As you might imagine, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as we know it today did not
start in the form it is currently it. It came from some classic roots that moved
into some barbaric roots that eventually, through a lot of help from some outside
people and influences, morphed into the beautiful art form it is today.
Dating back to ancient times of Egypt, we see hieroglyphic drawings of hand
to hand combat being trained and perfected by men. While we highly doubt they
had televised pay-per-view events, they did seem to have something similar to
what we have today. We would also venture that they didn’t have as many rules
and ways to protect fighters as we do nowadays. These sort of primitive forms of
MMA can also be seen in many other ancient cultures all over the world including
Greece, Japan, and Brazil to name a few.
A Brief Overview
In our modern times, the birth of mixed martial arts in a competitive sense
started in Brazil with vale tudo fighting events and then Japanese shoot-style
wrestling events. MMA hit the mainstream in the US when CV Productions Inc held
a competition called the Tough Guy Contest in 1980. This grew into the Super
Fighter Series with ten sanctioned tournaments held throughout the year. This
lasted for three years until the government of Pennsylvania (where the fights
were taking place) passed a law banning the sport.
Fast-forward to 1993, and we see the emergence of a name that we all know
fairly well – The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The UFC saw a quick rise
in popularity, predominantly thanks to Royce Gracie winning the very first
tournament by submitting three fighters in a matter of five minutes. The sport
saw a great rise but fell on some hard times as the barbaric and disorganized
manner in which the tournaments and fights happened was off-putting to a lot of
This is where the man, the myth, and the legend, Dana White stepped into the
picture. Dana believed in the UFC and convinced a few of his wealthy friends,
the Fertittas to purchase the struggling promotion. Rumor is it took some
convincing, but as we will point out, it was a bit of a good move. The purchase
price was $2 Million dollars.
The promotion did not get off to a good start. It continued to struggle, and
Dana White had to continually implore the Fertitta brothers to continue putting
a few more million in. While most people thought he was nuts, the Fertittas were
willing to trust their friend and go with it. Let’s just say they recently sold
the business for $4 Billion dollars, 2,000 times their initial investment.
The credit of turning mixed martial arts into what it is today goes almost
solely to Dana White and the Fertittas. They took the sport from a barbaric
blood fest and morphed it into a classy event showcasing the top talent and some
of the world’s best athletes. The UFC hit its stride around 2006-2007 through a
merger with Pride FC and a purchase of the WEC and Strikeforce, two competitors.
They basically wiped out all of their competition and were free to move the
sport in the direction they wanted. The rest really is history.
Since then, there have been some other fight series that have grown into
prominence including Bellator MMA, Invicta FC (all female), World Series of
Fighting (WSOF), and the ONE Championship which is the biggest promotion in
Asia. As talent continues to grow and we start to see younger and more complete
fighters emerge, the sport is poised to continue its growth for a long time.
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