Shamrock vs Gracie Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock fighters mma history

On the left, Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock square off at UFC 1. On the right, the aftermath of UFC 5.

Who are the Most Important Fighters in MMA History?

Since humans first began to walk the planet, they began to come up with ways to fight. Whether it be a fight to survive, a fight to dominate, or a fight just for fun, fighting has been a part of our very nature for as long as we, as humans, have been around.

The earliest forms of combat involved boxing and wrestling. In other words, martial arts, since the earliest human societies, can be divided into striking and grappling. Striking martial arts involves delivering powerful blows to knock out the opponent, while grappling involves pushes, shoves, and holds to disable the opponent.

However, what happens when you combine striking and grappling? Well, in that case, we get Mixed Martial Arts.

What is MMA?

The earliest form of mixed martial arts can be found in Ancient Greece. The sport known as Pankration involved striking and grappling. Over the course of human history, there have been numerous different forms of mixed martial arts. Vale tudo, krav maga, even street fighting, all served as inspiration for the mixed martial arts competitions we have today.

While still lagging behind boxing, MMA is quickly growing in popularity. Not just as a watched and practiced sport, but as a betting sport. Many of the best MMA odds can be found on the various online betting sites today, that thoroughly cover a wide variety of combat sports. But how did the sport come to be? Who are the fighters that made the UFC and mixed martial arts the powerhouse it is today?

Ken Shamrock

Ken Shamrock might be familiar to fans of pro-wrestling. His stint with the WWE still gets the fighter some heat by fans of martial arts. However, this shows a lack of knowledge of the history of MMA. Ken Shamrock was a prominent bare-knuckle boxer and kickboxer, whose stints in early UFC earned him the moniker “World’s Most Dangerous Man”. He headlined over 15 mixed martial arts events, served as one of the first superstars in the sport, and is certainly an MMA icon.

The World’s Most Dangerous Man’s greatest success is certainly the fact that he was the first ever Superfight Champion, after he tied with his rival, Royce Gracie, and defeated Dan Severn at the sixth UFC iteration. After his MMA career, Shamrock dabbled in WWE, where he also enjoyed massive success. However, his importance to MMA can’t be overstated.

Royce Gracie

We mentioned Royce Gracie previously, however, the man certainly deserves to be talked about in his own right. Widely considered one of the most influential people in UFC and MMA history, Royce is a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and a member of the famous Gracie family, a prominent martial arts family who have competed in numerous MMA, Jiu-Jitsu and Vale Tudo competitions. They have also had a hand in creating the Ultimate Fighting Championship, so we might not even be here without them.

For his own part, Royce Gracie’s fame comes from his massive success during the early UFC fights. He won the UFC 1, UFC 2 and UFC 4, developed a long-term rivalry with Ken Shamrock, with whom he tied during UFC 6. He is inducted into the MMA Hall of Fame and was ranked as the third most influential martial artist in the world by Inside MMA.

Chuck Liddell

Last on our list is the former light heavyweight champion, who is widely considered to be the man who popularized MMA with the mainstream, Chuck Liddell. During his time in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Chuck Liddell competed in 23 UFC fights, most of which have gone down in history as some of the most legendary and popular fights in the UFC.

Chuck Liddell’s fame came from his massive striking power, and his impeccable winning record. Out of the 22 kickboxing fights he engaged in, he won 20, and out of the 30 MMA fights, out of which he won 21. During his time, he was the poster boy for mixed martial arts competitions, and played a huge role in the popularization of the sport.

Today, he is considered one of the most important fighters in the sport’s history and has been inducted in the Hall of Fame.

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