Mixed martial arts is believed to date back to the ancient Olympic Games in 648 BCE, with the training of Greek armies including wrestling, boxing, and street fighting.
MMA first came to the attention of many in America after the Gracie family decided to bring its trademark “Brazilian jiujitsu” in the United States in the 1990s. Royce Gracie represented the family in a 1993 tournament in Denver, Colorado, that was called UFC 1. This referred to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), an organization that became the leading promoter of MMA events.
Royce Gracie emerged as the champion of UFC 1, which was held in a caged ring at Denver’s McNichols Arena. As the UFC’s first cable television pay-per-view event, the tournament attracted 86,000 viewers. That number increased to 300,000 by the third event, and today events easily attract over a million viewers.
Initially, the only rules were no biting and no eye gouging, but after the sport gained more acceptance, the rules started to include no gouging of the mouth and eyes, head butting, hair pulling, and groin attack. With growing acceptance, UFC also introduced different weight classes in the name of fairness.
UFC is now broadcasted in 130 countries around the world, and UFC President Dana White has become the face of the sport, being friends with famous celebrities such as Shaquille O’Neal and Snoop Dogg.
In 2016 it was announced that the UFC was being sold to the talent agency WME-IMG for $4 billion.
Throughout its history, UFC has gained a reputation where the toughest fighters meet each other to square off with little of the complex rules of other sports. Two men (or rarely women) in a cage – and a battle using all forms of martial arts, street fighting, and wrestling to see who will emerge victorious.