Mixed martial arts (MMA) has a relatively short history in Australia, but the sport has grown in popularity in recent years. The first known MMA event in Australia was held in 2002, organized by Australian Fighting Championship (AFC). The early days of MMA in Australia saw a lot of the events being held in the smaller regional areas as well as a lot of backyard promotions.
In the early days, the sport faced a lot of opposition from state governments and sporting bodies, which often tried to shut down events due to concerns about safety and regulation. In 2008, the state of New South Wales became the first state in Australia to officially recognize MMA, followed by Victoria in 2009.
The establishment of the Australian Fighting Championship (AFC) in 2009, founded by bodybuilder and promoter, JT Holland, helped to bring more organization to the sport in Australia. The AFC is considered as the premier MMA organization in Australia and has been responsible for hosting major events, featuring both local and international talent.
In 2010, the International Fighting Championship (IFC) was established to host events across Australia, and has also helped to bring more organization and professionalism to the sport. The IFC is one of the few Australian MMA organizations that runs a series of events throughout the year, including an amateur series, a pro-am series and the IFC World Title Series.
By the 2010s, the sport continued to grow, and the advent of international promotions such as the UFC and Bellator have held events in Australia, it allowed for the growth of local MMA talent. The country has produced a few notable fighters, such as Robert Whittaker, Tai Tuivasa, Alex Volkanovski among others, who have gone on to compete and win titles in the UFC.
Today, MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports in Australia, and it has a dedicated fanbase and a growing number of gyms and training centers across the country. The sport continues to evolve and expand, drawing more attention from fans and media, and providing opportunities for Australian athletes to compete at the highest level.