Judges and scoring became necessary to determine winners of bouts with time limits. Ultimate Ultimate 1995 (Dec. 16, 1995) was the first UFC event to feature judges. At UFC 22 (Sept. 24, 1999), the 10-point must scoring system was instituted and still is in effect. Scoring criteria is based on effective striking and grappling, overall octagon control and effective aggressiveness/defense. Judges must award more points for striking if a fight utilizes more striking than grappling. Overall octagon control and effective aggressiveness/defense are figured in after striking and grappling.
Gloves, mouthpieces and groin protectors are mandatory. In the past, fighters could wear traditional martial arts gis, wrestling or kickboxing shoes and other apparel cleared by UFC officials. Presently, shirts, gis and shoes are not allowed. MMA shorts, bike, boxing and kickboxing shorts or pants are the only trunks allowed.
Gloves became mandatory at UFC 14 (July 27, 1997). Unlike boxing, UFC gloves are designed to protect the hand, but not large enough to improve the striking surface or weight of a punch. Only UFC and commission approved gloves, weighing between four and six ounces are allowed.
The UFC "Octagon" is unique from any other fighting arena. Doctors and martial artists designed it to create an enclosure that would act as a neutral arena to showcase skills of many martial arts disciplines. The commission must approve the ring structure, canvas and all safety padding and fences.
Created in 1993 for pay per view, the UFC became one of the most popular events in the industry's history. Cable companies dropped the UFC from its airwaves in 1997 when political outcries from such officials as Arizona Senator John McCain publicly criticized the UFC.
Since its inception, the UFC has been broadcast in more than 40 countries. In December 1997, the UFC scored the highest ratings ever for a martial arts competition broadcast on Japanese network television when Ultimate Japan, the first UFC show outside of the U.S., aired live from Yokohama. Currently on DirecTV and select cable outlets, the UFC is working toward a return to nationwide cable pay per view.