Published at Tuesday, 17 December 2019. Female. By Abby Marshall.
In Ancient Greece, there was a sport called pankration, which featured a combination of grappling and striking skills similar to those found in modern MMA. Pankration was formed by a combination of the already established wrestling and boxing traditions and, in Olympic terms, first featured in the 33rd Olympiad in 648 BC. All strikes and holds were allowed with the exception of biting and gouging, which were banned. The fighters, called pankratiasts, fought until someone could not continue or signaled submission by raising their index finger; there were no rounds. According to E. Norman Gardiner, "No branch of athletics was more popular than the pankration." From its origins in Ancient Greece, pankration was later passed on to the Romans.
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.
The UFC initially marketed its product as a no-holds-barred sport in which anything could happen. Its brutality raised the ire of many, including such politicians as U.S. Sen. John McCain, who famously called caged combat “human cockfighting” and sought to have the sport banned. In 2001 new UFC management created rules to make the sport less dangerous. It added weight classes, rounds, and time limits and extended the list of fouls in the ring. The revamped UFC no longer featured mostly brawlers. Newer fighters were more skilled as boxers, wrestlers, and martial arts practitioners, and they were forced to train extensively and remain in peak condition to perform well. In the United States the sport came under regulation by the same bodies that governed the sport of boxing, including the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. Even McCain dropped his opposition to MMA, acknowledging in 2007 that the “sport has made significant progress.”
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