Recent History

In recent decades, the concept of mixed martial arts was embraced by sports fans all over the world. It is now an established form of sport with clear rules and regulations. However, before this, it was still a fairly novel idea.

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee was an important figure when it came to introducing MMA to western audiences. He would often merge elements from several different fighting styles. He was particularly interested in judo, karate and boxing.

Lee is cited as saying that the best fighters do not follow specific systems but instead develop their own style. In order to do this, Lee believed fighters must borrow from more than one martial art. As such Lee came up with his own mixed martial art called Jeet Kune Do.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali is remembered as one of the most famous boxers of all time. It is easy to forget that he also took part in mixed martial arts matches. In 1976 he participated in a fight against Antonio Inoki in Japan. Inoki was a wrestler. This event was an important precursor to what would become modern MMA.

North America

In North America, a famous showcase of jujitsu was set up by the Gracie family. It helped to spread awareness of the sport during the 1990s. Royce Gracie took part in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship contest, UFC 1 in 1993. UFC pitted contestants against each other who had different fighting styles.

New Rules

In 2001 a new set of rules and regulations were brought in by the UFC. This was in order to make matches less dangerous for participants. Weight classes were added, as well as time limits for rounds. A wide range of fouls were also brought in. This led to fewer brawlers taking part. They were replaced by professional martial artists.