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What is MMA?

MMA or Mixed Martial Arts is a combat sport. It is full-contact and is usually between two competitors, each with the aim of getting the other to submit. It is played as a competitive sport as well as being an activity undertaken by amateurs.

It is one of the fastest rising sports of our time and has now increased popularity even more due to the endorsements that MMA fighters get. UFC (an MMA organization) fights have made some fighters such as Ronda Rousey, Brock Lesner, and Conor McGregor household names.  

To fully understand what MMA is, we must first think about what MMA comprises. After all, it is a mixed martial art, which implies it has many different influences. 

What martial arts are included?

The MMA of today is a mixture of a number of different martial arts.

The three main components that tend to be present in everyone’s practices are Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), wrestling, and Muay Thai. As well as these three components, MMA can also incorporate karate, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, freestyle wrestling, judo, and much more.

The practice of mixed martial arts means different things to different people. For some people, it is a way of life and a lifelong dedication to a number of different arts They spend years perfecting one type before moving onto the next, becoming an expert in all of them. Only then will they call themselves practitioners of mixed martial arts.

Other people practice it by practicing each of them regularly, doing short practices of each, each week. This results in them learning about everything in a shorter time frame, but they may not become experts in any of the single martial arts.

To understand further the influences of different types of martial arts on MMA as a whole, it would be helpful to look at the history and the evolution of MMA and how it has developed into the sport we know and love today. 

The History and Evolution of MMA

Martial arts have been practiced for centuries, and for as long as there have been various types of martial arts, there have always been people who practice them all together, using moves from each of them to form their own personal combat style.

One of the earliest forms of MMA can be found back in the Han Dynasty of China where they developed a form of hand to hand fighting to use in warfare which was a mixture of wrestling and kung fu. It was called Shuai Jiao. Since then it has developed over the centuries and can be found in ancient Greece and Rome. it remained a form of combat through to the 18th and 19th centuries where it developed further.

In the 19th century, the French Savate would use MMA to test out which forms of the combat worked best. This resulted in a tournament between French Savate fighters and English bare knuckle boxers. From here on, MMA spread throughout Europe and the rest of the world. 

Perhaps one of the most notable figures in MMA in recent history is Bruce Lee. his martial arts movies popularized mixed martial arts, although he called it Jeet Kune Do. It had many of the same concepts as the mixed martial arts we know today and can be viewed as a precursor of today’s popular UFC and MMA practices. 

It has become increasingly popular over the last 20 to 30 years, especially more recently thanks to the growing popularity of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) which is an MMA championship. In the early 1990s, Brazilian jiu-jitsu was invented by the Gracie family.

This quickly became one of the key components of Mixed Martial Arts as the Gracie Family developed a challenge known as the Gracie Challenge that became very popular in gyms around the world.

Fighters would travel to Brazil to take this challenge, often being shocked at how hard it would be to win against the tactics played by the Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters. 

This style of fighting quickly blew up, and in 1993 the UFC was formed. 

UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship 

UFC and MMA are often terms that are used interchangeably if people do not have a thorough understanding of them. Whilst they lend themselves to each other well, they are not the same thing.

UFC is the organization that was set up to hold fighting events for practitioners of MMA. It formed in 1993, as we mentioned above, and the first tournament held was very different from the tournaments we know today.

There were no weight classes to sort the fighters into, no rounds, and no rules (except for no biting and no eye gouging). 

Thankfully, UFC has come a long way since then and remains one of the biggest sports there is. There are more MMA organizations now, too. No longer is UFC the only organization, but MMA fighters can also be a part of ONE Championship which is an organization in Asia, and Bellator MMA here in the US.

It is now highly regulated to ensure that the safety of the competitors is paramount, as well as still giving the audiences the excitement that comes with watching an MMA fight. 


To conclude, we want to come back to the original question of what is MMA? MMA or Mixed Martial Arts is a full contact combat sport usually between two people.

The practice involves mastering several different forms of martial arts, usually Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, and wrestling, becoming a master of all of them before applying concepts from each of them into MMA. 

Not all competitors practice each martial art this intensely though, some just have some basic knowledge of a number of different ones and still succeed in MMA. It is played professionally through organizations such as Bellator MMA, ONE Championship, and most famously, UFC.

These professional fights often have cash prizes to be won, and the fighters can even become celebrities in their own right with endorsements by big brand names. 

It is an entertaining sport that requires lots of combative skills and is enjoyed all around the world by professionals and amateurs alike. 

Rayford Baxter
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