There is more to the story of the rise of MMA sports than the UFC. There’s the story of Bill Viola and Frank Caliguri of Pittsburgh, PA who were well versed with the big question which had been long debated among Martial Artist; which system reigns superior? From there they created “Tough Guys.” Their new sports league allowed athletes to fight in the ring with any and all Martial Arts training they desired in attempts to discover which art proved supreme.

With the rise of this MMA sport, many began to view it as a threat. Those involved in the business of Boxing knew mixed fighting would hurt their business and eventually knock out its popularity. Politicians, lawyers, and more with their own intentions came to stop the sport from rising. A league with a similar namesake had legal trouble which proved to be powerful ammunition against “Tough Guys” as well. After a long haul fighting individuals from many sides, Viola and Caliguri ran out of money to continue their legal battle. MMA faded away.

The sport wasn’t gone for too long however. Later the UFC took up the reigns and got everything rolling again. Now MMA is a power house and the UFC has all the credit for bringing the sport to life. Viola’s and Caliguri’s influence almost fell into obscurity but a loyal son brought their story back to light.

Bill Viola Jr. wanted to give his father and Caliguri credit for all the ground work they laid for the sport. Since no book on the history of MMA mentions them, he aimed to tell the world what was missing from the sport’s written history. With co-writer Dr. Fred Adams, God Fathers of MMA was created covering the drama, heartache, inspiration, power, and excitement which came as a result of Viola and Caliguri. Most importantly for Martial Artists, MMA’s new ground proved no fighting system rules over all. To be the best fighter, you must master a system and branch into other fighting styles. That was the best gift the God Father’s of MMA ever gave to Martial Arts. – Paige Etheridge

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  1. Osu, it is finally great to see american pioneers as well as greats like the late Bruce Lee receive credit for developing mixed martial fighting. But there were others who engaged in this as well before there time. Namely Sosai Mas Oyama, who by the way developed Kyokushin originally as a free fighting system for himself (1950’s). Oyama was a big judo competitor and was well versed in locks and submissions. That is why he was able to challenge and defeat various martial arts systems before the creation of kyokushin. Much like Bruce lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do. However through time, kyokushin became standup because of the popular way karate was presented by the world organizations. Oyama’s karate was called ” Brawling Karate” by others due to the grabbing, holds, sweeps and strikes while in a clinch. See the pattern? There was others , Wong Yan Lin and Master Huo Yuan Jia to name a few.
    A volume should be done on all who have contributted to the MMA cause.
    I have seen the light!

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