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Top 5 Facts about MMA

VO: Chris Masson
Script written by Joseph Jo Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, has pretty much dominated every other martial art when it comes to popularity and entertainment value. Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts. In this five minute round, we're counting down the five most interesting facts that you probably didn't know about MMA. Special thanks to our user MikeMJPMUNCH for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Written by Joseph Jo

Top 5 Facts about MMA

Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, has pretty much dominated every other martial art when it comes to popularity and entertainment value. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In this five minute round, we’re counting down the five most interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about MMA.

#5: UFC Originally Had No Rules or Weight Classes

Multi-million dollar ventures never get this big without reforms and governmental pressure. During the early 90s, UFC proudly branded themselves as having no rules, aside from a ban on biting and eye gouging. It didn’t even have weight divisions until UFC 12. Side note: if you’ve ever wondered why weight divisions are important, here’s Game of Thrones’ The Mountain play knuckle fighting with featherweight champion Conor McGregor. As the sport became more mainstream, it faced political pressure to be less brutally violent, most notably from Senator John McCain. Bit by bit, UFC abandoned its “extreme” angle in favor of making itself a legitimate sport. Even though they succeeded in that regard, some martial artists are not fans of the MMA style. Jackie Chan, for one, thinks it’s too violent and nothing like a martial art. He says martial arts are about respect, not about hitting a guy when he’s down.

#4: First Official MMA Death in North America was Sam Vasquez

So while as far as we know, no fighter has ever died as a result of a UFC fight, the record of other organizations is not so spotless. On October 20, 2007, the 35 year-old Sam Vasquez was up against the 21 year-old Vince Libardi during a Renegades Extreme Fighting event. The fight ended in the third round when Vasquez was knocked out. Vasquez started to have a seizure after the fight and suffered a stroke while in the hospital. Sadly, on November 30 2007, after being comatose for three weeks, Vasquez died. It was officially ruled as the first death in a sanctioned MMA fight in North America, but with a handful of others occurring since then, it sadly wouldn’t be the last.

#3: Georges St. Pierre was the Richest MMA Fighter

Every so often we get new fighters in the spotlight, but the biggest name ever in the UFC might be GSP, whose estimated net worth today is $25,000,000 USD. In 2013, it was estimated that he made $9,000,000 on fights and another three million from endorsements. With St. Pierre mostly retired today, Ronda Rousey is the highest paid athlete in UFC. According to Forbes, these days Rousey is earning about $6.5 million per year inside and outside of the UFC. Naturally, only the elite performers earn the elite salaries; the average salary of a professional MMA fighter is about $34,000 a year. So if you’re not the top fighter, boy you better start moonlighting.

#2: MMA Fights Are Still Banned in New York

There have been some legendary UFC fights, but the most epic? UFC vs. The State of New York. In the late 90s, almost every state banned so-called extreme fighting, but UFC rallied, and today almost every state has officially sanctioned it. Ever since New York state banned MMA in 1997, the UFC has consistently tried to appeal the law in the U.S. Court of Appeals. New York politicians argue that MMA is dangerous and fosters a culture of violence. According to UFC bigwig Dana White, there’s some political intrigue at play. Apparently, some of the UFC co-owners run some non-union casinos, which enrages the Culinary Union, whose parent organization is based in New York. The unions, alleges White, are the ones putting pressure on politicians to keep UFC out of New York. So, it’s basically a fight within a fight for a fight to take place at Madison Square Garden.

#1: MMA is Bloodier but Less Dangerous

So while New York demonizes MMA, it’s home to 3 teams in the concussion-plagued NFL. MMA might show cuts, blood, bruises and sometimes even broken bones, but multiple studies have found that MMA is generally safer for its athletes than other more common sports. In 2006 Johns Hopkins University found that MMA fighters suffered fewer risks of traumatic brain injuries compared to boxing and a 2015 study from the University of Alberta came to the same conclusion. Think you about it: in boxing a fighter can get knocked down but still get back up and keep fighting, and most blows are aimed at the head; in MMA once a fighter is unable to defend themselves, the ref stops the fight, and there’s less need for attacks to the head. Bottom line, MMA looks more damaging on screen than it actually is. I’m still not getting in the cage with Ronda Rousey though.

So, what do you think about mixed martial arts? Should more places ban it? For more no-holds-barred Top 10s and massive head injury Top 5s, be sure to subscribe to


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