7 Fights That Defined Mixed Martial Arts

7 fights that, one way or another, made modern MMA what it is today.

Marlene Karas/AP

Mixed Martial Arts has existed in various forms since at least the time of the Ancient Greek Olympics. Then known as pankration, combatants fought entirely naked - and were often killed in competition.

Thousands of years of progress, and one Reebok deal later, the UFC became the world’s most valuable combat sports organisation after being sold for $4.2 billion dollars in 2016. Superstars such as Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey have propelled MMA into the mainstream.

But it hasn’t always been easy. The first organised events contained few more rules then the original pankration events and received widespread disapproval for their barbarity. This criticism nearly killed the sport in the west in the late 1990s, when US Senator John McCain famously called the sport “human cockfighting.”

MMA evolved in the years that followed, and the New Jersey Athletic Commission’s 2001 Unified Rules of MMA, helped turn the fledgling UFC from an often-bareknuckle spectacle, into the codified sporting juggernaut that we know it as today.

These fights, one way or another, were instrumental in making modern Mixed Martial Arts.


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