This past weekend the Ultimate Fighting Championship celebrated its 25th anniversary. While the UFC Denver show on Saturday did not fall exactly on the organization’s November 12 launch date, the promotion did all they could to turn back the clock to 1993 using many of the graphics and logos that brought the brand to life 25 years ago.
The UFC is without a doubt the most popular mixed martial arts promotion on the planet, but when were the terms “mixed martial arts” or “MMA” actually put into place?
When the sport first launched, a term commonly used to describe the action taking place inside the octagon was “No holds barred” or “NHB.”
What does “mixed martial arts” actually mean?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the term as: “a contact sport that allows a wide range of fighting techniques including striking, kicking, and grappling.”
It was actually first put into use in 1990 according to the site. Yes, three years before most Americans ever heard the names of Royce Gracie or Ken Shamrock and three years prior to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first event.
First use of the term
The first documented use of the term mixed martial arts was in a review of UFC 1 by television critic Howard Rosenberg in 1993 who was covering the event for the Los Angeles Times. The term gained popularity when newfullcontact.com, then one of the largest websites covering the sport at the time, hosted and republished the article.
The first use of the term by a promotion was in September 1995 by Rick Blume, president and CEO of Battlecade Extreme Fighting, just after UFC 7. UFC official Jeff Blatnick was responsible for the Ultimate Fighting Championship officially adopting the name mixed martial arts. It was previously marketed as “Ultimate Fighting” and “NHB”, until Blatnick and referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy proposed the name “MMA” at the UFC 17 rules meeting in response to increased public criticism.
The question of who actually coined the term is subject to debate.