process can support the overall health and well-being of MMA fighters by enhancing their immune system function.

Additionally, cupping therapy is thought to stimulate the lymphatic system, which plays a crucial role in immune system function. By improving lymphatic drainage, cupping can help remove toxins and boost the body’s ability to fight off infections and illnesses.

5. Psychological benefits

Aside from the physical benefits, cupping therapy can also have psychological benefits for MMA fighters. The visible marks left by cupping can serve as a visual reminder of their hard work and dedication to their sport. This can boost their confidence and motivation, leading to improved performance in training and fights.

why do mma fighters have circles on their backs

Furthermore, the relaxation and stress-reducing effects of cupping therapy can help fighters manage anxiety and improve their mental focus. MMA is not only a physically demanding sport but also requires mental toughness and concentration. Cupping therapy can contribute to the overall mental well-being of fighters, allowing them to perform at their best.


MMA fighters have circles on their backs due to cupping therapy, a traditional therapy that offers numerous benefits for their physical and mental well-being. From pain relief and muscle recovery to improved flexibility and range of motion, cupping therapy plays an essential role in the training and preparation of MMA fighters. Moreover, cupping therapy provides relaxation, detoxification, and immune system support, contributing to the overall health and performance of these athletes. So, the next time you see those circles on an MMA fighter’s back, you’ll know that it’s a result of their commitment to optimal performance and well-being.

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