In recent years a new sport has come crashing into ours living rooms like a veritable atomic bomb. The sport in question is mixed martial arts (MMA); and I call it a new sport only in the sense that most people think it is. In actual fact MMA has been around for more than 30 years in various forms. However the sport as we know it found its humble beginnings in the form of matches between legendary Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) family the Gracie’s; and other group’s disciplined in numerous fighting styles. This was known as “the Gracie challenge”; and was the basis for what would become the biggest name in MMA today, the UFC (ultimate fighting championship).
The UFC was initially created by Rorion Gracie and business savvy Arthur Davie in 1993, as a way to promote the unique Gracie style of BJJ, the name UFC however was coined by Michael Abramson; and the rest as they say is history. Now you know where it all started, lets look at how it has evolved into the worlds fastest growing sport after being virtually underground for so long. This can largely be attributed to now UFC president Dana White. White along with Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta purchased a struggling UFC in 2000, the brand had suffered near bankruptcy due to its very nature at the time. The events had very few rules and were looked upon as barbaric blood matches rather legitimate sport. Dana Whites took the helm as the new public face of the company; and the first order of business was to bury the worlds preconception of the sport. The fights became more structured, with federal approved rules; and the fighters began to get more well rounded in all the martial art’s.
Now days MMA still receives a lot of criticism, particularly from the boxing world. It is viewed by some in these circles, that MMA fighters could not compete with a boxer of an equal weight class. The argument usually being attributed to a boxing match lasting up to 15 rounds compared to the UFC’s maximum of 5. So lets look at the facts, boxing gloves range between weights of 6 to 18oz‘s, in order to both protect the fighters hands and cushion the severity of their punches. UFC gloves on the other hand are a mere 4oz’s; and simply prevent unnecessary damage to the knuckles. Given the very nature of MMA it has naturally attracted practitioners from all quarters, including boxing; but they have not dominated the sport as the critics believed they would. However some of the most exciting fights you will ever see are straight stand up slug fests between boxers and kick boxers!
Different promoters of the sport have opted for various stages for their bouts, these include; the tradition mat, boxing ring, or the more modern 8 sided cage. The disadvantage of the first 2 are the frequent breaks in the action, usually due to one or both participants going outside the ring or mats boundaries, these can be extremely frustrating for both the fighters and the audience. The octagon however insures that the contest remains fluid, smaller cages also restrict the ability of a fighter to avoid his opponent, there’s no escape so you need to bring you’re A game!
A term I have often heard from someone who watches UFC for the first time is; it’s just 2 people rolling about doing nothing. This couldn’t be further from the truth, if you look more closely and take the time to learn the almost inexhaustible list of moves and combinations, I guarantee you will change your mind! On the ground the fighters are constantly transitioning in order to gain a superior position or catch a stray limb for a devastating submission finish. You will begin to notice the subtle movements that indicate the intention of the athlete; and will be perched on the edge of your seat, your heart about to burst out of your chest with anticipation! The greatest thing of all is you don’t even need prior knowledge of any martial art, commentators Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg are constantly educating the viewer, entrenching you in all the action with their outstanding play by play calls.
I’ve given you the basics, all you need to do now is see it for yourself, so what are you waiting for! MMA is here for the long haul people, get on board now and watch this great sport grow from strength to strength!