MMA Versus UFC: Unraveling The Distinction Between The Two

MMA Versus UFC: Unraveling The Distinction Between The Two

Image: @ufc

Mixed Martial Arts is often thought to be the same as the UFC. However, the two are different but related animals. 

Mixed martial arts is a form of combat sport that combines several disciplines like boxing, wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Judo, and others. In this fight sport, combatants compete against each other using a combination of striking and grappling.

 MMA Fights can end in stoppage – via knockout, submission or disqualification. It can also go to the scorecards, where judges use boxing’s 10-point must system to come up with a winner. The decision can be unanimous, split, or majority. The referee also has the right to call the bout a no-contest. 

Mixed martial arts traces its roots to ancient Greece where they had a combat sport known as Pankration which combined elements of boxing and wrestling, just like today’s MMA. It expanded during the 20th century, when famous martial artist turned actor Bruce Lee started Jet Kune Doo, which influenced MMA. During the 80’s the Gracie family introduced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the United States and Royce Gracie became one of the founding members of the UFC.

Meanwhile, the UFC refers to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, an organization that promotes mixed martial arts bouts. The UFC was founded by promoter Art Davie and director John Milius who came up with the idea of a one-day combat tournament called Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 1 was held on November 12, 1993, at Denver’s McNichols Arena. 

The UFC is the world’s premier mixed martial arts company with a 2024 value of $11.2 billion USD ( ~$16.9 billion AUD) according to Forbes. The company was a struggling organization when casino magnates Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta bought the company for $2 million USD ( ~$3 million AUD). 

The Fertittas sold the UFC  to the talent agency WWE-IMG in partnership with Silver Laker Partners for a whopping $4 billion (~$6 billion AUD). Since then, the UFC’s value took off with stars like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey bringing mixed martial arts into the mainstream.

Today modern mixed martial arts is one of the most popular forms of combat sports. It has attracted many of the best fighters from different disciplines. For example, the Gracie family are known for BJJ. Meanwhile, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz were primarily strikers while the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev utilised wrestling and combat sambo as their base. 

There are other big MMA companies out there like Bellator, ONE, and the PFL. However, the UFC is considered to be the top MMA organization on the planet. Last year, the UFC celebrated its 30th anniversary. It held a total of 43 events including 14 numbered and PPV events. The UFC travelled to 8 different countries and held fights in 21 different cities.  The company had a total of 606 fighters on its December 31, 2023 roster, including 125 new fighters.