For decades, guys all over the world have been furiously arguing over whether karate or muay Thai, aikido or sambo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or yoga is cooler. Attempts to bring together in the ring different martial arts had happened before, but only in the 1990s the term MMA appeared, and UFC, Pride, Bellator and other promotions made the contest “whose kung fu is cooler” one of the most popular and entertaining sports. 

The modern history of MMA is only a couple of decades old, but in that time the discipline has already managed to become both legendary and controversial. Despite its controversy, this does not prevent it from being inspirational – there are video games, themed slots at real-money online casino in Canada, and comic books. We’ve gathered ten interesting and strange facts for you to easily beat the erudition of any MMA champion. 

1. MMA Is Mixed Style Fighting, Not No Rules Fighting

Even a drunken fight on the street usually has some kind of rules. And a real fight without rules usually lasts a few seconds – until an eye is gouged out or a finger is bitten off. In the early 1990s there really weren’t many rules in MMA, but there was a basic set of guidelines: no kicking in the groin, no biting, no poking in the eyes, no breaking fingers, etc. 

It would be more correct to say that the MMA rulebook has the same rules for all martial arts. The main contradiction in modern MMA is the use of knees and elbows, as many fighters use Thai boxing as their punching base, where these punches are one of the key features. 

2. Mixed Style Fighting Was Banned in New York City Until 2016

Almost since its inception in the ’90s, MMA bouts have been banned in New York City. The ban wasn’t lifted until April 2016. You can see that solemn moment in the photo below.

“An economy that works hand in hand with sports is invincible. Thank you to our legislators who made this (lifting the ban. – Note to MAXIM) possible,” Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York State, wrote on his Twitter feed on that momentous day.

3. The Octagon Ring Was Inspired by the Movie “The Octagon” With Chuck Norris

It is widely believed that the octagon cage for UFC tournaments was invented by Jason Casson. In 2013, he confirmed to ESPN that he was inspired by the Chuck Norris movie, though he doesn’t remember if the movie itself featured an octagon (spoiler: it did). 

4. UAE Capital Abu Dhabi Owned Part of the UFC

Flash Entertainment (Abu Dhabi’s state-owned investment company) bought a part in the UFC for $150-200 million, and in 2016 sold nearly the entire asset for $4 billion. The rise in value roughly reflects the rise in popularity of MMA. 

5. The First MMA Fights Took Place Back in Ancient Greece

They were called “pankration” in those uneasy times and were included in the Olympic Games in 648 BC. There is a version that one of the champions was the philosopher Plato. 

6. The UFC Belt Is Actually Made of Gold

The UFC belt awarded to champions is made of gold and is worth about $300,000. This is the story of fighter Chris Weidman, who left the belt in his car over the summer, the leather on the belt deteriorated, and he took it to a repair shop. There he was told the true price.

7. One Of the Fans of MMA was U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt

He practiced boxing, wrestling, and judo, a very fashionable novelty at the beginning of the 20th century. According to legend, he, as a deputy sheriff, handled three thieves by himself, twisted them up, and took them to the nearest town for trial. The nearest town was two days’ walk away.

During his presidency (1901-1904) Roosevelt had fights right in the White House. So you could say that up to eight corners of the octagon was the Oval Room!

8. The Longest Winning Streak of Matches Belongs To Igor Vovchanchin from Ukraine

It lasted from January 1996 till May 2000. The Ukrainian had 32 matches without a loss. The only fighter who came close to Vovchanchyn’s record is Khabib Nurmagomedov, who now has the streak of 28 fights. 

9. The First “Intercultural” MMA Match Was Attempted in Shanghai in 1909

The British actor Hercules O’Brian and the wushu master Ho Yuanjia fought. This fight is used in the movie “Ip Man”, although the most famous appearance of Ho Yuanjia in movies is “Fist of Fury”. There he was played by Bruce Lee. 

The match between the Briton and the Chinese never took place at the boxer’s initiative. 

10. The Organizers of UFC 1 Were Planning to Make a Moat With Crocodiles Around the Ring

Crocodiles were not the most original idea, admitted in an interview with one of the founders of the UFC – Rorion Gracie. Originally, the plan was to make a moat with sharks and to run electricity through the metal bars. The main thing was that none of the fighters could escape until the end of the fight. History is silent as to which organizer’s common sense prevailed over childishness, but the first UFC event took place on November 12, 1993, without any circus elements.