Mixed Martial Arts is a relatively new sport designation which encompasses a more open form of fighting combat between two competitors than traditional sport forms. So while boxing allows stand up fighting with gloves, but not tackling, and while wrestling allows takedowns, but not striking, mixed martial arts allows both. While there are some variations among different mixed martial arts organizations, most organizations have basic rules to avoid injury such as no biting or eye gouging. Generally speaking, mixed martial arts has developed rules similar to other sports which include:
- weight classes
- safety equipment
Different skills required for mixed martial arts include:
- Stand up—Similar to traditional boxing, but can also include kicking or knees
- Ground game—Wrestling, or any skill to be able to get an opponent on the ground and hope to end the fight there
- Submissions—Catching an opponent in a body lock that forces him to give up, such as an armbar
A fight can end either through referee stoppage if one fighter is no longer able to intelligently defend himself or through "tapping out" where a fighter taps thereby signaling his defeat.
There is some controversy over the possibility for injury in the sport and whether or not it should be sanctioned. Mixed martial arts enthusiasts will claim it is actually safer than boxing since it is possible for fights to end through submission without a need to knockout an opponent and that if a knockout comes, it usually happens quickly and therefore avoids the accumulated pounding and wear and tear on the head common in boxing. However, the autopsy of at least one MMA fighter, Jordan Parsons, showed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The debate is currently unresolved.
Senator John McCain criticized the sport for its brutality, comparing it to "human cock fighting."
The sport is popular overseas, especially in Brazil and Japan, and has been gaining notoriety in western nations as well. Recent pay per views in America for some of the more popular contests have had over one million purchases and are quickly approaching the numbers of boxing. Recent champions have been known to appear on radio and television talk shows as the sport becomes more common place across the nation. With the passage of time, the sport is gaining more of a following and more credibility.