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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a U.S.-based mixed martial arts (MMA) organization, currently recognized as the largest MMA promotion in the world. The UFC is owned and operated by Zuffa, LLC, headquarted in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The UFC began as a single-event tournament to find the world's best fighters irrespective of their style, and was based upon Brazilian vale tudo fighting. Although there were a few limited number of rules, fighting in the UFC was marketed as no holds barred, and contests were often violent and brutal. Early UFC fights were less sport than spectacle, which led to accusations of brutality and "human c**k fighting" by Senator John McCain and others. Political pressures eventually led the UFC into the underground, as pay-per-view providers nixed UFC programming, nearly extinguishing the UFC's public visibility.
As political pressure mounted, the UFC reformed itself, slowly embracing stricter rules, becoming sanctioned by state athletic commissions, and marketing itself as a legitimate sporting event. Dropping the no holds barred label and carrying the banner of mixed martial arts, the UFC has emerged from its political isolation to become more socially acceptable, regaining its position in pay-per-view television.
With a cable television deal and expansion into Canada, Europe and new markets within the United States, the UFC is currently undergoing a remarkable surge in popularity, along with greater mainstream media coverage. UFC programming can now be seen on Spike in the United States and Canada, as well as in 34 other countries worldwide.