Published at Tuesday, 17 December 2019. Female. By Abby Marshall.
MMA first came to the attention of many in North America after the Gracie family decided to showcase its trademark Brazilian jujitsu in the United States in the 1990s. Hélios son Royce Gracie represented the family in a 1993 tournament in Denver, Colorado, that came to be called UFC 1. The name referred to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), an organization that became the leading promoter of MMA events. The earliest aim of the UFC events was to pit fighters of different styles against each other—such as wrestler against boxer and kickboxer against judoka. Initially, the only rules decreed no biting and no eye gouging. Bouts ended when one of the fighters submitted or one corner threw in the towel. Royce Gracie emerged as the champion of UFC 1, which was held in a caged ring at Denvers McNichols Arena. As the UFCs first cable television pay-per-view event, the tournament attracted 86,000 viewers. That number increased to 300,000 by the third event.
In 1980, CV Productions, Inc. created the first regulated MMA league in the United States, called Tough Guy Contest, which was later renamed Battle of the Superfighters. The company sanctioned ten tournaments in Pennsylvania. However, in 1983 the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill prohibiting the sport. In 1993, the Gracie family brought Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, developed in Brazil from the 1920s, to the United States by founding the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) MMA promotion company. The company held an event with almost no rules, mostly due the influence of Art Davie and Rorion Gracie attempting to replicate Vale Tudo fights that existed in Brazil, and would later implement a different set of rules (example: eliminating kicking a grounded opponent), which differed from other leagues which were more in favour of realistic fights.
Among other early stars of the sport were Americans Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell. Couture boasted an impressive background in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. He was a three-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) All-American at Oklahoma State University and a four-time winner at the U.S. national Greco-Roman Championships. He won the UFC heavyweight belt before dropping down a weight class and dominating the UFC light heavyweight division en route to capturing that crown. He won his first bout against Liddell in 2003 but lost two rematches in 2005 and 2006. During their widely publicized trilogy of fights, Liddell became a menacing poster boy for the sport, with his shaved Mohawk and tattooed head. Couture was named to the UFC Hall of Fame in 2006, and Liddell was enshrined in 2009.
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