What is MMA [2023] and UFC Difference?

is mma and ufc difference

If you are new to the combat sport world, you might be wondering what the difference between MMA and UFC is. While you might have heard people using the terms MMA and UFC interchangeably, there are important distinctions between the two. In this guide, we will dive deep into what MMA and UFC mean, what sets these two apart, and what they have in common.

MMA vs. UFC: The Basics

At a high level, MMA – Mixed Martial Arts is the combat sport, while UFC – Ultimate Fighting Championship is the largest MMA promoter. MMA involves the combination of different martial arts, including striking (stand-up fighting) and grappling (ground fighting). It is a full-contact sport that allows fighters to use techniques from various martial arts styles. It started gaining popularity in the 1990s, with the first UFC event happening in 1993. UFC is now the largest MMA promotion company and has become synonymous with the sport.

The Foundations of Modern MMA

The roots of modern MMA began in Brazil with the creation of Vale Tudo (Portuguese for "Anything Goes"). Vale Tudo bouts were held with minimal rules, and fighters could use different martial arts techniques to win. It eventually evolved into today's MMA, incorporating additional rules to ensure fighter safety. MMA fighters can use a range of techniques, including boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and judo.

UFC and the Development of MMA

UFC was founded in 1993 by Art Davie and Rorion Gracie as a platform to showcase various martial arts styles and determine which ones were most effective in real fights. The first UFC event was held in Denver, Colorado, and featured fighters from different martial arts backgrounds competing against each other with minimal rules. The UFC quickly gained a reputation as a brutal and violent sport, and it wasn't until the introduction of new rules and the UFC's regulatory body that its mainstream acceptance grew.

Today, UFC is the largest MMA promotion company, holding events around the world and setting the standard for the sport. Its success has helped increase the popularity of MMA, with fighters from all over the world competing in UFC events.

Despite MMA and UFC being closely linked, there are several key differences between them. Let's take a closer look at what these differences are.

Weight Divisions

One of the main differences between MMA and UFC is the number of weight classes. MMA has 13 weight divisions, while UFC only has 8. The UFC's weight divisions are:

  • Strawweight (115 lbs)
  • Flyweight (125 lbs)
  • Bantamweight (135 lbs)
  • Featherweight (145 lbs)
  • Lightweight (155 lbs)
  • Welterweight (170 lbs)
  • Middleweight (185 lbs)
  • Light Heavyweight (205 lbs)
  • Heavyweight (265 lbs)

The introduction of weight classes allowed fighters to compete against people of similar weight, thus creating a more even playing field. It also helped in preventing injuries caused by weight cutting.

Rules and Regulations

While MMA and UFC share many rules, there are some key differences. MMA has rules and regulations set by various organizations, including the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) and the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. The UFC has its own set of rules and regulations that go beyond those set by other organizations. For example, the UFC allows fighters to wear Reebok-branded gear, and has a ban on sponsors wearing their logo on fighters' shorts.


As mentioned earlier, the UFC is the world's largest MMA promotion company. It has held several events over the years, promoting both male and female fighters. Fighters from all over the world dream of stepping inside the octagon of UFC, and this is where most of the top-level fighters are found. While other MMA promotion companies do exist, none of them are as popular and successful as the UFC.


Let's answer some of the frequently asked questions about MMA and UFC.

What does MMA mean in UFC?

In UFC, MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts. It refers to the type of sport that the UFC promotes.

Why does MMA stand for?

MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts. As the name suggests, it is a mixture of different martial arts styles.

What is UFC fighting called?

UFC fighting is called mixed martial arts or MMA.

Quick Tips and Facts

  • UFC is the largest MMA promotion company
  • MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts
  • There are 13 weight divisions in MMA, but only 8 in the UFC
  • Rules and regulations in UFC and MMA are different
  • UFC promotes both male and female fighters


While MMA and UFC are closely related, they have their differences. MMA is the sport, while UFC is the organization that promotes it. Understanding the differences between the two can help you fully appreciate the sport of MMA and the role of UFC within it. Whether you are a fan of MMA or are just interested in learning more about it, we hope this guide gave you a better understanding of what MMA and UFC are all about.

If you are looking to start training in MMA or want to get involved in the sport in any way, we highly recommend checking out MMA Ninja™ for more expert advice on all things mixed martial arts. Good luck and happy training!


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