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Mixed Martial Arts and UFC: Where did it all begin?

21st July 2015

Mixed Martial Arts and UFC: Where did it all begin?
During the Ancient Greek era there existed an ancient Olympic combat sport known as Pankration which featured a combination of grappling and striking skills, similar to modern mixed martial arts. This sport originated in Ancient Greece, and has been adapted throughout history to become the fastest growing sport in the world but what sparked this Mixed Martial Art (MMA) sensation?

How did MMA begin?

The MMA competitions were originally promoted with the intention of finding the most effective martial arts for combat situations. The competitions involved different competitors fighting against each other with few rules. Mixed martial arts competitions were first commercially introduced in the United States by 1980. Its first competition named"Tough Guy Contest". During that year the company renamed the brand to"Super Fighters" and held ten tournaments in Pennsylvania. In 1983 Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill that specifically called for: "Prohibiting Tough Guy contests or Battle of the Brawlers contests", and temporarily ended the sport.

In 1993, the UFC organisation reintroduced MMA back to the United States. The goal was to find"the Ultimate Fighting Champion" through a tournament of the best athletes skilled in the various disciplines of martial arts, including karate, jiu-jitsu, boxing, kickboxing, grappling, wrestling, sumo and other sports. The winner of the tournament would be crowned the champion.

The first MMA championship

The first Ultimate Fighting Championship event was held at McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado in 1993. The sport gained international exposure and widespread publicity when jiu-jitsu fighter Royce Gracie won the first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament, submitting three challengers in a total of just five minutes, sparking a revolution in martial arts. The undersized Royce Gracie beat bigger, stronger, and faster opponents with his Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to win the tournament. The fledgling sport became an overnight sensation.

The UFC came to prominence in mainstream media in 2006, and with their 2007 merger with Pride FC and following purchase of WEC and Strike force, no companies have presented significant competition, and the UFC has under contract almost all of the top ranked talent.

How popular is MMA today?

In 2011, the UFC reached a multi-year deal with the Fox Sports network, a tremendous milestone in the organization, bringing the sport to main stream media. The UFC also broadcasts their shows live to other popular networks all around the world. UFC programming is broadcast in over 145 countries, to nearly 800 million TV households worldwide, in 28 different languages. The UFC is also the largest pay-per-view event provider in the world.

After achieving a multi-year deal with Fox Sports the UFC set a new North American MMA attendance record, drawing 55,724 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto; the event also set a new MMA world record for the highest paid gate at $12,075,000 and is the highest gate in Toronto for any event, highlighting the enormous success of UFC and its effective promotion.

What can you expect from modern day MMA?

As the sport has evolved, so have the athletes, similarly to Pankration in the ancient Greek Olympics. The athletes cannot focus primarily on one particular martial arts style as it will not work in competition on a consistent basis. This means Mixed Martial Artists must learn a variety of martial arts including boxing, wrestling, kick boxing, and jiu-jitsu to effectively spar with their opponents thus developing a fast paced, exciting style of martial arts which has captured many peoples attention and is continuing to exponentially grow in the US and rest of the world.
Source: Martial Arts Near You