MMA or mixed martial arts refers to a fighting competition that combines techniques form many other fighting styles such as boxing, wrestling, kick boxing, and martial arts. MMA fights begin standing up and resemble kick boxing with opponents trading punches and kicks. Almost all MMA fights make their way to the ground and then opponents continue to fight in a manner that resembles wrestling although the object is not to win by pinning your opponent.
MMA became popular in the U.S. early 1990’s and the UFC, the biggest U.S. MMA organization was founded in 1993. Originally, MMA competitions were met with great controversy from politicians and concerned citizens because the UFC claimed to be a no-hold-barred competition and proved to be extremely violent with only a few rules. The idea behind the UFC was not a new one and the idea of creating a competition to determine which fighting style was the most effective began in the early 1900’s. MMA type competitions were popular in other countries and after their brutal introduction into the U.S. in 1993, they did not seem like they were going to stick around.
The initial disdain for the violent competition actually caused MMA fights to be banned from 20 states and even Pay Per View stopped televising MMA events. After a few years of shame, the UFC added rues and regulations and actually got sanctioning to become a legal sport. MMA has since become very popular and is loosing some of its brutal stigma. Rules were added to give the sport less violent image and prohibit, biting, eye gouging, fish hooking, hair pulling, foul language, spitting, small joint manipulation, groin strikes, head butts, and kicking the head of an opponent while he is on the mat. Originally, the UFC had no weight classes, which only helped perpetuate the unruly image. The UFC now has weight classes and even screens fighters for drug use prior to entry into the ring.
MMA fights are won by knock out, submission, judge’s decision, or referee stoppage. Time limits were also added so that fights lasting longer than the set amount of rounds would be decided by judges. The referee and fight doctor can also stop a fight if they think that one fighter is not longer able to intelligently defend himself. Fighters must wear mouth guards and special fingerless gloves that protect the knuckles while allowing fighters to grapple.
Even thought the UFC and MMA fights were originally considered barbaric, they have come a long way since then. The UFC is gaining popularity and some PPV MMA fights have even outsold PPV boxing matches. With clear rules and sanctioning, MMA has made a comeback in the U.S. and is set to become the most popular combat sport. MMA already draws millions of fans and more and more fighters are conditioning themselves to be able to compete in the MMA ring. Even though it had a rocky start, MMA in the U.S. is quickly gaining ground and more and more people are accepting it as a legitimate sport.
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