UFC Vs MMA: Key Differences Easily 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

The UFC and MMA are entirely different things that end up in a single conversation. UFC is an organization that administers MMA bouts for entertainment and money. While MMA is a martial art where different martial art styles, such as Muay Thai, Boxing, BJJ, etc., are combined.

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 is present way before UFC was founded. Since 648 BCE, the ancient greek army are making use of MMA 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 got introduced to the whole world. This event showcased how good the sport is, which made people interested to learn it.

Just like MMA, Pankration mixes various martial arts into one. Pankration includes Wrestling, Boxing, and a lot of street-fighting-inspired moves. 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 this 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 into the modern MMA. Unlike Pankration, Vale Tudo immerged in the 20th century 

What is Leitai

Leitai is another ancient martial ard tournament that resembles the modern UFC that we know now. Leitai uses an elevated square platform with no boundaries on each side. Here, 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.

Both pankration and Leitai are far from what MMA is now. But without them pioneering the way, there’s 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 specializes in Wing Chun, that’s taught by the famous master, Ip Man.

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 everybody did not widely know about Mixed Martial Arts. After their first event in the same year, 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 from UFC, such as former 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 thig 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.

What to read next

Now that you know the unique differences between the UFC and MMA, you might want to learn more about what the UFC is, how long UFC fights last, or how to get into watching the UFC.

About The Author

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Joe is the lead author and editor of MMA Hive. Joe is a passionate mixed martial artist in training, having studied Boxing, and Muay Thai at BaliMMA and Soma Fight Club, as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with RitualsJJ.

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