What is MMA: Brief introduction to Mixed Martial Arts

Do you want to know MMA and everything about Mixed Martial Arts? Still don’t know what a tap-out is or who the Gracies are? You can’t say you’re an MMA odds lover without knowing everything here, so let’s get started and see how much you know.

Do you want to know MMA and everything about Mixed Martial Arts? Still don’t know what a tap-out is or who the Gracies are? You can’t say you’re an MMA odds lover without knowing everything here, so let’s get started and see how much you know.

MMA or Mixed Martial Arts is the fusion of different styles of traditional martial arts. The best aspects of fighting sports such as boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, kickboxing, muay thai, karate, and judo have been blended to form an effective and complete combat style.

Dana White and Conor McGregor
Dana White and Conor McGregor. Credit: mmajunkie.com

Here, two athletes face each other in a cage under strict rules that they protect from severe damage, but at the same time allow so much action.  

The above is just a short answer. The meaning of MMA is so broad and exciting, and we will introduce you to this sport in detail.  

What Is MMA and what does the acronym mean?

The acronym MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts.

When was MMA first used?

The first time the name MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) was used was after the first UFC event when one of the critical commentators mentioned it during a television show.

The term gained popularity when one of the websites promoting the sport published an article with that name, which went viral.

What is UFC, and how is it different from MMA?

Many people believe that Mixed Martial Arts is called the UFC or that MMA and the UFC are the same, but this is not the case.

UFC is the acronym of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the main organization of MMA in the world, created in the United States. This organization’s popularity has made people associate it directly with the sport.

The difference between the UFC and MMA is quite simple: the UFC is to MMA as the Champions League is to Soccer. It is simply a kind of league within the sport on a global level. What happens is that it is the most important of all and where every professional fighter wants to compete one day.

Origin of the UFC

Conor McGregor. Credit: mmajunkie.com

The UFC was initially created to show the world that Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, created by the Gracie family, was the most effective fighting style in the world. And they did.

In 1993, the first event, UFC 1, was held. Royce Gracie, one of Helio Gracie’s sons, won the tournament by taking victory in all bouts by submission, that is, making all his opponents use keys on the ground.

The truth is that this was something they expected since almost no fighter specialized in this combat style as much as the Gracie at that time.

Who is Helio Gracie?

If you were wondering what MMA is, you probably don’t know who this guy is. Helio Gracie was a martial artist from Brazil who created the martial art called Gracie Jiu-jitsu, or what we know today as Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, with his brother Carlos Gracie. During his life, he dedicated himself to enhancing his fighting style literally to blows, or better yet, to submissions.

Helio Gracie Jiujitsu

The Gracie family became known thanks to the challenges they accepted against fighters from different disciplines. They proved how effective Brazilian Jiu-jitsu was in practically street fights, where the rules were almost nil.

Today you can find videos of fights of the Gracie family; the truth is that you should not miss watching them. More than one fighter ended up unconscious on the ground or with a damaged joint trying to take down a Gracie back in the day.

History of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)

MMA bout. Credit: mma247.com
MMA bout. Credit: mma247.com

Mixed Martial Arts has been around for centuries if you look at it from the point of view of combining different martial arts techniques.

However, even in recent times, they are not the first combat sport of this style. Before the UFC was created in the United States, Japan and Brazil already held events like Vale Tudo, where almost everything was worth it and people fought without gloves.

In 1993, Rorion Gracie founded the UFC to demonstrate the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu-jitsu, as we told you before. But the UFC back then is not what we see now. In the early UFC events, there were no weight classes, no gloves, and virtually no rules.

You only have to watch the first fight in the history of the UFC (Gerard Gordeau vs. Teila Tuli) to see what we’re telling you. There, a kickboxer beat a double-weight sumo wrestler with a kick that knocked him down the teeth.

Today what we see is completely regulated, which has managed to change its image as a violent sport and human cockfighting to become one of the fastest growing sports with the largest number of fans worldwide.

And you have to keep in mind that the UFC is not the only MMA organization out there. Hundreds of organizations worldwide are increasingly generating more talent that will eventually end up competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. 

MMA techniques

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Mixed Martial Arts is the variety of techniques that can be used, making it a fascinating and adrenaline-filled sport.

MMA techniques can be classified to frame all the movements, strikes, takedowns, and submissions that we see in the fights of the UFC and other organizations.

Striking or Standing Fight

Striking is the set of techniques where the blows are made while the fighter stands. That means it includes punches, kicks, elbows, and knees.

Taking that into account, the most used martial arts in MMA for Striking are Boxing, Karate, Muay Thai (Thai Boxing), and Kickboxing, among others.


Grappling is the set of techniques performed to take the fighter to the ground or while the fight is already taking place on the ground. It is essential to know that grappling does not include hitting techniques but takedowns and grabs or clinch.

The most popular martial arts in MMA for Grappling are Freestyle Wrestling, Greco-Roman, and Judo.


This method of ending an MMA fight consists of applying a key (submission) or strangulation technique (choke) to make the opponent submit by doing what is known as tap out. Tap out means hitting the canvas as a signal of surrender, or in extreme cases, if the fighter does not surrender, make him unconscious with a strangulation technique.

Submission techniques can be classified into locks and strangulations.

Dislocations to the joints

Dislocations directly attack the joints and seek to make the opponent give up because of the pain. The most popular are:

  • Armbar or arm lever
  • kimura
  • American
  • Kneebar or knee lever
  • Heel Hook or ankle dislocation


Strangulation techniques directly impede blood flow to the brain, forcing the opponent to surrender before losing consciousness. The most popular throttling techniques are:

  • Rear Naked Choke
  • Guillotine
  • Triangle
  • Arm triangle
  • North-South Choke


MMA is one of the most exciting sports in the world today. There has been confusion on its difference with the UFC, but we discussed that in this content and cleared the air. Now that you know more about MMA, when would you watch the next fight?

Thanks for reading!

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