The history of modern MMA competition can be traced to mixed style contests throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s; the Gracie family's vale tudo martial arts tournaments in Brazil starting in the 1920s; and early mixed martial arts matches hosted by Antonio Inoki in Japan in the 1970s. The sport gained international exposure and widespread publicity in the United States in 1993, when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter Royce Gracie handily won the first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament, submitting three challengers in just five minutes, sparking a revolution in the martial arts. Meanwhile in Japan the continued interest in the sport resulted in the creation of the PRIDE Fighting Championships in 1997
The movement that led to the creation of the UFC and PRIDE was rooted in two interconnected subcultures. First were the vale tudo events in Brazil, followed by the Japanese shoot wrestling shows. Vale tudo began in the 1920s with the "Gracie challenge" issued by Carlos Gracie and Hélio Gracie and upheld later on by descendants of the Gracie family. In Japan in the 1970s, a series of mixed martial arts matches were hosted by Antonio Inoki, inspiring the shoot-style movement in Japanese professional wrestling, which eventually led to the formation of the first mixed martial arts organizations, such as Shooto, which was formed in 1985. Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz broke PPV records with their rematch at UFC 66.The concept of combining the elements of multiple martial arts was pioneered and popularized by Bruce Lee in the late 1960's to early 1970's. Lee believed that "the best fighter is not a Boxer, Karate or Judo man. The best fighter is someone who can adapt to any style." His innovative concepts were recognized in 2004 by UFC President Dana White when he called Lee the "father of mixed martial arts." Recognition of it's effectiveness as a test came as the United States Army began to sanction mixed martial arts with the first annual All Army Combatives Championships held by the US Army Combatives School in November 2005.
The sport reached a new peak of popularity in North America in the December 2006 rematch between then UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and former champion Tito Ortiz, rivaling the PPV sales of some of the biggest boxing events of all time, and helping the UFC's 2006 PPV gross surpass that of any promotion in PPV history. In 2007, Zuffa LLC, the owners of the UFC MMA promotion, bought Japanese rival MMA brand PRIDE, merging the contracted fighters under one promotion and drawing comparisons to the consolidation that occurred in other sports, such as the AFL-NFL Merger in American football.
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