What is the difference between them and how did the UFC become such a massive organization that people mistake it for the actual sport?
UFC vs MMA: What is the difference?
The connection and differences between Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC is a commonly misunderstood topic. Perhaps you have heard a person that has no interest in the sport consider UFC as the actual sport.
That's how popular the Ultimate Fighting Championship has become over the past decade and more. People often mistake the organization for the actual sport.
Explained in a single sentence – MMA is the sport that combines various martial arts such as wrestling, boxing, and Jiu-Jitsu, while the UFC is the biggest and most famous MMA organization in the world.
In other words, the merger of the UFC with MMA is not such a terrible mistake – the organization has become a symbol of the sport and most fans generally limit their following to the UFC while smaller organizations still fail to attract such attention. There is no UFC vs MMA – the Ultimate Fighting Championship is the most important part of MMA.
Origins of MMA
It is believed that mixed martial arts originated during the ancient Olympic Games around 648 BC. They took place in ancient Greece, and pankration was considered a combat sport – this cruel competition combined wrestling, boxing, and even street fighting techniques.
In it, both kicks and blows to the lying person were allowed: only bites and eye-gouging were forbidden. The match ended when one of the fighters admitted defeat or lost consciousness. In some cases, contestants have even died during matches.
When did MMA become popular in modern days?
Many millennia passed before this fighting style was ‘revived' – in the 20th century, a “descendant” of pankration, vale tudo, appeared in Brazil.
Vale Tudo was popularized by the brothers Carlos and Elio Gracie, who opened a jiu-jitsu school in Rio de Janeiro in 1925. The Gracie family brought attention to their school by running advertisements for the “Gracie Challenge” in local papers.
There are multiple other examples that can be considered as influential for the rise of Mixed Martial Arts such as the Bruce Lee concept. He popularized the idea of combining martial arts.
In North America, MMA began to gain popularity after the Gracie family decided to showcase their Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills in the United States in the 1990s. It actually happened in the original UFC tournament, which was held in Denver in November 1993.
UFC: Origin, Introduction of Rules and More
Today, the UFC is the largest mixed martial arts company in the world and has virtually no competitors. Meanwhile, in 1993, even the organizers of the first show in history doubted that they were creating a product that would capture television markets in the 21st century and overshadow seemingly eternal boxing.
The debut show of the promotion took place on November 12, 1993, in Colorado. Its main star is the now-UFC Hall of Famer legendary Royce Gracie. The first goal of UFC events was to pit fighters of different styles against each other – for example, a wrestler against a boxer or a kickboxer against a judoka.
Initially, there were not many rules: it was forbidden to bite and gouge out eyes. Fights ended when one of the fighters gave up, passed out, or one of the cornermen threw in the towel. In general, everything was like in the ancient pankration.
The first UFC tournament was already broadcast on the pay-per-view system and attracted 86,000 viewers, which actually was a disappointment for the organizers. Nevertheless, they decided to continue. By the third event, their number had increased to 300,000.
Introduction of UFC rules
Initially, the UFC positioned its product as an unhindered sport in which anything can happen. This approach and outright cruelty, of course, aroused the anger of many people, including politicians, among whom was US Senator John McCain.
In February 1997, the UFC first held a tournament with weight categories, and already in July of that year, gloves became mandatory. At the same time, a number of the toughest tricks were forbidden – blows to the groin, neck, back, pulling hair, and working with the opponent's small joints.
Also, in the updated UFC there was no longer a place for crazy amateurs – new fighters appeared in the organization's roster, and they were much more experienced than the previous ones. They had to train a lot and keep themselves in excellent shape in order to perform well.
Even John McCain gave up on resisting MMA, admitting in 2007 that the sport had made significant progress.
The UFC has been instrumental in promoting a set of rules to standardize the sport worldwide, and by 2009, regulators in the United States and many fighting organizations around the world had adopted standards known as the Uniform Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.
The big breakthrough of the UFC came with the reality show The Ultimate Fighter, which first aired in 2005. Traditionally, the show involves fighters seeking to break into the UFC. Divided into teams, participants led by famous fighters live under the same roof and fight each other, proving to the management of the organization that they have the right to be in the best league in the world. The final winner receives a contract with the UFC.
After the breakthrough in 2005, it became finally clear that the UFC and mixed martial arts are serious and for a long time. League revenues began to grow at a tremendous pace. Almost every tournament set a record for the sale of broadcasts.
Against the background of all this, the league bosses took advantage of the problems of the main competitor – the legendary Japanese promotion Pride. The Asian company in 2006 lost its main television partner and fell into a serious crisis. In 2007, the UFC acquired Pride and, despite the promises of the new owners to continue working in the same format, the organization soon suffered a final collapse and ceased to exist.
In the same 2006, the UFC acquired the California-based WEC promotion, effectively turning it into its satellite. Already in 2010, Dana White announced the final takeover of the company.
For some 10 years after the appearance of Dana White, UFC assets had grown many times, and the company itself, like a shark, swallowed up competitors.
MMA Betting: Should you try your luck?
With the growth of the sport and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, in particular, bettors around the world have turned their attention towards MMA Betting. If you are new to this, here are a few quick betting tips for UFC and a guide on how to bet on MMA.
MMA/UFC Betting Sites
Understanding the sport is one thing but having a reliable bookmaker is of key importance for your betting experience. It is a fact that MMA betting is now available on most platforms and on UFC betting apps but some are better than others.
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Overall, you will find the Ultimate Fighting Championship in most bookmakers but you definitely need to consider the availability of markets and the odds before you decide.
How to make the right picks in MMA?
Each fight will have a favorite but the odds can be misleading and you definitely should look beyond them. Since Mixed Martial Arts are a combat sport, there are subtleties that can help you make the right pick. The main issue with betting, of course, is that any fight could end in a surprising way with a single unexpected punch.
In each case, there are several factors that you should consider before you place a bet. Take a closer look at the fighting styles of both athletes. Some martial arts are more effective than others – for example, wrestlers have been dominating most of the categories in the UFC for a while now.
Consider the current physical form of each fighter. The UFC provides coverage of everything – from fight camps to conferences. Some fighters come back after long inactive periods. Some go through extensive training while others might neglect a given fight and have a short and ineffective fight camp.
There is a lot to learn about MMA but the good thing is that all the information you may need is available online. All upcoming fights get analyzed in-depth by countless professionals, so you do not really need to dig everything by yourself. However, due to the complexity of the sport, you need to get your facts straight before placing a bet.