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Introduction to MMA

What is MMA

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques and skills from a mixture of other combat sports to be used in competition. The rules allow usage of both striking and grappling techniques while standing and on the ground. Competitions allow athletes of different disciplines of martial arts to compete under a set of unified rules.

The UFC Legacy Championship Belt on display
A General Image Of The UFC Championship Belt

Fighting Styles

Boxing:

Max Holloway Demonstrates His Boxing Skills | UFC Intro to MMA
Max Holloway Demonstrates His Boxing Skills | UFC Intro to MMA
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The skill of fighting with the fists, usually with padded leather gloves. Referred to as the “sweet science,” boxers use elaborate foot maneuvers and quick jabs for offense.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:

Demian Maia Demonstrates A Rear Naked Choke | UFC Intro to MMA
Demian Maia Demonstrates A Rear Naked Choke | UFC Intro to MMA
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In the mid-1920s, Carlos Gracie opened the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He taught the skills he learned from Japanese judo master Esai Maeda. The skills were later modified to use less strength and to be more effective against larger opponents. Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s reputation spread because of the success of its practitioners in no-holds-barred contests.

Jiu-Jitsu

Ancient Japanese martial art that encompasses throwing, joint locks, striking and weapons training.

Judo:

Ronda Rousey Judo Throw | UFC Intro to MMA
Ronda Rousey Judo Throw | UFC Intro to MMA
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Sportive Japanese martial art founded in 1882 by Jigoro Kano and derived from Jujutsu. Judo is now an Olympic sport emphasizing throws. Striking is prohibited. 

Karate

Wonderboy Spinning Kick Demonstration | UFC Intro to MMA
Wonderboy Spinning Kick Demonstration | UFC Intro to MMA
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Name used to identify many Japanese and Okinawan martial arts. While known for powerful, linear techniques, many karate styles also incorporate softer, circular techniques. Some of the popular styles of karate are Kyokushinkai, Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Shorin-Ryu and Kenpo—which is the first “Americanized” version of karate.

Kickboxing:

 

Loma Lookboonmee Thai Clinch Demonstration | UFC Intro to MMA
Loma Lookboonmee Thai Clinch Demonstration | UFC Intro to MMA
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Sportive martial art combining boxing punches and martial arts kicks. Many different styles with different rules exist such as Muay Thai, full-contact karate and Asian Rules Fighting.

Kung Fu

Also referred to as Gung Fu, Chinese Boxing and Wu Shu. There are hundreds of Kung Fu styles. Many are patterned after movements of animals. Some well-known styles of Kung Fu are Wing Chun, Praying Mantis, Pau Kua, Tai-Chi-Ch’uan and Shuai Chiao.

Taekwondo:

Valentina Shevchenko breaks down her signature moves
Valentina Shevchenko breaks down her signature moves
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UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko breaks down three of her favorite striking techniques.


One of the most practiced martial arts in the world, Taekwondo is a Korean style known for its flashy kicking techniques.

Wrestling:

Khabib Nurmagomedov scores a takedown on Justin Gaethje | UFC Intro to MMA
Khabib Nurmagomedov scores a takedown on Justin Gaethje | UFC Intro to MMA
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Regarded as the world’s oldest sport in which contestants struggle hand-to-hand, attempting to throw or take down their opponent without striking blows. Some wrestling styles include Freestyle, Greco-Roman and catch-as-catch-can.

Methods of Victory

Submission (SUB): 

Physical or verbal tap out by one of dozens of methods of submission.

Knockout (KO): 

Athlete is knocked unconscious due to strikes or impact.

Technical Knockout (TKO): 

The referee stops the contest due to strikes or impact.

Judges' Decision (U-Dec, S-Dec):

When a fight is not finished by a submission, KO, or TKO, the judges deliver their scorecards for a final decision.

Terms to Know

Unanimous: 

All judges pick the same athlete as the winner.

Split: 

One judge picks one athlete. The other two judges pick the other athlete.

Majority: 

Two judges pick the same athlete as the winner. The final judge says fight was a draw.

Draw: 

Unanimous, majority or split.

MMA Weight Classes

Competition in MMA is split up into divisions, based on a weight range. 

Men's Divisions

  • Flyweight (125-pound limit)
  • Bantamweight (135-pound limit)
  • Featherweight (145-pound limit)
  • Lightweight (155-pound limit)
  • Welterweight (170-pound limit)
  • Middleweight (185-pound limit)
  • Light Heavyweight (205-pound limit)
  • Heavyweight (265-pound limit)

 

Women's Divisions

  • Strawweight (115-pound limit)
  • Flyweight (125-pound limit)
  • Bantamweight (135-pound limit)
  • Featherweight (145-pound limit)