Who would win if taekwondo and karate fought? Which is stronger, judo or wrestling? What happens when a yokozuna (sumo wrestling champion) meets a martial artist?

It’s childish, but we’ve all done it before. It’s called mixed martial arts (MMA). This is where Olympic medalists and other internationally recognized athletes take on the challenge. Despite the controversy surrounding its brutality, MMA continues to evolve, stimulating peripheral nerves and satisfying primal curiosity.

MMA as a sport is old enough to have been practiced in the ancient Olympics. Called the “pankration,” MMA was fought until one fighter surrendered, with only biting and eye gouging prohibited.

MMA really took off in Brazil in the early 20th century. Ballitudo, an uncontested martial arts event, was popular in Brazil, and the Gracie family, who created Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) in the 1950s from Japanese “koryu” martial arts, competed against other martial arts masters such as capoeira, karate, and kickboxing to promote BJJ.카지노사이트

MMA then began to sprout up in Japan and the United States. In 1993, Pancrase in Japan and Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) in the United States held their first competitions side by side. Pancrase was founded by a group of young fighters from the Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF), a Japanese professional wrestling organization. The inaugural event featured five matches, each lasting just 13 minutes, and was a box office success, coining the term “superfight”.

Defying expectations that boxing and wrestling would be the strongest disciplines in the UFC, Jose Gracie (BRA) won the inaugural event, using BJJ to choke out fighters who were bigger than him.

The reaction on the ground was enthusiastic, but watching MMA was stinging, and for good reason. The UFC, in particular, fought without gloves, with no rules and no weight classes, in an octagonal cage. The late U.S. Senator John McCain called it “human cockfighting,” and argued that it should be banned, saying, “If we’re going to ban dogs, why not humans fighting?”

MMA is evolving as a sport

Despite being criticized for its cruelty, interest in MMA has continued to grow and various organizations have emerged. One of these organizations, Pride FC, has grown to be so large that it has bisected the UFC and the global MMA market. This is how Pride FC was born. In 1994, Yuki Ando (JPN), a former UWF fighter, challenged Hoyce to a fight in the UFC, but was defeated by Hickson Gracie, Hoyce’s older brother, and Ando’s teacher, Nobuhiko Takada (JPN), invited Hickson to Japan to fight for pride. Intended as a one-off event, Pride FC was a hit, and the competition continued. Superstars like Banderlei Ciuva (Brazil), Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (Croatia), and Fyodor Yemilyanenko (Russia) emerged, and the sport began to gain global popularity beyond Japan.

At the same time, the UFC was undergoing a transformation. After being kicked off pay-per-view for being brutal, the UFC established weight classes and rules, and the fighter talent show The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) became a box office success.

It wasn’t until the fall of Pride FC that the U.S. became the dominant market for mixed martial arts. In 2007, Pride FC was shut down amid allegations that the organization had ties to the Yakuza. Unable to survive the financial crisis, Pride FC was sold to the UFC. After absorbing the fighters from Pride FC, the UFC grew its roster and became the world’s top organization, naturally attracting Asian fans.

Since then, the UFC has gone from strength to strength. Superstars like heavyweight Brock Lesnar (USA), female fighter Ronda Rousey (USA), and “bad boy” Conor McGregor (IRL) emerged in the Octagon. Regulations have also been relaxed. New York State, the economic heart of the United States, legalized MMA. The UFC got its wings in 2016 with the installation of the Octagon at Madison Square Garden.

Korean fighters take on the MMA challenge

South Korea’s MMA boom began in the mid-2000s with “Techno Goliath” Choi Hong-man. Hong-man Choi became very popular in the Japanese organization K-1, where he fought many powerful fighters. His fights against Yokozuna Akebono, among others, brought him riches and fame. Since then, many elite Korean athletes have jumped into MMA. Kim Young-hyun and Lee Tae-hyun, both from Cheonha Jangsa, made it to the Japanese MMA scene, as did Kim Dong-wook and Kim Kyung-seok. Kim Min-soo, the 1996 Atlanta judo gold medalist, as well as ill-fated judo star Yoon Dong-sik, wrestler Choi Moo-bae, and shot putter Kim Jae-il have also turned into fighters. However, most of them were used as promotional cards and didn’t make much of a mark on MMA.

It wasn’t until Kim Dong-hyun that Korean fighters came into the spotlight. After dominating the Japanese scene, Kim entered the UFC in 2008 and compiled a 13-4-1 record until 2017, when he temporarily retired. Chung “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung entered the Octagon when the UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) merged and became a global sensation, but after two consecutive losses, he announced his retirement, saying he didn’t think he could be a champion.

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