OBJECTIVE OF MIXED MARTIAL ARTS: Over the course of 3 to 5 rounds, physically dominate the opponent to score a submission, knockout, or win by the judges’ decision.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 players
MATERIALS: Athletic shorts, mouthguard, lightweight gloves
TYPE OF GAME: Sport
OVERVIEW OF MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that allows the use of essentially every combat style in existence. MMA is often considered the epitome of combat sports, as there are few limitations on what fighters are allowed to do to each other. It takes a mixture of different martial arts disciplines from athletes such as Muay Thai fighters, Boxers, Brazilian jiu jitsu fighters, and blends these martial arts styles into one seamless fighting style.
The sport of MMA traces far back to ancient times when fights with essentially no rules took place. Most significantly, an Ancient Greek fighting sport known as “pankration” was featured at the Ancient Olympics as far back as 648 BC. This unarmed combat sport allowed almost everything except for biting and eye gouges.
After the Romans banned the Ancient Olympic Games in 393 AD, pankration wouldn’t make another known appearance until the earliest inception of Brazilian jujitsu in the early 1900s. At this time, it was known as “vale tudo”, which translated to “anything goes”. Multiple pioneers of Brazilian jiu jitsu showcased this new martial art in the United States in the early 1990s, with some taking part in the first-ever Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 1.
Despite a slow start, UFC has now grown into what is easily one of the most popularized combat sports event in the world, attracting nearly a million pay-per-view buys per event.
In fact, MMA matches have now become such a cultural staple in the younger population that many highly publicized fights in the traditional UFC octagon are being scheduled featuring celebrities and athletes who have never even participated in combat sports before!
MMA fights require no equipment other than athletic attire, a mouth guard, and lightweight MMA gloves. These lightweight gloves are not like boxing gloves, as they often only cover the wrists and hands while leaving the top halves of the fingers exposed.
Fun fact: It is easy to assume that less padding on the gloves causes more extreme brain and head injuries, but MMA gloves are actually safer than boxing gloves. While punches from MMA gloves generally cause more surface-level harm (bruising, cuts, bleeding, etc.), they have less surface area and cause less brain damage. Boxing punches, on the other hand, have much more padding and surface area and are known to cause more brain damage.
In MMA and the UFC, there are nine weight classes that are designed to keep the fights fair and balanced. While most fighters stick to their weight classes, there have been a few fighters from lighter weight classes that have dominated heavier divisions. For example, Connor McGregor won both the featherweight and the lightweight titles in 2015 and 2016, despite the fact that he weighed in as a featherweight.
MEN’S WEIGHT CLASSES
- Flyweight – 125 lbs
- Bantamweight – 135 lbs
- Featherweight – 145 lbs
- Lightweight – 155 lbs
- Welterweight – 170 lbs
- Middleweight – 185 lbs
- Light Heavyweight – 205 lbs
- Heavyweight – 265 lbs
WOMEN’S WEIGHT CLASSES
- Strawweight – 115 lbs
- Flyweight – 125 lbs
- Bantamweight – 135 lbs
- Featherweight – 145 lbs
Mixed Martial Arts matches consist of several 5-minute rounds. Amateur events and smaller professional bouts often consist of only three rounds, while championship and major professional events are generally contested over five rounds.
In the event of a submission or a knockout, the fight immediately ends, regardless of which round it is in.
Modern MMA allows for a wide range of combat styles, and it also allows for a variety of ways to score and win a fight. The following are the four ways in which a fight can end or be won.
Submissions are when a fighter forces their opponent into a headlock or other position that causes them to submit defeat by tapping out. With the sport’s roots in Brazilian jujitsu, submission was the primary method of victory for many successful fighters early on in MMA. These practices usually focus on ground fighting, and grappling.
Knockouts are the same as in boxing—any contact to the head that renders the opponent unconscious immediately ends the match. Unlike boxing, however, knockouts can be achieved by any means, whether that be via punches, kicks, knees, elbows, or even slams on the ground.
A TKO is a technical knockout that occurs whenever the referee ends the match at his own discretion when a fighter is injured considerably. This can be when a fighter has an apparently broken bone, appears semi-conscious, and is unable to stand upright/defend against strikes, etc. TKOs are called to protect the vulnerable fighter from further harm.
A win by decision takes place when the fighters go the distance and time runs out in the final round. A panel of three judges records scores for each round on a scale of 10 points. If all three judges agree on a winner, it becomes a win by unanimous decision. When one judge dissents, it becomes a win-by-split decision. If the majority decision is a tie between the fighters, the fight ends in a draw.
Disqualification occurs when a fighter commits an illegal strike or consistently commits smaller fouls. The offending fighter automatically forfeits the match, granting the win to their opponent.
Although MMA is considered the “no-holds-barred” combat sport and consists of relatively few rules, the sport was pressured into drafting a more extensive rule set in the early 2000s to please the general populous who deemed it to be too violent, some of whom famously deemed it “human cockfighting”.
This led to a modernized unified rules set that includes the following:
- Fighters must compete in one of nine weight classes.
- Fighters cannot strike the opponent’s groin, eyes, throat, or the back of their head.
- Fighters cannot intentionally manipulate their opponent’s fingers, mouth, or hair.
- No biting.
- Fighters cannot be thrown out of the octagon.
- Fighters cannot kick or knee an opponent that is on the ground
- No 12 to 6 strikes (a downward facing elbow)
- No headbutts.
- Both fighters must listen to the referee’s word at all times.
Failure to abide by these rules may lead to a foul being called (multiple of which can lead to a disqualification) or straight disqualification.
THE SHORTEST UFC FIGHT OF ALL TIME
In 2019, at UFC 239, notable MMA fighters, Jorge Masvidal delivered the fastest knockout in MMA history against Ben Askren. Just 5 seconds into the match, Masvidal delivered a flying knee to Askren’s head as he leaned over trying to wrap his legs. This marked the fastest UFC finish in history, although there are a number of others that also didn’t manage to surpass the 10-second mark.
END OF GAME
The MMA fighter who scores a submission, knockout, or the highest on the judges’ scorecards wins the MMA fight.