You’ve probably heard about MMA or watched it on television. You’re ready to dive in and learn more. Here’s The Beginners Guide to MMA.
What is MMA?
MMA is an acronym, and stands for Mixed Martial Arts. This is the name of the sport as a whole.
Isn’t MMA Just Ultimate Fighting?
MMA is casually known as Ultimate Fighting, but the sport itself is called MMA or Mixed Martial Arts.
Is UFC the Same as MMA?
No. The UFC, Ultimate Fighting Championship, is the main promotion in the sport of MMA. The NBA is the premier league for professional basketball, but there are other leagues like the NBDL and the Euroleague. Boxing has many promotions, like the IBF, WBC, WBA and more. Same with MMA. The UFC is the main promotion, but there are also other national promotions like Bellator MMA, World Series of Fighting and Titan FC.
What Are the Mixed Martial Arts?
The main fighting styles that make up MMA are Boxing, Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Karate, Judo, Wrestling and Tae Kwon Do. There are also different methods within each discipline. For example, in kickboxing there is Muay Thai and Sanshou. A wreslter might specialize in catch wrestling or freestyle wrestling.
There are also hybrids like the Russian combat art of Sambo, which combines Judo and wrestling, but also focuses on submission holds.
Fighters may be skilled in many different martial arts or as little as one. One of the initial lures of MMA was to see fights where different styles were employed. Fans wanted to see how a wrestler would fare against a boxer, or how a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner would do against a kickboxer.
As the sport has progressed, most fighters are skilled in multiple disciplines and train more for MMA rather than just one martial art.
How Do You Win an MMA Fight?
MMA fights can end in a variety of ways. Fighters can win by knockout or technical knockout. They can also win by submission. This is when a hold like a choke or joint lock is applied and a fighter taps out to end the fight. Tapping out can be done physically by tapping your opponent or by tapping the canvas, or also verbally.
Fighters can also win via technical submission. Technical submissions occur when a referee stops a fight when the opponent can’t or won’t tap out. A technical submission will be ruled when an opponent is rendered unconscious from a choke hold, or suffers an injury and can’t continue.
MMA fights can also be decided by judges, just like in boxing.
Do Women Fight in MMA?
Absolutely. The UFC started a division for women in 2013, and since then UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has become one the sport’s biggest stars.
Gina Carano (left) was the face of women’s MMA from 2006-2009. Although she never won a title, her mix of beauty and brawl won over fans and she was the first dominant fighter in women’s MMA.
Carano became so popular that she left the sport to become an actress after suffering a brutal defeat to Cris “Cyborg” Santos in 2009.
Invicta FC is an MMA promotion that features only professional women MMA fighters. Cyborg, now known as Cris Justino, is the Invicta Featherweight Champion.
Where Can I Watch MMA?
UFC can be seen on FOX, FOX Sports1 and also on Pay-Per-View.
Bellator MMA can be seen on SpikeTV and also Pay-Per-View.
AXStv Fights features a few different MMA promotions, like Legacy Fighting and the XFC.
CBS Sports Network is the home of Titan FC.
NBC Sports Network shows World Series of Fighting events.
Can Anyone Fight MMA?
Like most pro athletes, professional MMA fighters make their craft look easy, which might make people think they can do it too. But many of the techniques can be dangerous, and a “Don’t try this at home” certainly applies to people who haven’t been trained.
Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it–just not at home. Anyone can train MMA, or individual martial arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or kickboxing. But it should be done under the supervision and instruction of trained professionals.
Once you start training, you’ll get a better idea if you should compete as an amateur fighter.
Are MMA Gyms Scary?
No. In fact, most MMA gyms are like a team — everyone helps each other to improve their technique and performance, and most gyms are very welcoming. They’re also filled with regular guys just trying to get in shape or learn how to fight. You should not be nervous about going for the first time, and most MMA gyms offer free introduction classes or free trials. You can read more about this in What to Expect When You Join an MMA Gym.