The UFC, which is short for Ultimate Fighting Championship, is a popular Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, organisation and a prominent promotion company for MMA events. Founded in 1993, it has gone on to become the largest and most well-known MMA organisation in the world. The UFC showcases fights in the Octagon, a unique eight-sided cage, where fighters from various martial arts backgrounds compete against each other. The sport combines techniques from disciplines such as boxing, kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling and Muay Thai, among other fight types.
UFC Fighters employ both striking and grappling techniques, allowing for a wide range of fighting styles and strategies. As an organisation, the UFC holds events regularly, featuring fighters from around the world, and these events are broadcast globally through various media platforms. The organisation has seen tremendous growth in popularity over the years, attracting a large and dedicated fan base. Events are regulated by athletic commissions, and the rules and regulations are designed to prioritise the safety of the fighters while providing an exciting and competitive environment.
What Is The UFC?
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is essentially the most famous organisation in the world for fights in the Mixed Martial Arts discipline. It came into existence in 1993 following in a rich history of competitive MMA that can trace its origins back to the introduction of Pankration, a Greek Olympic Games event that was first introduced in 648 B.C. The aim of the UFC was to find the ‘Ultimate Fighting Champion’ by putting on tournaments featuring the top athletes across numerous fighting disciplines. That included the likes of karate, jiu-jitsu and kick-boxing, as well as boxing itself and more traditional fighting techniques such as grappling and wrestling.
Over the years that followed the launch of the UFC, it has grown to become a truly influential and revolutionary organisation. Thanks to the work of the likes of Frank Fertitta III, Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White, the UFC brand ensured that MMA was able to become an organised, structured and controlled sport. Broadcast in more than 165 countries and watched by in excess of 1.1 billion people, the UFC was bought by Endeavor in August of 2016 and then merged with the World Wrestling Entertainment organisation in 2023 to become a ‘‘$21billlion+ live sports and entertainment powerhouse”, in the words of WWE’s Vince McMahon once the merger was announced.
How The UFC Works
The UFC works as a brand thanks to the fact that it follows a specific structure. The UFC has various weight classes in which fighters compete, for example. These weight classes ensure that fighters are matched up against opponents of similar sizes and weights, promoting fair competition and reducing the risk of injury. Some of the weight classes in the UFC include heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, featherweight, bantamweight, flyweight and strawweight, which mirror a lot of the weight classes in a sport like boxing.
The UFC crowns champions in each weight class through title fights in much the same way that other sports look to do the same thing. The fighters who hold these championship belts are considered the best in their respective divisions and, as you might expect, effectively have a target on their backs from other fighters in that division that want to win the belt for themselves. Winning a UFC championship is seen as a significant achievement and a symbol of excellence in the sport, which can lead to the fighter being able to demand high fees for pay-per-view events.
The UFC’s biggest events are typically broadcast on pay-per-view, featuring high-profile fights, including title bouts and matchups between popular fighters. Fans can purchase these PPV events to watch the fights live on television or through streaming platforms. The UFC also produces a reality television series called “The Ultimate Fighter”, in which aspiring MMA fighters live and train together while competing for a UFC contract. The show has helped to discover and promote new talent in the sport and ensuring that new audiences find it interesting when they might not otherwise have done.
It has also allowed the organisation to expand internationally, having initially centred around the goings-on of the sport in the United States of America. UFC has expanded its reach worldwide in recent years, hosting events in various countries and signing fighters from all over the globe, contributing to the global growth and popularity of MMA. Dana White, the President of the UFC, has played a significant role in the organisation’s success and expansion. He has been instrumental in promoting the sport, negotiating major contracts and making key business decisions.
White’s outspoken personality and passion for MMA have helped elevate the UFC’s profile, which has been helped by the fact that the UFC has featured numerous talented fighters who have left a lasting impact on the sport. Some of the most notable fighters in UFC history include Conor McGregor, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Ronda Rousey, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Amanda Nunes. These names have helped to elevate UFC above being just another sport that has got lost in the noise, instead allowing the fighters to become household names and global superstars, which has attracted people to the sport as a result.
How The Rules Work
The UFC has a set of rules and regulations that govern the fights to ensure the safety of the fighters and maintain fair competition. These rules are obviously subject to the regulations that are in place in the various countries where the fights are taking place, meaning that they might not be exactly the same every time a UFC event is going ahead. That being said, there are obviously certain factors that will remain the same in order to ensure the fairness of competition each and every time a UFC fighter gets into the Octagon to face off against someone else in their class.
Arguably the most important factor when it comes to the rules and regulations around the UFC is the fact that weight classes are used. Fighters compete in specific weight classes in order to ensure that they are evenly matched based on size and weight. It would not be fair to ask a featherweight fighter to take on a heavyweight champion, for example, given the extent to which a heavyweight fighter’s strength and size would make it an uneven competition. Fights also consist of a specific number of rounds, typically three rounds for non-title fights and five rounds for championship bouts, with each round being five minutes in duration, with a one-minute break between them.
All UFC fights take place in an octagonal cage called the ‘Octagon’. The cage provides a contained area for the fighters, whilst also allowing for optimal viewing for spectators.
During bouts, fighters can use a variety of striking techniques that includes punches, kicks, knees and elbows. Strikes are allowed to both the head and body of the opponent. Fighters can also use grappling techniques such as takedowns, clinching and submissions. These techniques involve controlling the opponent, attempting to take them to the ground and applying holds or submissions to force a tap-out.
A referee oversees every fight, ensuring that the rules are followed and the safety of the fighters is maintained. The referee can stop the fight if a fighter is unable to defend themselves or is in danger of significant injury. Certain actions are considered fouls and can result in penalties or disqualification for the fighter guilty of committing said foul. Examples of fouls include striking the back of the head, eye gouging, biting, head-butting, groin strikes and strikes to the throat. Fights that go the distance are scored by three judges based on effective striking, grappling, aggression and Octagon control. Judges assign a score to each fighter for each round and the fighter with the highest score at the end of the fight is declared the winner.