Who created MMA?
MixedMartialArtsHistory.com answers Who, what, when, why, and how was MMA created: The complete lineage and timeline from Pankration to UFC and everything in-between and all the milestones and “firsts” in mixed martial arts history.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is the sport of the 21st century:
WOW Promotions popularized it, SEG Entertainment refined it, Zuffa LLC monetized it, but Tough Guys created it!
About The Tough Guys: The Firsts
CV (Caliguri and Viola) Productions was the first MMA based production company in America, established in 1979.
Bill Viola wrote the first codified set of mixed martial arts rules in 1979; implemented in over 130 bouts. Those standards parallel the unified rules of today.
The World Martial Arts Fighting Association (WMAFA) sanctioned all Tough Guy events and was the first regulatory body for mixed martial arts in the United States.
CV Productions introduced open regulated mixed martial arts competitions to the United States March 20, 1980 in Pittsburgh, PA with the inaugural Tough Guy Contest AKA “Battle of the Tough Guys” championship. This was the first commercial MMA success and the beginning of a new sport.
Later in 1980, the “Tough Guys” were rebranded as Super Fighters to accommodate a professional fighting image: The “Super Fighters League” (SFL). This was the first MMA league of its kind and set the tone for mainstream mixed martial arts.
Pennsylvania became the first state in history to set a legal precedent for mixed martial arts, officially banning the sport of MMA with the passage of The Tough Guy Law Senate Bill 632 (Session of 1983 Act 1983-62).
The groundbreaking law was drafted specifically to outlaw CV Productions’ events and provided detailed language that defined mixed martial arts competition by prohibiting:
“ANY COMPETITION WHICH INVOLVES ANY PHYSICAL CONTACT BOUT BETWEEN TWO OR MORE INDIVIDUALS, WHO ATTEMPT TO KNOCK OUT THEIR OPPONENT BY EMPLOYING BOXING, WRESTLING, MARTIAL ARTS TACTICS OR ANY COMBINATION THEREOF AND BY USING TECHNIQUES INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PUNCHES, KICKS AND CHOKING.”
Ten years after the passage of Senate Bill 632, the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) would debut in 1993.
Welcome to CV Productions Inc. “C” Frank Caliguri and “V” Bill Viola.
CV Productions, Inc., is a Pittsburgh, PA based mixed martial arts company, founded in 1979. It is considered the first MMA based company in the United States and responsible for creating the blueprint for modern mixed martial arts competition. The company promoted the first regulated league of mixed martial arts style competitions beginning in 1980 with the intention of creating a new sport–MMA. The company was founded in 1979 and was the first grass roots movement to develop mixed martial arts into a modern mainstream sport. The World Martial Arts Fighting Association (WMAFA) sanctioned all CV Productions events. This was the first regulatory body for mixed martial arts and oversaw the Tough Guys, Battle of Brawlers and Super Fighter events “Super Fighters League” (SFL).
Today, CV Production’s “anything goes” creation has evolved into one of the fastest growing sports in the world, albeit under the auspices of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Nearly thirty years before the UFC garnered real mainstream acceptance, CV set up shop as the first mixed martial arts company in American history. Although enshrined at Heinz History Center in association with the Smithsonian Institution, you’ve likely never heard of them—until now. MMA is the sport of the 21st century: WOW Promotions popularized it, SEG Entertainment refined it, Zuffa LLC monetized it, but CV Productions created it.
Don’t be fooled by the hype, the UFC may have popularized MMA style events, but Caliguri and Viola were the first! The mma events pitted combatants from all fighting disciplines including boxers, kick boxers, martial artists, wrestlers, grapplers, and all around “tough guys.” Competitors could win by opponent’s submission, knockout or judges’ decision (based on the 10 point “must” system). The competitions were promoted as “Anything Goes – striking, throwing, grappling, punching, kicking, ground fighting, and more.” The shows were immediately dubbed by the media as “Organized, Legalized, Street Fighting” a phrase coined by KDKA’s Dave Durian. Pittsburgh is the birthplace of modern “sport” MMA (1979). The information provided on this site is collected in an effort to preserve the historical integrity of modern mixed martial arts as a sport in Pennsylvania and throughout The United States. Below are facts presented in a manner to help educate and fill in the blanks to missing parts of modern MMA history. A new book, Godfathers of MMA is dedicated to keeping the storied traditions alive and proving a historical reference for all types of combat and mixed martial arts. CV Productions is an online resource for all styles of fighting including mixed martial arts .The company is based in the Western Pennsylvania region, Greater Pittsburgh area promoting Pittsburgh Mixed Martial Arts for over thirty-five years. The company officially amended its corporate structure and re branded Pittsburgh MMA in 2012 in honor of the region being recognized as the birthplace of the sport of MMA in America. Godfathers of MMA written by Bill Viola Sr.’s son Bill Viola Jr. and Dr. Fred Adams is on sale now.
Catch the network debut of “Tough Guys” on Showtime Sept. 15th 2017 @ 9PM ET