Mixed Martial Arts is the fastest growing sport in the world today and can be traced back to the ancient Greece Olympics where one of the earliest documented systems of codified full ranged, unarmed combat was utilized in the sport of Pankration – an unarmed combat sport with limited rules restricted to biting and eye gouging. The sport had then spread throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim in the early 1900s, including Brazil who later founded the sport of Vale tudo (No Holds Barred, Anything Goes) in the 1920s. Vale tudo was brought to the United States by the Gracie Family in 1993 with the founding of the Ultimate Fight Championship (UFC), which is presently the largest MMA promotion company worldwide.
The more dangerous Vale Tudo style bouts of the early UFCs were made safer with the implementation of additional rules, leading to the popular regulated form of MMA seen today. Originally promoted as a competition with the intention of finding the most effective martial arts for real unarmed combat situations, competitors were pitted against one another with minimal rules. Later, fighters employed multiple martial arts into their style while promoters adopted additional rules aimed at increasing safety for competitors and to promote mainstream acceptance of the sport. The name mixed martial arts was coined by Rick Blume, president and CEO of a fight promotion called Battlecade, in 1995. Following these changes, the sport has seen increased popularity with a pay per view business that rivals boxing and professional wrestling.