History Of Mixed Martial Arts
How MMA Started
Technically, the origins of mixed martial arts, or MMA, could be traced back to pre-recorded history. The more pragmatic modern history of MMA should probably be traced to 1993 when the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) held its first event in an octagonal cage. In its inception, the UFC purported to try to discover the most effective forms of fighting, whether it be boxing, wrestling or some martial art. Aside from pitting the forms of fighting against each other, the UFC originally sold its fights as an alternative to boxing as fighting without rules. The UFC has come a long way since those early days where Arizona Senator John McCain referred to the sport as "human cockfighting."
MMA Starts off With Bad Rap
The bad reputation surely could have sunk the UFC for good. Cable pay-per-view providers refused to show the events, and 36 states banned no-holds-barred fighting. Faced with this adversity, the UFC had to work toward legitimacy. Rules were added, including bans on strikes to downed opponents, strikes to the neck and back of the head and groin shots. All bouts were timed five minute rounds and required padded gloves without fingers to soften blows, while still allowing fighters to execute martial arts holds and grappling maneuvers. Simultaneously, the UFC started to work with state athletic commissions in order to position mixed martial arts as a sport like boxing or wrestling.
Fighting Events Pop Up
Through this process, the UFC and modern MMA was born of its primitive past. Along with the UFC, other promotions like Pride, EliteXC, Affliction, M1 Global, and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) have all promoted fights. In addition ther are numerous, smaller local promotions that exist all around the world. Aside from pay-per-view, fights can be seen on numerous TV channels including CBS, Showtime, SpikeTV and Mark Cuban's HDNet channel.
MMA has also progressed from its singular discipline past. Modern MMA fighters pride themselves on being well-rounded fighters. This includes abilities in striking like boxing, grappling like wrestlers and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The best fighters maximize their skills, while also maximizing their strength and cardio-vascular conditioning. Many fighters also master the art of cutting weight before a fight like wrestlers do to fit into a weight class.
The Celebrities are Born
The sport has also created celebrities out of some of its fighters, including Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Rampage Jackson, Tito Ortiz, Cung Le, Brock Lesnar, Mirko Cro Cop, Dan Henderson, Georges St. Pierre, and Fedor Emelianenko. Chuck Liddell has probably achieved the most fame from the sport, including a guest appearance on the HBO TV show Entourage, and a chance to compete on ABC's Dancing With the Stars in 2009.
MMA Here to Stay
While many MMA promotions have come and gone, and others have consolidated, modern MMA shows no signs of going away. It has become a natural career progression for athletes that compete in wrestling, judo, kickboxing and other various forms of grappling. Many of these great athletes never had a professional career path after competing in amateur tournaments. The UFC is clearly the most popular company promoting fights, but MMA's popularity amongst fight fans and athletes is large enough to outlive any single company.