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What is MMA? Your Ultimate Guide to Mixed Martial Arts

Looking to pick up a new hobby or looking for a whole new way to train? If what you want has to be take-no-prisoners tough, mentally challenging, physically demanding, yet completely and unequivocally, fully rewarding, mixed martial arts is your answer.
 
When you think about MMA and what pops into your mind is body slamming, loss of teeth and a bloody nose, your vision is skewed. Don’t let only what the media shows you dictate how you feel about mixed martial arts training. The levels, intensity, and styles can fill hundreds of pages of books and have over thousands of years of history. Just because what you see on television doesn’t interest you, don’t let that leave a bad taste in your mouth. Read on to get to know MMA for the physically grueling yet captivating and self-discovering sport that it is.
 
If you already know that MMA is something you want to try, we’re here to be your self-appointed guide. We can take you through the ins-and-outs of everything you need to know, from the various mixed martial arts styles to the history, walking you through who invented MMA to where it is practiced today, from what training you will be doing to what equipment is good to stock up on in your garage.
 
Instead of just searching MMA wiki and getting everything you need to know from an anonymous source, you can trust us instead. We here have years of knowledge and highly practiced hands that you can see while clicking through our articles to help you at every stop on your fighting journey.
 
Whether you are just a beginner looking to learn all about mixed martial arts history and how to get into MMA, this article is for you. Here is your one-stop, all around guide to learn everything you need to know about MMA.
 

What is MMA?

 
To lay it out simply for you, MMA stands for “Mixed Martial Arts”. Practiced throughout the world, this sport or style of martial arts training is a sport that comes with a form of combat in a gym-like setting. If you are looking to get into the martial arts without having to sign yourself up for a dojo, MMA fighting is right down your alley. If you are looking for a sport to compare it to, it resembles some characteristics of boxing but dates back way longer in history and concludes using a highly different style.
 
MMA is known worldwide and can be seen in all fighting gyms across the globe. Depending on the area, the style of MMA practiced will be different, however, most of the initial foundation of all the sports are the same. What’s great about MMA, is that you can get away with not having much equipment at all, relying and depending solely on your body, willpower, and discipline to make you a better fighter.
 
After deciding you want to begin with MMA, you now need to decide on a certain style. If you already have been training in mixed martial arts for a while, you might want to check out some other styles to switch up your training and incorporate all the different techniques from one style to another. You might be surprised how easy it is to pick up and how much it will impact your fighting game.
 

Different Styles of MMA

 
Choosing a specific style can be hard. If you need help with a highly extensive guide on all MMA styles, you can read our blog here to help you choose which style fits you best. What MMA does best is combines a variety of different techniques from various styles like boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, etc., and adopts them together into one arena. The fighters are free to take their influence from any style of fighting and make it theirs.
 

What is a MMA Fighter you may ask?

 
With MMA, you have the freedom to choose between various kicks with the feet or punches with the fist or holding clinches on the ground. MMA fighters have to be a jack of all trades, learning techniques spreading from all different fighting styles across the world. They have to be able to dish out strikes and submissions and being to escape to quickly countering in a dominant position.
 
Even though when MMA was just starting out, the fighter was able to pick and choose from other styles or systems of fighting, nowadays the outside styles are more disregarded as MMA has become worldwide and has been adopted by millions across the globe.
 

MMA vs. UFC

 
Your only reference to the sport might be from what you see in movies or fighting on television, which might leave you to wonder: is MMA real? Most of the time, those fights are under regulation from the UFC— and they are real. This organization is called the Ultimate Fighting Championship and is known worldwide for hosting athletes from different nations and different disciplines.
 
Dating back 25 years ago, the UFC was founded, gathering these fighters who prided themselves on the styles of Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, and Savat, among others to be able to compete for a highly sought-out paycheck. The original UFC only had eight fighters and with that original season, they had learned a lot.
 
The producers and MMA fighters alike had learned through this fighting experiment — literally — that when different styles of fighting were combined a few things happened.
 
Regardless if the two opponents fighting were boxers or used to throwing punches, the fights often led both competitors to fight from the ground. Since it was so aggressive and nature and left in all-out, desperate attempt, even the most foot-grounded fighters couldn’t resist succumbing to taking the fight to the floor.
 
Since it was quickly realized that most fights were won on the ground, the wrestlers and those who were practiced in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu had a much easier time taking their opponents down.
Those who specialized in high kicks didn’t find much success in the MMA ring.
 
When you try and compare UFC to MMA, it is difficult, since there really isn’t a distinct line of separation between the two. The two styles are intertwined amongst one another, developing and perfecting and changing from one another. In these styles, fighters are trained to be well-rounded, taking and training in influences of a variety of different styles. However, even though one fighter is normally highly trained in one style, they use all kinds of techniques in the ring.
 
As history went on, UFC, where originally it was more of an everything goes, fight to the death battle, were forced to take action on more unsafe practices in the ring, developing more rules and regulations. For example, in the UFC, you now aren’t allowed to throw kicks or punches to the groin area, make contact with the elbow from certain positions, and you can’t kick your opponent in the face while they’re on the ground.
 
The UFC isn’t the only company and organization known to host these fighters from various styles to fight in MMA. Here are a few other companies that are also devoted to hosting these competitors and holding the guidelines implemented to carry the fight out safely:
 

  • International Fighting Championships
  • World Championship Fighting
  • Rumble on the Rock
  • Deep
  • King of the Cage
  • World Fighting Alliance
  • Supreme Warrior Championship
  • TKO Major League MMA
  • ZST

 
Those are only a few companies that support MMA fighting and are in place today. However, MMA has dated further back in history then you can remember.
 

Hitting the History Books

 
Even though organizations like the UFC made MMA extremely popular worldwide, that’s not where this unique fighting competition could trace back its origins. Not only right here in the U.S. was there the underground fight forum, where fighters could simply compete in whatever style they preferred but there were also events taking place where competitors were able to fight however they liked dating as far back as the Ancient Greeks.
 
In this time period, this fighting was called Pankration, and fighters often dueled to the death and were highly prized when they won. The Roman period was also responsible for holding fights with the same variety of styles and martial arts. It was a lot freer back then, however, with fewer rules and regulations within the arena, and of course, a lot less civilized. Today, there are a lot more guidelines and forbidden movements which are regulated by an individual, where points are given for certain techniques and of course, the ultimate knock out.
 
As it moved to the USA through the UFC in 1993, the company did away with weight classes and various rules that normally stood in the individual styles. However, after two years on the market, Senator John McCain actually commented on the cruelty, almost “human cockfighting” essence of the UFC and demanded stricter regulations. However, since then, it has become one of the most regulated sports in the world — and one of the most watched, too.
 
As you can see in sports bars across the nation, where you have to pay to watch the “big fight” to be able to travel through 130 countries worldwide and watch mixed martial arts, the company has blown the sport up — making it one of the most popular sports in the world. Even though it was highly opposed by politicians and there were was a ton of political action around safety regulations, its popularity held strong and now it’s a huge, worldwide business, with the prize money associated with the winnings getting even bigger and bigger.
 

Popularity of MMA

 
From the MMA underground forum to the big stage on television, its growth in popularity has skyrocketed in the world today. From simply being popular on television because of their wins in the ring to being on the cover of magazines and hosting their own reality television shows, these fighters and this competition have won the hearts and attention of millions, if not billions, of fans.
 
It isn’t simply restricted to the fighters, either. Personalities in MMA, such as the hosts and commentators of UFC, like Mike Goldberg or Joe Rogan, have become household names, appearing in magazines, television shows, video games, and movies. Some of the extras that come along with MMA are appearing in GW, Playboy, Time Magazine, Newsweek, among many other magazines.
 
Here are some publications solely based on MMA:
 

  • Mixed Martial Arts Magazine Publications
  • BJJ Legends Magazine
  • Fight Magazine
  • Fighters Magazine UK
  • Fighters Only Magazine
  • Fight Fit Magazine
  • Fight Zone Magazine
  • Full Contact Fighter Magazine
  • Gracie Magazine
  • MMAR Reader
  • MMA Sports Magazine
  • MMA Worldwide Magazine
  • Real Fighter Magazine
  • Tapout Magazine (mixed martial arts)
  • Tatame Magazine
  • Ultimate Grappling Magazine
  • Ultimate MMA Magazine

 
They have their own television shows like The Ultimate Fighter and Tapout. Even for more franchise to geek up their followers and fans, they also have spread into workout gear and clothing lines like Bad Boy MMA, Xtreme Couture, and Tapout.
 
It all started with names like Bruce Lee. When he began Jeet Kune Do, he was laying out the blueprint for followers to take his spin on mixed martial arts and run with it. What Lee did, was took what was deemed useful in a style of the martial arts and combined it with other useful techniques from different styles. He took out the less “useful” techniques and threw them out of his training. Lee is someone who embodies the message which originated behind mixed martial arts, some even may call him the father of it all. To simply place it with a good quote from Lee, himself:
 
“The best fighter is someone who can adapt to any style, to be formless, to adopt an individual’s own style and not following the system of styles.”
 
Speaking of the system of styles, maybe you need to know if you are already trained in a style that is covered by MMA. Maybe you are just getting started now and with your interest, you want to choose a style that best suits you. As we mentioned before, you can read about these various styles more in-depth, however, for a simple, easy-to-reach list of the various styles of MMA, here is a list:
 

  • Russian Sambo
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Western Wrestling
  • Catch Wrestling
  • Kickboxing
  • Western Boxing
  • Karate
  • Shoot Fighting
  • Capoeira
  • Judo
  • Muay Thai Boxing

 
Even though you may seem them as individual sports and only sports, sometimes a person’s motivation behind getting into mixed martial arts is the bases of self-defense. Even though these moves wouldn’t hurt you in a street fight, if you are looking to develop self-defense techniques simply based on mixed martial arts, you should be warned. Some have said that knowing these techniques won’t necessarily help you when you are met with a fight on the street and are simply catered to taking place in a sport-like setting.
 
Some bases of mixed martial arts can help you in a self-defense situation, however, if you want to simply learn self-defense, you might want to learn how to tackle other fighting that is specifically tailored to it.
 
If you are into mixed martial arts because of the workouts — you’re in for a treat. Training for MMA isn’t like anything you have ever seen. Even though, especially if you are just joining in to get fit or just for fun and can dictate how hard you train, even the most simple and basic of training can give you a grueling workout. If you’re new to a gym and need to know what to expect, we have made a list of a variety of different styled training and workouts that might be taking place in your gym or your coach will be taking you through. So, just for a heads up, here are our:
 

Mixed Martial Arts Workouts

 
Since they differ from gym to gym and from coach to coach, you might not even see one of these training techniques. However, they are the basic training workouts of most styles. Some coaches swear by certain ones and try to avoid others at all costs. Depending on their teaching methods, styles, and philosophies, you might be seeing one type more than others or an even amount of all of them.
 
If you are tackling MMA workouts on your own, you can even tap into these workouts simply by looking up the basics and get familiar with techniques through videos. However, you should consult your doctor before you tackle any of these workouts and be careful with correct form if you are heading into any fighting-specific training.
 
Here are some MMA workouts:
 
Heavy Bag Training: This training involves taking your practice of forms involving punching hitting and kicking and implementing them on the heavy bag. This will give you an impact when you are throwing punches and kicks to get used to impact and incorporate it into your fitness levels.
 

  • Speed Bag Work: This training takes that miniature teardrop-shaped back that is placed at a high level and gives you the opportunity to work on your quickness when punching. The speed bag is often used when you need to work on your muscular endurance.
  •  

  • Punching Mitt Drills:
     
    mitt drills
     
    This type of training works on your auto and audio response. With a verbal call out from the one holding the mitts, you then follow with combination punching drills, which work on your technique and power, along with working on your transitioning from defense then counter.
  •  

  • Double End Bag Training: This training works with that bag that seems to stay in mid-air with the two ends tied to the top and bottom. This type of training works on your accuracy, your punching speed, defensive reflexes, and, of course, your footwork.
  •  

  • Rope Skipping: As seen in any boxing or fighting movie ever, rope skipping or jumping rope is a training used to develop conditioning as well as working on your fast footwork.
  •  

  • Sparring: Taking it to the next level, this training is used in a controlled environment where two people are in the ring “fighting” and training against one another to use the skills and techniques they learned against one another.
  •  

  • Elevation Mask Training: Seen in a variety of different sports, elevation mask training allows you to condition and work on your endurance with a controlled, limited oxygen intake. Instead of going out of your way to train at high elevation, this mask simulates that sort of environment to get you in your best shape.
  •  

  • Kettle Bell and Weight Training:
     
    kettle bell
     
    Just like with any other sport, this type of training works specifically on your strength. They use different types of equipment and exercises so you are getting a full body workout. Instead of simply lifting the same way you have been since forever, you can always be challenged to take on different exercises and workout programs.
  •  

  • Running:
     
    running
     
    The most traditional of all training, running works on endurance and conditioning on the basis of all sports. It takes a good set of endurance to be able to last through a fight, so the more endurance you have, the better.
  •  

  • Body Conditioning Drills: Opposed to simply just running for endurance, these drills are designed to work on your conditioning without having to run around.
  •  

  • Body Weight Exercises: At the end of the day, you have to hold your own. Therefore this type of training method doesn’t work with heavy weights, simply relying on the weight of your own body to be able to build your strength up through exercises like push ups, pull ups, and chin-ups, among many others.
  •  

  • Controlled Clinch Drills and Ground Fighting Sparring: This type of controlled environment ground fighting can help you take the techniques you learned and put them into practice through sparring with a partner.
  •  

  • Medicine Ball and Resistance Band Training: Using these two pieces of equipment, you will use the weight issued out by the medicine balls and resistance bands to carry out your workout and be able to test your strength and physical, muscle endurance.
  •  

If you are truly interested and looked into how to get into MMA fighting and are about to start by researching MMA techniques for beginners, you might want to recognize first the type of equipment you may need. Even though this sport is one that you can honestly get away with not having much of anything, if you aren’t heading into a gym or want to familiarize yourself with the type of equipment that will be at the gym, here is a list of the considerable amount of training equipment used at gyms:
 

  • heavy bag
  • interval timer or stopwatch
  • grappling dummy
  • punching mitts
  • double end bag
  • floor mats for wrestling and ground fighting
  • mirror for shadow fighting
  • jump rope
  • striking shields
  • medicine ball
  • MMA ring or boxing ring

 
Even those most of these can be supplied by your local MMA gym, you might want to invest in some of these individual items if you are looking to get into MMA. Here is a list of MMA gear that will help not only protect yourself while you are hitting, kicking, and sparring, you will also need some of this equipment to be able to actually participate in the training. If you are trying to compete in events, you are required to actually have some of these articles:
 

  • mixed martial art gloves
  • elbow and knee pads
  • hand wraps
  • shin guards
  • mouth guards
  • ear guard (prevent cauliflower ears)
  • mixed martial art shorts
  • running shoes

 
If you are looking to train to compete, here is a brief list of certain MMA divisions, simply based on weight. Even if you are watching the sport, you want to familiarize yourself with these divisions so you have the knowledge to know what’s going on. However, as we mentioned earlier, MMA in the UFC is not restricted to weight classes.
 

  • Mixed Martial Arts Weight Divisions
  • MMA Flyweight: ≤ 125 lbs
  • MMA Bantamweight: 125-135 lbs
  • MMA Featherweight: 135-145 lbs
  • MMA Lightweight: 145-155 lbs
  • MMA Welterweight: 155-170 lbs
  • MMA Middleweight: 170-185 lbs
  • MMA Light Heavyweight: 185-205 lbs
  • MMA Heavyweight: 205-265 lbs
  • MMA Super Heavyweight: ≥ 265 lbs

 
We hope that our guide has helped you with an overall introduction to MMA. Whether you are a newbie or a veteran, it is always beneficial to go over or back to the basics. Even if you are practiced fighter looking for information on a new style or if you are trying to decide on which style to perfect, MMA fighting gives you a great opportunity to keep your fighting versatile and your training always exciting. With a variety of different styles, techniques, and training options, you can and will never be bored in a MMA gym.
 
If you are looking to get the workout you need while also dedicating yourself mentally and physically, MMA training can be a perfect fit for you. Start searching for “mixed martial arts near me” and you might be surprised how many affordable, convenient gyms are available that you might not have ever noticed before. Whether you are a former athlete or have never been exercising before in your life, MMA is a great fit for anyone.

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