UFC Vs MMA Differences & Similarities EXPLAINED!

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UFC and MMA are the two biggest words in the combat industry. To understand the two, it is important to know which is which.

Having fight-fan peers makes UFC and MMA a common term to hear. You might’ve wondered, what is the main difference between UFC Vs MMA?

UFC is a prominent Mixed Martial Arts promotion that lets pro-MMA fighters fight for a living. MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is a sport where two men or women fight each other until one of them quits, cannot continue, or until the fight ends.

I can see that you’re new to the MMA world. Worry less; you’ve come to the perfect website. Keep reading and I’ll answer your questions about these differences.

What is the difference between UFC and MMA?

One MMA fighter defending a punch from another fighter

UFC is an mixed martial arts organization that host MMA bouts for entertainment of fighting fans. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is as it sounds, a combination of many martial arts to be effective for multi-disciplined fighting, such as Muay Thai, Boxing, BJJ, and more.

UFC stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship. They hire professional, high-skilled Mixed Martial Artists to fight for a living here. World Boxing Association is the counterpart of UFC in the sport of Boxing.

Just like the WBA; UFC is the largest organization in its specific sport. Next to it is Bellator MMA, which is also an MMA promotion that hires pro-MMA fighters in exchange for money.

On the other hand, Mixed Martial Arts is a single sport known worldwide as MMA. In MMA, two men or women of the same weight class battle each other with a goal to end the fight via knockout, submission, or win via judges’ decision. 

MMA is adopted by various MMA promotions and one of them is UFC.

To sum up, UFC is an organization and MMA is a sport. 

Beginnings of MMA

Two MMA fighters grappling on the ground

Mixed Martial Arts was present way before UFC was founded. Since 648 BCE, the ancient greek army has been using MMA styles in the form of Pankration as their primary means of hand-to-hand combat. Pankration even made it to the ancient Olympic games.

The Olympic game is where Pankration was introduced to the world. This event showcased how good the sport is, making people interested in learning it.

Just like MMA, Pankration mixes various martial arts into one. Pankration includes Wrestling, Boxing, and a lot of street-fighting-inspired moves.

There are many other interesting facts about pankration, like the fact they often fought naked and bare-knuckled, and women were not allowed to participate or watch.

Pankration is a brutal sport where the only illegal action is biting, gouging (pokes in the eye, mouth, and nose), and low blows. 


There’s also a martial art called Vale Tudo. It is an unarmed full-contact sport.

Vale Tudo has no rules, meaning that fighters can attack each other with any type of strike, chokes, and locks. You can only win via knockout, submission, or stoppage. 

Until both fighters stand up and defend themselves, the fight will continue for as long as possible.

This underground martial art soon evolved and, like pankration, is one of the foundational sports that became MMA.

There’s also a third “mixed” martial art sport that has historic origins and paved the way for modern MMA, named Leitai.

What is Leitai?

Leitai is another ancient martial art tournament that resembles the modern UFC that we know now.

Leitai uses an elevated square platform with no boundaries on each side. Competitors fight each other with fatal weapons and bare knuckles.

Leitai is founded way back in 1928 by Central Kuoshu Academy. This academy sponsored the tournament and made it operational for many years.

Pankration, Vale Tudo, and Leitai are far from what MMA is now. But without them pioneering the way, there’s probably no Mixed Martial Arts today.

Was Bruce Lee the original Mixed Martial Artist?

Statue of Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee is not the original Mixed Martial Artist. Despite that, he still managed to inspire a lot of high-level Mixed Martial Artists to be what they are today. Bruce undoubtedly paved the way for modern martial arts.

Bruce Lee doesn’t have any martial black belts. He specialized in Wing Chun and went on to combine fighting styles from other martial arts like Kung Fu and Boxing to create his own style named Jeet Kune Do.

How the UFC began

UFC fighter posing with fists up

UFC had traveled a long journey before it achieved the greatness that it has today. UFC began to arise way back in 1993 when Mixed Martial Arts wasn’t very well known at all yet.

After their first event, the organization and the sport started to blow up. 

Who founded the UFC?

The UFC is founded by Bob Meyrowitz, Art Davie, and Rorion Gracie, a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Grandmaster. As the organization set foot for the public, other co-founders joined the group, such as John Milius. John taught of the idea of making the UFC ring octagon shaped. 

Does Dana White own the UFC today?

Dana White is not the owner of the UFC. He is just the president of the organization. The actual owner of UFC is Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc. This company bought UFC from its former owner, ZUFFA LLC, last 2016.

Despite not being the owner, Dana has been the face of UFC since 2001. Aside from top-caliber fighters, Dana is also the reason why the UFC became the largest MMA promotion in the world. 

When is the first UFC event?

UFC 1 was held way back in 1993 at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado, the same year the UFC was founded. UFC 1 featured a classic fight between Royce Gracie and Gerard Gordeau.

Gracie defeated Gordeau via a rare naked choke just 1:40 seconds into the fight. Back then, no weight class is present, just two men fighting each other no matter the weight difference.  

Is the UFC real fighting?

Everything you see inside the octagon is 100% real. Unlike WWE, all the strikes, tackles, and brutal knockouts in the UFC aren’t staged to make things look cool and entertain people. In fact, faking a fight is a career-ending violation in this organization.

In the UFC, the fight starts before even the octagon gate is closed. UFC fighters are known for the juicy trash talks and spicy word exchanges during the pre-fight press con and on social media.

Some of these trash talks are fake and done just to promote their upcoming fight. Some also do this to gain more attention and prolong their career in the UFC. Former interim Welterweight champ Colby “Chaos” Covington is a solid example of this.

At the start of his career, he fights with little to no talking. But once he knew that after his upcoming  Damian Maia fight in Brazil, he would get signed off no matter how good the result is because he’s “boring.” 

After dominating Maia, Colby then proceeds to talk trash t to his opponent and Brazil. This made his name relevant that forced UFC to keep him. Up to this day, he maintained that type of character that allowed him to be a welterweight superstar.

Other MMA promotions like the UFC

Despite being the largest MMA promotion, there are still considerable UFC rivals out there. In Asia, One Championship is the largest global sports media property.

On the other hand, Bellator MMA is the second-largest MMA promotion in the world.

One Championship is founded by Chatri Sityodtong. They first started as an all-Asian fight club. As the organization got bigger, it also welcomed western fighters.

Some are former UFC fighters like lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez, former flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson, and more.

Unlike the UFC, One Championship uses a circle-shaped cage. They also administer separate bouts on Muay Thai and No-Gi BJJ inside this cage. But in some events, they use a five-roped rectangular ring for all bouts.

Bellator is founded by Bjorn Rebney. As time goes by, the promotion has adopted various UFC veterans like Former UFC champions Tito Ortiz, Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson, and more.

Just like One Championship, Bellator uses a circle-shaped cage. They use it for pure MMA bouts. 

In Europe, the largest MMA organization is called Absolute Championship Akhmat or simply ACA fighting. This Russian promotion holds MMA, BJJ, and Kickboxing competitions.

Common questions about the differences

You probably have questions about the differences between UFC and MMA, so allow me to answer those easily for you below:

Is MMA and UFC the same thing?

MMA and UFC are essentially the same thing, except MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is a combat sport itself whereas UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is a sports league or tournament within the sport type of MMA.

Is MMA bigger than UFC?

MMA is the wider sport that the UFC promotion creates events for. This means that MMA is much bigger than just the UFC. The sport of MMA includes many other organizations and promotions like ONE, Bellator, Eagle FC, Cage Warriors, and many more.

What’s the difference between UFC and MMA in fights?

The UFC is a fight promotion within the combat sport of MMA, and the UFC and many other promotions follow the same rules of the Unified Rules Of Mixed Martial Arts.

Is UFC the best MMA promotion?

UFC is widely considered the premium combat sports promotion in the world with the highest level of elite fighters. But others like Bellator and ONE Championship are slowly winning more great talent onto their rosters by offering more attractive contracts.

Final thought on UFC Vs MMA

So to sum up, the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) are almost synonymous terms.

Except UFC is a promotion, like a sports league. And MMA is the sport itself (like soccer or basketball).

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