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This is What MMA Looked Like in 1981

This is What MMA Looked Like in 1981

History is a funny thing, because invariably, it’s written by the victors. Of course, when you’re talking about MMA, that victor is the UFC, which debuted on pay-per-view in 1993 and, despite some early struggles, has been “winning” at the game ever since.

But the truth is that some form of MMA existed before the UFC ever erected their Octagon on that chilly Denver night nearly 21 years ago. Brazilians were doing their vale tudo thing in South America, the Japanese were making pro wrestling into something more closely resembling an actual fight, and there were many one-off experiments featuring the likes of Mohammed Ali and Gene LeBell. Heck, there was even a primitive tournament in 1970s Philadelphia that pit tough guys (i.e., a mechanic, a construction worker, a biker – hey, that’s what passed for tough back then) against each other.

So don’t be too shocked at the video below. Martial arts tournaments had rules and there were always people who found those rules too restrictive, hence, MMA-like fights.

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