For fans of mixed martial arts, the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship is a familiar one. Though this sport has roots that go back as far as the Greek Olympics more than 26 centuries ago, most fans are only concerned with UFC's modern history beginning in 1993.
The sport began as a means to settle the age-old question of which style of martial arts was superior. To answer that question, the founders of this competition established an eight-man tournament with fighters from around the world. In this initial contest, the great Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master, Royce Gracie, defeated all three of his opponents in less than five total minutes.
Though initially designed to be a one-time event, the founders quickly recognized the new sport's potential and set up the UFC. In this sport's early days, there were only a handful of rules to protect the fighters. This lack of structure caused the new sport to suffer from a lack of legal sanction in many areas where it needed exposure if it was to survive.
Beginning in 2001, the UFC underwent dramatic changes. It gradually instituted new rules to make the contests less violent, which served to satisfy many political challenges to its existence. This, in turn, allowed the competition to return to television media markets.
Today, UFC is recognized as a legitimate sporting activity, and enjoys official sanction in many areas around the world. This new acceptance has led to increased television revenues, expanded public awareness of this sport, and even a reality television show that sought to find the sport's next big star.
Though it no longer involves the type of no-holds-barred combat that defined its early years, it remains a popular viewing pleasure for those who want something more exciting than traditional boxing or staged professional wrestling matches. As a result, Ultimate Fighting Championship matches continue to grow in popularity.
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