The Ultimate Fighting Championship (or UFC) is the premier MMA organization in the world. UFC is based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and owned by Zuffa, LLC.
During Ultimate Fighting Championship events, men compete in fights using a combination of boxing, wrestling, judo and various other martial arts. These combined skills are referred to as “mixed martial arts.”
UFC matches take place inside The Octagon, an eight-sided structure comprised of metal chain-link fencing. The fence is six feet high and allows for 30 feet of space from point to point of The Octagon.
Each Ultimate Fighting Championship bout is a series of five-minute rounds, with a one-minute rest period between rounds. Non-title fights last for three rounds, while championship UFC fights are five rounds in duration.
UFC Weight Divisions
Currently, the UFC has five different weight classes. They are:
- Lightweight – 146 to 155 lbs.
- Welterweight – 156 to 170 lbs.
- Middleweight – 171 to 185 lbs.
- Light Heavyweight – 186 to 205 lbs.
- Heavyweight – 206 to 265 lbs.
Ultimate Fighting Championship Rules
The UFC adheres to the “Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.” These rules were originally established by the New Jersey Athletic Control Board and are now recognized in states which sanction MMA fights, such as California and Nevada. These unified rules have become the standard for any MMA promotion (including Ultimate Fighting Championship promotions) within the United States.
UFC matches can end by submission if the fighter taps the mat (or his opponent’s body) three times or more. A UFC fighter can also verbally submit.
Fights can also end by a knockout or referee stoppage (technical knockout). The doctor or the fighter’s corner also has the power to stop the contest if they feel a fighter is in danger of suffering serious injury.
If a knockout or submission does not occur, then the winner will be decided by a panel of three judges. Draws (tie) are possible in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, although they rarely happen.
A Brief History of the UFC
The UFC was originally started by Art Davie, an advertising executive, and Rorion Gracie, a noted master of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The goal was to stage a tournament featuring fighters of all disciplines in order to determine who was truly the best.
The early Ultimate Fighting Championship tournaments featured very little in the way of rules, and this was even used as a selling point for pay-per-view audiences. Low blows, hair pulling, head butts – these were all legal. As you might imagine, this often resulted in brutal and bloody conflicts.
But the shows were very popular, especially due to the frequent clash of fighting styles. For example, at UFC 3, Keith Hackney squared off against Sumo master Emmanuel Yarborough. Hackney gave up 9 inches in height and 400 pounds, but he still found a way to win.
The Gracie family, fighting legends from Brazil, found themselves well-represented in the early Ultimate Fighting Championship tournaments. Royce Gracie, the brother of UFC founder Rorion Gracie, was hand-picked to represent the family. And he did them proud, winning three of the first four events. Royce Gracie has since been enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame.
The no-holds-barred image eventually caught up with the company, and the UFC suddenly faced pressure from politicians such as John McCain (he went so far as to call it “human cockfighting”). The major cable companies refused to carry Ultimate Fighting Championship shows, and distributors weren’t even willing to sell video tapes of the events.
But the UFC managed to stay alive by introducing more rules and regulations to the fledgling sport. Gloves and weight divisions were added, groin shots and headbutts were outlawed, plus a number of other changes ultimately resulted in a more fan-friendly product.
Zuffa, LLC purchased the UFC in January of 2001. This purchase was spearheaded by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta (who would later go on to purchase the Station Casino chain) and promoter Dana White (the acting president of the UFC). In a short period of time, the Ultimate Fighting Championship was back on major pay-per-view.
With more effective marketing, the UFC began to grow to new levels of popularity. Charismatic and skillful stars such as Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz began to emerge. Celebrities began to grace the Las Vegas crowd.
When the UFC hit television, things really seemed to explode. Their reality show The Ultimate Fighter, brought MMA to people who were totally unfamiliar with the sport. Within a few years of the show’s debut, the UFC was riding an all-time high in popularity.
UFC programming can now be routinely viewed on North American television, and their pay-per-views are available to anyone on the planet with a satellite dish. ESPN now recognizes the UFC as a sport and devotes part of their coverage to it.