MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) has grown in popularity and prominence over the years and is now one of the most popular sports on the planet. MMA combines elements of various martial arts disciplines to create a fighting style that is both efficient and effective. The modern incarnation of MMA has evolved from ancient combat sports like Leitai in China and pankration in Greece. These early contests matched boxers, judoka, and karateka against practitioners of other styles. Over time, less effective fighting techniques began to disappear as fighters clustered around disciplines that produced concrete results. This led to the merging of striking and grappling styles into a new form of combat that was eventually called mixed martial arts.
There are many different MMA fighting techniques, but the most common are Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and boxing. These are disciplines that have proven to be most effective in the ring and are what most MMA competitors train in.
A typical MMA fight lasts three rounds and the winner is determined by one of several methods. A fighter can win by knockout, submission, or a technical knockout (TKO). A TKO is when an opponent becomes unconscious from a single punch or kick that strikes their head or spine. A fight can also be stopped by a referee or official attending physician if they determine that a competitor is severely injured and can no longer defend themselves. Another way a fight can be decided is by a judge’s decision. This is typically based on a combination of the fighter’s aggression, control, and effectiveness in both striking and grappling.
Before a fighter steps into the MMA ring they will have a game plan for how to best utilize their strengths and minimize their opponents weaknesses. A coach plays a big role in developing this strategy. For example, a fighter with superior ground skills will likely try to wear down their opponent and submit them with a choke hold or armbar. Those who are better at striking will look to keep their distance and strike with combinations of knees, elbows, and roundhouse kicks.
The most important aspect of any MMA training regime is the basics. Regardless of what discipline you are preparing for, you need to learn the fundamentals of that technique and be able to practice them against an opponent without injuring them. This is a major reason why sparring is such an integral part of any MMA fighting program.
MMA competitions are held in a ring or fenced area and are overseen by an official or referee. This official is responsible for making sure that the fight follows a set of rules called the Unified Rules of MMA. There are a number of ‘no-no’s’ that are consistent across MMA competitions including no groin attacks, head butts, biting, and strikes to the throat.
MMA competitors will often know three to four months in advance that they have a fight and spend the remainder of that time focusing on preparation and perfecting their game. This includes full-time training, specialized conditioning, and intense sparring sessions with other fighters.