MMA for Dummies: A Guide for the Aspiring Fan

Fundamentals to enjoy the sweet violence of Mixed Martial Arts

Thierry Maout
16 min readOct 28, 2020


In the wake of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s last fight and the first MMA event organised in France, a lot of very relevant questions about the sport started popping up around me:

  • “It’s basically pro-wrestling, right?”
  • “What if some huge fighter gets in there with a small one? That seems unfair…’
  • “Who would win between Mike Tyson and Bruce Lee in their prime?”
  • “Simple: Just kick’em in the nuts!”

MMA is relatively new in France (where I’m from), and I figured it would be useful to break down the basics and bring some light to a sport I’ve enjoyed watching for years. I’ve decided to write a guide for beginners, including everything you need to know from the rules to the history of the sport, where to start, etc. Now that the French version has pretty much received critical acclaim across the board (2 friends told me it was funny), I decided to translate it in English as well, for you to join me in the wonderful world of MMA fandom.

(Me, annoying anyone in my vicinity when a fight is on)

But before we dive in, a word about myself.

My MMA Journey and expertise

While I would love to tell you that I have a bunch of shiny belts to show for, I’m really just a fan of the sport with no fighting experience appart from being pretty good at Tekken. I started like most people by downloading gruesome knockout videos online as a teenager, before starting to follow more intently around 2013/2014.

I lived in Ireland at the time and some colleagues started telling me about Conor McGregor, an up-and-coming MMA fighter on the verge of getting signed by the UFC, MMA’s largest organisation. I had watched fights before, but now I was starting to check out the interviews, read about the classic rivalries, revisit older fights… I was hooked. And here I am, years later, ruining most of my weekends by staying up until dawn to watch the fights (when I’m in France, as most fights broadcast on US time). What a ride.



Thierry Maout

Jack of all trades, master of some. Vancouver-based, I write about tech, business, MMA and education. Mostly in English, but sometimes in French too.