TKO VS KO – Major Differences Between Technical Knockout And Knockout!

Last Updated on October 16, 2023 by Alex PT

A knockout (KO) is when a boxer is unable to continue after a powerful blow, often causing unconsciousness. A technical knockout (TKO) occurs when a referee stops a fight due to a fighter’s inability to defend themselves, usually after a series of blows or a standing count.

Major Differences between TKO and KO

What It Stands For It stands for Technical Knockout in Boxing and MMAIt stands for Knockout in Boxing and MMA
Full Meaning Technical Knockout means that the fighter is still conscious but unable to fight back due to loss of energy or hard punchA knockout means that the fighter has fallen unconscious and can not get up before the count of ten
Reason For Occurrence  In the case of a knockout, the referee stops the match if after counting up to 10 the boxer can’t stand up from his unconsciousness. In Boxing and MMA,  knockout occurs because of a hard punch/kick or a knockdown by the opponent
Consciousness In a technical knockout, the player isn’t completely unconscious but he is unable to defend himself again due to loss of energy or injuries.However, in knockout, the fighter falls unconscious and the referee starts counting to ten
Referee InterferenceDuring a technical knockout, the referee steps in to stop the fight when a boxer can not defend himself again.In the case of a knockout, the referee stops the match if after counting up to 10 and the boxer can’t stand up from his unconsciousness. 

A Knockout (KO)

A Knockout

As we said earlier, KO in boxing and MMA is declared when a fighter knocks down his opponent to be unconscious either by a kick or a punch. Due to the differences in gameplay, KO differs slightly in MMA and Boxing. So, without wasting time. Let’s see how it differs in these two combat sports. 

KO In Boxing

A ten-count is used by referees in boxing. When a fighter is knocked down unconscious by a hard punch, the referee will count up to 10. If the fighter is able to get up before the ten-count, then the fight will continue. But if otherwise, the referee will stop the match and announce the winner. There are cases where referees still stop the match even if the fighter gets up after being knocked down. If the referee notices that the fighter is having trouble getting up after being knocked down, then he might declare him unfit to continue and the match is stopped. 


Just like it is in boxing, knockout in MMA also means that a fighter is knocked unconscious. But the only thing with MMA is that how the loss of consciousness happens isn’t differentiated. Take, for example, getting your opponent unconscious by checking him isn’t called a knockout. It is called a submission in MMA. Besides, a knockout happens in MMA from different strikes like punches, kicks, knees, or elbows. 

A Technical Knockout (TKO)

A Technical Knockout

KO in boxing and MMA happens when a fighter is still conscious and aware but he couldn’t defend himself again due to injuries and loss of energy. There are slight differences between TKO in Boxing and MMA. Let’s check them out! 

TKO In Boxing

TKO happens in boxing when a fighter is deemed unfit to continue a fight by the referee after being hit hard and repeatedly by his opponent. In this case, the fighter isn’t unconscious. He just couldn’t fight back anymore because he was injured or lost all his energy. The referee immediately jumps in and stops the fight to avoid further injury complications. 


In MMA, a technical knockout happens when a fighter can’t defend himself from a barricade of hits from his opponent even when he’s conscious. Technical knockout commonly happens at the edge of the fighting cage or when the mount position. In MMA, TKO, sometimes, happens as a result of injury. If a fighter is injured as a result of a heavy kick or punch, but he’s still conscious, he might not be able to defend himself again and his opponent will take advantage of the situation. The only difference between TKO in boxing and MMA is that it can happen on the ground.  

The Rules of Knockout in Boxing and MMA


  1. Definition: In boxing, a knockout (KO) occurs when a fighter is unable to rise within ten seconds after being knocked down, typically due to unconsciousness.
  2. Scoring: A KO results in an immediate victory for the opponent, with the referee counting to ten. The downed fighter must stand up before the count reaches ten to continue the match.
  3. Technical Knockout (TKO): Referees can also call a TKO, where they decide a fighter is unable to defend themselves adequately, such as when they are taking excessive damage. A doctor may also call a TKO if a fighter is injured.
  4. Corner Stoppage: In some cases, a fighter’s corner (coaches) may throw in the towel to protect their athlete, leading to a TKO.

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts):

  1. Definition: Knockouts in MMA involve rendering the opponent unconscious or unable to continue fighting.
  2. Scoring: Like in boxing, a KO leads to an immediate victory. The referee will stop the fight and award the win to the fighter who secured the knockout.
  3. Technical Knockout (TKO): MMA also employs TKOs when a fighter cannot intelligently defend themselves or is taking excessive damage. The referee or the ringside physician can call a TKO.
  4. Ground and Pound: In MMA, fighters can deliver strikes on the ground, leading to ground-and-pound situations where the referee may step in if the downed fighter is not defending or countering effectively.
  5. Submission-based TKO: In MMA, TKOs can occur due to submissions that cause a fighter to lose consciousness, such as a rear-naked choke.
  6. Standing 8 Count: Some MMA promotions, like ONE Championship, have adopted a standing 8-count rule, similar to boxing, for knockdowns.

The Rules of Technical Knockouts in Boxing and MMA

Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) are two distinct combat sports that have their unique set of rules relating to technical knockouts. A technical knockout, often abbreviated as TKO, refers to the ending of a fight due to a competitor’s inability to continue, as judged by the referee, the ringside doctor, or the fighter’s corner. Here are some of the primary technical knockout rules in Boxing and MMA, distinctly presented.


  1. Referee’s Discretion: A referee may call a technical knockout if one competitor cannot defend themselves while being repeatedly hit. The referee’s main responsibility is to safeguard the fighters’ welfare.
  2. Three Knockdown Rule: Some leagues follow this unofficial rule, where if a fighter is knocked down three times in a single round, a technical knockout is called.
  3. Mandatory Eight Count: Post a knockdown, the referee starts an eight-second count. If the fighter fails to stand and respond aptly by the count of 10, a TKO is declared.
  4. Ringside Doctor’s Decision: A ringside doctor can also signal a TKO if they deem that a fighter is unable to continue due to severe injuries.
  5. Corner Retirement: A fighter’s corner team can “throw in the towel,” signaling the referee to stop the match, resulting in a TKO.


  1. Referee’s Decision: In MMA, a TKO is often declared when a fighter cannot intelligently defend themselves. The decision is left to the referee’s discretion.
  2. Doctor’s Call: Similar to boxing, a fight can be stopped by the ringside doctor due to excessive blood loss or a severe injury that could endanger the fighter, resulting in a TKO.
  3. Corner Stoppage: The corner of a fighter can choose to stop the fight if they believe further engagement would put their fighter at serious risk.
  4. Inability to Resume Fight: If a fighter is unable to resume the match following rest periods between rounds, a TKO can be declared.
  5. Submission due to Strikes: Unlike boxing, if a fighter taps out due to the power or pressure of the strikes instead of a submission move, a TKO is declared.

Final Words 

The ultimate goal of a boxer is to win the fight whether it is by a knockout or by a knockout. Technical knockout happens when the referee declares a fighter unfit to continue a fight after receiving a hard punch, whereas knockout means the fighter has been knocked down unconscious. We’ve come to the closing chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good and reliable resources in your quest to know the differences between TKO and KO. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks!


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