Published at Tuesday, 17 December 2019. Female. By Abby Marshall.
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.
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.
Royce Gracie of Brazil helped bring MMA to the forefront in the 1990s. The 6-foot 1-inch (1.85-metre), 180-pound (82-kg) Gracie, who won UFC 1 in 1993, was particularly deft at using his jujitsu skills while lying on his back to defend against attacks or to launch a submission hold aimed at his opponent’s joints. Most other early UFC fighters were one-dimensional, typified by the bearded brawler David (“Tank”) Abbott, but as the sport grew, athletes began to study striking, wrestling, and jujitsu—many drawn by the success of Gracie against bigger opponents. In 2003 Gracie became the first fighter inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
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