From the gladiator tournaments of ancient Rome to the martial arts of the East, the spectacle of a ‘fight’ has always been popular. From boxing to WWE, modern day equivalents have millions of sports fans on the edge of their seat. However, now there’s a new, rapidly growing combat sport on the block, and it looks set to be bigger than ever.
What is UFC?
UFC, or the Ultimate Fighting Championship, is a mixed martial arts tournament where each fight tests an athlete’s endurance, strength and skill in order to name ‘The Ultimate Fighting Champion’. Originating from the full contact sport of Vale Tudo in Brazil, UFC started in 1993 in the US. At the time, it was marketed as a competition to determine the most effective martial art in unarmed combat. However, many fighters came to the realisation that no one martial art was superior – rather, it was a combination of all disciplines that made a fighter the most powerful.
As a result, the best fighters were the ones who could punch like a boxer, take down an opponent like a Judo pro and kick like a Tae Kwon Do expert. As fighters began to train to be experts in multiple disciplines, so the UFC that grips audiences today was born.
Few have what it takes to be a UFC champion. But part of what makes UFC so exciting to watch is the range of fighters that take part. There are nine weight classes, ranging from Strawweight (up to 115 lbs) to Heavyweight (205 lbs to 265 lbs). Plus, you’ll witness skills and moves from up to 10 martial arts, with each fighter specialising in several of the following disciplines:
- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
- Freestyle wrestling
- Greco-Roman wrestling
- Jeet Kune Do
- Kyokushin Karate
- Muay Thai
- Sanshou or Sanda
- Tae Kwon Do
The UFC breaks down the skills it requires into five main fighting skills:
Striking – this includes striking your opponent with your hands, elbows, knees, legs and feet – either from standing or from the ground. Great strikers include the well-rounded Anderson Silva, and the wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, and Muay Thai pro Jon Jones.
Clinch – this is where a fighter grabs his opponent by the back of the head or the neck. From this position, a fighter can strike an opponent, or try to take the fight to ground level. Martial arts that apply the clinch include Muay Thai, Judo, wrestling and dirty boxing. Wanderlei Silva is one UFC fighter who is great in the clinch.
Takedown – this is where a fighter forces an opponent to the ground, with moves like the lateral drop and double leg takedown. The purpose of the takedown is to move the fight to the ground and it is often utilised by experts in wrestling, such as Gray Maynard and Chael Sonnen.
Ground – if two fighters are on the ground, they will each by trying to get the dominant position. This involves striking their opponent, or using various tactics to wrestle an opponent into an immobilising hold. Demian Maia is an excellent ground fighter, known for his mastery of Jiu Jitsu.
Submission holds – this is where a fighter locks their opponent into a painful position. They can either give up and tap out, or risk a dislocated joint, torn tendons or sometimes worse.
As a mixed martial art sport, fighters can employ a wide variety of tactics in their struggle for victory. Along with some protective clothing and the referee’s right to stop the content if things get too nasty, there are also plenty of rules fighters have to follow. For instance, biting, spitting, eye-gouging, hair-pulling, abusive language and more are not allowed, and fouls can have serious consequences. Read the complete rules on the UFC website.
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How to Win
So, you know the skills, the rules and the strength required to be a champion. But how do you actually win a UFC fight? Well, there are three main routes to triumph:
Knockout – this is the ultimate victory. While some fighters can deliver knockouts, match after match, others struggle to achieve this level of glory. A blow is classed as a ‘knockout’ if a fighter is knocked down and is either unconscious, disoriented or unable to defend himself.
Submission – this is where a fighter gets their opponent to submit, either by the force of their choke hold or joint lock. Once a fighter is in either a choke hold or joint lock, they verbally submit or tap out to avoid injury.
Decision – sometimes a fight will run it’s duration without either fighter backing down. In these cases, three judges will decide the victor, based on their scores for each round.
UFC is Coming to London: Michael “The Count” Bisping Vs. Anderson “The Spider” Silva
Whether you’re only just getting into UFC, or you’re already a massive fan, you’ll be pleased to know that UFC is coming to London’s O2 Arena on 27th February. Here’s a bit of background info on the fighters:
Michael “The Count” Bisping
Manchester-born middleweight fighter Michael Bisping is currently the world #6. Nicknamed “The Count”, he’s known for his fighting spirit, fitness and adaptability. He’s a formidable opponent, with a long history in martial arts – from winning silver medal at the 1995 Jiu-Jitsu World Championship to becoming five-time British kickboxing champion, and winning numerous British jujitsu masters.
Anderson “The Spider” Silva
Arguably one of the GOATS (Greatest of All Time), the Spider returns to the Octagon following his “blue pill problems” and looking to build on his come back fight against Nick Diaz. Innovative, poetic, lethal, his combination on muay thia, boxing and jui-jitsu makes him a danger both standing up and on the ground. If Bisping can beat him, it will be his greatest achievement in the UFC.
UFC Training Tips
Image by stroopsmma
As the sport is on the rise, many UFC fans are keen to try out some of the strength and fitness exercises the fighters use to train – as well as the martial arts themselves.
Here are some UFC-inspired exercises to get you fighting fit:
- Dumbbell punch walk
- Single leg dumbbell snatch
- Tabata sprints
- Handstand wall walk
Workout in Style
Whether you want to become a mixed martial arts fighter, or just love the sport and want to get fitter and stronger, we have a great range of workout clothing that works when it comes to performance and style.
Browse our full range of tracksuits, t-shirts and trainers to get ready for your 2016 training programme.
Will you be watching the fight on 27th February? Let us know who you think will win @WoodhouseTweets.