The UFC has one of the most unique journeys of any professional sports league. During the mid-1990s, there were many who felt as though the UFC would die out before the turn of the millennium.
Now, the UFC is one of the largest sports companies in the world. With hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year, there is no question about who the king of MMA is. Before you get into UFC, there are a few things to know when getting started.
The Sport isn’t Actually UFC
Before you can become an expert and start looking for UFC odds and predictions, there is an important distinction to make. The UFC is the most popular form of the sport known as mixed martial arts (MMA). It is all too easy to be confused given how much bigger the UFC is than the rest of the competition.
Mixed martial arts combines a number of disciplines into one sport. Fans of karate, Brazilian ju-jitsu, wrestling, striking, and more can all come to one place to find out who is the best of the best. Though weight classes have changed things substantially, it is a great way to find out which fighters and their discipline can come out on top.
The UFC Wasn’t Always King
It may be hard to remember that UFC was not always the king of MMA, streaming to millions of fans each month. As a matter of fact, they almost died in the mid-90s. On top of that, they weren’t the first MMA fighting league. For instance, Vale Tudo – Portuguese for “anything goes” has been around since the 1920s. In 1963, the United States aired its first televised mixed rules bout.
The UFC appealed to a unique niche in the early 1990s, providing a “no holds barred” kind of feel where all fighters of all backgrounds would face off against one another. It created some unique mismatches, eventually leading to the creation of weight classes. Before the rise of the UFC in the mid-2000s, Pride Fighting Championships (or just Pride) was the biggest MMA promotion in the world.
There are Lots of Rules
Despite popular belief, the UFC is not a no-rules blood sport. There are actually a ton of rules, especially in the UFC. Granted, things started out with “no rules” and no weight classes. But strict state regulations changed that in a hurry, and the UFC was forced to adapt or die.
Now, there are so many rules and regulations that it would take an entire space to cover them. There are no pokes to the eye, hair pulling or strikes to the groin allowed. There is no punching in the back of the head. These are just some of the basic rules meant to keep fighters as safe as possible.
Women’s Fighting Has Exploded in Popularity
In recent years, the UFC has become so popular that it has even become a vehicle for popularizing women’s MMA. Many of the top female fighters begin in other leagues like Bellator and Strikeforce before ultimately making the leap to the UFC.
There have been a few major female stars throughout the years. Ronda Rousey may have been the biggest draw in UFC during her heyday, and there are stars like Miesha Tate, Holly Holm, etc. that have taken up the mantle since.
The UFC women’s division also has weight classes, creating a competitive landscape in the UFC. Though they may not be as universally popular as the men’s fights, female UFC fighters have changed the game in a substantial way.