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Mixed martial arts

Full-contact combat sport

Top 10 Mixed martial arts related articles

  (Redirected from Mixed martial artist)
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
Junior dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin, main event of UFC 131 in Vancouver, British Columbia, 11th June 2011
Highest governing bodyInternational Mixed Martial Arts Federation
Characteristics
ContactFull contact
Mixed genderYes, separate male and female events
VenueOctagon, Cage, MMA Ring
Presence
Country or regionWorldwide
OlympicNot recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Mixed martial arts (MMA), sometimes referred to as cage fighting,[1] is a full-contact combat sport based on striking, grappling and ground fighting, incorporating techniques from various combat sports and martial arts from around the world.[2] The first documented use of the term mixed martial arts was in a review of UFC 1 by television critic Howard Rosenberg in 1993.[3] The question of who actually coined the term is subject to debate.[4]

During the early 20th century, various interstylistic contests took place throughout Japan and in the countries of the Four Asian Tigers. In Brazil, there was the sport of Vale Tudo, in which fighters from various styles fought with little to no rules. The Gracie family was known to promote Vale Tudo matches as a way to promote their own Brazilian jiu-jitsu style.[5] In the West, the concept of combining elements of multiple martial arts was popularized by Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do during the late 1960s to early 1970s. A precursor to modern MMA was the 1976 Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki bout, fought between boxer Muhammad Ali and wrestler Antonio Inoki in Japan, where it later inspired the foundation of Pancrase in 1993 and Pride Fighting Championships in 1997.

In 1980, CV Productions, Inc. created the first regulated MMA league in the United States, called Tough Guy Contest, which was later renamed Battle of the Superfighters. The company sanctioned ten tournaments in Pennsylvania. However, in 1983 the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill prohibiting the sport.[6][7] In 1993, the Gracie family brought Brazilian jiu-jitsu, developed in Brazil from the 1920s, to the United States by founding the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) MMA promotion company in 1993. The company held an event with almost no rules, mostly due to the influence of Art Davie and Rorion Gracie attempting to replicate Vale Tudo fights that existed in Brazil[5] and would later implement a different set of rules (example: eliminating kicking a grounded opponent), which differed from other leagues which were more in favour of realistic fights.[8]

Originally promoted as a competition to find the most effective martial arts for real unarmed combat, competitors from different fighting styles were pitted against one another in contests with relatively few rules.[9] Later, individual fighters incorporated multiple martial arts into their style. MMA promoters were pressured to adopt additional rules to increase competitors' safety, to comply with sport regulations and to broaden mainstream acceptance of the sport.[10] Following these changes, the sport has seen increased popularity with a pay-per-view business that rivals boxing and professional wrestling.[11]

Mixed martial arts Intro articles: 20

History

Antiquity

A Chinese martial artist preparing to throw his opponent during a lei tai contest in Ancient China.

In Ancient China, combat sport appeared in the form of Leitai, a no-holds-barred mixed combat sport that combined Chinese martial arts, boxing and wrestling.[12]

The Pancrastinae: A statue portraying the pancratium, an event which took place in the Roman Colosseum. Even as late as the Early Middle Ages, statues were put up in Rome and other cities to honor remarkable pankratiasts. This statue, now part of the Uffizi collection, is a Roman copy of a lost Greek original, circa 3rd century BC.
A scene of Ancient Greek pankratiasts fighting. Originally found on a Panathenaic amphora, Lamberg Collection.

In Ancient Greece, there was a sport called pankration, which featured grappling and striking skills similar to those found in modern MMA. Pankration was formed by combining the already established wrestling and boxing traditions and, in Olympic terms, first featured in the 33rd Olympiad in 648 BC. All strikes and holds were allowed with the exception of biting and gouging, which were banned. The fighters, called pankratiasts, fought until someone could not continue or signaled submission by raising their index finger; there were no rounds.[13][14] According to the historian E. Norman Gardiner, "No branch of athletics was more popular than the pankration."[15] There is also evidence of similar mixed combat sports in Ancient Egypt, India and Japan.[12]

Modern-era precursors

The mid-19th century saw the prominence of the new sport savate in the combat sports circle. French savate fighters wanted to test their techniques against the traditional combat styles of its time. In 1852, a contest was held in France between French savateurs and English bare-knuckle boxers in which French fighter Rambaud alias la Resistance fought English fighter Dickinson and won using his kicks. However, the English team still won the four other match-ups during the contest.[16] Contests occurred in the late 19th to mid-20th century between French Savateurs and other combat styles. Examples include a 1905 fight between French savateur George Dubois and a judo practitioner Re-nierand which resulted in the latter winning by submission, as well as the highly publicized 1957 fight between French savateur and professional boxer Jacques Cayron and a young Japanese karateka named Mochizuki Hiroo which ended when Cayron knocked Hiroo out with a hook.[16]

Catch wrestling appeared in the late 19th century, combining several global styles of wrestling, including Indian pehlwani and English wrestling.[17][18] In turn, catch wrestling went on to greatly influence modern MMA.[19] No-holds-barred fighting reportedly took place in the late 1880s when wrestlers representing the style of catch wrestling and many others met in tournaments and music-hall challenge matches throughout Europe. In the US, 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, 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 wrestling champion Ernest Roeber. In September 1901, Frank "Paddy" Slavin, who had been a contender for Sullivan's boxing title, knocked out future world wrestling champion Frank Gotch in Dawson City, Canada.[20] The judo-practitioner Ren-nierand, who gained fame after defeating George Dubois, would fight again in another similar contest, which he lost to Ukrainian Catch wrestler Ivan Poddubny.[16]

Another early example of mixed martial arts was Bartitsu, which Edward William Barton-Wright founded in London in 1899. Combining catch wrestling, judo, boxing, savate, jujutsu and canne de combat (French stick fighting), Bartitsu was the first martial art known to have combined Asian and European fighting styles,[21] and which saw MMA-style contests throughout England, pitting European Catch wrestlers and Japanese Judoka champions against representatives of various European wrestling styles.[21]

Among the precursors, but not ancestors, of modern MMA are mixed style contests throughout Europe, Japan, and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s.[22] 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 or submission.[23]

Sambo, a martial art and combat sport developed in Russia in the early 1920s, merged various forms of combat styles such as wrestling, judo and striking into one unique martial art.[24][25] The popularity of professional wrestling, which was contested under various catch wrestling rules at the time, waned after World War I, when the sport split into two genres: "shoot", in which the fighters actually competed, and "show", which evolved into modern professional wrestling.[26] In 1936, heavyweight boxing contender Kingfish Levinsky and professional wrestler Ray Steele competed in a mixed match, which catch wrestler Steele won in 35 seconds.[26]

Masahiko Kimura vs. Hélio Gracie, a 1951 bout between Japanese judo fighter Masahiko Kimura and Brazilian jiu jitsu founder Hélio Gracie in Brazil, was an early high-profile mixed martial arts bout.

In 1951, a high-profile grappling match was Masahiko Kimura vs. Hélio Gracie, which was wrestled between judoka Masahiko Kimura and Brazilian jiu jitsu founder Hélio Gracie in Brazil. Kimura defeated Gracie using a gyaku-ude-garami armlock, which later became known as the "Kimura" in Brazilian jiu jitsu.[27] In 1963, a catch wrestler and judoka "Judo" Gene Lebell fought professional boxer Milo Savage in a no-holds-barred match. Lebell won by Harai Goshi to rear naked choke, leaving Savage unconscious. This was the first televised bout of mixed-style fighting in North America. The hometown crowd was so enraged that they began to boo and throw chairs at Lebell.[28]

On February 12, 1963, three karatekas from Oyama dojo (kyokushin later) went to the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Thailand and fought against three Muay Thai fighters. The three kyokushin karate fighters were Tadashi Nakamura, Kenji Kurosaki and Akio Fujihira (also known as Noboru Osawa), while the Muay Thai team of three had only one authentic Thai fighter.[29] Japan won 2–1: Tadashi Nakamura and Akio Fujihira both knocked out their opponents with punches while Kenji Kurosaki, who fought the Thai, was knocked out by elbows. The Japanese fighter who lost, Kenji Kurosaki, was a kyokushin instructor, rather than a contender, and that he had stood in as a substitute for the absent chosen fighter. In June of the same year, karateka and future kickboxer Tadashi Sawamura faced top Thai fighter Samarn Sor Adisorn: Sawamura was knocked down sixteen times on his way to defeat.[29] Sawamura went on to incorporate what he learned in that fight in kickboxing tournaments.

Bruce Lee popularized the concept of mixed martial arts via his hybrid system of Jeet Kune Do during the late 1960s to early 1970s.

During the late 1960s to early 1970s, the concept of combining the elements of multiple martial arts was popularized in the West by Bruce Lee via his system of Jeet Kune Do. 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, to be formless, to adopt an individual's own style and not following the system of styles." In 2004, UFC President Dana White would call Lee the "father of mixed martial arts" stating: "If you look at the way Bruce Lee trained, the way he fought, and many of the things he wrote, he said the perfect style was no style. You take a little something from everything. You take the good things from every different discipline, use what works, and you throw the rest away".[30]

A contemporary of Bruce Lee, Wing Chun practitioner Wong Shun Leung, gained prominence fighting in 60-100 illegal beimo fights against other Chinese martial artists of various styles. Wong also fought and won against Western fighters of other combat styles, such as his match against a Russian boxer named Giko,[31] his televised fight against a fencer,[32] and his well-documented fight against Taiwanese Kung-Fu master Wu Ming Jeet.[33] Wong combined boxing and kickboxing into his kung fu, as Bruce Lee did.

Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki, a 1976 bout in Japan where boxer Muhammad Ali fought wrestler Antonio Inoki, was an important precursor to MMA contests.

Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki took place in Japan in 1976. The classic match-up between professional boxer and professional wrestler turned sour as each fighter refused to engage in the other's style, and after a 15-round stalemate it was declared a draw. Muhammad Ali sustained a substantial amount of damage to his legs, as Antonio Inoki slide-kicked him continuously for the duration of the bout, causing him to be hospitalized for the next three days.[34] The fight played an important role in the history of mixed martial arts.[35] In Japan, the match inspired Inoki's students Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki to found Pancrase in 1993, which in turn inspired the foundation of Pride Fighting Championships in 1997. Pride was acquired by its rival Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2007.[36][37]

A well-documented fight between Golden Gloves boxing champion Joey Hadley and Arkansas Karate Champion David Valovich happened on June 22, 1976 at Memphis Blues Baseball Park. The bout had mixed rules: the karateka was allowed to use his fists, feet and knees, while the boxer could only use his fists. Hadley won the fight via knockout on the first round.[38]

In 1988 Rick Roufus challenged Changpuek Kiatsongrit to a non-title Muay Thai vs. kickboxing super fight. Rick Roufus was at the time an undefeated Kickboxer and held both the KICK Super Middleweight World title and the PKC Middleweight U.S title. Changpuek Kiatsongrit was finding it increasingly difficult to get fights in Thailand as his weight (70 kg) was not typical for Thailand, where competitive bouts at tend to be at the lower weights. Roufus knocked Changpuek down twice with punches in the first round, breaking Changpuek's jaw, but lost by technical knockout in the fourth round due to the culmination of low kicks to the legs that he was unprepared for. This match was the first popular fight which showcased the power of such low kicks to a predominantly Western audience.[39]

Timeline of major events

2,000+ years ago Leitai
Pankration
Late 19th century Hybrid martial arts
Catch wrestling
Late 1880s – Early NHB and Mixed Style contests
1899 – Barton-Wright and Bartitsu
Early 1900s Merikan contests
1920s – Early vale tudo and Gracie Challenge
1951 Masahiko Kimura vs. Hélio Gracie
1960s and 1970s Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do
1976 Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki
1970s Antonio Inoki and Ishu Kakutōgi Sen
1985 Shooto forms
1989 – First professional Shooto event
1991 – First Desafio (BJJ vs. Luta Livre) event
1993 Pancrase forms
1993 UFC forms
Mid/Late 1990s – International Vale Tudo
1997–2007 PRIDE FC and UFC era
1999 – International Sport Combat Federation founded as first sanctioning body of MMA
2000 New Jersey SACB develops Unified Rules
2001 Zuffa buys UFC
2005 The Ultimate Fighter debuts
2005 US Army begins sanctioning MMA
2006 – UFC dominance and international growth
2006 – Zuffa buys WFA and WEC
2006 UFC 66 generates over a million PPV buys
2007 – Zuffa buys PRIDE FC
2008 EliteXC: Primetime gains 6.5 million peak viewers on CBS
2009 Strikeforce holds 1st major card with female main event
2011 – WEC merged with UFC
2011 – Zuffa buys Strikeforce
2011 UFC on Fox gains 8.8 million peak viewers on Fox
2012 International Mixed Martial Arts Federation was founded with support from UFC
2016 WMG/WME-IMG buys UFC for US$4 billion
2017 WMG/WME-IMG changed its holding name to Endeavor

Mixed martial arts History articles: 89

Modern sport

The movement that led to the creation of present-day mixed martial arts scenes was rooted in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the vale tudo events in Brazil.

Vale tudo began in the 1920s and became renowned through its association with the "Gracie challenge", which was issued by Carlos Gracie and Hélio Gracie and upheld later by descendants of the Gracie family. The "Gracie Challenges" were held in the garages and gyms of the Gracie family members. When the popularity grew, these types of mixed bouts were a staple attraction at the carnivals in Brazil.[40] Early mixed-match martial arts professional wrestling bouts in Japan (known as Ishu Kakutōgi Sen (異種格闘技戦), literally "heterogeneous combat sports bouts") became popular with Antonio Inoki only in the 1970s. Inoki was a disciple of Rikidōzan, but also of Karl Gotch, who trained numerous Japanese wrestlers in catch wrestling.

Regulated mixed martial arts competitions were first introduced in the United States by CV Productions, Inc. Its first competition, called Tough Guy Contest was held on March 20, 1980, New Kensington, Pennsylvania, Holiday Inn. During that year the company renamed the brand to Super Fighters and sanctioned ten regulated tournaments in Pennsylvania. In 1983, Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill that specifically called for: "Prohibiting Tough Guy contests or Battle of the Brawlers contests", and ended the sport.[6][7][41]

Japan had its own form of mixed martial arts discipline, Shooto, which evolved from shoot wrestling in 1985, as well as the shoot wrestling derivative Pancrase, which was founded as a promotion in 1993. Pancrase 1 was held in Japan in September 1993, two months before UFC 1 was held in the United States in November 1993.

In 1993, the sport was reintroduced to the United States by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).[42] UFC promoters initially pitched the event as a real-life fighting video game tournament similar to Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.[43] The sport gained international exposure and widespread publicity when jiu-jitsu fighter Royce Gracie won the first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament, submitting three challengers in a total of just five minutes.[44] sparking a revolution in martial arts.[45][46]

The first Vale Tudo Japan tournaments were held in 1994 and 1995 and were both won by Rickson Gracie. Around the same time, International Vale Tudo competition started to develop through (World Vale Tudo Championship (WVC), VTJ, IVC, UVF etc.). Interest in mixed martial arts as a sport resulted in the creation of the Pride Fighting Championships (Pride) in 1997, where again Rickson participated and won.[47]

The sport reached a new peak of popularity in North America in December 2006: a rematch between then UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and former champion Tito Ortiz, rivaled the PPV sales of some of the biggest boxing events of all time,[48] and helped 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 FC, merging the contracted fighters under one promotion.[49] Comparisons were drawn to the consolidation that occurred in other sports, such as the AFL-NFL Merger in American football.[50]

Origin of the term "MMA"

The first documented use of the name mixed martial arts was in a review of UFC 1 by television critic Howard Rosenberg, in 1993.[3][51] The term gained popularity when the website newfullcontact.com, then one of the biggest covering the sport, hosted and reprinted the article. The first use of the term by a promotion was in September 1995 by Rick Blume, president and CEO of Battlecade Extreme Fighting, just after UFC 7.[52] UFC official Jeff Blatnick was responsible for the Ultimate Fighting Championship officially adopting the name mixed martial arts. It was previously marketed as "Ultimate Fighting" and "No Holds Barred (NHB)", until Blatnick and John McCarthy proposed the name "MMA" at the UFC 17 rules meeting in response to increased public criticism.[53] The question as to who actually coined the name is still in debate.[4]

Regulation

The first state regulated MMA event was held in Biloxi, Mississippi on August 23, 1996 with the sanctioning of IFC's Mayhem in Mississippi[54] show by the Mississippi Athletic Commission under William Lyons. The rules used were an adaptation of the kickboxing rules already accepted by most state athletic commissions. These modified kickboxing rules allowed for take downs and ground fighting and did away with rounds, although they did allow for fighters to be stood up by the referee and restarted if there was no action on the ground. These rules were the first in modern MMA to define fouls, fighting surfaces and the use of the cage.

In March 1997, the Iowa Athletic Commission officially sanctioned Battlecade Extreme Fighting under a modified form of its existing rules for Shootfighting. These rules created the three 5 minute round, one-minute break format, and mandated shootfighting gloves, as well as weight classes, for the first time. Illegal blows were listed as groin strikes, head butting, biting, eye gouging, hair pulling, striking an opponent with an elbow while the opponent is on the mat, kidney strikes, and striking the back of the head with closed fist. Holding onto the ring or cage for any reason was defined as a foul.[55][56] While there are minor differences between these and the final Unified Rules, notably regarding elbow strikes, the Iowa rules allowed mixed martial arts promoters to conduct essentially modern events legally, anywhere in the state. On March 28, 1997, Extreme Fighting 4 was held under these rules, making it the first show conducted under a version of the modern rules.

In April 2000, the California State Athletic Commission voted unanimously in favor of regulations that later became the foundation for the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. However, when the legislation was sent to the California capital in Sacramento for review, it was determined that the sport fell outside the jurisdiction of the CSAC, rendering the vote meaningless.[57]

On September 30, 2000, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board (NJSACB) began allowing mixed martial arts promoters to conduct events in New Jersey. The first event was an IFC event titled Battleground 2000 held in Atlantic City. The intent was to allow the NJSACB to observe actual events and gather information to establish a comprehensive set of rules to regulate the sport effectively.[58]

On April 3, 2001, the NJSACB held a meeting to discuss the regulation of mixed martial arts events. This meeting attempted to unify the myriad rules and regulations which had been utilized by the different mixed martial arts organizations. At this meeting, the proposed uniform rules were agreed upon by the NJSACB, several other regulatory bodies, numerous promoters of mixed martial arts events and other interested parties in attendance. At the conclusion of the meeting, all parties in attendance were able to agree upon a uniform set of rules to govern the sport of mixed martial arts.[58]

The rules adopted by the NJSACB have become the de facto standard set of rules for professional mixed martial arts across North America. On July 30, 2009, a motion was made at the annual meeting of the Association of Boxing Commissions to adopt these rules as the "Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts". The motion passed unanimously.[59]

In November 2005 the United States Army began to sanction mixed martial arts with the first annual Army Combatives Championships held by the US Army Combatives School.[60]

Canada formally decriminalized mixed martial arts with a vote on Bill S-209 on June 5, 2013. The bill allows for provinces to have the power to create athletic commissions to regulate and sanction professional mixed martial arts bouts.[61]

MMA organizations

Promotions

According to MMA portal Tapology.com listings, hundreds of MMA promotions around the world produce MMA events.[62]

Since the UFC came to prominence in mainstream media in 2006, and with their 2007 merger with Pride FC and purchases of WEC and Strikeforce, no companies have presented significant competition,[63] and the UFC is regarded as having most of the top ranked talent.[64] Fighters usually get contracts in the UFC after competing successfully in other MMA promotions from around the world.

Some MMA promotions tend to exist more to build up prospects while others have a mix of prospects and veterans.[65] Some exist only to be feeder leagues to the bigger promotions (e.g. LFA, CWFC),[66] others exist to try to be the best in the world (e.g. ACB, ONE Championship).[67] Some promotions only do four shows a year while others are doing them monthly.

According to ScorecardMMA.com, one of the world's top statistical rankings services for MMA,[68] and the only one currently ranking MMA promotions worldwide statistically; "To rank MMA Promotions we use an index that we calculate weekly- Promotion Score.Promo Score calculation is based on the strength of Events and Fighters that Promotion has at that time. Promo Score has three main components:

  • Event Index: based on the quality of events in the last quarter and in the last year.
  • Owned Fighter Index: calculated based on the quality of fighters that the promotion currently owns (contracted, or used recently).
  • Utilized Fighters Index: fighters that the promotion has used in the last four months and in the last three quarters.

As of May 26, 2018 the top 15 MMA promotions (out of 41 ranked) in the world are:[69]

  1. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Based in Las Vegas, United States. Broadcasts their fights locally on ESPN (prior to 2019 on Fox Sports) and on other networks around the world.
  2. Bellator MMA. Based in Newport Beach, California, United States. Broadcasts their fights locally on the Paramount Network and other networks around the world.
  3. Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB). Based in Grozny, Russia. Broadcasts their fights locally on Match TV and streaming on YouTube (with Russian commentary) and Facebook (with English commentary).
  4. Fight Nights Global (FNG). Based in Moscow, Russia. Broadcasts their fights locally on Match TV, and streaming on VKontakte.
  5. ONE Championship. Based in Kallang, Singapore. Broadcasts their fights regionally on Fox Sports Asia and streaming on their Mobile app (without Geo-blocking).
  6. Rizin Fighting Federation (Rizin FF). Based in Tokyo, Japan. Broadcast their fights locally on Fuji Television and for Pay-per-view on SKY PerfecTV! (Japan only) and FITE TV (internationally).
  7. Invicta FC (all female MMA). Based in Enka, North Carolina, United States. Broadcasts their fights on UFC Fight Pass.
  8. Pancrase. Based in Tokyo, Japan. Broadcast their fights locally on Tokyo MX and streaming on AbemaTV (with Japanese commentary) and on UFC Fight Pass (with English commentary).
  9. M-1 Global. Based in St. Petersburg, Russia. Broadcasts their fights locally on Russia-2 and streaming on their mobile app (with English commentary).
  10. Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA). Based in Houston, Texas, USA. Broadcasts their fights locally on AXS TV Fights.
  11. World Fighting Championship Akhmat (WFCA). Based in Grozny, Russia. Broadcasts their fights locally on Grozny TV (also streaming on Grozny.tv).
  12. Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki (KSW). Based in Warsaw, Poland. Broadcasts their fights locally on Polsat Sport and on Fight Network internationally.
  13. Deep. Based in Nagoya, Japan. Broadcast their fights locally on SKY PerfecTV! (Fighting TV Samurai channel) and streaming on AbemaTV.
  14. Road Fighting Championship (Road FC). Based in Wonju, South Korea. Broadcasts their fights locally on MBC Sports+ and streaming on afreecaTV (with Korean commentary) and YouTube (with English commentary).
  15. Cage Warriors (CWFC). Based in London, England, UK. Broadcasts their fights locally on BT Sport and on UFC Fight Pass.

Gyms

There are hundreds of MMA training facilities throughout the world.[70][71]

These are the current top MMA Gyms in the world based on how many top ranked UFC fighters they currently train. There are 160 fighters, who train at over 80 different gyms, in the top 15 of the UFC's 10 divisions. The rankings are based on a system where a champion earns their gym 25 points, A #1 contender is 15, a #2 contender 10 and then a decrease in ranking equaling a decrease of 1 point until the ranking reaches #10. From there, rankings 11–15 are each worth one point. (updated July 2015):[72]

  1. Nova União located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  2. Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA located in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  3. American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) located in San Jose, California.
  4. Team Alpha Male located in Sacramento, California.
  5. American Top Team (ATT) located in Coconut Creek, Florida.
  6. Kings MMA located in Huntington Beach, California.
  7. Blackzilians located in Boca Raton, Florida.
  8. Serra-Longo located in Long Island, New York.
  9. Glendale Fighting Club located in Glendale, California.
  10. Black House (Team Nogueira) based out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  11. Teixeira MMA & Fitness (Teixeira MMA) located in Bethel, Connecticut.[73]

Media

Web data traffic ranking leader Alexa Internet lists 40 online media outlets under its "MMA news and media" website category. As of November 13, 2017, the top 10 most popular websites covering the sport are:[74]

  1. Sherdog.com
  2. MMAFighting.com (SB Nation)
  3. UFC.com
  4. MMAjunkie.com
  5. MMAmania.com (SB Nation)
  6. BloodyElbow.com (SB Nation)
  7. Mixedmartialarts.com
  8. ESPN.com/mma
  9. MMAWeekly.com
  10. Lowkickmma.com

Fighter development

As a result of an increased number of competitors, organized training camps, information sharing, and modern kinesiology, the understanding of the effectiveness of various strategies has been greatly improved. UFC commentator Joe Rogan claimed that martial arts evolved more in the ten years following 1993 than in the preceding 700 years combined.[75]

"During his reign atop the sport in the late 1990s he was the prototype — he could strike with the best strikers; he could grapple with the best grapplers; his endurance was second to none. "

— describing UFC champion Frank Shamrock's early dominance[76]

The high profile of modern MMA promotions such as UFC and Pride has fostered an accelerated development of the sport. The early 1990s saw a wide variety of traditional styles competing in the sport.[77] However, early competition saw varying levels of success among disparate styles. In the early 1990s, practitioners of grappling based styles such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu dominated competition in the United States. Practitioners of striking based arts such as boxing, kickboxing, and karate, who were unfamiliar with submission grappling, proved to be unprepared to deal with its submission techniques.[78][79][80][81][82] As competitions became more and more common, those with a base in striking arts became more competitive as they cross-trained in styles based around takedowns and submission holds.[82] Likewise, those from the varying grappling styles added striking techniques to their arsenal. This increase of cross-training resulted in fighters becoming increasingly multidimensional and well-rounded in their skill-sets.

The new hybridization of fighting styles can be seen in the technique of "ground and pound" developed by wrestling-based UFC pioneers such as Dan Severn, Don Frye and Mark Coleman. These wrestlers realized the need for the incorporation of strikes on the ground as well as on the feet, and incorporated ground striking into their grappling-based styles. Mark Coleman stated at UFC 14 that his strategy was to "Ground him and pound him", which may be the first televised use of the term.

Since the late 1990s, both strikers and grapplers have been successful at MMA, though it is rare to see any fighter who is not schooled in both striking and grappling arts reach the highest levels of competition.

The greatest MMA fighter of all time is considered by experts, fighters and fans to be either lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov, light heavyweight Jon Jones or welterweight Georges St Pierre. Anderson Silva, Demetrious Johnson, Fedor Emelianenko, Jose Aldo and Stipe Miocic are also included in this discussion.

</ref>[83]

Mixed martial arts Modern sport articles: 107

Rules

The rules for modern mixed martial arts competitions have changed significantly since the early days of vale tudo, Japanese shoot wrestling, and UFC 1, and even more from the historic style of pankration. As the knowledge of fighting techniques spread among fighters and spectators, it became clear that the original minimalist rule systems needed to be amended.[84] The main motivations for these rule changes were protection of the health of the fighters, the desire to shed the perception of "barbarism and lawlessness", and to be recognized as a legitimate sport.

The new rules included the introduction of weight classes; as knowledge about submissions spread, differences in weight had become a significant factor. There are nine different weight classes in the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. These nine weight classes include flyweight (up to 125 lb / 56.7 kg), bantamweight (up to 135 lb / 61.2 kg), featherweight (up to 145 lb / 65.8 kg), lightweight (up to 155 lb / 70.3 kg), welterweight (up to 170 lb / 77.1 kg), middleweight (up to 185 lb / 83.9 kg), light heavyweight (up to 205 lb / 93.0 kg), heavyweight (up to 265 lb / 120.2 kg), and super heavyweight with no upper weight limit.[58]

Small, open-fingered gloves were introduced to protect fists, reduce the occurrence of cuts (and stoppages due to cuts) and encourage fighters to use their hands for striking to allow more captivating matches. Gloves were first made mandatory in Japan's Shooto promotion and were later adopted by the UFC as it developed into a regulated sport. Most professional fights have the fighters wear 4 oz gloves, whereas some jurisdictions require amateurs to wear a slightly heavier 6 oz glove for more protection for the hands and wrists.

Time limits were established to avoid long fights with little action where competitors conserved their strength. Matches without time limits also complicated the airing of live events. The time limits in most professional fights are three 5 minute rounds, and championship fights are normally five 5-minute rounds. Similar motivations produced the "stand up" rule, where the referee can stand fighters up if it is perceived that both are resting on the ground or not advancing toward a dominant position.[84]

In the U.S., state athletic and boxing commissions have played a crucial role in the introduction of additional rules because they oversee MMA in a similar fashion to boxing. In Japan and most of Europe, there is no regulating authority over competitions, so these organizations have greater freedom in rule development and event structure.

Previously, Japan-based organization Pride Fighting Championships held an opening 10-minute round followed by two five-minute rounds. Stomps, soccer kicks and knees to the head of a grounded opponent are legal, but elbow strikes to the head are not.[85] This rule set is more predominant in the Asian-based organizations as opposed to European and American rules. More recently, Singapore-based organization ONE Championship allows soccer kicks and knees to the head of a grounded opponent as well as elbow strikes to the head, but does not allow head stomps.[86]

Victory

Victory 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.

Knockout (KO): as soon as a fighter is unable to continue due to legal strikes, his opponent is declared the winner. As MMA rules allow submissions and ground and pound, the fight is stopped to prevent further injury to the fighter.

Submission: a fighter may admit defeat during a match by:

  • a physical tap on the opponent's body or mat/floor
  • tapping verbally

Technical Submission: the referee stops the match when the fighter is caught in a submission hold and is in danger of being injured. This can occur when a fighter is choked unconscious, or when a bone has been broken in a submission hold (a broken arm due to a kimura, etc.)

Technical Knockout (TKO):

  • Referee stoppage: The referee may stop a match in progress if:
    • a fighter becomes dominant to the point where the opponent cannot intelligently defend themself and is taking excessive damage as a result
    • a fighter appears to be losing consciousness as he/she is being struck
    • a fighter appears to have a significant injury such as a cut or a broken bone

Doctor Stoppage/Cut: the referee will call for a time out if a fighter's ability to continue is in question as a result of apparent injuries, such as a large cut. The ring doctor will inspect the fighter and stop the match if the fighter is deemed unable to continue safely, rendering the opponent the winner. However, if the match is stopped as a result of an injury from illegal actions by the opponent, either a disqualification or no contest will be issued instead.

Corner stoppage: a fighter's corner may announce defeat on the fighter's behalf by throwing in the towel during the match in progress or between rounds. This is normally done when a fighter is being beaten to the point where it is dangerous and unnecessary to continue. In some cases, the fighter may be injured.

Retirement: a fighter is so dazed or exhausted that he/she cannot physically continue fighting. Usually occurs between rounds.

Decision: if the match goes the distance, then the outcome of the bout is determined by three judges. The judging criteria are organization-specific.

Forfeit: a fighter or their representative may forfeit a match prior to the beginning of the match, thereby losing the match.

Disqualification: a "warning" will be given when a fighter commits a foul or illegal action or does not follow the referee's instruction. Three warnings will result in a disqualification. Moreover, if a fighter is unable to continue due to a deliberate illegal technique from his opponent, the opponent will be disqualified.

No Contest: in the event that both fighters commit a violation of the rules, or a fighter is unable to continue due to an injury from an accidental illegal technique, the match will be declared a "No Contest", except in the case of a technical decision in the unified rules. A result can also be overturned to a no contest if the fighter that was originally victorious fails a post fight drug test for banned substances.

Technical decision: in the unified rules of MMA, if a fighter is unable to continue due to an accidental illegal technique late in the fight, a technical decision is rendered by the judges based on who is ahead on the judges' scorecards at that time. In a three-round fight, two rounds must be completed for a technical decision to be awarded and in a five-round fight, three rounds must be completed.

Fighter ranking

MMA fighters are ranked according to their performance and outcome of their fights and level of competition they faced. The most popular and used, ranking portals are:

  • Fight Matrix: Ranks up to 250–500 fighters worldwide for every possible division male and female.
  • Sherdog: Ranks top 10 fighters worldwide only for current available UFC divisions. Also used by ESPN.
  • SB Nation: Ranks top 14 fighters worldwide only for male divisions. Also used by USA Today.
  • MMAjunkie.com: Ranks top 10 fighters worldwide for current UFC available divisions.
  • UFC: Ranks top 15 contenders, UFC signed fighters only, as per UFC divisions. (For example: #2 means the fighter is #3 for the UFC, behind the Champion and the #1.)
  • Tapology: Ranks top 10 fighters worldwide for every possible division.[87]
  • Ranking MMA: Top 50 MMA World Rankings for all Men's Divisions and Top 25 MMA World Rankings for all Women's Divisions. RankingMMA publishes Independent Mixed Martial Arts rankings that does not exclude any fighter based on their promotion. RankingMMA also provides UFC Rankings (Complete Roster), Historical MMA Rankings, Non-UFC Rankings, and MMA Prospect Rankings. Ranking MMA has published MMA World Rankings since 2006.
  • Sports Illustrated: Ranks top 10 fighters worldwide for current UFC available divisions.[88]
  • MMA Rising: Ranks top 10 fighters worldwide in every possible division.[89] Notable for their Unified Women's Mixed Martial Arts. Rankings[90][91]
  • MMA Weekly: Ranks top 10 male fighters worldwide in every possible division, and P4P for female fighters.[92] Also used by Yahoo! Sports.
  • Bleacher Report: Ranks top 10 UFC fighters in each division.
  • Fight! Magazine: Ranks top 5 fighters and only in male divisions.[93]
  • Oddsshark.com: Ranks top 10 fighters worldwide in current UFC divisions.
  • GroundandPound.de: Ranks top 10 European male fighters in all divisions.[94]
  • MMAViking: Ranks top 5 Scandinavian male fighters in all divisions and Scandinavian female pound for pound.[95]

Clothing

Mixed martial arts promotions typically require that male fighters wear shorts in addition to being barechested, thus precluding the use of gi or fighting kimono to inhibit or assist submission holds. Male fighters are required by most athletic commissions to wear groin protectors underneath their trunks.[58] Female fighters wear short shorts and sports bras or other similarly snug-fitting tops. Both male and female fighters are required to wear a mouthguard.[58][96]

The need for flexibility in the legs combined with durability prompted the creation of various fighting shorts brands, which then spawned a range of mixed martial arts clothing and casual wear available to the public.

Fighting area

According to the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, an MMA competition or exhibition may be held in a ring or a fenced area. The fenced area can be round or have at least six sides. Cages vary: some replace the metal fencing with a net, others have a different shape from an octagon, as the term "the Octagon" is trademarked by the UFC (though the 8-sided shape itself is not trademarked).[97] The fenced area is called a cage generically, or a hexagon, an octagon or an octagon cage, depending on the shape.

Mixed martial arts Rules articles: 31