The Curious Girlfriend's Guide to the UFC

Doesn't it amaze you that strong women like Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm can battle it out in a cage while other women parade around the outside, holding cards to tell the crowd what round it is?

More men watch the UFC than women. That's a fact. But it doesn't mean women aren't interested!

I had my own revelation when my roommate Rachel agreed to go to Hooters with me. We're both fans of stuffing our faces with wings and beer, and Hooters is a powerful choice.

Daniel Cormier was defending his Light Heavyweight Championship against Alexander Gustafsson that night. And Rachel is a curious girl, so she started asking questions I was glad to answer. 

 Cormier lands a right on Gustafsson's jaw

Cormier lands a right on Gustafsson's jaw

I'm more than happy to share the details of a sport I love following, but a quick search for an article like this resulted in nothing. Well, not completely nothing. There were a few forum discussions on how to broach the subject or answer curious girlfriends followed by a ton of insider jokes.

There is so much to know. 
Where should we start?
Why not from the beginning?

What is MMA?

Mixed martial arts. A combination of martial arts skills necessary to fight your opponent in any possible way. UFC fighters are generally prepared to stand and strike one another or wrestle/grapple on the ground. Every fighter can have a mix of martial arts disciplines from boxing and wrestling to karate and jiu-jitsu, or sambo and tae kwon do.  

What's the best martial art?

Short answer: There is none.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship was basically created to explore this question: What is the single greatest martial art? 

 One-glove Art Jimmerson against UFC 1 winner Royce Gracie

One-glove Art Jimmerson against UFC 1 winner Royce Gracie

But there is no definite answer. However, there have been some glimmers of hope. While kung fu fighters and boxers with one glove haven't gone too far in the UFC, history has shown that kickboxing and wrestling/jiu-jitsu are often best as base techniques. They ensure the fighter is physically and mentally tough because they've trained against all sorts of monsters. 

Styles have made the UFC incredibly exciting and unpredictable. Whereas size or skill cannot guarantee a fight alone, style can bring a whole other element.

Some notable examples of fighters with special skills:

What are the rules?

The UFC began in November 1993 with only a few - no shots to the eyes or groin, and no biting.

Today the UFC has tons of rules to keep the fights exciting and the fighters relatively safe. Besides rules for the length of rounds or fighter's gloves, there are plenty of fouls, including kicks to the groin, clawing, eye-gouging, or grabbing the cage or the other fighter's shorts or gloves. You can't spit, pull hair, or headbutt.

And if someone gets kicked in the groin, they get five minutes maximum to recover. Yes, ladies, we need five minutes sometimes.

How do you win?

Watching two men or women beat the tar out of each other can go an infinite amount of ways. Generally, the goal of the fight is to do damage. The fight ends immediately when someone is knocked out unconscious, forced to submit for fear of a broken limb, or, if the fight goes the distance of time, the judge's decision. 

(If you're an especially bloodthirsty girl, go ahead and check out Anderson Silva's checked leg kick, Leslie Smith's ear explosion, or this compilation of the bloodiest MMA bouts.)

When a knockout or submission doesn't happen within the allotted time, three judges decide the victor based on several factors:

  • Effective striking
  • Effective grappling
  • Control of the fighting area
  • Effective aggressiveness and defense

If a fighter wins a round, he or she gets ten points. The opponent would get 9 or less for that round.


Less painful than you thought, right?

Every fight brings something new to the sport and now you're in a great position to understand what everyone at Hooters, including your stupid boyfriend,  is screaming about. 

 What better time than Women's History Month than to learn about the evolution of Women in the UFC?

What better time than Women's History Month than to learn about the evolution of Women in the UFC?

Want to know more?

Everyone has questions and I'd be glad to write more. If you're extra curious, I have a few other topics in mind to write about in the future:

  • From Banned in Most States to The Fastest Growing Sport in America
  • Why do fighters cut weight and what does that really mean?
  • Who are the fan favorites?
  • What fighters wear in the ring and how Reebok changed everything
  • Isn't all that blood dangerous?

If you enjoyed this or want to learn more, please comment below or share with your girlfriends or your friends' girlfriends.

Thanks for reading!