Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, combines many different fighting techniques, including grappling and striking, and high performance standards, particularly in the often intense, and very popular MMA tournaments. The first tournaments came about as a result of the 1993 Ultimate Fighting Championship, which matched different fighting styles in a competition where the rules were minimal and the goal was to find the best fighters in the world. The success of this mixed martial arts combat style led to the development and implementation of rules designed to keep athletes safe and deflect early criticism of the sport while still holding on to the original concept of the UFC as much as possible. The modern MMA tournaments have their roots in the Vale tudo martial arts tournaments held in Brazil by the Gracie family beginning in the 1920s, and the preliminary martial arts tournaments hosted in Japan by Antonio Inoki in the early 1970s.
There are several different competition techniques, including striking techniques, like kicks, punches, and knees, and grappling techniques, like pinning holds, submission holds, clinch holds, takedowns, throws and sweeps. The permissibility and legality of certain other techniques like head butts, spinal locks, and elbows vary according to the specific organization and sponsored competition. Although many critics have attempted to portray the MMA fighting style as violent and brutal, there has never been a death or crippling injury in any sanctioned MMA event in North America. The U.S. state athletic and boxing committee regulates the MMA, requiring participants and sponsors to adhere to a set of officially sanctioned rules and regulations, which include rules for knockout, submission, technical knockout, the ten point system, disqualification, and no contest. Common fouls include clawing, twisting and pinching flesh, small joint manipulation, attacking an opponent from or on the break in the care of an official, attacking the groin or trachea, fish-hooking, biting, and hair pulling, spitting, use of abusive language, and other similar acts.
The MMA continues to grow in popularity and reputation, as athletes associated with the sport have also gained reputation and renown, as well as successful careers and endorsement deals. With mainstream acceptance, worldwide acclaim, and an every growing fan base, what started as an abstract concept has become an established sport and a successful platform from which many athletic careers have been launched. The future of the MMA appears to be bright, and the popularity of the sport even more so.