While browsing ESPN, you spot what seems like a boxing match, until suddenly opponents start to kick one another. The next thing you know, the two fighters are on the ground, striking one another. Welcome to the exciting and increasingly popular arena of mixed martial arts (also known as MMA). You may think this is the next wave in martial arts entertainment, but this combat sport has actually been around since the Olympic games in 648 BC.
What to Expect During a Match
Mixed martial arts uses three different phases of fighting – stand-up, clinch and ground. Stand-up fighting incorporates boxing, kickboxing and Muay Thai. Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, Sambo (from Russia), as well as Judo are used in the clinch phase of fighting. The ground phase of fighting is characterized by Brazilian Jui-Jitsu (focuses on positioning), shoot wrestling, catch wrestling, Judo, as well as Sambo.
Fighting techniques that you may encounter during a MMA competition includes kicks, punches, knees, pinning holds, sweeps, takedowns, throws, some elbowing, as well as hand-to-hand combat. A win is typically awarded through the decision of a judge. Matches are timed, therefore, the decision comes after the allotted time has passed. Other circumstances that end a fight include referee stoppage, fight doctor decision, submission, cornerman throwing in the towel and of course, a knockout.
The Mixed Martial Arts of Today
The kind of fighting techniques associated with the mixed martial arts of today deals with a combination of different professional fighting styles. Most commonly, a fighter started training in one specific arena of fighting and later decided to branch off into other styles of combat. The main styles of fighting include sprawl-and-brawl, clinch-and-pound and ground-and-pound.
Sprawl-and-brawl is a stand-up fighting approach that utilizes striking and purposefully avoids fighting on the ground. This type of fighter usually has a strong background in boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai or karate. To fight in this style, MMA fighters have undergone training in wrestling. Well-known mixed martial artists connected to this approach include Chuck Liddell, Maurice Smith and Phil Barconi.
Clinch-and pound uses clinch fighting tactics characterized by a clinch hold. While a fighter holds an opponent so that they cannot move, they will often strike the body using their knees, or other dirty boxing moves. Most of these fighters started wrestling before incorporating boxing techniques. Don Frye, Dan Henderson and Randy Couture are familiar with this style of fighting.
Ground-and-pound involves the taking down or throwing of an opponent. The next step is to get into the dominant position, attacking with strikes. Wrestlers usually turn to this type of fighting, which has been used by the likes of Mark Coleman, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz.
Since there are so many different styles of MMA combat associated with mixed martial art, you may think that there is nothing a fighter can do to their opponent. In actuality, there are several fouls connected to this sport. A fighter are not allowed to head-butt, eye gouge, pull the hair, bite, attack the groin or strike the back of the head or kidneys of an opponent.
Bringing the exciting world of mixed martial arts fighting to the public are several different organizations that all have their own specific rules and regulations. One of the most well known, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tests their fighters for steroids and other illegal substances before allowing entrance to one of their championship bouts. In this organization, elbow strikes are allowed with the exception of ones that come from the north-south direction. PRIDE Fighting Championships mainly offer two different MMA weight classes (heavyweight and middleweight) and forbids fighters from intentionally hanging an arm or leg on the ropes.
With the ZST, which is an organization based in Japan, there are two five-minute rounds. At the end of a match, a fight is deemed a draw if there was no knockout (KO), technical knockout (TKO) or Submission. MMA judges are not used in this form of fighting. Shooto is another form of combat fighting that presents separate rules and regulations for three different class levels (A, B, and C). Level C is set aside for the amateurs. Three 4-minute rounds are attached to the International Fight League, which uses a different pair of gloves, offering less padding.
Regardless of where or within which mma organization, mixed martial arts madness is sweeping the globe and is coming to a “cage” near you!