All martial arts styles and therefore martial arts history in general has led up to what we now refer to as MMA. Greek Pankration, a fighting event that became a part of the Olympic Games in 648 B.C., is the first documented full contact, few rules combat competition in history. More recently, there have been many examples of full combat fights designed to measure one style against another.
MMA style competitions also sprouted up in England in the late 1800’s via Bartitsu events. Bartitsu pitted Asian and European fighting styles against one another.
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In the early 1900’s, full contact combat with mixed styles began happening in a variety of places. Eventually, all of this led to the first UFC event in 1993.
the UFC was created in the United States in 1993 with minimal rules, and was promoted as a competition to determine the most effective martial art for unarmed combat situations.
It wasn’t long before the fighters realized that if they wanted to be competitive among the best, they needed to train in additional disciplines. UFC fighters began to morph into well-rounded, balanced fighters that could fight standing or on the floor. This blend of fighting styles and skills became known as mixed martial arts (MMA).
Today, the UFC is the premier organization in MMA and enforces the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts without exception. With more than 40 fights every year, the UFC hosts most of the top-ranked fighters in the world. Events are held not only in America, but in many countries all over the globe.
Sources: martialarts.about.com, .ufc.com/