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The Ultimate Fighting Entertainment UFC

May 22, 2008
The last decade of the twentieth century saw the rise of a new popular sport that encompassed many attributes of ancient styles of unarmed hand-to-hand combat. This newly emerged sport was first referred to as "no hold barred" fighting. With the blending of styles that included not only wrestling and boxing but also various forms of oriental unarmed combat this new sport became known as Mixed Martial Arts.

The first MMA competitions enforced few rules and included both grappling and striking movements and used both arms and legs as offensive weapons of attack. The combat between opponents was allowed whether standing or on the ground. Primarily only such tactics as eye gouging and hair pulling were disallowed and even groin punches, while frowned upon, were not illegal. With MMA being described in the news media as "human cock fighting", it might have been a short-lived sport had it not been for the creation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tournaments designed by the Californian Art Davie.

Davie, an advertising executive developed the idea from his association with Rorion Gracie, a teacher of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Being fascinated with the ability of these non-traditional fighters to defeat even high-ranking combatants of the traditional forms of unarmed combat, Davie developed WoW Productions (War of the Worlds). He then raised the funding for the first official MMA tournament and gained a contract with the new pay-per-view Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG) to televise the event.

"The Ultimate Fighting Championship" aired on November 12, 2003 and became an instant hit. UFC1 drew 86,592 television subscribers who thrilled to the eight man elimination tournament that featured specialists in such diverse fighting forms as kickboxing, savate, karate, shootfighting, sumo, jiu-jitsu and boxing. Rorion Gracie's brother Royce, a black-belt Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter, took the first UFC tournament crown.

With the reputation as a violent, rule-less bloodfest, MMA and the Ultimate Fighting Championship came under harsh penalties from the lawmakers of many states and was, for a while, banned from pay-per-view television and some states entirely. However, the sport began to work with various United States sanctioning agencies to develop a safer competition environment. Various holds and maneuvers were banned and time limits were set on the individual rounds. By the end of the year 2000, UFC28 made its comeback under the sanctioning of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board's "Unified Rules".

Opponents of this fighting sport applauded the new, restricted form of MMA as a safer sport despite the findings of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine that; "Knockout rates are lower in MMA competitions than in boxing. This suggests a reduced risk of traumatic brain injury in MMA competitions when compared to other events involving striking." To date there has been only one fatality related to sanctioned UFC competition in the United States. This is a drastically lower rate than what has occurred in professional boxing.

Despite the troubled and controversial beginnings of MMA and the UFC, the sport continues to grow in popularity. Now televised in thirty-six countries, the UFC has grown offices in both Canada and the Unite Kingdom and are beginning to expand into the continent with the aim of creating a European UFC organization in the near future.

The UFC has recently absorbed the World Extreme Cage fighting organization and has developed corporate sponsorships that include such sports-promoting companies as Anheuser-Busch and Harley-Davidson motors.
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