Couture, Mixed Martial Arts champion and actor
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full contact combat
sport. The mixture of traditional martial arts
has led to a wide variety of fighting techniques
being used by modern MMA competitors, including
both striking and grappling.
mixed martial arts competition emerged in popular
culture in 1993 with the founding of the Ultimate
Fighting Championship. Based on finding the most
effective martial arts for real, unarmed combat
situations, competitors of various arts were pitted
against one another with minimal rules or concern
for safety. In the following decade, MMA promoters
adopted many additional rules aimed at increasing
safety for competitors and to promote mainstream
acceptance of the sport. Following
these changes, the sport has seen increased popularity
while promoters have seen financial success to
rival other combat sports, including boxing.
techniques utilized in mixed martial arts competition
generally fall into two categories: striking techniques
(such as kicks, knees and punches) and grappling
techniques (such as clinch holds, pinning holds,
submission holds, sweeps, takedowns and throws).
As mixed martial arts has no international sanctioning
body, rules may vary between promotions. While
the legality of some techniques (such as elbow
strikes, headbutts and spinal locks) may vary,
there is a near universal ban on techniques such
as biting, strikes to the groin, eye-gouging,
fish-hooking and small joint manipulation.
in a match is normally gained either by the judges'
decision after an allotted amount of time has
elapsed, a stoppage by the referee (for example
if a competitor can not defend himself intelligently)
or the fight doctor (due to an injury), a submission,
by a competitor's cornerman throwing in the towel,
or by knockout.
was thought that Olympic recognition would be
forthcoming for the 2004 Summer Olympics, held
in Athens, under the banner of pankration. However,
the International Olympic Committee was unconvinced
that Greece could handle the total number of sports
proposed. To placate the IOC, the organizers removed
all new medal sports and pankration was excluded.
of the earliest forms of widespread unarmed combat
sports with minimal rules was Greek pankration,
which was introduced into the Olympic Games in
648 B.C. Even as late as the Early Middle Ages,
statues were put up in Rome and other cities to
honour remarkable pankratiasts.
events reportedly took place in the late 1800s
when wrestlers representing a huge range of fighting
styles including various catch wrestling styles,
Greco-Roman wrestling and many others met in tournaments
and music-hall challenge matches throughout Europe.
The first major encounter between a boxer and
a wrestler in modern times took place in 1887
when John L. Sullivan, then heavyweight world
boxing champion, entered the ring with his trainer,
Greco-Roman wrestling champion William Muldoon,
and was slammed to the mat in two minutes. The
next publicized encounter occurred in the late
1890s when future heavyweight boxing champion
Bob Fitzsimmons took on European Greco-Roman wrestling
champion Ernest Roeber. Reportedly, Roeber suffered
a fractured cheekbone in this bout, but was able
to get Fitzsimmons down on the mat, where he applied
an armlock and made the boxer submit. In 1936,
heavyweight boxing contender Kingfish Levinsky
and veteran professional wrestler Ray Steele competed
in a mixed match, which Steele won in 35 seconds.
early example of mixed martial arts combat was
the martial art of Bartitsu, founded in London
in 1899, which was the first martial art known
to have combined Asian and European fighting styles,
and which saw MMA-style contests throughout England,
pitting European and Japanese champions against
representatives of various European wrestling
style contests such as boxing vs. jujutsu were
popular entertainment throughout Europe, Japan
and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s.
In Japan these contests were known as Merikan,
from the Japanese slang for "American [fighting]".
Merikan contests were fought under a variety of
rules including points decision, best of three
throws or knockdowns, and victory via knockout
wrestling died out after World War I and was reborn
in two streams: "shoot", in which the
fighters actually competed, and "show,"
which evolved into modern sports entertainment
history of modern MMA competition can be traced
to mixed style contests throughout Europe, Japan
and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s; the
Gracie family's vale tudo martial arts tournaments
in Brazil starting in the 1920s; and early mixed
martial arts matches hosted by Antonio Inoki in
Japan in the 1970s. The sport gained international
exposure and widespread publicity in the United
States in 1993, when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter
Royce Gracie handily won the first Ultimate Fighting
Championship tournament, submitting three challengers
in just five minutes, sparking a revolution in
the martial arts. Meanwhile in Japan the continued
interest in the sport resulted in the creation
of the PRIDE Fighting Championships in 1997.
movement that led to the creation of the UFC and
PRIDE was rooted in two interconnected subcultures.
First were the vale tudo events in Brazil, followed
by the Japanese shoot wrestling shows. Vale tudo
began in the 1920s with the "Gracie challenge"
issued by Carlos Gracie and Hélio Gracie
and upheld later on by descendants of the Gracie
family. In Japan in the 1970s, a series of mixed
martial arts matches were hosted by Antonio Inoki,
inspiring the shoot-style movement in Japanese
professional wrestling, which eventually led to
the formation of the first mixed martial arts
organizations, such as Shooto, which was formed
in 1985. The concept of combining the elements
of multiple martial arts was pioneered and popularized
by Bruce Lee in the late 1960's to early 1970's.
Lee believed that "the best fighter is not
a Boxer, Karate or Judo man. The best fighter
is someone who can adapt to any style." His
innovative concepts were recognized in 2004 by
UFC President Dana White when he called Lee the
"father of mixed martial arts."
United States Army began to sanction Mixed Martial
arts when the US Army Combatives School held the
first annual All Army Combatives Championships
in Nov 2005.
sport reached a new peak of popularity in North
America in the December 2006 rematch between then
UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and
former champion Tito Ortiz, rivaling the PPV sales
of some of the biggest boxing events of all time,
and helping the UFC's 2006 PPV gross surpass that
of any promotion in PPV history. In 2007, Zuffa
LLC, the owners of the UFC MMA promotion, bought
Japanese rival MMA brand PRIDE, merging the contracted
fighters under one promotion and drawing comparisons
to the consolidation that occurred in other sports,
such as the AFL-NFL Merger in American football.