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MMA vs. UFC: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on March 1, 2024
MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is a full-contact combat sport incorporating various fighting techniques, while UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is a premier organization that promotes MMA events.

Key Differences

MMA, short for Mixed Martial Arts, is a combat sport that combines techniques from a variety of martial arts and combat sports, including boxing, wrestling, judo, and jiu-jitsu. It allows a wide range of fighting techniques and skills from different martial arts traditions. On the other hand, UFC, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, is a specific organization that promotes MMA fights. It is one of the most prominent and successful MMA promotion companies in the world, known for hosting high-profile MMA events.
MMA as a sport is characterized by its permissiveness in fighting techniques, allowing strikes and grappling both standing and on the ground. It has its own set of rules that vary slightly depending on the organization and location of the event. In contrast, UFC adheres to the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts and has its own set of championship titles, weight classes, and ranking systems. It operates as a league or promotion within the broader world of MMA.
The history of MMA can be traced back to various mixed-style combat contests throughout history, with the modern form emerging in the late 20th century. It has evolved into a well-respected sport with a global following. UFC, established in 1993, played a pivotal role in the popularization and legitimization of MMA, bringing the sport to a mainstream audience and helping to develop its current rule set.
MMA fighters come from various backgrounds and typically train in multiple martial arts to compete effectively. They are not exclusive to any one promotion and can fight in different organizations. Conversely, UFC fighters are often under contract with the UFC and compete exclusively in UFC events, though some may fight in other promotions if not under exclusive contracts.
MMA represents the sport as a whole, encompassing various organizations worldwide, while UFC is specifically a brand and a major player in the world of MMA. It has become synonymous with high-level MMA, but it is just one of many organizations within the sport. The UFC has significantly influenced the rules, culture, and perception of MMA globally.

Comparison Chart


A combat sport combining various martial arts.
A premier organization promoting MMA events.


Encompasses all mixed martial arts activities.
A specific brand within the MMA industry.


Varies by organization and region.
Follows Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.


Open to fighters from any martial arts background.
Fighters often under contract with UFC.

Historical Significance

Represents the evolution of combat sports.
Played a key role in popularizing MMA globally.

MMA and UFC Definitions


Combat Sport.
MMA combines striking and grappling techniques.


MMA Organization.
The UFC is hosting a championship fight this weekend.


Professional and Amateur Levels.
She competes in amateur MMA tournaments.


Promotional Brand.
UFC events attract millions of viewers globally.


Global Sport.
MMA competitions are held worldwide.


Media Presence.
UFC produces reality shows and documentaries.


Diverse Techniques.
MMA allows both stand-up and ground fighting.


Fighter Contracts.
He recently signed a contract with the UFC.


Mixed Disciplines.
MMA fighters train in various martial arts.


Major Events.
The UFC 260 event showcased top MMA talent.


What is the UFC?

UFC is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, an MMA promotion company.

What does MMA stand for?

MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts.

Can MMA fighters compete outside UFC?

Yes, if they are not under exclusive UFC contracts.

Is UFC the only organization for MMA?

No, there are several MMA organizations besides UFC.

Is MMA a professional sport?

Yes, MMA is a professional and amateur sport.

Are UFC and MMA the same?

No, UFC is a company within the broader sport of MMA.

How did UFC influence MMA?

UFC popularized MMA globally and helped standardize its rules.

Do MMA fighters have to know multiple martial arts?

It's beneficial for MMA fighters to train in multiple martial arts.

What are the rules of MMA?

MMA rules vary but generally include a mix of grappling and striking.

What techniques are used in MMA?

MMA includes techniques from various martial arts like boxing, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu.

Who founded the UFC?

The UFC was founded by Art Davie, Rorion Gracie, and others.

How many weight classes are there in UFC?

UFC has multiple weight classes for men and women.

How does one become a UFC fighter?

Fighters typically join UFC through talent scouting, tryouts, or building a record in smaller promotions.

What safety measures are in MMA?

MMA has strict safety rules, including medical checks and protective gear.

How does UFC rank fighters?

UFC ranks fighters based on their performance in various weight divisions.

Are there women fighters in UFC?

Yes, UFC has several women's divisions.

Can UFC fighters compete in other MMA leagues?

This depends on their contract terms with UFC.

Is UFC more popular than other MMA organizations?

UFC is one of the most popular and widely recognized MMA organizations.

What's the difference in fighting styles between MMA and UFC?

UFC follows MMA styles; there's no specific difference in styles.

What is the goal in an MMA fight?

The goal is to win via knockout, submission, or judges' decision.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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