The UFC is one of the most well-known combat sports in the world. It has grown from a niche of Mixed Martial Art (MMA) promotion into a mainstream event in about 30 years. The sport has expanded beyond its humble origins and attracted new audiences from all walks of life. MMA is a full-contact combat sport in which fighters can use a range of combat techniques within the rules of the sport. The rules generally allow for a wide range of fighting maneuvers like kicking, wrestling, punching, etc. However, groin strikes, hair-pulling, eye-pokes, biting, spitting, and fish-hooking are prohibited.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC for short, is a Mixed Martial Arts company based in Las Vegas that showcases various fighters from around the world competing against each other. Unlike boxing, where fighters are only allowed to use their fists, the UFC incorporates a wide range of tactics from boxing, wrestling, Karate, Judo, etc. Fighters can thus embrace any style of martial art skill of their choice or a mix of multiple combat methods depending on the ones they are well vast in. The enhanced entertainment and variety of techniques that the UFC has presented are perhaps one reason why it has expanded into global prominence in such a short period.
There have been fights similar to the UFC in the past, even though the sport has only been around for a little under 30 years. One significant example is the ancient martial arts instruction that Greek soldiers received in ancient Greece, which was considered a combat sport. This athletic event was called pankration, brought into the Olympic games in 648BCE. However, the sport involved extremely violent fights at the moment, which led to injury or even death. The 393AD ban of the sport in Greece was prompted by its pronounced violence and high death rate.
However, the development of jiu-jitsu in twentieth-century Brazil is closely tied to the UFC’s beginnings. It is claimed that Jiu Jitsu birthed the Modern UFC as we know it today, the Gracie family greatly contributing immensely to its popularity. Members of this family would engage in combat with various opponents who possessed varying levels of martial ability and defeat them using their unique jiu-jitsu style. The concept for the current UFC originated after Art Davies, the championship’s founder, watched film tapes of these fights, which were then known as “Gracies in Action.”
The first UFC fight occurred in 1993, and the initial objective was to determine the most effective martial art form. As a result, fighters from various martial arts backgrounds joined the team to demonstrate their skills. Boxers, karate champions, Sumo wrestlers, and other fighters joined to compete in an eight-man tournament where the winner received a monetary prize. Each participant also received payment for attending. UFC bouts were less organized in the early years of the sport than they are now. Back then, there were unlimited numbers of rounds which lasted five minutes each with no gloves worn and no judges to determine winners.
The first match between Telila Tuli, a sumo wrestler, and savate fighter Gerard Gordeau, was one noteworthy event that occurred during this time. Tuli was kicked during the fight, and one of his teeth flew into the spectators. In fact, according to another version of the event, Gerard continued into two other fights while having two of Tuli’s teeth lodged in his foot. Due to this incident, the event’s sponsor at the time, Gold’s Gym, immediately withdrew its sponsorship. Overall, the UFC appeared to be nothing like an organized sport in its early stages, with no set rules, equipment, or structure. It also failed to generate enough revenue because it was still in its infancy and had not gained traction.
The UFC has undoubtedly progressed significantly in the nearly 30 years since its inception. Today, it has earned international acclaim, increasing popularity, revenue, and a growing fan base. Over the years, it has adopted an excellent structure with defined rules and patterns. Like other combat sports such as boxing, the sport now includes professional athletes with managers, trainers, dieticians, and support staff, and many fighters have made a professional career out of it. In fact, there are indications that big Mixed Martial Art sports, such as the UFC, may soon eclipse boxing as the most popular combat sport.
So far, there have been several modifications to the rules of the UFC. However, the New Jersey Athletic Control Board was the organization that first set up the rules that now regulate the sport. These rules defined the game in contrast to earlier times when it lacked a clear structure and guidelines. Therefore, many other US states followed the New Jersey Athletic Control Board’s guidelines, which later evolved into the fundamental guidelines that govern the UFC. The following are the rules:
Other specific rules govern the game, such as the prohibition of trash-talking your opponent during the game. Trash-talking is only allowed before the fight to bring more excitement into the contest. Also, a fight may finish in a draw, depending on the judges’ verdict. In the case of a tie, the current champion retains the title.
The UFC began as a small combat sport with few fans and few established rules. However, it has evolved into one of the world’s top professional combat sports in the last 30 years. The UFC Octagon has seen several martial arts demonstrations and fighting styles from different combatants throughout its history, and the sport keeps providing worthwhile entertainment to its fans.