There's a ton to cover in MMA. For those who have read the guide and want to know more about the sport, or for those that want to learn about some of the other aspects of mixed martial arts such as betting or its history in videogames, this page has something for you.
Just like with any sport, there are many promotions (or leagues, companies, etc.) that host events. The UFC is by far the largest and most well known, kind of like the NFL for football or the NBA for basketball.
Their biggest competitor to date was a Japanese promotion called PRIDE Fighting Championships, or just PRIDE, which rivalled the UFC and had many of the best fighters in the world throughout their run in the late 90's through to 2007.
There have been several other prominent MMA promotions over the years, described below in two sections - one for defunct organizations, and one for current promotions.
PRIDE was a huge promotion in Japan that drew big numbers on cable TV in Japan as well as PPV buys in North America.
The Japanese had always been drawn to combat and spectacle, as shown by their love of martial arts and pro wrestling. PRIDE combined these worlds and offered some of the best fighters MMA had to offer alongside the spectacle and theatrics that pro wrestling is known for.
They would host elaborate (and often very weird) entrances showing all the fighters on the card off to the fans before the event began, complete with fireworks and giant drum playing and a screaming announcer. They were known to stage big and costly ring walks for fighters walking to the ring (they fought in a boxing ring rather than a cage as was the norm for MMA) which often featured dancers and performers accompanied by plenty of pyrotechnics.
Their ruleset was different than North American promotions - they had a gruelling 10-minute opening round, followed by a minute break and then a normal 5 minute round - championship fights had one extra five minute round. They didn't allow elbows, but they did however allow kicks, stomps, and knees to the head on the ground, so although elbowing was illegal, fighters were free to soccer kick an opponent's head when they were laying on the mat, making for some brutal finishes.
The fights themselves are what made PRIDE so great though, as they had a stable of some of the greatest fighters of that era (particularly at heavyweight), including legends such as Fedor Emilianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Kazushi Sakuraba, Shogun Rua, Wanderlei Silva, Takanori Gomi, Mirko Cro Cop, Dan Henderson and Rampage Jackson.
Although they had tons of legitimate competition, they were also known for putting on "circus fights" - wildly mismatched fights such as putting people with no real fight experience (but they were famous from other avenues, like pro wrestling or acting) in with real fighters. This made for a sometimes hilarious, sometimes scary experience, as despite most of their fights being legitimately competitive and world class, they would also purposely give their biggest stars ridiculously overmatched opponents just to garner brutal finishes and enhance their star's air of invincibility.
Some of their cards garnered ridiculous numbers, with events at the height of their power drawing over 50 million viewers in Japan which is close to half the country's population. They would regularly pack huge arenas to the rafters with 50,000+ in attendance, and the Japanese crowds were renowned for their respect and dedication; they were always there in full from the first prelim to the final bout, and during fights, an arena packed with tens of thousands of people was so silent you could hear a pin drop.
The eerily quiet crowds would politely clap during exciting moments and after fights - even for a boring fight, you would never hear the crowd boo, as competitors were revered for their ability and courage and anyone who went in and gave their all was welcomed with adoration, regardless of where they came from. Although there were plenty of Japanese stars, many of their biggest stars were foreigners and yet were treated like royalty just the same.
Unfortunately, PRIDE's management had always been shady - they had deep ties to the Yakuza and would often attract top talent thanks to paying ridiculous amounts to their fighters almost entirely in cash.
Despite knowing it was questionable to be paid such amounts in cash, the fighters couldn't make much elsewhere and most came from nothing so were more than happy to turn a blind eye.
There were also allegations of fight fixing - as there was no commission in Japan, PRIDE regulated their own fights and several reports came out years later from fighters claiming to know of some fixed fights, or others where PRIDE would pay one fighter to lose without telling the winner (thus making it much easier to appear legit) - although it's easily proven that most of the fights were legit, there were some clear examples of thrown fights and fixed matches, which cast a dark cloud over the promotion at times.
Eventually, reports about the Yakuza's ties to PRIDE's management severely crippled the organization and essentially killed them in Japan - the UFC swooped in and bought the promotion shortly after.
The UFC planned to continue staging PRIDE events in Japan and continue running PRIDE largely as it was, with the idea being to occasionally have crossover events where PRIDE fighters would fight in the UFC and vice-versa for crossover shows.
Due to the heavily embedded Yakuza ties however, the UFC was effectively forced out of Japan and instead they shuttered the promotion, absorbing most of the roster into the UFC's ranks (and getting rid of the lower talent and pro wrestlers who didn't belong of course).
Despite its unceremonious end and sometimes questionable fights, PRIDE is still adored by many fans for its spectacle and the greatness of many of the fights they hosted, which included some of the best fights, the best knockouts and submissions, the fiercest rivalries and the most talented individuals the sport had seen in MMA at the time.
StrikeForce was the largest competitor to the UFC for a time. Originally a kickboxing promotion led by CEO Scott Coker, they soon transitioned into MMA and built up a solid roster beginning in 2006 which included some top up-and-coming talent alongside some big names in the sport.
StrikeForce used a 6-sided cage but otherwise had the same rules as the UFC. All of their events were broadcast on ShowTime (spare for a few events on CBS) and they also prominently featured women's fights before they were ever in the UFC.
Near the end of their run the promotion began burning too much cash and investors looked to sell, prompting the UFC to buy them out in 2011 and continue to run the events on ShowTime. Later on, the UFC absorbed most of their roster in 2013 and shuttered the promotion.
The UFC also brought in the StrikeForce's women's bantamweight division, marking the first time the UFC ever had women fight in the Octagon. Since then, the UFC has added several other female divisions, and women have become a prominent part of the UFC.
The clothing brand that was super popular at one point and also made many super flashy and douchey t-shirts also happened to be in the MMA business.
The brand poured big money into making their own MMA promotion, signing some notable talent after PRIDE was bought by the UFC and created an opening for a new promotion to rival the UFC.
Even Donald Trump was attached to the promotion (he's always liked MMA and saw the business potential in the early days, even helping out the UFC back in the early 2000's) as he was named as an investor - in reality, he basically showed up to garner publicity and was given a small stake in the company in exchange, though he never invested his own money.
Unfortunately, they didn't plan things out very well and only held 2 events, one in 2008 and one in 2009; a third was planned, but after one of the main eventers tested positive for steroids (he had previously failed two drug tests before which saw him cut from the UFC), Affliction cancelled the event due to the loss of the main fight.
The excess spending led to the company to leave the MMA business and sell their footage to the UFC, opting to go back to sponsoring fighters rather than running their own promotion.
A shady company that popped up and garnered huge numbers on ShowTime, they were one of the first to see the potential of women fighters as one of their stars was Gina Carano (she is now an actress and has been in Deadpool and The Mandalorian for instance).
Their biggest attraction though was the late Kimbo Slice, a backyard brawler who had become a viral sensation in the mid-2000's thanks to his street fights which were posted on Youtube.
The promotion ran 20 events between 2007 and 2008, but after an injury had a late replacement face Kimbo on just a day's notice and brutally knock him out, accusations came out that EliteXC had offered the replacement money to not take Kimbo to the ground (he couldn't grapple, but they thought he would easily knock him out on the feet).
Not only did the fighter not take him down and still beat him, but the story got out and with the accusations of fight fixing and the subsequent investigations it caused, the company folded in 2008.
World Extreme Cagefighting started out as a solid regional promotion and branched out, eventually becoming quite popular on the Versus network and attracting the UFC's attention.
The UFC purchased the company in 2006 and absorbed the weight classes that the UFC already had - at the time, the UFC only had 5 weight classes total.
The UFC wasn't convinced the smaller guys could draw much attention on PPV so instead, they turned the WEC into a promotion for only smaller weight classes. They kept the promotion's trademark blue but switched the cage to an official Octagon - the rules, the cage (other than it being blue rather than black), and the production was all exactly the same as the UFC, and their promotion was top notch because of it.
They stacked the organization with all of the top talent from flyweight (125 pounds) to lightweight (155, this was the only division the UFC also had, but being such a deep and competitive division, the WEC could have their own lightweight division filled with talent with plenty still for the UFC) and it became known as one of the most consistently exciting events you could watch.
The WEC essentially acted as the UFC for smaller guys and is often regarded today as the best promotion in MMA history next to the UFC. Stars were made, from Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson (both would later capture lightweight UFC belts, proving the WEC's quality wasn't exclusive to non-UFC weight classes) to Jose Aldo and Demetrious Johnson (two of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters ever).
At the height of its powers in 2010, as the UFC realized that the smaller fighters could draw, they decided to put the WEC's top star, Urijah Faber on pay-per-view for his highly anticipated title shot against Jose Aldo.
The WEC had demonstrated people were willing to tune in to watch the lighter weight classes, but would they pay to see it? Jose Aldo, one of the most skilled and technically sound fighters in MMA history, had just captured the WEC featherweight title in destructive fashion after cutting through the division with five straight knockouts since he joined the promotion.
Aldo was billed as a quiet, unassuming Brazilian kid who was a straight up murderer when the cage door closed (which is 100% accurate) and despite not speaking English, the fight was incredibly promoted and had the fight world buzzing - Urijah Faber was the former champ of the division and the biggest star in the sport under 155 pounds, and was one of only a handful of MMA fighters to hit mainstream popularity at the time.
They absolutely stacked the deck for their PPV offering, and the card more than delivered - the prelims featured some of the top prospects in the world and one of the greatest fights in MMA history, while the pay-per-view featured some of the biggest names in the WEC with some slick finishes - the main event featured Jose Aldo skewering Urijah Faber's leg with brutal leg kicks while Urijah showed his unending toughness and incredible heart by somehow managing to survive the full 25 minutes.
The PPV sold well above expectations and the UFC was sold on bringing in the smaller weight classes - they soon announced that the WEC would be merged into their parent company at the start of 2011, with 3 weight classes being added while their lightweight division would be combined with the UFC's current roster.
It was a huge merger and worked out spectacularly for the UFC, though some still miss the old WEC days where you could watch just the smaller weights at once.
The last few fight cards in the WEC delivered just as their precursors did, and the last WEC fight was an incredible classic between Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson, with Pettis becoming an overnight sensation thanks to his Showtime kick.
The final WEC champions were promoted to UFC champions when the companies merged, while the lightweight divisions were combined. Though many initially thought the WEC lightweights were mid-tier or lower than their UFC counterparts, it didn't take long for the WEC alums to take over the division with multiple WEC vets becoming champions and top contenders in the UFC's most competitive division.
In addition to the promotions listed below, there are also many smaller, regional promotions that act as "feeder" leagues to the UFC or Bellator - essentially, fighters will gain experience in these promotions before becoming good enough or attracting the attention of the UFC or another larger promotion.
A few examples would be the LFA in the US, ACB and M-1 Global in Russia, Shooto in Brazil, and Combate Americas in Mexico.
Now the UFC's main competitor, though there's an extremely large gap between the two promotions and it isn't likely to change anytime soon. Their events are televised on Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV, which used to be the home of the UFC) with some special events shown on the subscription platform DAZN.
They do have a lot of solid fighters including some that could compete in the upper echelon of the UFC, along with some former UFC fighters who either were offered more money by Bellator or were cut for losing too much in the UFC but still have a recognizable name for fans. One advantage they have for popular fighters is their allowance of fighter sponsors in the cage, something that the UFC got rid of after their deal with Reebok.
The promotion has been led for the last few years by Scott Coker, the former StrikeForce founder and CEO.
Invicta is an all-female MMA promotion based in Kansas, Missouri. When the UFC had just one weight class for women in the UFC and StrikeForce was shuttered, Invicta came about to provide a home for women in MMA in weight classes from 105-155 pounds.
The promotion was initially on online PPV (which only cost around $10-15 dollars) and became the #1 place for women's MMA in terms of talent and production values. They had the best fighters outside of bantamweight (the one division in the UFC) and eventually partnered with the UFC as they added more weight classes and absorbed some of Invicta's roster.
Invicta still stages events today and their events are available exclusively on Fight Pass; while they no longer boast the top female fighters in the world, it's still a great place for up and coming women to gain valuable experience before getting into the UFC.
A large promotion over in Asia, the Singapore-based company has been gaining a steady following overseas and producing some solid up and coming prospects in their circular cage, as well as snagging some top talent.
Their biggest acquisition came in a "trade" with the UFC that saw flyweight legend Demetrious Johnson (who unfortunately never became popular despite his dominance) transferred to ONE in exchange for Ben Askren, a then-undefeated collegiate wrestling standout with a strong online following.
The Professional Fighters League used to be known as the World Series of Fighting and developed several talented prospects along with becoming a home for many fighters who were cut from the UFC.
Rebranded as the PFL with a new format and millions of dollars from investors, the PFL brought a traditional sports’ season/playoff format to the sport, where fighters compete during the “season” and earn points based off their performances - 6 for a first round finish, 5 for a finish in the second, 4 for the third, and 3 for a decision victory.
The top eight fighters in each division make the playoffs with a tournament beginning in the fall and the finals taking place on New Year’s Eve, with the winner in each of their weight classes receiving $1 million dollars.
It’s a fun concept with many investors and some exciting fighters, though time will tell if their dismal ratings will improve and make it a viable format in the long run.
RIZIN (pronounced Rise-in) is the spiritual successor to PRIDE. It boasts the same type of spectacle and insane matchmaking, along with some actual solid talent (though nowhere near the level PRIDE had back in the day).
MMA is nowhere near as popular in Japan as it was in PRIDE's heyday, but RIZIN fills the void and offers several events a year. Each of their lengthy events offers tons of fights, including some kickboxing matches from some of the top fighters in Japanese kickboxing.
The promotion uses PRIDE rules for their MMA bouts, which allow for stomps, kicks and knees to the head of a grounded opponent, but they also allow elbows, making it the best of both worlds.
They've picked up several former UFC fighters (including a top-5 flyweight) and continue to stage exciting events, though they've made a concerted effort to shy away from any fight fixing and Yakuza ties to distance themselves from PRIDE's unceremonious exit from the sport (though their CEO was also the CEO for PRIDE for some time). There are still some massive mismatches and pro wrestling theatrics however, so PRIDE diehards will feel right at home.
Betting in MMA
Bookmakers, whether they be casinos in Las Vegas, online establishments, or seedy backroom gambling dens, accept all sorts of bets on sporting events and MMA is no exception.
Given that the UFC is headquartered in Las Vegas and has been since the early 2000's, MMA's leading promotion has embraced the betting culture and even displays the closing betting odds for each fight on their broadcasts.
For those that are familiar with betting in sports there's really nothing different about betting on MMA, but as many people don't know the ins and outs of betting, this helpful guide is here to help. If you have any interest in placing bets, want to know if entering into Draft Kings is safe, or just want to know what those odd numbers displayed under fighter's names on a UFC broadcast mean, read on.
As an American company, the UFC displays the American betting lines - you can also use a European system, though it isn't as popular and as such the American system will be explained here.
When going to place a bet on any given fight or simply looking at a fight's odds, you'll see the two combatants listed along with a + or - sign and a number next to their name, like this for an example:
Fighter A -200
Fighter B +150
The minus ( - ) sign indicates the favourite, or who is expected to win (in this case Fighter A) and the plus ( + ) sign indicates that fighter is the underdog (Fighter B).
The numbers are both based on a $100 baseline - for favourites, how much money would need to be bet in order to win $100, and for underdogs, how much money would be won if $100 were bet.
The Favourite (Minus) Calculation: this number is the amount of money you'd need to bet in order to win $100 if the bet ends up being correct.
So, if you bet $200 on Fighter A at -200 odds, and Fighter A wins, you'd get $300 (your original $200 back plus $100 in winnings). This ratio is kept the same for any bet you make, so if you bet $2 on Fighter A and they win, you'd get $3 back for a profit of $1.
If the fighter loses, you lose whatever money you bet of course.
The Underdog (Plus) Calculation: this number is calculated based on what you'd win by placing a $100 bet.
So, if you bet $100 on Fighter B at +150 odds and they win, you'd receive a profit of $150 - therefore you'd receive $250 (your original $100 back, plus $150 in winnings).
Note how the plus and minus never cancel out (ie. you don't see one fighter -200 and the other +200, as one might expect) - this is how the bookies make money regardless of who wins.
As people place more bets the betting lines will fluctuate, so if you see odds that you think are really good (ie. too high or too low), you take them as others likely will and bring those odds down (or up).
The odds come out as sportsbooks start accepting bets on an announced or anticipated fight (some sportsbooks accept bets even on rumoured bouts that haven't been announced, while others only post lines on confirmed bouts shortly before they occur), and if a fight falls through (due to injury, cancellation, etc.) you simply get your money back.
You also get your money back if you predict a winner of a fight and the fight ends up being a No Contest or a Draw.
The betting lines start out as what a sportsbook's oddsmakers anticipate the fighters' chances of winning are, then fluctuate based on how many bets are placed and how much money people put on each fighter (so bookies don't risk losing tons of money if everyone bets on one fighter and not the other for instance, though they still occasionally do lose money, usually on big upsets).
In Vegas you can go to a variety of sportsbooks right in the city, often in casinos, and there are a few sportsbooks around in other places. Mostly nowadays it's all done online however and is legal in most places (Google information about online betting in your state/province/country if you're unsure).
Prop bets are wagers that don't just the winner, but pick a specific outcome or other prediction about the fight (for other sports this can range wildly and sometimes include very odd things, like betting on if the coin toss for the Superbowl will be heads or tails).
For MMA fights, typically these are the prop bets you can bet on:
Specific Outcome: instead of picking Fighter A to win, you pick Fighter A to win by something, such as Fighter A to win by KO/TKO, or Fighter A to win by Submission, or by Decision, or you can even predict a Draw (they're extremely rare in MMA so you get extremely high odds; good luck predicting one right though).
These can be even more specific than that (thus vastly lowering the odds of it being right) by including rounds, and most sportsbooks will only offer those kinds of bets on big fights as smaller ones don't get enough betting action. For instance you could bet on Fighter A winning by KO in round 2, or Submission in Round 3, etc.
Over/Under Rounds: this is simply predicting whether a fight will go over or under a specified amount of rounds (usually 1.5 or 2.5, but again depends on the fight and what bookies expect - a heavyweight fight will usually have an over/under of 1.5 rounds, whereas a fight between two fighters that usually go to decisions will probably have an over/under of 2.5 rounds).
So if you were to say the fight between Fighter A and B will go under 1.5 rounds, the fight will need to be finished within 7.5 minutes (one and a half rounds), regardless of who wins or by what (even a disqualification would count for this). If a KO occurs at the 8 minute mark however, you'd lose the bet, just like if it went to decision or went into the third round.
Parlays are wagers involving multiple picks.
Predicting the winner of one bout, let alone multiple ones is difficult, and you can even add prop bets to a parlay (you can't however add opposing bets to a parlay, say Fighter A to win and Fighter B to win by KO, as it's for the same fight and thus one would be wrong automatically).
The odds stack (online sportsbooks let you add picks to a list and automatically tell you the combined odds so you don't have to calculate this yourself) so you can get many times the amount of money you put in should ALL of your picks win.
And there's the catch - ALL of your picks in a parlay have to be correct in order for you to win, or else you lose whatever you bet.
Like a normal bet, if you picked a bout winner and it ended in a draw or No contest, or if the fight didn't happen but others in your parlay did, that pick will simply be scrapped from the parlay and those odds removed from the stacked total. So if you placed a parlay which includes bets on three fights, and one fight didn't happen or was ruled a no contest, your parlay would just have two picks and ignore the third one and remove its odds from the calculation.
A parlay bet could look something like this:
Fighter A to win, -110
Fighter X to win by KO, +110
Fight 3 to last over 1.5 rounds, -105
Total Odds: +683
Bet: $10 to win $68.30
So if this parlay had all three picks correct, you'd get $78.30 back (the $10 you put in plus the winnings).
You've surely heard of fantasy football, hockey, soccer, or basketball at some point. Given the individual nature of the sport and its lack of normal "points" or similar stats, MMA doesn't really lend itself to fantasy "leagues" but a large fantasy betting site DraftKings does offer single event fantasy MMA bets.
Basically, you pick a "team" of fighters for an event, and they receive a certain amount of points based on their performance that night - 90 for a first round finish, 70 for a second round finish, 50 for a third round finish, 40 for a 4th or 5th round finish, 30 for a decision win, 0.5 per significant strike landed, 10 per knockdown, 5 per takedown, and so on.
There are dozens of tournaments that can be entered for each UFC event, with an entry fee that ranges from 10 cents to thousands of dollars. DraftKings shows you how many players can join each tournament and what the prizes are - say for a $10 tournament, first place may earn $20,000, 2nd place $5,000, 3rd place $2,000, even places 500-1500 may receive $20, so on and so forth.
The total points awarded for every fighter are added after each bout and at the end the rankings are confirmed then the payouts are added to player's accounts.
In DraftKings, each tournament allows a roster of 6 fighters to be picked, and each player has $50,000 fantasy dollars to spend on your team (whether you entered a 25 cent tournament or one costing $100).
Each fighter is given a certain amount of value, with the favourite in the fight receiving a higher dollar amount and the underdog lower, and that is what it "costs" to add that fighter to your fantasy team.
Just like any other sportsbook odds of winning are predicted by oddsmakers, but unlike a normal sportsbook, it's not just about who wins, but how many points they get - so someone who is a prolific early finisher will be valued higher than a boring decision fighter, even if their betting odds at sportsbooks were identical.
With the cap of $50,000 it can be difficult to pick a team of people you think are all going to win, or at least score a lot of points even if they lose, which is part of the fun. You can even pick both fighters in a single matchup if you really wanted to - say for instance you think a title fight is going to be a five round war, it may be worth picking both fighters since one will inevitably be cheaper as the underdog.
Kind of like a parlay, the odds of winning the top spot are extremely low but you can still win money even if you pick a few wrong, depending on what others picked for that event and how many points your correct picks earned you - even a losing fighter can still earn a decent amount of points.
This is what an example of a DraftKings betting team would look like:
Fighter A - $9200
Fighter G - $8000
Fighter O - $7200
Fighter P - $8600
Fighter W - $8900
Fighter Z - $7500
Total Cost - $49400 Total Available: $50000 (therefore this team is valid; if the total was say $52000, one would have to remove a fighter(s) and replace them with cheaper picks).
Unlike sportsbooks however, the odds don't change for a DraftKings tournament, and if a fight is cancelled or a fighter drops out before the event starts, that matchup is scrapped and you can pick a different fighter if you picked one of the affected fighters - if a fight doesn't happen after an event has already started (extremely rare but it has happened) that fighter nets you 0 points.
Ultimately there are many ways to bet on MMA and it can add a lot of fun to the fights if you have money on the line, but always remember betting on MMA is gambling and must be done responsibly. Only bet money you're willing to lose and treat a bet as though you've already lost the money you've wagered.
These are some of the more rare and difficult to pull off submissions that have occured over the years and are worth noting. For the more common submissions in MMA, check out the Submissions section on The Techniques page of this guide.
The Peruvian Necktie
The Peruvian necktie is a rare and tricky submission that uses the hands to choke an opponent, combined with a leg pushing the head down and creating the opposing force to cut off circulation in the neck.
Like triangle or D'arce chokes, an arm is also trapped and pinned with the head, but this time the choke is utilizing the aggressor's own leg and the weight of their body to create the force required to choke someone, rather than the arms. It's typically applied from the wrestling ride or sprawl positions.
The Calf Slicer
This is one of the most painful submissions in the game and is a type of leglock.
A kneebar straightens someone's leg and attempts to hyperextend it; a calf slicer instead has the fighter's leg bent but with a shin behind the knee joint, then the leg is bent to the extreme, putting tremendous force on the calf and knee joint.
The leg is trapped by the attacker's legs, then with them facing away from the attacker, the victim is pulled backward, using their body position to create the force applied to the knee and calf rather than applying force directly.
Another calf slicer - amazingly, the victim didn't tap and actually managed to escape.
The bulldog choke is sometimes referred to as a schoolyard choke - this is one you may have seen untrained kids pull off or you'll see police sometimes use on suspects.
When someone who hasn't seen MMA or BJJ before thinks of a chokehold, chances are they're picturing this - the arm is slipped under the chin, with the crook of the elbow in front of the trachea, locking the head under the armpit with the free arm pulling up on the hand of the choking arm, tightening the choke.
Trained fighters are rarely caught in this without being able to escape, but depending on the position they're in (typically it's caught if they're kneeling by the cage, often after being rocked or when they are very tired and can't spin out due to the cage) it can finish a fight.
The Von Flue/ Von Preux Choke
The Von Flue choke is named after a lower-tier fighter who was in the UFC for a short time that managed to debut a new submission right in the Octagon.
The Von Flue choke is made available when the bottom fighter holds on to a guillotine choke while being in side control. The hand is trapped around the top fighter's neck by the top fighter applying shoulder pressure, locking their hands together behind the victim's back in what is very similar to an arm triangle choke, but instead of the arm being up by the victim's head, it's pointing down and trapped in a compromising position.
Most fighters recognize the danger of holding a guillotine without at least having half guard, but it still happens occasionally.
The submission has more recently been renamed to by some as the Von Preux choke given that UFC light heavyweight Ovince Saint Preux has successfully submitted opponents in the UFC on four separate occasions with the extremely rare submission.
The gogoplata is one of the weirdest sounding and weirdest looking submissions you can find.
It's a submission that's transitioned to from rubber guard, with the leg brought up high over the opposing fighter's shoulder then snuck in front of their face, with the shin across their neck. The head is then pulled down with the hands, and the other leg is wrapped over to prevent them from spinning or creating space.
It's a very difficult submission to pull off due to the flexibility and steps required and is extremely rarely seen in top-level competition.
Basically the only gogoplata pulled off against top competition, back in PRIDE.
The omoplata is extremely rare to see finish a fight, but you will often see fighters use it to get out of bottom position and gain top control.
It uses the same leverage on the arm as a kimura does, but is applied with the legs rather than the arms and getting out of the submission requires the defender to roll out of it (often forcing them to concede top position, thus its effectiveness as a sweep).
A successful omoplata that forces the tap; note how he has an underhook with his free arm to prevent the victim from rolling forward to escape it.
The toehold isn't actually hurting the toes (manipulating the digits is a foul in MMA anyway) but is instead pulling on the top of the foot/toes while holding the foot in place, bending the foot in the wrong direction which causes a lot of pain.
It's almost impossible to catch a well-trained fighter in this submission and generally only occurs in low-level MMA or against fighters with very little grappling experience.
An Americana or keylock is similar to a kimura, but the arm is simply twisted in the wrong direction, rather than the kimura, which puts the arm behind the back and then twists the arm.
It's best achieved from either side control or full mount, though it has been used in other positions - heavyweight legend Frank Mir scored a nasty keylock from his own guard back in the day.
Frank Mir's keylock from his back, using his armpit rather than his other arm as a fulcrum.
The ezekiel choke is popular in jiu-jitsu matches that allow a gi - it basically stretches out the baggy sleeve of the Gi and uses that to grip and choke the opponent.
There have been a few rare ezekiel chokes in MMA however, which typically requires an inexperienced victim and incredible arm strength - there's a Russian heavyweight named Alexey Oleynik who has actually pulled off a lot of these chokes including several in the UFC, and is a bonafide master at the technique despite not having any sleeves to utilize.
It's kind of like a traditional rear-naked choke but while facing the opponent
An ezekiel choke from the bottom courtesy of Oleynik, showing his incredible arm strength.
This might be the scariest submission of them all because it doesn't choke someone out or target a limb/joint, but rather it targets the spine.
It's a very tricky position to achieve and requires several steps to achieve. While in the back position, the rear fighter traps a leg and then reaches around in front of the fighter, trapping the arm on the opposite side of the leg behind their back. The head or neck is then pulled back by the forearm (almost like a rear-naked choke) and is cranked backward, contorting their body in an incredibly painful position that is basically twisting their upper and lower halves in opposite directions.
It's been pulled off successfully just twice in the UFC.
The Suloev Stretch
The Suloev Stretch is an extremely rare submission that was named after an obscure Russian fighter who briefly fought in the UFC back in 2002.
In a smaller organization Suloev hit the odd and painful looking submission in the Netherlands; Suloev was later implicated and charged by the Russian government for being a contract killer in 3 different assassinations, though the case against him had many holes in it and he died from stomach cancer while awaiting trial in Russia.
The submission is achieved from someone's back while standing and hunched over, with the attacker being a bit high on the defender's back then bending down and grabbing the leg of the standing fighter, extending their leg toward their upper body.
It is an awkward and incredibly painful position that hyperextends the victim's knee and groin, putting tremendous torque on the hamstring and is essentially a modified kneebar.
Until recently, the submission was only performed once in the UFC; at UFC 228, two fighters hit this unique submission in the same night, tripling the amount of successful Suloev Stretches in the UFC in a matter of hours.
Until recently, the only successful Suloev Stretch in UFC history.
Aljamain Sterling hitting the submission at UFC 228, kicking off the first of two that night; Zabit Magomedsharipov then hit the same submission just hours later.
Ranks in Martial Arts
Most traditional martial arts use a coloured belt system to denote the relative knowledge and experience of the martial artist, while more modern combat sports instead earn their recognition solely through competition.
Below are the top achievements and ranks in each of the major martial arts that MMA consists of.
Like in MMA, there is no traditional martial arts coloured belt system or anything similar for boxers - fighters instead recognition and status by winning fights.
Amateur boxers can work their way through the regional circuit all the way up to the Olympics, where professionals (they make money off the fight) can work their way up to capture one or multiple "world" titles.
Amateur boxers can't make any money from fights and once a fighter turns professional, they can never return to amateur competition.
Amateur boxers can compete in a variety of regional and national tournaments, the most recognized of which are the Golden Gloves competitions. The Olympics (summer games) hosts the most coveted amateur title in boxing, and a gold medal there is the highest accomplishment there is for an amateur competitor.
Golden Gloves - there are multiple "levels" of Golden Gloves boxing; essentially these are yearly competitions typically held in states/provinces in North America. There are also national Golden Gloves competitions that bring some of the best talent from around the country.
So, a "Nevada Golden Gloves Boxer" would have won one of the yearly tournaments in their weight class in Nevada, while a "Canadian Golden Gloves Boxer" would have won a yearly tournament for all of Canada in their weight class.
Olympics - this is the highest attainable level for amateur boxers.
Amateur boxing favours volume and speed, weighing total strikes landed much more than damage done, so it is a different style to compete in compared to professional (though knockouts/TKOs can still happen).
Often, a lot of amateur boxers that would compete in the Olympics are picked up by promoters and turn pro rather than compete in the Olympics, favouring immediate paydays over the Olympics which is regularly riddled with extremely controversial judges decisions.
Because you can't make money in the Olympics as an athlete, typically a fighter will go there and look to earn a medal not only for the honour and their country but to improve their earning potential when they do turn pro.
Professional fighting is what boxing is all about - typically a boxer will have a lengthy amateur career as a teen and young adult to gain experience and work on their style, then turn professional when their coaches feel they are ready.
A professional boxer receives payment for their fights, must be over 18, and once they turn pro, can never return to amateur competition.
A trend in boxing is for good fighters to rely on managers to get them easy fights and make a name for themselves by showing off their skills against lower competition, regularly racking up ridiculous unbeaten records (20-0 records or better are a regular occurrence) before they even face quality opposition. This is something that MMA for the most part avoids, though on the regional circuit it still occurs frequently.
Unlike in MMA, boxing titles are put on the line by governing bodies rather than promoters - the problem is, there are tons of these without one being the clear top prize.
Unlike in MMA, where there is one UFC title per weight class and they are virtually universally regarded as the best fighter in the world at that weight, there are many "world" titles in boxing. There are also tons of ranking authorities that can all differ on what fighters are ranked where.
Here's a basic breakdown of the titles a boxer can earn:
Regional/Local Titles - boxers will start out and often get a regional or local title (a small sanctioning body, such as one specific to a state or city, or in a different country). Depending on the region and its competition, these can mean very little and at best are akin to smaller promotions in MMA giving out titles.
Major Titles - there are four widely recognized major sanctioning bodies in boxing, each providing a title belt in each weight class: the WBO, WBA, WBC, and the IBF. Essentially, earning one of these titles means you are one of the best boxers in your weight class on the planet, and possibly the very best.
Each have strict rules for their champions, often requiring at least one defense of the title a year and often include mandatory defenses in every second bout - essentially, a boxer takes a fight with whoever they want (often whoever is the biggest name to make money on, or the easiest fight they can find while staying relevant) then must defend the title against whoever the sanctioning body decides is most deserving of a shot.
Undisputed Champion - in boxing, an undisputed champion is one who unifies all of the major titles (essentially, they won all four of the major championship belts). This is extremely rare nowadays, as management regularly gets in the way of making major unification bouts and many managers don't want to risk their client fighting the best opposition and losing, which is a major problem in modern boxing. Though a true undisputed champion is rare, gaining more than one of the four belts is common.
The Lineal Title - although there's no official belt or governing body, the lineal title is one regularly talked about by fans and boxing historians. The lineal championship of a weight class starts when a boxer becomes an undisputed champion. That title is then passed on to whoever defeats them in a match at that weight, regardless of whether all of the major belts (or any) are officially on the line.
The lineal title then continues to be passed on as if it were any other championship and cannot be stripped - if a fighter retires as the lineal champion for instance, that lineal championship ends until someone becomes an undisputed champion once more and the cycle begins anew.
Kickboxing follows a similar mold as boxing, though without the major governing bodies that create belts and rankings.
Essentially, there are no major titles in amateur kickboxing - there are plenty of different regional, national, and promotional titles, but none are really recognized and the quality of those titles varies wildly with no consistency. Amateur kickboxing rules also vary wildly with some being so different from what you'd expect it's hard to even recognize it as being a kickboxing match.
You may see someone with dozens of kickboxing amateur titles that's actually not a great kickboxer, where another without those accolades may be a genuinely elite fighter.
Professional kickboxing isn't much better, but is done more like MMA, with promotions crowning champions of their own rather than sanctioning bodies like in boxing.
For professional kickboxing, the biggest organization used to be K-1; it was essentially the UFC of kickboxing (at a smaller scale of course) for a time and would often hold yearly Grand Prix tournaments to crown champions.
This was considered the pinnacle of kickboxing, and was essentially the kickboxing equivalent of a UFC championship belt; if you were the K-1 Grand Prix champion, you were regarded as the best kickboxer in your weight class.
After financial troubles, K-1 largely disappeared and is essentially out of the fold, leaving GLORY Kickboxing to become the biggest kickboxing organization for the last few years (although they don't stage the Grand Prix events like K-1 used to).
Nowadays, the Glory champions are generally considered the top kickboxers at their weight. Japan also has a stable of kickboxing standouts there as well, with the most prominent being an organization called RISE which houses some high-quality champions of their own.
Much like kickboxing and boxing, there is no standard ranking system in place - some western gyms have implemented belt systems of their own (ie. purple belt, brown belt, black belt, etc. taken from karate and other traditional martial arts) however these essentially mean absolutely nothing and typically mean that the gym and/or fighters aren't of the highest quality.
If you see anyone claiming they are a black belt in Muay Thai (or kickboxing, believe it or not people do claim this) they are likely full of shit and probably not great at kickboxing.
Thailand is a hotbed for Muay Thai and fighters from all across the country fight for a living.
There's not really any amateur system in place; even from a young age (some Thai fighters aren't even 10 by the time they start competing in the brutal sport) Thai fighters compete professionally.
Unfortunately, actually getting a decent amount of money through competition is incredibly rare and reserved for only the biggest names in the sport, typically after hundreds of fights in the ring (or, some Thai fighters will start competing abroad in kickboxing or MMA for bigger paydays).
Often, fighters live in and are fed by their gym, with their fights essentially being payment for room and board. Fighting isn't just a sport in Thailand, it is literally a way of life and a means for survival.
In Muay Thai, there are multiple major titles (mostly all in lower weight classes, as Thai people are generally small - the vast majority of fights take place south of 160 pounds).
The two most prestigious stadiums in Thailand both crown their own champions - Lumpinee Stadium (which is actually run by the Thai Royal Army on behalf of the Thai government) and Rajadamnern.
The WBC, one of the major boxing sanctioning bodies, also has titles under WBC Muay Thai, which can be won in any stadium.
There are also Thai National Champions, whose belts can be fought for in any recognized stadium in the country.
The Muay Thai greats are revered in their country, but unfortunately even the most successful Thai fighters make virtually nothing compared to stars in boxing or MMA.
Like most grappling disciplines, wrestling doesn't have any professional outlet.
The pinnacle of amateur wrestling is in the Olympics, and the only payment a wrestler can realistically get besides their living expenses paid for by their country's wrestling team is through coaching - or applying their skill and athleticism to MMA.
Professional "wrestling" like the WWE is obviously completely different even if a few actual wrestling moves are used; it's basically just acting with stunt work. Some high level amateur wrestlers have actually gone into the WWE and other pro "wrestling" leagues though, such as Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle, as they are elite athletes who can do the stunts and the wrestling work ethic lends itself well to the extreme schedule pro wrestlers are used to, but in terms of actually competing, there are no professional outlets for wrestling other than MMA.
For amateur wrestlers, competition mainly starts in schools - there are local, regional, and national tournaments throughout children's development in the US, with the highest achievements coming in state and national tournaments which are held each year. This is similar in other countries as well, and many countries hold national championships every year to crown their best wrestlers.
Moving on to the collegiate levels, they consist of the following titles, which are awarded in massive tournaments every year. Wrestlers will qualify to compete in these tournaments via their matches throughout the year's wrestling season:
JUCO Champion/Runner Up - The title awarded to the winner of the year's Junior College championship in each weight class and the runner ups.
NCAA DIII Champion/Runner Up - The NCAA is split into 3 divisions in the US, with Division 1 being the best and 3 the lowest; Division 3 schools aren't allowed giving athletic scholarships, so Division 3 wrestling is viewed as much lower in competition and skill.
NCAA DII Champion/Runner Up - The title for the champion and runner-up for Division 2 schools. Generally these aren't as notable as D1 winners of course, but Division 2 champions are often seen as being good enough to at least compete with the Division 1 tournament qualifiers.
NCAA DI Champion/Runner Up - The most prestigious collegiate wrestling title on earth and its runner up. To get to this position, a wrestler will have competed in hundreds of wrestling matches in their amateur career and competed in countless tournaments, partaking in multiple matches in a day and often making weight multiple times within short time frames. It's a grinding and gritty sport and to reach this level is a huge accomplishment.
NCAA DI All American - The title given to all wrestlers that make the final 8 in a DI Championship tournament. You will see this title on many MMA fighters' bios, as many who reach such a high level are extremely competitive and without any professional options for competition in pure wrestling, if they wish to continue competing while also making money MMA is their best option.
Pan-American and World Championships - International and prestigious, high-level wrestling championships. These are essentially the best wrestlers worldwide, and are often former college All-Americans and champions if they wish to continue their amateur wrestling careers after college. The Worlds take place every year, where the Pan American games are every four years.
The Olympics - The peak of amateur wrestling; simply representing a country at the Olympic games is an accomplishment, let alone for a wrestling powerhouse such as the US or Russia.
In the US, they hold Olympic team trials to earn spots with the team and pay their athletes to compete internationally and train year-round representing the US (essentially, they are given room and board and enough so that they can train all year without needing a normal job; they only really make decent money if they can find good sponsorship however).
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu uses a traditional martial arts belt system similar to those found in karate and other martial arts.
Unfortunately this system is very subjective - certain instructors are renowned for being incredibly difficult to earn a black belt under, while some instructors have much lower demands and some will even award these belts to online students (that's not a joke, though it should be).
Therefore, the belt colour itself doesn't indicate much, but the instructor does - a very respected BJJ practitioner who gives someone a brown belt for instance, is often a better grappler than a black belt under someone nobody has heard of.
Here's a breakdown of the classic belt system:
White Belt - A universal standard across any traditional martial art, a white belt is given to a beginner. It has no prerequisites and is essentially given to anyone who wants to train in jiu-jitsu.
Blue Belt - This is the next adult level in jiu-jitsu (16+ years old). There are other coloured belts for younger kids, but they are very loosely given and aren't indicative of much. The blue belt is given to someone with a moderate amount of experience learning the art and at this level is where most of the techniques and moves are learned.
Purple Belt - The purple belt is the intermediate belt for BJJ, and is generally regarded as being able to instruct students of lower levels (normally reserved for black belts in other disciplines).
The IBJJF requires at least two years experience as a blue belt, though of course instructors can and will change this. Generally, a purple belt is well-versed in jiu-jitsu and is more than capable of defending themselves or neutralizing others in a fight if need be.
Brown Belt - The brown belt is the advanced belt for BJJ and is given to experts in the art with years of experience. It generally takes at least five years experience dedicated to BJJ to achieve this rank, though there are exceptions for outstanding students of course.
Black Belt - The highest belt ranking in BJJ, these are the true experts, with thousands of hours learning and competing in BJJ. Although skill level does vary depending on who they received the belt from and how long they've been one, in most cases black belts are very experienced and very knowledgeable about all of the positions and techniques in BJJ.
Red Belt - In Brazilian jiu-jitsu red belts are reserved for those whose influence and fame have taken them to the pinnacle of the art. This rank was only officially given to five practitioners to date - the five Gracie brothers who pioneered the martial art.
Like other grappling sports, there are regional, national and international tournaments around the world. The IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) is generally the biggest and most recognized sanctioning body, providing guidelines for the belt system as well as hosting many tournaments around the world for different titles.
These titles are earned through tournaments around the world, separated by belt level; the black belt division is of course the most respected and recognized division. The World Jiu-Jitsu Championships are generally the most renowned titles in competition BJJ, and are put on by the IBJJF.
There is no distinction between amateur and professional BJJ and most BJJ practitioners don't compete for money, though in a lot of tournaments prize money is awarded for the top spot or medalists. There are some small BJJ promotions which do pay competitors, but they are few and far between. Most competitors turn to MMA if they seek to make money from the sport (outside of coaching of course), utilizing their grappling knowledge as a strong base.
There is also a distinction made for gi and no-gi competition - with the popularity of MMA, no-gi grappling has become just as big as traditional, gi jiu-jitsu, and competitions often have separate tournaments that allow the gi and vice-versa.
In no-gi grappling, participants wear shorts like in MMA, but have a rash guard rather than no shirt (a thin, tight shirt that prevents mat burn and rashes).
Karate/Judo/Other Traditional Martial Arts
Judo, karate, taekwondo, and many other traditional martial arts use belt systems similar to those stated above for BJJ.
In the case of judo and taekwondo, the top talent in their sports are represented at the Olympics, along with tournaments at every level (local, regional, national, international). Karate has many variations and similarly has many tournaments with varying rulesets, with point karate coming to the Olympics in 2020.
Most martial arts that offer competitive tournaments offer very little if anything in compensation.
For striking arts such as karate and taekwondo, the matches compared to a real fight are unrealistic and sometimes even silly - point karate for instance scores points simply for touching your opponent with a strike, whether it’s a huge punch or a tiny slap, and for putting yourself back in a karate form after every strike which is a surefire way to get clocked in a real fight.
Note: only console releases are included in this Appendix; there have been several UFC and MMA-themed mobile games released over the years, none of which are covered here.
The first ever MMA videogame, simply titled Ultimate Fighting Championship, was released way back in 2000 for the Dreamcast and PlayStation alongside a GameBoy Color version. It received surprisingly good reviews, but due to the still limited appeal of the UFC and MMA back then (especially with the mainstream media often giving it negative coverage as "human cockfighting" and such) it wasn't a breakout title and had limited success.
The next title in 2002 was called UFC Tapout and released for the Xbox, again scoring solid reviews that led to it releasing on GameCube and Playstation 2 as UFC Showdown. It received a very similar sequel the next year.
The last of the early games was titled Sudden Impact and was released in 2004 for the PS2. Although they all scored average-to-good reviews, none captured much of the technique of MMA (especially the grappling/ground game) and with the limited mainstream appeal of the UFC at the time, none managed to capture a large audience.
UFC's biggest rival back then, PRIDE Fighting Championships, released their own videogame, pairing up with publisher THQ to deliver PRIDE FC for the PS2 back in 2003. The game garnered good reviews and featured more in-depth and realistic gameplay, and was considered the best MMA videogame around until the later UFC games came along.
UFC 2009: Undisputed
In 2007 after Zuffa's acquisition of PRIDE FC, the UFC also inked a contract with former PRIDE FC videogame publisher THQ to develop a new series of UFC games. After their lukewarm prior offerings and their dwindling business success in the early 2000's, the UFC had stopped their videogame endeavours entirely, but now, after The Ultimate Fighter had propelled the UFC to mainstream popularity and turned MMA into the fastest growing sport on the planet, it was time for a modern videogame offering to match.
After two years of development, UFC 2009: Undisputed released a playable demo a month before the game launched in May 2009. The demo featured two of the sport's biggest stars in a bout that took place just days earlier at UFC 97, in Chuck Liddell versus Shogun Rua (Chuck Liddell was the biggest star in UFC history at the time, but was viciously knocked out by Rua in the fight) - players were given an in-depth tutorial on the advanced martial arts systems in place, and could pick which fighter they wanted to compete as.
The demo showcased the by-far most advanced and deep combat systems for a fighting game ever made, with an impressively deep and realistic take on takedowns and grappling combined with a vast striking and clinch arsenal.
The game was a smash hit, selling over a million copies in the first month it launched for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, helped along by the explosion in UFC popularity over the prior few years and its impressive gameplay.
The title had a solid roster composed of the biggest names in the UFC along with slick graphics (at the time), a stellar presentation that felt like you were truly watching a UFC fight with the UFC's own on-screen graphics and commentary team, and even had a customizable character creation suite. It was also boosted by the immense event that was UFC 100, which was by far the biggest card in UFC history and heavily promoted the new title in July just over a month after its release; not only were UFC fans drawn to the game, but gamers were now being drawn to the UFC thanks to its stellar fighting game.
The title featured a standard career mode, online matches, and a classic fights mode where you could relive some of the biggest fights in UFC history and look to re-enact the fight as it happened by fulfilling objectives (such as getting a knockout in a certain round, or landing X number of takedowns, etc.).
THQ truly did a fantastic job of not only translating MMA into a fun virtual format, but creating a great introduction and guide to MMA for new fans or gamers unfamiliar with the sport.
That year, EA Sports, which had reportedly refused to partner with the UFC in the past and even stated that “MMA wasn't a sport” when the UFC had approached them, decided to announce their own upcoming MMA game just a month after UFC 2009 debuted, titled EA Sports MMA.
UFC Undisputed 2010
Released just a year after the groundbreaking 2009 entry, Undisputed 2010 improved on and polished the great foundation the original game provided. With an expanded roster, improved controls and animations, a more in-depth and expansive career mode, and a new version of classic fights (now dubbed Ultimate Fights mode) which unlocked real video of the fights themselves, Undisputed 2010 was the definitive MMA videogame.
Again scoring critical success, the game didn't sell as well as expected, likely due to the original coming out just a year prior. 2010 was nonetheless a great game and solidified THQ's excellent formula for MMA gameplay.
The title was deemed vastly superior to EA's first foray into MMA, who launched their title later that year. The game was also later released on the Sony PSP.
EA Sports MMA
Without the use of the UFC brand and its well-known roster, EA mainly partnered with the UFC's biggest opposition at the time (though it wasn’t as big a rival as say, PRIDE was), StrikeForce.
The game featured several former UFC fighters who had been released by the promotion as well as many StrikeForce fighters and Fedor Emilianenko, who had long been regarded as the best heavyweight in MMA history (though he never competed in the UFC). Randy Couture, a UFC hall of famer and multiple-time champion, was also heavily featured; despite being in the UFC, he hadn't signed away his likeness and was in a contract dispute with the UFC at the time, and therefore lent his name and brand to the game.
Like THQ's offering, EA released a playable demo with a tutorial of the systems at play - in an attempt to differentiate itself from THQ's gameplay, EA used a very different control scheme that most found clunky and off-putting.
The game featured various rule-sets and different fighting arenas (boxing rings, circular and hexagonal cages) as well as an emphasis on customization for fighter gear and created fighters along with social media integration.
Despite surprisingly good reviews, the MMA fanbase was not impressed and the game sold extremely poorly, marking EA's first (but unfortunately not their last) failure in the MMA sphere.
UFC Undisputed 3
The creme de la creme of MMA videogames. Moving away from a yearly release schedule, Undisputed 3 dropped the year designation from the title and launched in 2012, almost a full two years after the last entry.
The extra development time paid off as the game added a vast amount of polish and refinement on the already great foundations the prior games had laid.
On top of the enhanced visuals and animations, the game featured an improved submission system, a wide array of new striking and grappling techniques and positions, full fighter entrances and music, and a vastly expanded roster.
The biggest new addition was easily PRIDE Mode: rather than competing in the Octagon, players could instead compete in PRIDE's white boxing ring in a fully authentic recreation of the beloved promotion.
Using the longtime commentators and announcer from PRIDE rather than the UFC commentary team from the regular modes, PRIDE Mode also featured the Japanese promotion's rules (with knees/kicks to the head of a downed opponent legal) and added techniques to fit, including stomps and soccer kicks. It also used the PRIDE weight classes (they had fewer weights than the UFC, thus in PRIDE mode several divisions from the UFC would be combined to fit, effectively allowing players to pit fighters from different weight classes against each other).
Undisputed 3 even included the PRIDE Grand Prix, which were tournaments that pitted some of the best fighters in the world in brackets to fight for a tournament title, and allowed you to create single-night tournaments with damage from prior matches carrying over into the next fight.
The deeper career mode also allowed players to take established UFC fighters through the career mode and rise through the ranks rather than only allowing created characters as its prequels did.
UFC Undisputed 3 effectively perfected THQ's formula and was one of the most deep, expansive, and fun fighting games ever made. The game was very successful both critically and commercially, and to this day is the most beloved and best MMA game ever created.
EA Sports UFC
Despite UFC Undisputed 3's success, the game's publisher THQ had prolonged financial problems due to mismanagement, poor spending decisions and other failed investments. This led to Electronic Arts purchasing the UFC license from THQ for an undisclosed amount less than 6 months after Undisputed 3's release.
EA announced the acquisition and their new UFC partnership, stating that EA Sports in Vancouver would be handling their upcoming UFC titles (EA Vancouver made the highly regarded Fight Night series).
Fight Night Round 3 had revolutionized boxing games thanks to its use of the right analog stick for punches rather than using traditional button controls, as well as it's incredible graphics and realism. The last entry in the series, Fight Night Champion, sported an incredible career mode and was one of the best fighting games ever released.
Anticipation was high for the EA UFC game given its talented developers, however mixed reactions followed from early glimpses of the game thanks to its new graphical direction and floaty animations.
Like the other games in UFC's catalog, a demo was released shortly before the game's launch in 2014, though this time it likely hurt more than helped; the game was largely panned by MMA fans thanks to a subpar and floaty physics/animation system, poor and clunky controls, and lack of depth.
Rather than taking THQ's template and improving or altering it, EA opted to make their own mash up of their previous MMA outing and the THQ games, which effectively pleased no one and led to less than expected sales.
The game also featured a ridiculous amount of glitches and bugs, many of which found their way into funny Youtube videos. The game received mixed or average reviews and despite being the first MMA game on the latest platforms (Xbox One and PS4) and the first MMA game in over 2 years, it didn’t sell as well as EA expected and MMA fans were left returning to Undisputed 3 to reminesce over the glory days.
A stripped down mobile version was also created a year later for IOS and Android.
EA Sports UFC 2
Rather than revamping the largely disliked systems in place from their debut, EA instead looked to double down and simply improve on their lackluster foundations to little success.
It did however address some of the biggest failings of their original offering, sporting a roster of over 250 fighters (compared to less than 100 in the original), better graphics, the addition of female fighters, and additional modes.
Unfortunately, the clunky controls, poor physics and unrealistic style was still present along with a slew of bugs and glitches that simply shouldn't occur considering the game launched 2 years after its precursor and used the same engine.
Its bland career mode was hardly an improvement over the previous installment and Ultimate Team mode, the biggest new addition, utilized cards similar to other EA franchises like Fifa and Madden and didn't have the desired addictive effect in its simple implementation.
Although the game scored decent reviews and was better than the last outing, it was still a far cry from the THQ games of old and left MMA fans without hope of getting a truly great MMA game again anytime soon.
The sales numbers improved upon the first release but still didn't hit the targets that the UFC and EA were likely anticipating when they signed the development agreement.
One interesting idea that was implemented was the ability to play upcoming or prior live events - for instance if UFC 180 was coming up that weekend, you could predict who would win (in the fights where both fighters are in the game's roster at least) and by what method, and then you could play that match in the game and if you fulfilled your prediction, you would get bonus points along with extra points if your prediction proved true come fight night.
At this point however, most fans were (and are) begging EA to hand the UFC game to another developer (even a different studio under the EA umbrella) and have the UFC team at EA Vancouver go back to making their much more liked Fight Night games.
EA Sports UFC 3
Similar to EA UFC 2, 3 offered some mild improvements over its predecessors though the control scheme was still clunky, the physics were still off, and there were still glitches and graphical bugs that simply should not be occuring at all at this point.
While the striking game has been improved from the previous 2 games, the grappling aspect was completely overhauled to a more timing-based and complicated system that somehow makes the poor grappling system in their old games look good by comparison.
Though the striking can be fun and offers some entertainment (even if not very realistic), once a match hits the floor it becomes an annoying and frustrating chore, even more so than the prior 2 installments.
The lone bright spot was the revamped career mode that featured a much deeper and fulfilling campaign complete with well-produced videos and improved training systems.
Unfortunately, the updated Ultimate Team Mode, like in other EA franchises, had been morphed into a blatant cash grab featuring "pay-to-win" mechanics that essentially required players to grind out points or fork over actual money to skip the grinding process.
The improved career mode wasn't enough to keep the game from more lackluster sales numbers, with steep discounts being applied just weeks after its release.
It's clear fans are not responding well to EA's poor attempts at UFC games and without significant revamping, it looks like we're destined to get a slightly improved but still shoddy UFC game every two years. Thanks EA.
Other UFC Programming
There are tons of original UFC shows and content available to watch. Compiled below are some of the highlights over the years and as virtually everything the UFC has ever put out is available on Fight Pass, you can check them out at any time:
The UFC Countdown shows are a staple of their pay-per-view events - for every event, they'll have an hour-long show dedicated to showing the main fighters' journey to the fight, along with the significance of the fights and other background info on the fighters.
Typically the countdown shows feature the fighters in the main event for more than half of the program, with a smaller segment on the co-main event fighters - sometimes if there's another big fight on the card, they'll also highlight those two fighters for a few minutes at the end.
It's a well-produced program and can get people hyped for the upcoming fights, though nowadays it doesn't push the promoted show's numbers so much as simply provide fans some extra programming to watch in the build up to the fight.
For new fans looking to get into the sport, it's a great way to learn about the fighters on an upcoming card and invest in their stories. UFC Countdown shows are typically released both on TV and online during the week prior to a UFC pay-per-view event.
The Thrill and the Agony
An online series that was inspired by Dana White's old YouTube video blogs, this series is exclusive to Fight Pass and offers an inside look behind-the-scenes on fight day - essentially, this is UFC Embedded but posted after the fight to show the aftermath of an event rather than the build-up.
Dana White's video blogs would sometimes go behind the scenes on fight nights and show the backroom interactions and this series makes that its core - showing fighters and their camps upset after losing, others elated after scoring a big win, fighters interacting with each other after a fight, and more.
It's a fun (and sometimes sad) series that offers another glimpse inside the life of a fighter and is posted on Fight Pass following each PPV event.
A series exclusive to Fight Pass, Fightography Collections have episodes dedicated to specific fighters, sort of like a "greatest hits" collection featuring highlights from their careers narrated by the fighters themselves.
It's a cool way to get to know a fighter's history and offers insight and extra info straight from the fighters themselves. It's definitely worth a watch if you have any interest in the specific fighter, or if you didn't know who they were beforehand.
Where Are They Now?
A fun series that's had multiple batches of episodes on Fight Pass, Where Are They Now? offers short episodes (usually around 10 minutes) on past UFC fighters, giving fans a look at what's gone on in their lives after they've left the limelight of the UFC.
The series started its first season exclusively looking at early The Ultimate Fighter alumni, though since it's branched out to past UFC fighters in general alongside TUF alums.
With almost 30 seasons of The Ultimate Fighter (more if you include international seasons), there are tons of TUF fighters that didn't make it to the UFC or only had a few fights there, but have very interesting stories and were fan favourites for one reason or another.
It's interesting to catch up and see where they are in the world today - some used the exposure they received to benefit themselves, some took their careers in another direction entirely, and some, unfortunately, fell on hard times.
UFC: 25 Years in Short
For the UFC's 25th anniversary in 2018, the UFC released a series of short (between 10 and 30 minutes) documentary-style episodes focusing on various aspects of the organizations history, from the creation of the iconic Octagon that debuted at UFC 1 to the addition of female fighters and the rise of Conor McGregor.
It's an excellently produced series and is a must-watch for fans of the sport, though some of the episodes are far too short.
The Exchange with Megan Olivi
Megan Olivi is an interviewer and host for the UFC (she's also married to longtime UFC/WEC vet and fan favourite Joseph Benavidez) that does a great job interviewing fighters and telling their backstories.
The Exchange is a simple sit-down video interview with Megan Olivi featuring some of the biggest names in the sport. It's a good watch when she's interviewing a pioneer or one of your favourite fighters, and can expose you to the personalities of fighters you may not have been interested in before.
UFC Fight Flashback
The name gives it away, but Fight Flashback is essentially a replay of some of the biggest fights in UFC history, presented alongside interviews from fighters and insiders who present their memories and additional behind the scenes info about the fight and the buildup to it.
It's a very well presented and edited program that actually won an Emmy award and is well worth watching.
Fight Pass Twenty/20
Similar to Fight Flashback, Twenty/20 is another way to watch a replay of some of the biggest UFC fights, but rather than presenting the buildup before and during the fight with overlapping audio and cuts, Twenty/20 merely plays the fight with original commentary and instead offers additional info and statistics in a slider at the bottom of the screen.
While it can offer some cool tidbits and stats, if you don't like reading during a video you're unlikely to be a fan of the show, though some really like the format.
UFC Unleashed/UFC Wired
This was the ultimate UFC programming back in the day - before Fight Pass, before you could readily find your favourite fights all over the internet, you had to either pay to watch the live UFC pay-per-view events, or you had to buy/rent a UFC event DVD.
Back when the UFC was on Spike, they eventually put on free events with live fights, but during the week if you wanted your fight fix without splurging on DVDs, there was UFC Unleashed.
During the hour-long show, the host (usually old UFC commentator and longtime voice of the UFC Mike Goldberg) would offer a short introduction to the next fight, then they'd show the fight in its entirety.
Each episode featured multiple fights, including some of the best fights, knockouts, and submissions from past UFC events.
UFC Wired, produced for another network, was essentially the exact same show just with different graphics and a different host. It was a great way to discover old fights and rewatch favourites without having to fork out hard earned cash back in the day, and still serves as a great way to discover fun old UFC fights if you're a new fan.
UFC Ultimate Knockouts/Ultimate Submissions
The UFC Ultimate Knockouts series were numbered and released on DVD (as well as airing sometimes on old UFC broadcasting partner Spike TV). As you can probably guess, they showed some of the best knockouts in UFC history - the host (usually Mike Goldberg) would give some backstory, then they'd cut to just before a knockout occured and show the fight, along with replays of the KO.
It was a fun way to look at a collection of knockouts back before the internet was filled with KO compilations on Youtube. They also made a similar, though much less frequent, Ultimate Submissions series.
With Fight Pass, they have a much more streamlined, current version that features some of the best KOs in various categories to watch on demand.
Best of Pride/WEC
Similar to UFC Unleashed, the Best of Pride series (and the Best of WEC) was an hour long show that featured multiple bouts per episode, with a host offering some backstory and introducing the fight before it's replayed in full.
With the extensive event history of both PRIDE and WEC, it's a great program to see some of the highlights of both organizations without sitting through long events and sifting through the filler.
Detail: From the Mind of Daniel Cormier
A series created by the late Kobe Bryant to highlight the skill and technique of certain players in the NBA, Daniel Cormier runs the MMA version of Detail which is meant for those interested in the specific techniques, tendencies, and skills of each episode's highlighted fighter.
Rather than being for new or casual fans, Detail is aimed at the hardcore crowd or other fighters interested in learning the more subtle aspects and breakdowns of a fighter, and Cormier does an excellent job breaking down fighters and their bouts.