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Mixed martial arts (MMA)

is a full contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, from a variety of other combat sports. The roots of modern mixed martial arts can be traced back to the ancient Olympics where one of the earliest documented systems of codified full range unarmed combat was in the sport of pankration. Various mixed style contests took place throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s. The combat sport of vale tudo that had developed in Brazil from the 1920s was brought to the United States by the Gracie family in 1993 with the founding of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The Ultimate Fighting Championship had introduced a form of fighting which it dubbed no-holds-barred, or NHB fighting. The first six Ultimate Fighting Championships had very few rules. In fact, there were no weight classes, no time limits or rounds, and no mandatory safety equipment. The only rules were that fighters could not eye gouge, bite, or fish hook, and fights could only end with a referees stoppage, knock out, or submission, which could be signified verbally, or by a tap out,where the fighter must tap the mat, or his opponent three times with his hand or foot to signify that he submits.The sport reached a new peak of popularity in North America in the December 2006 rematch between then UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and former champion Tito Ortiz, rivaling the PPV sales of some of the biggest boxing events of all time, and helping the UFC's 2006 PPV gross surpass that of any promotion in PPV history. In 2007, Zuffa LLC, the owners of the UFC MMA promotion, bought Japanese rival MMA brand Pride FC, merging the contracted fighters under one promotion and drawing comparisons to the consolidation that occurred in other sports, such as the AFL-NFL Merger in American football. Since the UFC came to prominence in mainstream media in 2006, and with their 2007 merger with Pride FC and purchase of WEC, few companies have presented significant competition.

The difficulty of mixed martial arts training can best be summed up in the words of two of the sports stars, as former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia says Mixed martial arts training is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life,and UFC light-heavyweight contender Chuck Liddell stated that mixed martial arts training is more rigorous training than almost any other sport.The new breed are well-rounded fighters, versed in numerous styles of combat, and equally at home on the mat, as standing and trading punches and kicks. Among the new breed of fighters are former Olympic medallists, NCAA champions, Pan American games medallists, and even a long list of former NFL football players, and boxing champions.