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Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has gained worldwide popularity with a multitude of organizations showcasing top talent.

These organizations host thrilling events featuring the world’s best fighters.

Let’s explore the world of MMA through these notable promotions.

Most Important Mixed Martial Arts Tournaments:

  1. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
  2. Bellator MMA
  3. ONE Championship
  4. Strikeforce
  5. Professional Fighters League (PFL)
  6. RIZIN Fighting Federation
  7. World Series of Fighting (WSOF)
  8. Invicta Fighting Championships
  9. Cage Warriors
  10. Pancrase
  11. DEEP
  12. M-1 Global
  13. Jungle Fight
  14. King of the Cage
  15. Titan Fighting Championship
  16. KSW
  17. LFC – Legacy Fighting Championship
  18. BRAVE Combat Federation
  19. Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB)
  20. Shark Fights

#1 Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

  • πŸ“ Location: Global, primarily based in the United States
  • πŸ“… Established: 1993
  • πŸ”„ Held: Year-round with regular events
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

The UFC, owned by Endeavor Group Holdings, is the premier organization for MMA, with fighters from around the globe competing in multiple weight classes. Signature events such as UFC numbered events and Fight Nights exhibit the highest level of competition.

Fighters like Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, and Conor McGregor have become synonymous with the UFC, which has evolved from a no-holds-barred spectacle to an athletic showcase governed by the unified rules of MMA.

#2 Bellator MMA

  • πŸ“ Location: Global, primarily focused on the United States and Europe
  • πŸ“… Established: 2008
  • πŸ”„ Held: Year-round with regular events
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

Bellator MMA, which is operated by parent company Viacom, is the second-largest MMA promotion, offering an alternative platform for athletes.

With an emphasis on tournaments and special events like the Bellator Grand Prix, fighters such as Patricio Pitbull, Ryan Bader, and Fedor Emelianenko have made their mark. Bellator also offers a stage for champions and veterans from other promotions to continue their careers.

#3 ONE Championship

  • πŸ“ Location: Asia, primarily focused on Southeast Asia
  • πŸ“… Established: 2011
  • πŸ”„ Held: Year-round with regular events
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes, including striking-only contests

ONE Championship is Asia’s largest MMA organization, blending together martial arts disciplines and showcasing athletes from diverse backgrounds.

Promoting a focus on honor and respect, ONE has fostered talent such as Angela Lee, Eduard Folayang, and Aung La Nsang. In addition to MMA bouts, the organization also features Muay Thai and kickboxing competitions under its banner.

#4 Strikeforce

  • πŸ“ Location: United States
  • πŸ“… Established: 2006
  • πŸ”„ Held: Regular events, ceased operations in 2013
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

Strikeforce, which operated primarily in California, rose to prominence as a leading MMA organization in the late 2000s. Notable champions included Nick Diaz, Alistair Overeem, and Ronda Rousey.

UFC parent company, Zuffa LLC, eventually purchased Strikeforce in 2011, with the promotion closing in 2013. Many fighters transitioned to the UFC, leaving a lasting impact on the sport.

#5 Professional Fighters League (PFL)

  • πŸ“ Location: United States
  • πŸ“… Established: 2018
  • πŸ”„ Held: Regular season and playoffs, with championship event annually
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across multiple weight classes

The PFL is a unique MMA organization with a focus on a seasonal and playoff structure, offering athletes the chance to compete for a $1 million prize in their division.

Based on a point system, fighters progress through the competition, culminating in the PFL Championship event. Notable champions include Kayla Harrison and Lance Palmer.

#6 RIZIN Fighting Federation

  • πŸ“ Location: Japan
  • πŸ“… Established: 2015
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually, including flagship New Year’s Eve event
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

RIZIN Fighting Federation is a leading MMA promotion in Japan, known for its grand production and unique ruleset, which includes the use of soccer kicks and knees to grounded opponents.

Fighters such as Tenshin Nasukawa, Kyoji Horiguchi, and Rena Kubota have headlined events. RIZIN often collaborates with international promotions to host cross-promotional bouts, solidifying its position within the global MMA landscape.

#7 World Series of Fighting (WSOF)

  • πŸ“ Location: United States
  • πŸ“… Established: 2012
  • πŸ”„ Held: Regular events, rebranded as Professional Fighters League (PFL) in 2018
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

The WSOF, based in the United States, served as a platform for numerous future stars such as Marlon Moraes, Justin Gaethje, and David Branch.

The organization was ultimately rebranded as the PFL in 2018, with a refreshed focus on a season-based format. The WSOF’s impact can still be felt, as many of its alumni continue to excel in the upper echelons of the sport.

#8 Invicta Fighting Championships

  • πŸ“ Location: United States
  • πŸ“… Established: 2012
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters, all-female promotion

Invicta Fighting Championships is the premier all-female MMA organization, providing a platform for rising talents and established veterans alike.

Promotion alumni such as Cris “Cyborg” Justino, Rose Namajunas, and Amanda Nunes have gone on to achieve significant success in the sport. Invicta has played a significant role in developing women’s MMA and continues to nurture future champions.

#9 Cage Warriors

  • πŸ“ Location: United Kingdom and Europe
  • πŸ“… Established: 2001
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

Cage Warriors is a leading European MMA organization that focuses on showcasing talent primarily from the UK and Europe.

Serving as a breeding ground for future global stars, the organization has launched the careers of Michael Bisping, Conor McGregor, and Dan Hardy. Cage Warriors continues to provide a pathway for aspiring fighters seeking international recognition.

#10 Pancrase

  • πŸ“ Location: Japan
  • πŸ“… Established: 1993
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

Pancrase is one of Japan’s oldest MMA organizations, with a rich history of cultivating legends such as Bas Rutten, Ken Shamrock, and Masakatsu Funaki.

Initially featuring open-hand strikes and catch wrestling techniques, Pancrase has evolved to adopt the unified rules of modern MMA, ensuring its continued relevance in the global fight scene.

#11 DEEP

  • πŸ“ Location: Japan
  • πŸ“… Established: 2001
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

DEEP has been a staple of the Japanese MMA scene for two decades, offering fighters a platform to showcase their skills and build their careers.

The organization has seen the likes of Alistair Overeem, Ryo Chonan, and Shinya Aoki grace its stage. DEEP continues to play an essential role in nurturing Japan’s future MMA prospects, fostering the growth of local talents.

#12 M-1 Global

  • πŸ“ Location: Russia and Europe
  • πŸ“… Established: 1997
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

M-1 Global, based in Russia, is the largest MMA promotion in the country, garnering attention from the European and international fight scenes.

Talent from countries within the former Soviet Union has been showcased through events such as M-1 Challenge and M-1 Selection. M-1 Global has produced dominant fighters like Fedor Emelianenko, Alexey Oleinik, and Alexander Volkov.

#13 Jungle Fight

  • πŸ“ Location: Brazil
  • πŸ“… Established: 2003
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

Jungle Fight, founded by former MMA fighter Wallid Ismail, remains one of Brazil’s top MMA organizations.

Focusing on developing local talent, Jungle Fight has been responsible for launching the careers of international stars like Jose Aldo, Lyoto Machida, and Fabricio Werdum. The promotion continually fosters Brazilian MMA, contributing to the sport’s global prominence.

#14 King of the Cage

  • πŸ“ Location: United States
  • πŸ“… Established: 1998
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

King of the Cage (KOTC) is a regional MMA organization in the United States, known as a proving ground for up-and-coming talent.

Urijah Faber, Diego Sanchez, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson are among the sport’s notable names who began their careers in KOTC. With a focus on grassroots development, KOTC has played an essential role in identifying and nurturing future MMA stars.

#15 Titan Fighting Championship

  • πŸ“ Location: United States
  • πŸ“… Established: 2005
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

Titan Fighting Championship is a regional MMA promotion in the United States, offering rising talents an opportunity to showcase their skills.

Numerous fighters, such as Jorge Masvidal, Alan Belcher, and Dustin Poirier, have competed in Titan FC before moving on to larger organizations. By nurturing rising stars, Titan FC has effectively contributed to the growth and depth of the sport.

#16 KSW

  • πŸ“ Location: Poland
  • πŸ“… Established: 2004
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

KSW, short for Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki, is the premier MMA organization in Poland, consistently producing high-quality events and drawing large crowds.

The organization has featured notable fighters like Mariusz Pudzianowski, Mamed Khalidov, and MichaΕ‚ Materla. KSW has played a significant role in popularizing MMA in Poland and Europe, fostering local talent and influencing the global MMA landscape.

#17 Legacy Fighting Championship (LFC)

  • πŸ“ Location: United States
  • πŸ“… Established: 2009
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually, merged with RFA in 2016
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

Legacy Fighting Championship, a prominent US-based MMA organization, provided a platform for upcoming fighters and future stars like Holly Holm, Thomas Almeida, and Sage Northcutt.

In 2016, LFC merged with Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) to form Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA), a new organization that further strengthens its commitment towards developing regional MMA talent.

#18 BRAVE Combat Federation

  • πŸ“ Location: Bahrain
  • πŸ“… Established: 2016
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

BRAVE Combat Federation, founded under the patronage of Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, showcases fighters from around the globe with an emphasis on talent from the Middle East and North Africa.

The organization has attracted prominent athletes like Stephen Loman and Abdul Kareem Al-Selwady, and aims to create new pathways for regional talent while contributing to the global MMA scene.

#19 Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB)

  • πŸ“ Location: Russia
  • πŸ“… Established: 2014
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually, rebranded as ACA in 2018
  • πŸ‘₯  Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB) emerged as a powerful MMA promotion in Russia, known for its explosive fight cards and exciting matchups. ACB built upon the foundations laid by earlier Russian promotions and hosted international talents like Abdul-Aziz Abdulvakhabov and Yusup Raisov.

In 2018, ACB merged with World Fighting Championship Akhmat (WFCA), creating a new entity called Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA).

#20 Shark Fights

  • πŸ“ Location: United States
  • πŸ“… Established: 2008
  • πŸ”„ Held: Multiple events annually, ceased operations in 2013
  • πŸ‘₯ Teams: Individual fighters across various weight classes

Shark Fights was a regional MMA promotion in the United States that developed a strong following and showcased exciting up-and-coming talents. Veterans like Keith Jardine, Trevor Prangley, and Joe Riggs appeared in the promotion’s events, enhancing its credibility.

Shark Fights played a vital role in boosting the careers of regional MMA athletes before ceasing operations in 2013.

FAQ

What is the most important MMA tournament?

The most consequential MMA tournament is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), due to its global reach and high caliber of fighters.

What is the oldest MMA tournament?

Established in 1993, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Pancrase are the oldest MMA organizations.

What is the hardest MMA tournament to win?

The UFC Championship is considered the hardest MMA tournament to win given the high level of global competition.

I'm a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. I run stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton, took part in the German Mini Golf Championships, started learning 'real' Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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