What is MMA and why is it banned? [2024]

Have you ever wondered what MMA is and why it was banned? Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a dynamic combat sport that combines various martial arts disciplines, allowing fighters to utilize a wide range of techniques to defeat their opponents. In this article, we will delve into the background and history of MMA, explore the reasons behind its initial ban, and discuss its current legal status. So, put on your gloves and let’s step into the octagon!

Quick Answer

MMA, short for Mixed Martial Arts, is a combat sport that combines techniques from various martial arts disciplines. It was initially banned due to concerns about safety and the perception of it being too violent. However, over time, regulations were put in place to ensure fighter safety, leading to the legalization and popularity of MMA today.

✅ CHECK PRICE on: Amazon | Walmart | eBay | Etsy

Quick Tips and Facts

  • MMA combines techniques from various martial arts disciplines, including striking, grappling, and submissions.
  • The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the most prominent MMA promotion.
  • MMA was initially banned due to safety concerns and the perception of it being too violent.
  • Regulations were implemented to ensure fighter safety, leading to the legalization and popularity of MMA.
  • New Jersey was the first state to legalize MMA in 2000, and by 2016, all states in the US had legalized and regulated the sport.

Background: The Evolution of MMA

three skydiving people

To understand why MMA was banned, we need to explore its history and evolution. The concept of combining different martial arts disciplines was popularized by the legendary Bruce Lee in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Lee believed that a fighter should be well-rounded and proficient in multiple styles to be effective in combat.

The first regulated MMA competitions in the United States were introduced in 1980. These early events, known as “Toughman” competitions, allowed fighters from different backgrounds to showcase their skills. However, these events lacked the structure and rules that are now integral to modern MMA.

1. The Ban: MMA as “Human Cockfighting”

In the 1990s, MMA faced significant backlash and was banned in most parts of the United States. The ban was primarily driven by concerns about fighter safety and the perception of MMA as a brutal and violent sport. One of the key figures leading the charge against MMA was Senator John McCain, who famously referred to it as “human cockfighting.”

The lack of regulations and safety measures in early MMA events contributed to this negative perception. Fighters were not required to wear protective gear, and there were minimal rules in place to ensure fair competition and prevent serious injuries.

2. The Turning Point: Regulation and Safety Measures

Despite the initial ban, MMA continued to gain popularity and evolve. Promoters and organizations recognized the need for regulations and safety measures to address the concerns raised by critics. This led to the establishment of unified rules and the implementation of various safety protocols.

The Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, developed in 2000, provided a standardized set of rules and regulations for MMA competitions. These rules included weight classes, prohibited techniques, and guidelines for fighter safety. The introduction of weight classes ensured fair matchups and reduced the risk of severe weight disparities between fighters.

Additionally, the introduction of safety gear, such as gloves and mouthguards, helped protect fighters from unnecessary injuries. Referees were given the authority to stop fights if a fighter was in danger or unable to defend themselves effectively.

3. Legalization and Popularity

As regulations and safety measures were implemented, the perception of MMA began to change. States started to reconsider their bans, recognizing the potential economic benefits and the growing fan base of the sport. New Jersey became the first state to legalize MMA in 2000, and by 2016, all states in the United States had legalized and regulated the sport.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the most prominent MMA promotion, played a significant role in the legalization and popularization of the sport. The UFC’s efforts to improve fighter safety, establish regulations, and promote the sport as a legitimate athletic competition helped change public opinion.

Today, MMA is a thriving sport with a dedicated fan base and a global reach. The UFC remains the leading MMA organization, hosting high-profile events that attract millions of viewers worldwide. Other promotions, such as Bellator, Professional Fighters League, and Cage Fury Fighting Championships, also contribute to the growth and popularity of MMA.

Women’s MMA: Breaking Barriers

In addition to the growth of MMA as a whole, women’s MMA has also experienced significant growth and recognition. The first recorded female MMA competition took place in 1997, and since then, women have become an integral part of the sport.

Organizations like Invicta FC have played a crucial role in promoting women’s MMA and providing a platform for female fighters to showcase their skills. Female fighters such as Ronda Rousey, Amanda Nunes, and Valentina Shevchenko have become household names and have shattered barriers in the sport.

Television: Broadcasting MMA to the Masses

Television has played a vital role in the rise of MMA’s popularity. The UFC’s partnership with ESPN has brought MMA to a broader audience, with events broadcast on ESPN and its affiliated networks. The UFC’s major rival for viewership is Bellator, which is broadcast on Showtime.

The availability of MMA on television has allowed fans to follow their favorite fighters, watch live events, and witness the growth of the sport. The increased exposure has also attracted new fans and helped dispel some of the misconceptions surrounding MMA.

Literature: Exploring the World of MMA

MMA has also made its mark in the world of literature. Numerous books have been written about the sport, offering insights into the history, techniques, and personal stories of MMA fighters. These books provide valuable resources for both aspiring fighters and fans looking to deepen their understanding of the sport.

Some notable books on MMA include “The Fighter’s Mind” by Sam Sheridan, “A Fighter’s Heart” by Sam Sheridan, and “The Tao of Gung Fu” by Bruce Lee.


a man standing in a ring with his hands on his hips

Is there anything illegal in MMA?

In regulated MMA competitions, certain techniques are prohibited to ensure fighter safety. These prohibited techniques typically include eye gouging, strikes to the groin, biting, hair pulling, and strikes to the back of the head. The unified rules of MMA provide guidelines on what is considered legal and illegal in the sport.

Why is MMA illegal in New York?

MMA was illegal in New York until 2016. The ban on MMA in New York was primarily due to concerns about fighter safety and the perception of the sport as too violent. However, after years of lobbying and advocacy efforts, the ban was lifted, and MMA became legal and regulated in the state.

Kicking the knee is generally legal in MMA, as long as it is not targeted with excessive force or intent to cause serious injury. However, certain promotions or organizations may have specific rules regarding knee strikes, so it is essential for fighters to familiarize themselves with the rules of the specific event they are participating in.

Read more about “… MMA Full Form: Unveiling the Secrets of Mixed Martial Arts”

Can MMA be safe?

With the implementation of regulations and safety measures, MMA has become a much safer sport. The use of protective gear, weight classes, and referee intervention has significantly reduced the risk of severe injuries. However, like any combat sport, there is always a level of inherent risk involved. It is crucial for fighters to train properly, follow safety protocols, and compete in regulated events to minimize the risk of injury.


a close up of a figurine of a person with fire on his face

MMA has come a long way since its initial ban, evolving into a regulated and respected combat sport. The implementation of regulations and safety measures has addressed the concerns raised about fighter safety, leading to the legalization and popularity of MMA today. With its unique blend of striking, grappling, and submissions, MMA continues to captivate audiences worldwide.

If you’re interested in exploring the world of MMA further, check out our MMA History category for a deeper dive into the sport’s origins and evolution. You can also discover inspiring fighter profiles in our Fighter Profiles section, or explore the philosophical aspects of mixed martial arts in our Mixed Martial Arts Philosophy category. Stay up to date with the latest news and developments in the MMA industry by visiting our MMA Industry News section.

Remember, MMA is a sport that requires dedication, discipline, and respect. Whether you’re a fan or aspiring fighter, embrace the spirit of MMA and continue to support the growth of this dynamic combat sport.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *