UFC and MMA fights are held in a cage, which is an eight sided, chain linked reinforced, heavily padded structure called the Octagon. As the sport has grown in popularity over the years, rules and regulations, according strict regulations concerning the type of fight gear that a cage fighter can wear during a match. The Octagons unique shape and structure have become associated with the UFC brand name and the UFCs parent company, Zuffa. The Octagon is featured regularly on television and mentioned in the national media, adding to its brand recognition, so closely associated with the MMA and UFC in fact that it has become an iconic symbol of the sport since it was first featured in UFC events in 1993.
The UFC, or Ultimate Fighting Championship, is currently recognized as the largest MMA promotion worldwide, is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada and owned by Zuffa LLC. The UFC began as a tournament to find the best fighters in the world, and was based on the Brazilian vale tudo fighting style.
Originally, it was known as a no holds barred fighting contest, which eventually led to accusations of human brutality. After criticism reduced the UFCs visibility was diminished by these accusations, the organization reformed itself and adapted strict, athletic commission sanctioned rules, remarketing itself as a legitimate sporting event.
This idea of a tournament geared towards finding the best world fighter was that of Art Davie, a Southern California based advertising executive who developed this concept while researching marital arts for a client. Davie went on to become the student of Rorion Gracie, a teacher of mixed martial arts. In 1992, Gracie, Davie, and John Milnus, a film director and screen writer, in addition to being a fellow Gracie student, developed a business plan to generate the initial capital required to start WOW Promotions in order to develop their tournament into a television franchise.
Fight gear for these events is restricted to regulation gloves and fight gear that includes only approved shorts, with no shoes or any type of foot covering allowed. Shirts, gis, and long pants, including gi pants, are also not allowed. The gloves are required because they enable fighters to increase the strength of their punches, while at the same time providing greater protection against injury and breakage.
In the early days, attire was unregulated, and many fighters opted for tight fitting athletic shorts or long, boxer trunks, and other wore tight wrestling suits and long pants. Royce Gracie, multi tournament champion, wore a jujitsu gi in all of his early UFC appearances. The regulations came after the move to take the UFC and the MMA fighting style into the mainstream.