MMA: Mixed Martial Arts’ Commandments
Boxing is a sport that everyone can associate with, and with which almost everyone associates great sporting names. But what about other martial arts that are less familiar to the masses, at least in terms of their names? We give you an insight into the exciting martial art of MMA, a sport that is worth taking a closer look at. Mixed Martial Arts – what is behind MMA and what does an athlete need to practise this special martial art?
What is MMA?
Mixed Martial Arts (translates as “mixed martial arts”, or MMA for short) is a modern form of full-contact competition. The beginning of this sport, which is a mix of boxing and wrestling, can be traced back many millennia. With its former name “Pankration”, this combat sport was even part of the early Olympic Games back in the day. The development of MMA is closely linked to a series of Vale Tudo martial arts events in Brazil and the USA at the end of the 20th century.
In these competitions, “the best” martial arts and “the best” fighters were selected. Fighters from a wide variety of fighting styles competed against each other and fights were held without protective equipment and gloves. In the 1990s, numerous match-ups took place in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which brought this sport to international attention, as techniques from different martial arts were used in it. MMA has also become increasingly popular under the name “Free Fight”.
How is the fighting done in the martial art MMA?
Overall, there are few limitations in terms of rules in this extremely physical sport. A total of 32 specific strikes, holds and forms of conduct are prohibited. These include throwing opponents on their head or neck, or grabbing their nose, mouth or eyes. Stomping on a fighter lying on the ground and unsportsmanlike conduct such as biting are also prohibited.
MMA differs from classical boxing in that fighters are allowed to use both punching and kicking techniques, elements of kick-boxing as well as ground fighting and wrestling techniques (grappling) from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling and judo.
The fighters pursue one goal: The opponent is to be defeated in a fight until he/she gives up by “tapping out”, passes out by knock-out or the referee stops the fight. A point victory is also possible. In competitions, the fighters are divided into different weight classes. Thin gloves are worn on their hands and open gloves on their fingers. The fighters fight barefoot.
In the UFC, fights are normally three times five minutes (five times five minutes in title fights). Judges score the individual rounds. However, many fights are decided by leverage, choke hold, knock-out or technical knock-out before the end of the fight.
While the Japanese events are fought in a boxing ring, the UFC’s fighting surface is an octagon (octagonal cage) surrounded by a 1.80 metre high net. This type of fighting surface has become the norm in the majority of American MMA events.
The athletes who compete in MMA events today specialise in Vale-Tudo or MMA fighting. They train equally for fighting while standing (mostly Thai boxing or Muay Thai) and for ground fighting (mostly Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling). Like professional boxers, professional fighters earn money through sponsors and advertising contracts.
What MMA events exist?
The Pride Fighting Championships (Pride FC) in Japan and the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) in the USA are considered the most famous events in MMA. In 2007, Pride FC was bought out by the UFC owners and subsequently discontinued due to financial difficulties. The far better known commercial events in Japan are now called DREAM and Sengoku.
Who is the best MMA fighter?
Canadian boxer Georges St-Pierre is one of the best welterweights of all time and one of the most versatile MMA fighters around. He defeated two generations of the strongest welterweights during his two reigns as world champion.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is ultimately the most undefeated UFC fighter of all time. Ronda Rousey is considered one of the best fighters mixed martial arts has to offer.
In the USA, MMA is far more popular than boxing. The UFC’s competitions are watched by more than 100 million viewers worldwide. The sport is also gaining followers in Russia, the UK, Brazil, Sweden and Germany. In 2018 alone, 17 of the 39 UFC competitions were held outside the US.