The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has become one of the most popular extreme sports in the United States and has garnered a worldwide following of mixed martial arts. This full contact sport was originally designed to be the ultimate martial art for unarmed combat situations, and there are minimal rules that judge the action in the ring. By becoming well-rounded fighters that can fight standing up and on the floor, UFC demands athletes that boast a wide range of fighting styles and skills that make up MMA. Today, UFC has grown into a juggernaut and remains one of the fastest-growing sports leagues in the world.
While the martial arts styles that make up MMA have been around for centuries, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has only been around since 1993 when the first tournament was held. Since then, UFC now hosts 20 fights per year and brings together top-ranked fighters from backgrounds like boxing, wrestling, capoeira, grappling, sumo, jiu-jitsu and many more. This synergy of styles makes UFC wholly unique in the world of contact sports. Today, UFC enforces the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts to keep fights under control and ensure a fair fight. While there are a few more rules than there were during UFC's inception, there's still nothing like it in the contact sports world.
Over the years, the UFC has enjoyed many bright personalities and tough fighters like Randy Couture, Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock - all of which won multiple UFC titles. Additionally, the UFC has been a way for fringe fighters to cross over into different territory, specifically Brock Lesnar and Kimbo Slice, who rode a wave of popularity from the WWE and internet popularity and into the UFC ring.
While some may doubt the UFC's staying power, mixed martial arts continues to grow in popularity and fans are drawn to the immense diversity of fighting styles and athletes. UFC 129 recently sold 55,000 tickets in minutes and became the largest paid audience in North America to see a MMA event. Additionally, the success of shows like The Ultimate Fighter® and primetime UFC matchups has brought the sport to the masses more than ever before. With the decline of interest in boxing and wrestling as a whole, the UFC has stepped in to fill a major niche in the market and has won legions of new fans in the process.