UFC for Dummies

I have spent nearly a decade on the Internet writing about pro-wrestling and heavy metal. I’ve been a fan of both for well over twenty years, but I’m burnt out on writing about them. When the opportunity came up to write a column for Inside Pulse, I offered my services to write about another passion of mine: mixed martial arts. I will warn you ahead of time that this particular column is a little more educational that it is entertaining, but I’ll do my best to make it interesting.

Unlike wrestling and metal, there is a huge audience that has yet to be tapped for MMA. It hasn’t yet received the national attention that it deserves, but the interest is growing. America’s most popular MMA company, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, has come into the spotlight recently with the success of Spike TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. My goal with this first MMA column at Inside Pulse is to educate potential new fans with a detailed look into the ins-and-outs of the UFC.

This is UFC for Dummies.

It’s been called “brutal,” “inhumane,” and “human cock fighting.” You may know it as Extreme Fighting, No Holds Barred (NHB), or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). You probably know it best in America by a brand name: Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Since its debut in 1993, the UFC (owned at the time by Semaphore Entertainment Group Sports, Inc.) has been surrounded by controversy. The promotion was touted as the “bloodiest, most barbaric show in history;” a tagline that would come to haunt them. Despite having an impressive roster of world class athletes (including All-Americans, NCAA champions, and Olympians), state legislatures from most of the 50 States began lobbying in favor of banning UFC events.

On February 25, 1997 the UFC took a huge blow when Governor George E. Pataki signed into law his legislation banning ultimate fighting in New York. Arizona Senator John McCain had also launched a campaign against the UFC, and as a result pay-per-view carriers dropped the UFC from their line-ups.

The UFC remained an underground oddity until it was purchased by Las Vegas based Zuffa, LLC. in 2001. The new and improved Ultimate Fighting Championship returned with a new look, new attitude, and new rules, including rounds, time limits, five weight classes, a list of 31 fouls, and eight ways to win.

Randy Couture, UFC President Dana White, Chuck Liddell

The fights take place inside of an octagon-shaped ring, which is surrounded by chain-link fence instead of ropes (commonly known as “The Octagon”). The concept is simple: two men fight in the cage until a winner is declared. All bouts are done in rounds, much like boxing. Each round is five minutes long. There is a one-minute rest period between each round. All non-championship bouts are three rounds. All championship bouts are five rounds.

A winner is declared by one of the following methods: Submission (physical or verbal tap out, technical knockout by the referee stopping the contest), TKO by the referee stopping the contest, decision via the scorecards (unanimous decision, split decision, majority decision), technical decision, technical draw, disqualification, forfeit, or no contest.

The Octagon

Most fighters in the UFC are skilled in several forms of fighting. This is not a requirement, but these days it has become a necessity to be proficient in many disciplines, such as Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, Boxing, Kickboxing, and Wrestling.

The weight classes for the fighters are as follows:

  • Lightweight – over 145 lbs. to 155 lbs.
  • Welterweight – over 155 lbs. to 170 lbs.
  • Middleweight – over 170 lbs. to 185 lbs.
  • Light Heavyweight – over 185 lbs. to 205 lbs.
  • Heavyweight – over 205 lbs. to 265 lbs.

You’ll be amazed to see the diversity in body types among the weight classes. It’s not that different from just about any sport; those in top condition generally dominate. However, there are some rare exceptions. Don’t be surprised when the fat guy gets a first round KO.

David “Tank” Abbott

The early days of UFC were pretty much “true” No Holds Barred events. There were no weight classes, and the rules were very limited: no biting, no fishhooking, no eye gouging, and no throat strikes. Beyond that, Bob’s your uncle, go kick some ass. UFC’s more recent rules include everything from the obvious (no groin attacks of any kind, no small joint manipulation, no kicking/kneeing the head of a grounded opponent) to the unusual (no spitting at an opponent, no using abusive language in the ring or fenced area, no throwing in the towel during competition). Depending on the foul, you will either receive one verbal warning from the referee, or you will be disqualified immediately.

“Big” John McCarthy

If you’re a fan of boxing, martial arts, hell, even pro-wrestling, UFC has something for every fight fan. UFC even has ties to pro-wrestling. UFC Hall of Famers Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn are both former WWE wrestlers, Tank Abbott had a short run in WCW, and Tito Ortiz was recently a special guest referee for TNA Wrestling. While the UFC doesn’t have story lines, and the results are not predetermined, they certainly have some real characters in their roster.

“Mr. International” Bobby Brown Shonie Carter

Some boxing purists may not appreciate the mixed fighting styles. There is no “sweet science” in MMA. It’s more of a “mad science,” to be honest. To me, that’s what makes UFC so great. You’ll see everything from twenty-minute grapple-fests that go to decision to eight-minute brawls ending in a submission to forty-second knockouts.

UFC recently released all pay-per-view events from UFC 39 to UFC 52 on DVD, as well as their “Ultimate Knockouts” compilations. If you want to see what you’ve been missing, you can purchase the DVDs from UFC’s official website at UFC.tv (as well as fine retailers everywhere), or rent them from Netflix or your local rental joint.

The bottom line: UFC is totally unpredictable. There’s no scripts, no gimmicks, no eight-second standing counts, and no bullshit. The Ultimate Fighting Championship has one of the most honest taglines in sports. It truly is “As Real as it Gets.”

Thanks to Sherdog.com, UFC.tv, and MMAweekly.com for some of the photos and information.