Is UFC MMA? [Explained]

Let’s have a short talk about whether is UFC MMA or boxing. Or maybe both? A short talk because we know there is always more to say.

That is why we are doing this online project about martial arts where we can talk enough about martial arts and all their aspects.

We see questions like “Is UFC same as MMA?“, “Is UFC MMA? “, “Is UFC real?”, “What type of MMA is UFC?”, etc. are in regular demand to be answered.

We have talked here already about what are jiu jitsu and interesting facts about UFC and MMA.

With this article, we just continue to open more and more questions about the world of MMA and other martial arts.

What is the difference between UFC and MMA?

What do UFC and MMA stand for and what is the MMA vs UFC difference?

The short answer is:

MMA stand for Mixed Martial Arts and is a full-contact combat sport or fighting style. Meanwhile, UFC is a promotion company that organizes MMA matches.

Today UFC is “the largest Pay-Per-View (PPV) event provider in the world”, as it is claimed on the official website.

UFC is like NBA in basketball or NFL in football.

What does UFC stand for in texting?

One more time the small glossary:

  • MMA – Mixed Martial Arts
  • UFC – Ultimate Fighting Championship
is ufc mma
Is UFC MMA?; Image caption

What was the UFC originally called?

In 1993 was held the first UFC fight ever under the name The Ultimate Fighting Championship. Later it was renamed UFC 1: The Beginning and the Ultimate Fighting Championship name moved to the promotion itself.

ufc 1 poster
UFC 1 poster; Wikipedia image caption

The first logo by The Ultimate Fighting Championship till 1999 wasn’t very extraordinary.

Ultimate Fighting Championship
The Ultimate Fighting Championship logo from 1993 to 1999

Most common martial arts in UFC

The best MMA martial arts styles in UFC, if to follow the logical sense, are those that are the most common martial arts in UFC used by fighters.

So what are the most common martial arts in UFC?

In fact, this question is debated among UFC and martial arts fans for many years. I’m sure if you will search for the best or most common martial arts list in UFC or MMA you will find different lists.

But anyway, there are some common points on which the opinions agree.

Why is this question so debated and hard to determine?

Because there are too many different aspects that influence the final result of the UFC or MMA match:

  • Does the fighter practice only one specific martial art style or cross-training?
  • If the fighter trains in different styles, to what style he gives more effort?
  • How objectively to define what martial art brought the win, especially if today all MMA gyms do cross-training?

Originally to UFC are coming MMA fighters with different backgrounds in martial arts:

  • Wrestling
  • Boxing
  • BJJ
  • Kickboxing
  • Karate
  • Muay Thai
  • Taekwondo
  • etc.

But what almost all fans admit and what statistics of the fights show that the 3 top combat sports that have a notable impact in MMA are:


Brazilian jiu jitsu


Not to forget that MMA in the last decade established itself as a complete combat sports and every year more and more MMA gyms are opening.

It means that with time we will see more evident a shift in the top list of the most common martial arts in UFC with MMA in the top positions.

This is because the best fighters of recent years did not train in their early years in MMA because it did not exist as it does now.

Great statistics on the question were made and shared by a r/martialarts member.

most common martial arts ufc
Wrestling, boxing, BJJ in MMA UFC matches, and other martial arts; Image caption r/martialarts

By the way, you may note the MMA fighter’s weak sides when you train martial arts and may understand what is going on in the octagon or in the cage from a fighter’s perspective.

Namely, you may often see that one of the fighters has a lack of background in a specific martial art that can be crucial in winning a fight.

MMA vs BJJ or BJJ and MMA?

For instance, I have watched some live MMA fights and videos when I noticed even with my humble experience that the fighter doesn’t understand what to do on the ground. It catches the eye right away when you train a “ground” fighting sport.

When speaking about the ground game the first martial art you will remember is for sure jiu jitsu, namely Brazilian jiu jitsu.

Here is an example of an MMA fight between BJJ black belt Michelle Nicolini vs Iryna Kyselova in ONE Championship match:

In the video, we can see that when Kyselova gets to the ground she is missing an effective defensive position that could lead her to the next step – an effective counterattack.

An effective defensive position, in this case, could be a half-guard, quarter-guard, Z-guard, deep half-guard, or a scorpion half-guard. From here there is an option for a counterattack, for example, a sweep.

Yes, BJJ rules are not MMA rules, where you get kicked. This is why timing is even more important in combat sports where you can be kicked and punched than in other martial arts.

Another error that we see in the video and what BJJ white belts learn from the first jiu jitsu classes is:

Never turn your back to your opponent unless you are sure what you are doing.

Kung fu in MMA

Kung fu in MMA did not take root in the UFC and MMA in general as we can see from the stats.

The main reason is that it will not work in full-contact fights like MMA, wrestling, or jiu jitsu. We don’t see kung fu partner training and sparring as in other combat sports.

But anyway, if talking about Chinese martial arts there is a popular example of the Shaolin Monk vs MMA Fighters video.

Aikido in MMA

In fact, Aikido in MMA has even fewer chances than kung fu in MMA. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t fighters with an aikido background. It’s about what they can count on from their background when fighting in MMA.

Where can I watch full UFC events?

Full UFC events can be watched with the UFC Fight Pass which is a Pay-Per-Views subscription to the UFC video streaming service. UFC Fight Pass allows watching the matches on different devices like Roku, Apple TV, Android devices, Xbox One, and various smart tv platforms.

Or you can subscribe to ESPN+ and follow all fights on the American cable sports channel owned by the Walt Disney Company.

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