MMA (mixed martial arts) is viewers' most popular combat sport. Millions of fans worldwide will tune into high-profile events, with many placing bets on their favourite fighter. In the same way, casino players choose their favourite payID pokies and follow other successful players’ careers with admiration. MMA may seem new compared to other combat sports. It first became popular in the early 1990s, but its history dates back even further. Have you ever wondered how your favourite combat sport became a worldwide sensation? Today, we’re going to cover the entire historical evolution of MMA. Let’s discover how this sport started.
The Beginning of MMA
The first documented MMA event was in 1993. This was the year that the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) was formed. Howard Rosenberg was a famous television critic who used the term when he reviewed one of the early UFC events. The term referred to a full-contact combat event incorporating techniques from various combat sports.
So, the phrase ‘mixed martial arts’ was first coined in the 90s in the US. But, the events themselves have been practiced long before that. The roots of MMA can be traced back to the mid-19th century. At this point, several French savate fighters wanted to test out their fighting techniques against traditional combat styles.
In 1852, a combat contest was held in France. This event featured matches between French-savate fighters and English bare-knuckle boxers. One of the most notable matches from the event was when the French fighter Rambaud used a mixed fighting technique to win against his English competitor Dickonson. Contests featuring mixed fighters continued in France throughout the late 19th century and early 20th century.
The French contents may be the earliest documented events using mixed fighting techniques. According to world history books, the method dates back even further.
Origins of MMA Fighting
MMA involves a combination of fighting techniques. The act of fighting itself has been around since the beginning of humanity. Boxing and wrestling became competitive throughout history, dating back to BC.
Ancient China was one of the first areas where competitive martial arts progressed. A type of mixed martial arts was introduced called Leitai. This fighting style included aspects of boxing, wrestling, and martial arts. This is the first type of mixed martial arts known in history.
Pankration is a style of mixed martial arts that originated in Ancient Greece. This type of fighting included different striking and grappling movements. Competitors had more freedom in the moves they were allowed to make. However, biting and gouging were not allowed. The rules of this mixed fighting style made the combat sport suitable for the Olympics. By 648 BC, pankration was included in the 33rd Olympiad.
The Tough Guys’ Impact on MMA
Mixed martial arts was a thing before the UFC was founded. However, it wasn’t an official combat sport. If you want to know about the entire history of MMA, then you need to know about the Tough Guys.
In 1979, CV Productions was founded. This outlet was in Pittsburgh, PA and became the first American company to focus on MMA promotional events. Bill Viola even recorded the first set of rules for the competitive combat sport. By 1980, the company introduced the first commercial competitive MMA event called “Battle of the Tough Guys.” It was later rebranded to just “Tough Guys”.
Unfortunately, this isn’t how MMA became an official sport in the US. By 1983, the Tough Guy Law was passed. PA Senate Bill 632 states that mixed martial arts was outlawed in Pennsylvania. This was the most significant setback the sport faced in its history.
The First Legal MMA Event
UFC 1 was the first official legal MMA event. This occurred on November 12, 1993, at the McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado. The event was a huge deal. It was broadcast over pay-per-view and later sold on VHS. Fighting fans across North America marked this event in their calendars.
This was an eight-man event, and there were eight matches in total. The winners of the first four matches went on to compete against each other until there were two remaining winners. The title fight of the night was Royce Gracie vs Gerard Gordeau. Royce Gracie won the match, becoming the very first Ultimate Fighting Champion.
The match was a success. Over 90,000 households watched the event live over pay-per-view. It was organized through WOW Promotions and broadcast through Semaphore Entertainment Group. Surprisingly, HBO and Showtime both passed on this event.
Due to its enormous success, WOW Promotions wasted no time planning the UFC 2 event. The second event was held on March 11, 1994. Despite the success of these events, the media was very critical. They reported the events as having no rules and fights to the death. Not only was this inaccurate, but it was also banned in 49 states.
MMA Struggles Arise
Between politicians and media outlets, the UFC was facing challenges. Many states were calling for the competition to be banned entirely. However, Semaphore Entertainment Group believed in MMA and was determined to defend the matches. While there were heavy accusations of how dangerous mixed martial arts were, SEG was ready to prove otherwise. They vigorously defended how the rules placed on MMA fighting made it safer than other combat sports.
No matter how many points SEG made to defend UFC, the media wouldn’t be on their side. Especially since the marketing team was doing damage by advertising the fights as ‘no rules.’
By 1997, new rules were introduced. With these new rules, hitting the opponent in the head and groin was now off-limits. Competitors were also required to wear gloves that were 4 to 6 ounces. Before this, all fighters were in the same category, regardless of size. With the new rules, there were now lightweight and heavyweight divisions to make the fights more fair.
UFC in the Early 2000s
By the early 2000s, things were looking better for MMA and UFC events. In 2000, SEG was ready to sell. Zuffa LLC acquired the UFC, and Dana White became president. In June 2002, the first live UFC was broadcast on FOX TV. Now that the events were on cable, the number of viewers increased. This was the beginning of the UFC that fans are familiar with today.
People have been performing mixed martial arts before it was first recorded in the history books. Today, MMA is the most popular combat event with fans worldwide. According to the gambling experts at Slotozilla, it has become one of the most significant sporting events to bet on, next to the Superbowl. Fans can find several bets for all UFC events at popular online sportsbooks.