Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, from a variety of other combat sports and martial arts. Various mixed-style contests took place throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s. In 1980 CV Productions, Inc. created the first regulated MMA league in the United States named Tough Guy Contest, later renamed Battle of the Superfighters, sanctioning ten tournaments in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill in 1983 which prohibited the sport. The combat sport of vale tudo that had developed in Brazil from the 1920s was brought to the United States by the Gracie family in 1993 with the founding of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The first documented use of the name mixed martial arts was in a review of UFC 1 by television critic Howard Rosenberg, in 1993. The term gained popularity when the website newfullcontact.com, then one of the biggest covering the sport, hosted and reprinted the article. The question of who actually coined the name is still in debate.
Originally promoted as a competition with the intention of finding the most effective martial arts for real unarmed combat situations, competitors were pitted against one another with few rules. Later, fighters employed multiple martial arts into their style while promoters adopted additional rules aimed at increasing safety for competitors and to promote mainstream acceptance of the sport. Following these changes, the sport has seen increased popularity with a pay-per-view business that rivals boxing and professional wrestling.