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Encyclopedia > Mixed martial artist

Mixed martial arts or MMA is a term for the combat sport in which two competitors attempt to achieve dominance over one another by utilizing three general tactics: striking, finishing holds, and control. The rules allow the combatants to use a variety of martial arts techniques, including punches, kicks, joint-locks, chokes, takedowns and throws. Victory is normally gained through knock-out, submission (one fighter concedes victory to the other by tapping the mat or his opponent with his hand), or stoppage by the referee, the fight doctor or a competitor's cornerman. MMA is also alternately called NHB (for No Holds Barred), but this term is mostly retired. It is no longer an accurate description of the modern competitions which utilize many more rules than before. The first Ultimate Fighting Championship's only rules were against eye-gouging, fish-hooking and biting. It was not unusual to see hair-pulling, toe-stomping and people being choked with the lapels of their clothing. One infamous early match even featured one combatant repeatedly striking his opponent in the groin. Currently, all of the major promotions have a list of rules and banned techniques.

MMA is also used to describe any modern style of martial arts which incorporate techniques and theories from several sportive martial arts. This especially applies to MMA styles which incorporate a mixture of ground fighting, stand-up striking, and takedowns in their training. The main goal of this article is to provide information about MMA as a "realistic, few rules full contact fight sport" rather than to describe hybrid martial arts that are not typically used in minimal-rules sporting environments. Hawaiian State Grappling Championships. ...

As a result of these sporting events, martial arts training and the understanding of the combat effectiveness of various strategies have changed dramatically over the last ten years. While the early years included the widest possible variety of styles (everything from Sumo to Karate), modern fighters often train in a mixture of only three styles: Amateur Wrestling (focusing on clinches and takedowns), Submission Wrestling (focusing on submissions and positioning on the ground), and Kickboxing (usually Muay Thai) (focusing on striking). These three distinct styles coincide with the "phases of combat" theory, which suggests that fights can be broken into three distinct phases, each requiring completely different skill sets: stand-up fighting, clinch fighting, and ground fighting. According to the theory, a fighter's best strategy is to determine the phase in which he has the greatest advantage over his opponent and then to force the fight to take place in that phase. It currently appears that this is mainly correct, in the sense that if you are equally skilled in all phases of combat, you are prepared to take advantage of any weaknesses in your opponent. Sumo (相撲 Sumō), or sumo wrestling, is today a competition contact sport wherein two wrestlers or rikishi face off in a circular area. ... Karate or karate-do (空手道) is a martial art, based on Chinese kung fu, categorized by some as budo, introduced to the Japanese main islands from Okinawa in 1922. ... Andrell Durden (top) and Edward Harris grapple for position during the All-Marine Wrestle Offs. ... Submission wrestling (also called submission grappling or submission fighting) is a general term describing martial arts that focus on grappling to effect a submission (admission of loss) usually by means of chokes, joint locks, and other manipulations of the opponents body. ... KickBoxing Kickboxing is a martial art which was made for beating Muay Thai by Japanese boxing promotor Osamu Noguchi in 1950. ... Muay Thai (Thai มวยไทย, IPA /muai32 tʰai32/)means Thai Boxing. ...

Well-known examples of MMA organizations are the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Pride Fighting Championships. Ultimate Fighting Championship is an American based mixed martial arts organisation. ... PRIDE or PRIDE Fighting Championships in Japan is the worlds most popular mixed martial arts championship. ...


Evolution of fighting styles

In the early 1990s, two styles stood out for their effectiveness: Wrestling and Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ). Jiu-Jitsu had the early advantage, since wrestlers were not equipped with a way to defeat them standing or on the ground. However, when wrestlers started training in striking, pure Jiu-Jitsu stylists ran into difficulties since they had a hard time taking the fight to the ground and away from their stand-up weaknesses. This represented the first step of evolution towards cross-training. Wrestling eventually branched into two styles described below: "Ground-and-Pound" (wrestlers who prefer fighting on the ground) and "Clinch-and-Pound" (wrestlers who prefer fighting standing up). Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), also known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (GJJ), is a martial art that was developed in Brazil by the Gracie family during the mid-20th century. ...

Kickboxers and boxers were next to evolve and added grappling skills to their arsenal. In the early days, they could not compete with the grapplers, since they could not avoid the takedowns and had no defense on the ground. After adding ground techniques to their training, they scored some major upsets, and showed that fighters specializing in striking could be effective in the sport.

Due to its early dominance, BJJ was the last to evolve. Eventually, Wrestling and Muay Thai were added to their training, and Jiu-Jitsu fighters have returned to being competitive again in the sport.

MMA is also considered an evolution of Pankration, a combination of striking and grappling that was introduced in the Olympic games in 648 BC. The "Pancrase" fighting promotion in Japan has strong ties to modern MMA and actually predates the first UFC by a few months. Pankration is a sport or martial art introduced in the Olympic games in 648 BC. It combined striking and grappling, and a match would be won by submission of the opponent. ...

Modern fighting styles

The following is a breakdown of the different fighting styles of modern MMA. Although there are essentially no successful fighters who do not have a complete training system that incorporates all of these skills, most fighters will base their overall strategy on one particular styles and become associated with it.


A sprawl and brawler is a boxer, kickboxer or Muay Thai fighter who has trained wrestling to avoid takedowns and tries to keep the fight standing. Usually these fighters will study enough submission wrestling so that in the unfortunate event that they are taken down, they can tie their opponents up and survive long enough to get back to standing or until the referee restarts the fight. This style is deceptively different from regular kickboxing styles, since sprawl-and-brawlers must adapt their techniques to incorporate takedown defense. Maurice Smith is credited with introducing this style by becoming a successful kickboxer in a time when ground fighters were dominating the sport, including winning the heavyweight title of the Ultimate Fighting Championship by defeating Mark Coleman. Ultimate Fighting Championship is an American based mixed martial arts organisation. ... Mark Coleman(December 20, 1964-)is a American MMA compeditor. ...

Examples: Maurice Smith, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović, Chuck Liddell, Pedro Rizzo, Wanderlei Silva MirkoCroCop Filipović (September 10, 1974 - ) is a Croatian kickboxer turned mixed martial artist, arguably the only martial artist in the world who has been highly successful in fighting both under K-1 kickboxing rules and the MMA Pride Fighting Championships rules. ... Chuck Liddell, also known as The Iceman, is a Mixed Martial Artist with a background in Kickboxing, fighting in the UFC. Although he is primarily a striker, Liddell prides himself on his wrestling skills which he learned during his years at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he also earned... Birthdate - 5/3/74 61 230 lbs. ... Wanderlei de Silva (March 7, 1976-) is a Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter. ...


These are wrestlers that have added in components of the striking game (typically boxing). Although their base is in wrestling and ground control, they are rarely reluctant to throw some leather on the feet. Often, wrestlers that have added the striking game are partial to strikes from within the clinch (particularly wrestlers who have developed a strong clinch game already). In the case that an exchange on the feet does not go in their favor, they can bring the fight to the ground quickly as their true expertise lies in wrestling, so they are ultimately less timid about trading blows. Don Frye was among the first wrestlers to add versatile strikes to his arsenal, but it was Randy Couture’s stunning performance, in which he used close range boxing to out-strike a reputedly superior boxer in Vitor Belfort, that was the true birth of this style of fighter. He was the first to demonstrate that standing and ground were not the only phases of combat. Through the use of Greco-Roman clinching techniques, he showed that a third phase, the clinch, was not well understood and could be used to devastate ill-prepared opponents.

Examples: Randy Couture, Dan Henderson, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Don Frye Randy The Natural Couture (born June 22, 1963) is a participant of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. ... A a veteran of Professional Wrestling,Don Frye has had tremendous sucsess in the MMA sphere as well. ...


This style is for wrestlers or other fighters well-versed in defending submissions and skilled at takedowns. They take every fight to the ground, maintain a solid top position, and hammer away until their opponent submits, is knocked out or is cut so bad that the fight can't continue. Although not traditionally considered a conventional method of striking, the effectiveness and reliability (as well as recently-developing science) of this style cannot be denied. Originally most fighters who relied on striking on the ground were wrestlers, but considering how many fights end up on the ground and how increasingly competitive today’s MMA is, strikes on the ground are becoming more and more scientific and technical and essential to a fighter’s training. Dan Severn was the first proficient fighter using Ground-and-Pound with his brutal takedowns and powerful fists, forearm shots, elbows and knees on the ground. However, many modern MMA camps have developed intricate strategies for attacking while on the ground.

Examples: Mark Coleman, Fedor Emelianenko, Matt Hughes, Takanori Gomi, Tito Ortiz Mark Coleman(December 20, 1964-)is a American MMA compeditor. ... Fedor Emelianenko (born September 26, 1976) is a heavyweight Mixed martial arts fighter, competing in the Japanese organization, the Pride Fighting Championships. ... Matt Hughes is a Canadian author who lives in Courtenay, British Columbia. ... Takanori Gomi is a Japanese fighter and a participant in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. ... Tito Ortiz (born January 23, 1975) is a Mexican-American participant of the sport of mixed martial arts, or MMA. Ortizs career has been mostly within the UFC organisation. ...

Submission Wrestling

Typically associated with Brazilian Jujitsu, but also encompassing a number of other styles, such as Olympic Judo, Sambo, a myriad of other descendants and arts inspired by Kodokan Judo, evolutions of pre-1940's Catch Wrestling or even Hybrid styles such as Shoot-Fighting, Shooto and Pancrase. Submission wrestlers attempt to win on the ground using joint locks and chokes to secure a tapout. This style has evolved since the early days as submission wrestlers now usually crosstrain in Amateur Wrestling and Kickboxing to complete their skills, but still focus on submissions as their primary weapons. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), also known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (GJJ), is a martial art that was developed in Brazil by the Gracie family during the mid-20th century. ... Judo (Japanese: 柔道 Jūdō) is a martial art, a sport and a philosophy which originated in Japan. ... Sambo may have one of the following meanings. ... Judo (Japanese: 柔道 Jūdō) is a martial art, a sport and a philosophy which originated in Japan. ... Catch Wrestling, short for catch-as-catch-can wrestling, is a term for grappling, sometimes known as hook wrestling. ... Shooto is a Mixed Martial Arts Organization in Japan especially known for its fighters at or under 155 pounds, and a style practiced by those who compete in the organization. ... Pancrase is the name of an organisation that organizes mixed martial arts tournaments, principally in Japan. ... Andrell Durden (top) and Edward Harris grapple for position during the All-Marine Wrestle Offs. ... KickBoxing Kickboxing is a martial art which was made for beating Muay Thai by Japanese boxing promotor Osamu Noguchi in 1950. ...

Examples: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Royce Gracie, Frank Shamrock, Kazushi Sakuraba, Genki Sudo, Frank Mir, Rumina Sato Antonio Rodrigo Minotauro Nogueira (born in June 1976) is a heavyweight fighter in mixed martial arts, currently competing in the Japanese organization, the Pride Fighting Championships but has also fought in a number of other organizations. ... Royce Gracie (born December 12, 1966) is a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter who revolutionized the martial arts world in the early 1990s with a string of quick victories over larger opponents in the UFC. Royce had 11 wins by submission on his way to capturing three tournament titles between... Frank Shamrock (born December 8, 1972) is a famous mixed martial arts competitor. ... Kazushi Sakuraba (born July 14 1968) is a professional Mixed martial arts fighter in Japan. ... Rumina Sato (Born in Tokyo Japan 12-29-1973). ...

Techniques and strategies

The techniques and strategies of Amateur wrestling, Submission Wrestling and Muay Thai are usually not used as in the original arts/sports but instead are modified to fulfill the needs of MMA competition. For example, Freestyle wrestlers do not need to deal with striking during a takedown attempt, and Muay Thai bouts are broken by the referee if the fighter falls down after a kick that missed the target. This is very different from the situation in MMA competition, and techniques and strategies for MMA competition have to reflect this. Some fighters may substitute one or more of the basic styles mentioned above with Judo, Sambo, or their own brand of Jujitsu or Boxing. According the "phases of combat" theory all phases should be covered to stay competitive and only techniques proven in actual competition should be used. This is a reason why it is quite difficult to find "exotic" styles in fighter's bios now. Andrell Durden (top) and Edward Harris grapple for position during the All-Marine Wrestle Offs. ... Submission wrestling (also called submission grappling or submission fighting) is a general term describing martial arts that focus on grappling to effect a submission (admission of loss) usually by means of chokes, joint locks, and other manipulations of the opponents body. ... Muay Thai (Thai มวยไทย, IPA /muai32 tʰai32/)means Thai Boxing. ... Judo (Japanese: 柔道 Jūdō) is a martial art, a sport and a philosophy which originated in Japan. ... Sambo may have one of the following meanings. ... Jujutsu (also jujitsu, ju jitsu, ju jutsu, or jiu jitsu; from the Japanese 柔術 jūjutsu gentle/yielding/compliant Art) is a Japanese martial art. ... 2004 Armed Forces Amateur Boxing Championships, held in 2003. ...


Today, Mixed Martial Artists train in a variety of styles so that they can be effective in all phases of combat. Although MMA fighters will try to play to their particular specialties, they will inevitably encounter all kinds of situations; a stand up fighting specialist will probably get taken down at some point and a wrestler might need to fight standing up for a while before he can setup a takedown.

Fighters learn techniques from stand up oriented fighting styles, they learn at least some grappling and they also learn submission techniques and how to defend against them. Boxing and Muay Thai are the most popular stand up fighting styles because of their proven effectiveness. These styles have to be adapted slightly for use in the sport. For example, many boxing stances are ineffective because they leave fighters vulnerable to leg kicks or takedowns. Most fighters also learn some grappling. Stand up oriented fighters must learn how to defend against takedowns so that they can keep the fight standing. Fighters also learn how to effecitvely fight from their backs and to use sumbissions as well as defend against them. Jiu-Jitsu is popular in this area since it is a submission-oriented fighting style and it has many techniques for effectively fighting from one's back.

Conditioning varies among the fighters depending on their particular fighting styles. For example, brute strength and power are more important to wrestlers than they are to kickboxers. All fighters aim to have plenty of stamina so that they can be effective for the entire duration of their matches.

Today, there are many MMA organizations unlike in the past when there was very little MMA-centered infrastructure in place. Fighters usually train with other Mixed Martial Artists and with coaches who specialize in MMA fighting.


The rules for most Mixed Martial Arts competitions have evolved since the "glory days" of Vale tudo. As the knowledge about fighting techniques spread among the athletes and popularity increased among the viewers, it became clear that the original minimalistic rules systems needed to be amended. Vale tudo is a Portuguese term meaning everything goes used to describe mixed martial arts competitions with minimal rules. ...


There are two main motivations for new rule changes:

  • Protection of the health of the fighters: This goal also helps to clean the stigma of "barbaric no rules fighting to the death" that MMA has obtained because of its Vale-Tudo roots. It also helps athletes to avoid injuries and therefore train better to become better fighters.
  • Providing spectacle for the viewers: The rules promote good fighters involved in action-packed fights rather then no-skill bar brawls.

For example weight classes emerged when knowledge about submissions spread and it became more difficult for small fighters to catch larger ones in submissions. When more fighters became well-versed in submission techniques, the weight of the fighters started to make a difference again.

Head butts were prohibited because whenever the fight hit the ground the head butt was a technique that required little effort and could quickly turn the match into a bloody mess. This strategy was quite common between wrestlers because they are strong, and could bring the fight to the ground but lacked experience with submissions and therefore head butting was an easy path to victory.

It became clear that having unprotected fists is not very valuable in an actual fight and made effective striking difficult. In an unprotected fist there are plenty of small bones to break when a torso or forehead is hit with power. The motivation for mandatory small open finger gloves was to reduce occurrence of cuts and to make striking more viable to please the audience.

Time limits were established because of very long fights occurring on the ground with little action. No-time-limit matches complicated the planning of the events as well. Similar motivations produced the "standup" rule, which is when the referee stops the ground fighting and stands both fighters up in case of no action, and a "warning" that could be issued when the fighters hesitate to engage in standup or ground fighting.

In the U.S., Athletic Commissions have played a crucial role in the introduction of safety rules because they oversee MMA in similar ways as they do for boxing. Small shows usually use more restrictive rules because they have less experienced fighters who are looking to get experience and exposure that could ultimately lead them to getting recruited into one of the larger, better paying promotions, (Pride, UFC, Pancrase, KOTC).

In Japan and Europe there is no regulating authority over MMA competitions, so these organizations have more freedom in rules development and event structure.

In general a balanced set of rules has been established, and future rule changes will probably consist of minor adaptation.

Common rules

The following describes the least common denominator of the rules commonly found in MMA fighting.

  • Ways to victory
    • Knock Out
    • Submission (A fighter taps either his opponent or the mat three times.)
    • Technical Knockout
      • Referee Stoppage (If the referee sees that one fighter is completely dominant to the point of endangering his opponent, the referee will stop the match.)
      • Doctor Stoppage (In the event that a fighter is injured and cannot continue the match, his opponent will be declared the winner. The ring doctor will be the one to determine whether the fighter can continue or not. In the event that an injury was caused by illegal methods, the perpetrator will be disqualified.)
      • Forfeited Match---A fighter's corner throws in the towel.
      • Decision (If the match goes the distance, then the outcome of the bout is determined by the three judges. The judging critera are organization specific.)
      • Disqualification (A "warning" will be given when a fighter commits an illegal action or does not follow the referee's instruction. Three warnings will result in a disqualification. Also, if a fighter is injured and unable to continue due to a deliberate illegal technique from his opponent, he will be declared the winner.)
      • No Contest (In the event that both sides commit a violation of the rules, or a fighter is unable to continue due to an injury from an accidental illegal technique, the bout will be declared a "No Contest.")
  • Weight categories
    • Although each organization divides its fighters into weight classes, the details are very organization-dependent.
  • Fouls
    • No head-butting, eye gouging, hair pulling, biting or fish hooking (pulling at the cheek with a finger).
    • No attacking the groin
    • No strikes to the back of the head, spinal area and kidneys.
    • No strikes to, or grabs of the trachea
    • No small joint manipulation (control of four or more fingers/toes is necessary).
    • No intentionally throwing your opponent out of the ring.
    • No running out of the ring.
    • No purposely holding the ring ropes or octagon fence.

The trachea (IPA /treikiə/), or windpipe, is a tube extending from the larynx to the bronchi in mammals, and from the pharynx to the syrinx in birds, carrying air to the lungs. ...

Cage or ring

MMA is often referred to as "cagefighting" in the US as it is associated with the UFC's octagonal caged fighting area. Most major "Western" MMA promotions ( US, Canada and Britain ) use the "Cage" as a result of directly evolving from the first UFC events. On the other hand, Brazilian and Japanese events usually use an area similar to a standard boxing ring, but with tighter ropes and some type of barrier underneath the lowest rope to keep grappling athletes from rolling out of the ring and onto the floor. There are also variations such as replacing the traditional cage's metal fencing with net and a one foot high padded barrier surrounding the combat area. The choice of cage or ring is more than aesthetic, however, as it impacts the type of strategies a fighter can implement. For example, a popular and effective strategy in a cage is to pin an opponent into the area where the cage meets the fence, and then pummel him with strikes. This is not possible in a roped ring. On the other hand, the roped ring can result in entangled limbs and fighters falling through the ropes, requiring the referee to stop the fighters and re-position them in the center. There is debate whether the appearance of "fighting in a cage" results in a negative stereotyping of MMA in America, hindering efforts by its supporters to achieve mainstream acceptance. The boxing ring is the space in which a boxing match occurs. ...

Internal links

This is a list of mixed martial arts fighters in alphabetical order. ...

MMA events links

Following list contains only links to English-speaking sites of the most famous MMA organizations at the time this chapter was introduced.

External links

  • Mixed Martial Arts TV. (http://www.mma.tv) - "Insider" site. News and Stats from Amateur to Professional. Forum is popular with MMA participants.
  • MMA Review (http://www.mmareview.com) - MMA events, fighters and history
  • MMAFighting.com (http://www.mmafighting.com) - MMA news, interviews, results and discussion forum.
  • Fight Back (http://www.fightback.dk) - MMA News in Scandinavia- 1000s of fight photos
  • Sherdog (http://www.sherdog.com) - News, Discussion Forum, Downloadable Videos, Fighter Records Database
  • KnucklePit (http://www.knucklepit.com) - Interviews, PPV reviews, and more. UFC-centric
  • MMA Ring Report (http://www.mmaringreport.com) - News
  • Kakuto (http://www.kakuto.com) - News mainly from Japan
  • Puroresu (http://puroresupower.com) MMA / K-1 News from Japan
  • Susumu's Gallery (http://www.susumug.com/) - Plenty of photographs from different MMA Events
  • rec.martial-arts (http://idempot.net/rmafaq/rmafaq3.html#16.mma) FAQ entry on MMA, from a martial arts-centric point of view
  • MMAWeekly.com (http://www.mmaweekly.com/) - Daily Internet radio show, News page updated daily
  • Insidefighting.com (http://www.insidefighting.com/) - Daily Updates, Links to latest news and articles on the web. Boxing news also.
  • Combat Ultime (http://www.combatultime.com) - MMA news and pictures, in French.
  • Mania (http://www.fighttimes.com/magazine/magazine.asp?issue=1&article=11) Women's Sport-fighting Gym in New Zealand
  • Fight Times e-Magazine (http://www.fighttimes.com/) Free e-Magazine with regular MMA features
  • MMA Links (http://www.mmalinks.com/) #1 Mixed Martial Arts directory on the net!

  Results from FactBites:
Mixed martial arts at AllExperts (4647 words)
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a combat sport in which two competitors attempt to achieve dominance over one another by utilizing a wide variety of permitted martial arts techniques, including striking and grappling.
Mixed martial arts was originally based around the concept of pitting different martial arts and fighting styles against each other in competition with minimal rules, in an attempt to determine which system would be more effective in a real combat situation.
A mixed martial artist might train in a particular style to enhance his or her skills in the phase of combat that the style encompasses.
NJ State Athletic Control Board - Proposed Rules - Rules Governing Boxing, Extreme Wrestling and Sparring Exhibitions ... (4061 words)
The goal of a mixed martial artist is to knock out his or her opponent, force the opponent to tap out or win the contest by scoring more points than their opponent.
After becoming aware that detailed regulations were now in place for most mixed martial arts events, the SACB then began a course of communications with the California State Athletic Commission with regard to the subject of regulating mixed martial arts events.
The health and safety of mixed martial arts competitors will be improved due to required medical testing, medical insurance and the presence of physicians, emergency medical technicians and an ambulance at each event.
  More results at FactBites »



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