Thursday, June 3, 2021

A Look at Iconic Mixed Martial Arts Ring

Over the last decade, mixed martial arts, known as MMA, has established itself among mainstream sports. In fact, it has become one of the world’s most-watched combat sports. Organized MMA competitions first appeared in the United States with small-scale events held by CV Productions and spread throughout the country with the rise of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the largest and most popular MMA promoter worldwide. In addition to helping cement MMA’s position as a recognized sport, the UFC popularized “the Octagon,” the iconic eight-sided cage for MMA matches.

A staple of combat sports, the Octagon features athletic commission-approved canvas flooring and plastic-coated fences with padding along the top and between each of its sections. The design is valued for its ability to provide MMA fighters with enough space to demonstrate their skills while fostering optimal safety. The fences reach 5.9 inches high from canvas to fence top and serve to prevent competitors from falling out of the ring, a risk with the traditional rope-enclosed rings used in boxing and kickboxing. Moreover, the Octagon’s lack of 90-degree angles removes the possibility of fighters trapping their opponents against a corner, a tactic known as cutting off the ring.

Most UFC events use the standard Octagon, which is 38 feet in total diameter and admits entrance to the fighting area through two gates located on opposing sides. The fenced-in arena comprises 30 feet and is surrounded by a 4-foot-wide walkway. The UFC replaces the canvases for standard-sized Octagons between events and customizes each one with hand-painted logos from sponsors.

At smaller UFC tournaments, matches take place inside a downsized version of the Octagon. With 20 percent less space for fighting, these rings have 25-foot arenas and an overall size of approximately 518 square feet.

While the 30-foot Octagon remains the standard for its large-scale tournaments, the UFC transitioned events at its 130,000-square-foot APEX production center to the smaller ring in 2020. The Las Vegas-based APEX facility, which opened the year prior, served as a game-changer for the UFC due to its advanced production technology, live-streaming capabilities, and sizable, configurable arena. According to statistician Reed Kuhn, the 25-foot Octagon’s reduced space allows fighters less maneuverability and facilitates more engagement between competitors. Statistics also indicate that these rings present a 12 percent higher chance than the 30-foot Octagon for a match to end in a submission or knockout.

Although the UFC became the first promoter to use the Octagon for MMA competitions in 1993, the history behind the eight-sided ring is a subject of debate. The traditional narrative credits the idea of an octagonal configuration to UFC cofounder Rorion Gracie and Hollywood producer John Milius, but other evidence points toward a project by MMA practitioner Greg “Kazja” Patschull and his associate Richard Gracie as the original inspiration. In February 1993, Patschull and Maize produced a choreographed MMA exhibition that featured a hand-welded eight-sided ring they dubbed the Cage of Rage. Their event took place months prior to Gracie’s collaborations with Milius, a fact that casts doubt on the traditional narrative.

A Look at Iconic Mixed Martial Arts Ring

Over the last decade, mixed martial arts, known as MMA, has established itself among mainstream sports. In fact, it has become one of the wo...