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Where was UFC banned? Why mixed martial arts was forbidden in major cities and countries

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UFC (Getty Images)

UFC and mixed martial arts has become a huge player in the world of sport over the last few years, but before the likes of Conor McGregor, George St-Pierre and Jon Jones became household names, the sport was banned in a number of countries and major cities, especially in the US.

The earliest example of an MMA event being held in the United States was in Pittsburgh in 1979 which was then followed by CV Productions creating the 'Tough Guy Contest' which was first held on March 20th, 1980, at the New Kingston Pennsylvania, Holiday Inn.

Three years later the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill that prohibited these sort of shows and ended the sport.

Then came along the Gracie Family who in 1993 introduced their own form of jiu-jitsu to the US and led to the creation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). 

The first event was held in Denver, Colorado in November 1993 and received criticism for being too violent and brutal.

The state of New York banned MMA in 1997 along with most parts of the US in a movement led by John McCain who described MMA as 'human cockfighting'. 

Just three years later however, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board allowed MMA events to take place in New Jersey.

The bans continued to be lifted over the next 16 years across the country with the New York State Assembly being the last state to lift their ban and make MMA a legal sport on April 14th, 2016.

It's not just the US however which has had history with banning MMA. 

France also banned the sport in 2016 due to a lack of regulation. MMA was then made legal at the start of 2020 after a French federation stepped forward to regulate the sport. 

It's been a long road for MMA to be recognised as a legitimate sport, but now promotions such as the UFC are reaping the rewards of being one of the world's most entertaining sports brands. 

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