Most aficionados of the sport agree that Mixed Martial Arts or MMA more than likely began in ancient Greece at the Olympics. Back then it was known as pankration and was one of the premier hand to hand combat sports enjoyed in that country. There were few rules at the time except for two; you couldn’t gouge your opponent’s eyes and there was no biting allowed. Indeed, it was quite the popular sports in Greece and many of the competitors of the day became heroes to the entire nation and some were even elevated to the status of legends.
The idea of mixed style competitions spread as quickly as martial arts spread around the globe. Many times during the history of MMA there were historic matches from the top practitioner of one martial art against the top practitioner of another, something that would give the winner incredible worldwide bragging rights. The fact is, MMA fighters are some of the most well-rounded in the world because they are forced to learn many different types of combat and martial arts in order to be able to defeat their opponents.
Mixed martial arts as a sport is rapidly growing in popularity around the globe although the biggest contender as far as fans and viewership is concerned is the United States. Some say that its popularity stems from the fact that there are practically no rules, as it was back in ancient Greece. It’s definitely one of the most violent sports on the planet and arguably more dangerous than boxing.
Speaking of boxing, it too has its roots in ancient Greece as well as Rome and Egypt. One of the earliest forms of pugilism, as boxing was called for many years, is in 17th and 18th century England. The vast majority of the fights back then were with bare knuckles and also included wrestling. Similar to MMA there were few rules, no referee, no rounds to speak of and many times no time limit as well.
Boxing back then was quite the brutal affair and matches were fought until one of the two opponents was simply unable or unwilling to keep going. Many times the bouts lasted hours and, back then, they were very few tactics that were forbidden. It was normal to see and opponent gouge someone’s eyes, put them into a chokehold, kick them and even pick up opponent up and throw him. There were also no considerations given back then for the weight of the boxers and no actual recognition of any champion.
Boxing came into its own in Great Britain where the working-class would oftentimes use it as a way to settle disputes. Interestingly, these fights started gaining fans and growing in popularity until England’s upper class took notice. It was then that wealthy patrons started sponsoring fights and fighters with cash prizes and built small arenas where the fights could be held. Schools were opened as well and the noble art of self-defense began being taught to athletic young men from all over the UK.
Both boxing and MMA today are popular in many parts of the world although over the last 20 years boxing has certainly dropped in popularity. Gone are the days of Mohammed Ali or even Mike Tyson, and there are practically no marquee name boxers right now in the boxing world. Mixed martial arts certainly has its fair share of great fighters but, as the sport isn’t extremely popular yet, most MMA champions are only known to fans and followers.
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