What Is the UFC, and How Does It Relate to MMA?
The UFC is one of the most popular and talked-about things today. And no, the UFC is not a new cable television channel. The letters UFC stand for Ultimate Fighting Championship, where athletes compete in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events. The UFC is the top promoter of MMA events in the United States.
UFC started in 1993
In case you are not familiar with MMA, here’s a quick primer. MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. And the UFC, which was founded in 1993, helped introduce the sports in the country, having athletes compete in a cage known as The Octogon.
The UFC was originally established to determine which of various marital art disciplines – things like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, Muy Thai, karate, and Tae Kwon Do – were the best. The idea was whether, say, the best karate expert could beat the best boxer. The best fighter among all the disciplines would be crowned the top ultimate fighter in the War of the Worlds. The first winner of the title was Royce Gracie, who had skills in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Reportedly, this was going to be a one-time match, but it turned out to be very successful, with pay-per-view interest. After that first championship fight, in 1993, ultimate fighting had more matches, eventually with thletes who had expertise in more than one discipline. That’s how Mixed Martial Arts evolved – the fighters had skills and disciplines from a variety of sports. Ken Shamrock, who was also known for his wrestling with the WWE, was one of the big ultimate fighters of the 1990s, along with Gracie.
Ultimate fighting was very controversial in the late 1990s, and was perceived by some, like U.S. Senator John McCain, to be too violent. So UFC officials worked to tone down the sport after it was threatened by such legislators.
UFC’s explosion in the 2000s
The UFC really took off in popularity in this century. One of the big matches that increased its popularity was UFC 40 in 2002, in which Shamrock faced off against Tito Ortiz. The pay-per-view event marked a turning point, in which the sport grew in popularity. Some say that without that event, UFC could have collapsed.
Instead it grew in popularity, being picked up by FOX Sports Net, then Spike TV, and then FOX. MMA in New York and other areas have increased in popularity, thanks in no small part to UFC and its stars.
The fighters compete in various divisions, depending upon their weight. Junior dos Santos, Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condi are some of the sport’s biggest names these days.
Many people first become interested in MMA because of the UFC, so the professional sport has increased interest in MMA as an amateur sport.
Ben Hargrove writes for a variety of sites, including Ronin Athletics.
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