What is UFC and MMA? MM’s guide to the fight night the big celebrities love

Saturday night saw the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada host UFC 239, with it came the fastest knock out in UFC history at five seconds.

Wrestling, whether it be World of Sport or WWE, and Boxing with it’s famous names like Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis and Floyd Mayweather have always been popular.

But more recently Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) but in particular the promotion, the UFC appears to be having a renaissance.

But the question then remains, how did something which was often referred to as cage fighting gain global dominance?

What is MMA?

MMA is various different types of martial arts such as jiu-jitsu, taekwondo, kick-boxing, sambo (Russian Martial Art) and wrestling.

Within MMA the fighter can use any discipline, often a combination of different martial arts are employed. Kick-boxing and takwondo are likely to be used when both fighters are standing, but when on the ground jiu-jitsu tactic or other submission manoeuvrers are utilised.

So what’s UFC?

UFC stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship and is the leading promotion with MMA, it can be classed as the WWE of the MMA world. The company is headed by Dana White who also played a key part in promoting the Mayweather v McGregor fight.

There are other promotions out there the most prominent being Bellator, however, the UFC has the star power and funds which the rest do not.

The big names

Like most sports, there are a few names which transcend the sport, for the world of MMA it was Ronda Rousey and Connor McGregor. Rousey helped elevate the women’s division with her sheer dominance over other competitors. She graced magazine covers as the face of the UFC women’s division.

Love him or loathe him Connor McGregor knows how to garner publicity, whether it’s his antics in the octagon or whether it’s how he conducts himself outside the ring. His fight against Khabib got the media abuzz and helped generate interest, his larger than life personality brings the audience in.


There were many countries across the world where MMA was not regulated or was banned outright. The State of New York only legalised the sport in 2016, allowing UFC fights to be held in Madison Square Gardens.

Canada decriminalised MMA in 2013, whereas France has only recently decided to lift a ban on MMA which will come in to force in 2020.

Decriminalising and regulating the sport has allowed it to flourish making it accessible for even the casual watcher.

Also allowing advertising and thus, creating further revenue. The revenue in turn has helped the sport in particular the UFC grow its brand.

This has further helped gain interest from A-list celebrities and sports stars who in turn come with large fan bases and social media followings. As such taking the UFC to an audience who otherwise would not have been aware of MMA.

How does the sport work?

Just like Boxing, MMA also has weight divisions. Within the UFC there are eight divisions for the male fighters (Flyweight, Bantamweight, Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight, Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight) and four divisions for the female fighters (Strawweight, Flyweight. Bantamweight and Featherweight).

Outside of the UFC there is also the Super-Heavyweight division. Fighters must either meet the minimum or upper limit of a weight class to be eligible to fight in that division.

In Championship fights there are five rounds each lasting five minutes, in non-championship fights there are three rounds again with each round lasting five minutes.

There are different ways in which a fighter can get the win:

There is the KO (Knockout) when one fighters renders the other unconscious.

TKO (technical knockout), when the referee stops the fight if he believes that the fighter cannot continue further, this decision can be made regardless of whether the fighter is still standing or on the ground.

The decision, if the fighters get to the end of the fight the final result is then left to the judges. The panel of three judges then award ten points to the fighter who they thought won that particular round, the second fighter is then scored a nine or less.

If all the judges agree on the scoring, the fighter wins by unanimous decision. If one judge scores the fight as a draw and the remaining judges agree on their scoring the fighter wins by majority decision.

There is also a win by split decision, this is when one judge scores differently to the remaining judges.

Submission, when one fighter verbally or physically submits, usually after being placed in a hold which they cannot escape from, an example would be Ronda Rousey placing the armbar.

Draw, where both fighters are scored the exact same scores by the judges (unanimous draw), where two judges score the fight a draw (majority draw) or where all three judges have differing scores for both fighters (split draw). It can also be a draw if the fight ends early if the fighters are deemed to be injured, this would be classed as a technical draw.

MMA, in particular, the UFC is on an upward trajectory, with more countries opening their doors to the sport its appeal and brand will only grow further.

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