At one point in time, mixed martial arts wasn't anything close to what it was now.
It started in Japan's Shooto organization, founded by Satoru "Tiger Mask" Sayama, in 1985 as a realistic and effective system of combat derived from shoot wrestling, but for most fans, MMA as we know it started on November 12, 1993 in Denver, Colorado, which was the night of UFC 1.
Back then, the sport of Mixed Martial Arts was really just a showcase of individual martial arts, with results varying with each style of fighting, and the UFC was initially created to showcase not only the effectiveness of the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but also to answer the long-argued "What if?" questions surrounding various martial arts.
UFC 1 answered those questioned, but as the early forefathers of the UFC kept on putting on more and more of these events, few could've expected what happened next.
With time, the influence of a still-budding "sport" of MMA caused many to cross-train similarly to the way many cross-train today.
Fighters who were pure grapplers were showing notable striking improvements and pure strikers were adding notable grappling techniques to their arsenals, so as to be more well-rounded.
Remember how "ground-and-pound" got started?
That happened thanks to wrestlers cross-training and working strikes into their game after getting takedowns.
Fast forward to 2012, and the sport's evolved a little bit more than one may think.
Now, fighters have their one discipline that gets them into the sport, such as taekwondo, Muay Thai, Sambo, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, boxing, judo, wrestling, etc., but they are always adding new skills from multiple disciplines to their arsenals to complete their skill sets.
Not only does a fighter's incorporation of multiple disciplines create more than one method of neutralizing an opponent's strength, but if nothing else, the multiple styles create the unpredictability aspect that makes this sport so fun to watch, and it creates that aspect in a way that almost seems to guarantee that fans of the sport will see something that they've never seen before.
The scary thing about MMA's evolution is that what we have seen in only the past four years of the sport will one day be seen as outdated and perhaps even one-dimensional, and in the future of this sport, fighters will make common usage of moves that have yet to successfully work in today's MMA.
MMA's come a long way since the days of pure jiu-jitsu vs. pure boxing, or straight-up karate technique vs. raw wrestling ability, and as scary as it may be, it will go a long way for years to come.
Looking back, it's a wonder if the forefathers of the sport—who probably didn't understand the sport they were creating when they put together the first UFC—had any idea as to whether the Ultimate Fighting Championship would ever evolve to what it is right now.
If I had enough to place a decent bet, I'd say they couldn't have ever seen the UFC of today coming in their wildest dreams, but seeing as how it was created to show the effectiveness of jiu-jitsu to the world, they would be proud to see where it's at right now.