MMA General Overview | History, Rules & Competition Layout

 

Stemming out of the codified systems of combat practiced through history such as karate, taekwondo, jujutsu, to only name the few, there came the notorious MMA. Short for Mixed Martial Arts, the MMA takes combat to the next level of danger – as well as entertainment. Widely perceived as the single most perilous of all types of combat competitions, the MMA carries great beauty within the multidimensional spectrum of fighters competing for glory. 

MMA is distinct from all other fighting sports and is bound by its own unique set of rules, regulations and protocols intended to maintain the integrity of the sport. It’s a vastly intriguing sport attracting huge masses but you’ll nevertheless be forgiven for not knowing anything about it. In our beginner’s guide to MMA below, you will be given the full lowdown on everything there is to know about this combat organization.

History of the League

Being a combination of almost all combat sports you can think of, the MMA can easily be described as a side product. Such a description is not intended to demise the sport’s popularity and importance but to offer a clear perspective into the origins of MMA.

Mixed Martial Arts came as a natural progression to the early 20th-century trend which saw fighters from various styles hurling against each other with little to no rules. One of the earliest records of an MMA match dates back to 1951 in Brazil but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the sport started gaining popularity. A bout between legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and wrestler Antonio Inoki from 1976 is considered to be a precursor to modern MMA.

The first regulated MMA league was formed in the United States in 1980. It was called the Tough Guy Contest, further on renamed into the Battle of the Superfighters. The concept of combining various elements of multiple martial arts had – and still has – an obvious appeal. Having realized the potential, people from the fighting industry started developing a wider picture which would lead to the formation of two major MMA promotion companies. It was in 1993 that the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – an American company – and Pancrase Inc. – a Japanese company – were formed to take the MMA sport to the next level.

MMA went on to reshape the fighting industry, challenge rules and suffers sanctions from the US Army even, but today it stays strong, basking in its own glory.

MMA Organizational Facts

MMA is a global phenomenon which does not fall under a single umbrella. There are hundreds of MMA promotions and organizations around the globe producing the Mixed Martial Arts events. Some organizations play a clearly defined role of feeder leagues to big promoters while others are unsuccessfully attempting to challenge the undisputed leader in the industry – the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Widely perceived as the top-of-the-crop organization, the UFC remains the dream of most MMA fighters who would usually gain UFC contract after they build up their reputation fighting in low-rank organizations.

Based in Las Vegas, the UFC is owned and operated by parent company William Morris Endeavor. Dana White currently serves as the president of the organization and it was under his reign that the UFC has grown into a global leader in the industry since 2001.

MMA Schedule: Key Dates and Fights

With UFC acting as the most established MMA organization in the world, dates and fights thrown under its tutorship are the ones that grab most headlines. As of 2018 and starting with 1993 when the first-ever UFC fight took place, the UFC has held over 400 events.

Unlike most other sports, MMA does not come with a strictly determined schedule and season. The MMA calendar (and especially the UFC one) will greatly depend on the demand and will usually revolve around well-known fighters. The UFC fighters are paid per fight and financials also play a determining factor when it comes to schedule and dates.

GRAND PRIX Power Club on MMA – Parilov / Shutterstock.com

Many MMA journalists and supporters of this sport have been critical of UFC’s organizational approach of late, claiming they put on too many events which only downgrades the championship’s quality and reputation.

Marc Coleman and Randy Couture are arguably the two most famous UFC fighters of all time while the most recent hit was definitely notorious Irish fighter Conor McGregor. When it comes to Canada, the three most notable names include Georges St-Pierre, Rory MacDonald and Patrick Cote.

Rules

As a sport derived from a wide selection of combat sports, all boasting their unique set of rules, the MMA was initially a ruthless combat discipline. The current set of rules applied in the UFC was established by the New Jersey Athletic Control Board and it’s been adopted in other states as well.

The length of a UFC match depends on the type of the fight. The Championship title fight lasts for a maximum of five rounds which are not longer than five minutes. Fights are being held in an eight-sided ring officially referred to as The Octagon. The ring is actually a cage with walls of metal chain-like fence. It’s 30 ft (9.1m) in diameter while the UFC often uses smaller cages of a 25 ft (7.6m) diameter for low-rank events and fights.

Once the fight starts, competitors will attempt to defeat the opponent by either – submission, knockout or technical knockout. These three forms of achieving the win are most common in UFC matches although the fights can be decided by judges’ decision which can be unanimous, majority and technical.

Any illegal move executed by a fighter – such as biting, hair pulling, spitting at an opponent, head-butting, kicking the head of a grounded opponent etc. – will result in disqualification. Fighters can forfeit a fight when unable to compete for reasons other than injury. A fighter can also be rendered unable to fight as a result of an unintentional illegal element. In such case, a fight is described as No Contest.

Closing Thoughts

Despite the popular opinion illustrating MMA as a ruthless sport – which it is – the Mixed Martial Arts combat is above all a battle of character, resolve and mental strength. Reaching the MMA glory is arguably the hardest undertaking of every young fighter, which requires a strong strength base – both physical and mental – and impressive technical ability. MMA fighters have revolutionized the combat sport as a whole and propelled it to great new highs deemed unimaginable up until not more than two decades ago. It can be an acquired taste but now that you got your grip on all the basics, it’s up to you to decide whether you find it appealing or not.

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