By Christine Paluf Training to be a cage-fighter are you? You may not be alone. With the Ultimate Fighting Championships growing in popularity since...

By Christine Paluf

Training to be a cage-fighter are you? You may not be alone. With the Ultimate Fighting Championships growing in popularity since its inception in 1993, ticket prices to this event reflect its success.

The fourth season of the reality show “The Ultimate Fighter” debuts on Spike Aug. 17, right after the UFC Fight Night, which is selling tickets for upwards of $350 a piece. Tickets range from $100 to $400 for UFC 63, going on sale Aug. 12, giving fans a live chance to see strong, trained athletes pounding each other into submission.

It’s a harkening back to the days of ancient Greece, when gladiators ruled and the masses showed up for Sunday afternoon battles in which prisoners or slaves fought to the death. Today’s version may have been toned down a bit for television’s sake, but the same basic human instincts are present.

To become a success in this arena requires a mastery of wrestling, boxing and martial arts skills. One also needs speed, endurance and a solid showing of muscle.

According to www.ufc.com, mixed martial arts (MMA) is an intense and evolving combat sport in which competitors use interdisciplinary forms of fighting that include jiu-jitsu, judo, karate, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling and others to their strategic and tactical advantage in a supervised match.

Ultimate fighting, the site explains, is a live MMA competition of high level professional fighters, using the skill sets listed above.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the world’s leading professional mixed martial arts organization. The UFC organization produces approximately eight live pay-per-view events annually that are distributed through cable and satellite providers. In addition to its U.S. distribution, UFC fight programs are distributed throughout the world including broadcast on WOWOW, Inc. in Japan, Globosat in Brazil and Bravo in the United Kingdom.

But is it real? There seems to be little concern from the masses in this regard, look at the success the World Wrestling Foundation has seen, and almost everyone agrees on the staged aspects of those matches. The UFC prides themselves on the elite level of their competitors and the absolute consistency of rules, making this a whole new cage-game.

What sets ultimate fighting apart is the brutality and raw force used in the matches. The intensity of the fights is not for the weak of stomach. For those of you that think boxing is rough, step it up about 15 notches and you may have an idea of what this sport is about.

But there are rules, it’s not a lawless free-for-all. First, there are weight classes. Leveling the playing field a bit, the classes divide into five categories, ranging from lightweight to heavyweight.

Non-championship bouts last three rounds, and five for championship fights. Each round lasts five minutes, with a one-minute break between the fighting. Fouls are outlined in a list of 31 offenses, such as eye-gouging, groin attacks, kicking an opponent when down, etc. You’re not even allowed to bite. But on the other hand, “timidity” or avoiding the opponent isn’t allowed either. You’re in the cage to fight, and to fight fair.

The ways to win are to force your opponent into submission by ‘tap out,’ either a verbal or physical “Uncle” so to speak, marking their request for mercy. There are also the technical decisions and the knockout, among other ways to win.

And the fights take place in The Octagon, a uniquely-designed mat and cage that allows for eight-sided competition. Which translates to more front-row seats for fans.

UFC 62 will be held Aug. 26 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Look for tickets to UFC 63 starting Aug. 12.