Mixed martial arts or MMA has burst into the scene and rocked the world of high-profile combat sports. It isn’t a new phenomenon by any means but its entry into mainstream consciousness is certainly a game-changer. This type of fighting largely existed underground with records dating back to the early 1900s. It became a subculture that slowly gained a lot of adherents throughout the century in Japan, Brazil, and other countries. There were efforts to create a league in the 80s but US legislators shot it down with a prohibition. Things evolved, however, and now we have the UFC as well as other MMA promotions around the world. Millions of fans have been attracted to the sport for varied reasons.
1. Multiple styles in one ring
The premise of the sport is intriguing by itself. In a typical tournament, fighters can only face those who practice the same discipline. Boxers fought boxers, wrestlers fought wrestlers, karatekas fought karatekas, and so on. Now we have a combat sport that welcomes everyone from different backgrounds in one ring. The best BJJ grappling dummy, Muy Thai – Wrestling — you name it. One of the goals is to find out which type of martial arts is the best in one-on-one combat. The most skilled practitioners of every discipline can wave their flag and show the world what they can do. How styles clash is exciting to watch as outcomes are unpredictable.
2. Short, intense matches
MMA matches are generally short with only a few rounds per bout, each consisting of a few minutes. Fighters cannot afford to sit around and be tentative. They have to make aggressive moves to make the most of their time. If an opponent tags you, then you have to retaliate right away or the judges will score against you. The intensity is high throughout. This is in contrast with other fighting arrangements such as in boxing. Boxers used to have 15 full rounds to fight with the early rounds often being used to size each other up. Now top-tier professional boxing matches have been shortened to 12 rounds but the tentative nature of the initial stages is still there. Mike Tyson in his prime is a notable exception.
3. One undisputed champion per weight class
There is also a singular belt that is up for grabs for each weight class in MMA. This leaves no confusion as to who is the undisputed champion. There is a clear path to the top that every contender can try to take. Only the best person can reach it and stay there. Boxing has often been criticized for having multiple belts available in each class. For example, there are four so-called champions in the welterweight division at the same time. This is confusing for people as they don’t know who’s the real top dog among the bunch.
4. Very few rules and limitations
In most disciplines, there are lots of rules that have to be followed and limitations imposed on the fighters. There is a long list of illegal moves so everyone needs to be careful. This also restricts what audiences can see. In many ways, this forces fighters to be creative and be masterful with their craft. However, some people find this to be tiresome in terms of pure entertainment. MMA was designed to be a very open type of sport. It has to be given the variety of disciplines that are involved in it. Fighters often train in multiple styles for a great all-around game.
Promoters in MMA are always sure to line up great fights with actual significance throughout the year. This is a direct consequence of the single title policy. Contenders cannot become champions overnight because of a suddenly vacant belt from a questionable governing body. In order to be a champion, you have to beat the champion. There is no other way around it. A person cannot target the least accomplished champ from a list to get an easy win. Every fight is hard because on the worthy rise to the top.
6. Expanding global base
MMA outfits are sprouting all over the world. The most successful one is the UFC but there are many others operating in various countries. There are fighters from every nationality competing at different levels which add an additional layer of interest. People get more engaged cheering for their countrymen as they are sources of national pride. They get to showcase their own styles of fighting.