Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
MMA (mixed martial arts) is one of the world's fastest growing sports and is one of the most dynamic and exciting full contact combat sports on the planet. Mixed martial arts is essentially a sport in which fighters of any martial discipline, such as boxing, karate, jiu jitsu, wrestling and judo compete under rules that allow kicking, punching and grappling techniques, both stand-up and on the ground. It is usually fought in a cage which is a fighting area enclosed by metal fencing, a traditional boxing ring or in amateur competitions, sometimes a simple matted area is used. Similar styles of combat have existed throughout the ages but none have ever attracted worldwide attention until the advent of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the USA in 1993. Pitting fighters of different martial arts styles against each other, it was a TV hit and began to popularise the sport of MMA across the world. Today the UFC is MMA’s largest promotion, has fight nights across the globe and is worth several billion dollars.
There is no one governing body for MMA and there is no uniform set of rules that are used the world over, and many of the hundreds of different federations, promotions and associations across the globe may all have slightly differing takes on MMA rules. However, several state commissions across the United States of America came together to create the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts and this set of rules has been adopted by fighting promotions all across the globe, including the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The UFC is the biggest organisation but it's NOT the only one. UFC programming is broadcast in over 145 countries, to nearly 800 million TV households worldwide, in 28 different languages. The UFC is also the largest pay-per-view event provider in the world. Outside of the UFC, the current secondary major MMA promotions that also have on their roster at least 3 top 15 ranked fighters are:
- Bellator MMA: Based out of Newport Beach, California, United States. Broadcasts their fights locally on SpikeTV and other networks around the world.
- ONE Championship: Based out of Kallang, Singapore. Broadcasts their fights locally on ESPN Star Sports and other networks around the world.
- Invicta FC (all female MMA): Based out of Enka, North Carolina, United States. Broadcasts their fights on UFC Fight-Pass online subscription service.
- Though ranked #20 promotion overall; Japanese, all female MMA promotion JEWELS (DEEP JEWELS) which formed a strategic partnership to cross-promote with Invicta FC since 2012, has many top ranked fighters in their female Atomweight division.
Equipment: Because mixed martial arts is the ultimate one-on-one combat sport, no other equipment is used apart from MMA gloves, lightweight padded gloves that allow movement of the fingers whilst also protecting the hands when punching.
Winning the Match: MMA matches can be won in one of a number of ways:
- Knockout - When one fighter causes their opponent to lose consciousness due to striking
- Decision - If the fight lasts all of its rounds, then the outcome of the match is decided by judges, the winner being the fighter with the most points.
- Submission - This is when one fighter places their opponent into a hold and then the opponent ‘taps out’ or, if they refuse to and the hold continues they may lose consciousness and the referee ends the fight immediately.
- Technical knockout (TKO) - This is when a fight is ended by the referrer, the fighter’s corner or a doctor. Reasons can include a fighter unable to defend themselves or if continuing the fight could put the fighter’s health at risk.
- Forfeit - A fighter can forfeit the match before the fight if they are injured and unable to fight.
- No contest - If both fighters continually break the rules or if one fighter is injured unintentionally by an illegal action, a no contest can be called
Rules of MMA: The rules for modern mixed martial arts competitions have changed significantly since the early days of vale tudo, Japanese shoot wrestling, and UFC 1, and even more from the historic style of pankration. As the knowledge of fighting techniques spread among fighters and spectators, it became clear that the original minimalist rule systems needed to be amended. The new rules included the introduction of weight classes; as knowledge about submissions spread, differences in weight had become a significant factor. The different weight classes in the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts are:
- Super Heavyweight over 265 pounds
- Heavyweight over 205 to 265 pounds
- Light Heavyweight over 185 to 205 pounds
- Middleweight over 170 to 185 pounds
- Welterweight over 155 to 170 pounds
- Lightweight over 145 to 155 pounds
- Featherweight over 135 to 145 pounds
- Women's Bantamweight over 125 to 135 pounds
- Bantamweight over 125 to 135 pounds
- Flyweight over 115 pounds to 125
- Strawweight up to 115 pounds
The rules of MMA fight are:
- Matches shall consist of three rounds, each of which should last no more than five minutes.
- Fights shall take place in a ring or cage that measures between 20 square feet and 32 square feet.
- To ensure a fair fight, competitors may only fight those fighters that are in the same weight category.
- When the contest begins, fighters should use legal strikes grappling and throwing techniques in an attempt to defeat their opponent.
Attacks that are not allowed in MMA include:
- Strikes to the groin
- Eye gouging
- Grabbing or striking the throat
- Manipulating the fingers
- Hair pulling
- Head butts
- Striking the back of the head
- Intentionally throwing your opponent out of the cage
- Attacking orifices
- Fighters must listen to the referee at all times and comply immediately with his instructions.
MMA in India: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (India) has not recognized Mixed Martial Arts as a sport in India. But the sport is growing fast and the Sports Ministry has given direct permission to host events to the biggest and oldest MMA Organization in the country - the All India Mixed Martial Arts Association (AIMMAA). AIMMAA is also the sole representative of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation in India. The biggest professional MMA promotion/ league in the country - the Super Fight League is sanctioned by AIMMAA.
For information regarding AIMMAA recognised clubs and gyms in India visit: AIMMAA