Dana White Calls Bruce Lee the Father of MMA but He Actually Rejected the Style

Throughout the last few decades since his passing, Bruce Lee has garnered a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for his commitment to his craft, along with what he stood for in his life. Lee has had a significant impact on mixed martial arts that has become one of the most popular sports in the world. It helped create the UFC, which has become the most recognizable brand for the sport globally. UFC president Dana White has continued to praise Lee as being the founder of MMA, but he actually didn’t like that style of fighting.

Dana White believes Bruce Lee is the father of MMA

In the many years that have passed, Bruce Lee‘s impact has only further grown as he was an iconic figure during his time that left a lasting influence on the mixed martial arts world.

UFC President Dana White has stayed on the path of honoring Lee whenever possible. During an interview for EA Sports UFC back in 2014, White stated he believes that Lee started mixed Martial Arts.

“The Gracies were the founding fathers of the actual UFC, but I think the sport of Mixed Martial Arts was started by Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee’s movies, Bruce Lee’s philosophies, just Bruce Lee’s image alone is very powerful.”

He has stayed on that route that included even calling him the “Father of MMA” over the years. Lee’s connection to MMA has remained in the last few decades, but he didn’t share that same affinity for it.

Bruce Lee didn’t like the style of MMA

Throughout his short life, Bruce Lee was known for many things with involvement in acting, directing, and martial arts.

It was what he did in the latter that often gets the most shine publicly due to his influence on the craft. Lee trained as a youth in Wing Chun Kung Fu as he learned Western Fencing and boxing from his brother. Lee’s participating in the many different forms of fighting that helped him create his own style Jun Fan Gung Fu.

It was all of that led to Lee feeling that martial arts were too stuck on traditional methods were useful in a real fight, according to Bleacher Report.

In 1965, Bruce felt that martial arts were too riddled with tradition to be of any use in a real fight. Taking a step back, and looking at fighting from a purely scientific point of view, he developed what is now called Jeet Kune Do.

With this new found idea, Bruce Lee fought many times not following any style, but he was fighting for what he felt were the most effective moves. These same techniques are seen today in MMA rings around the world.

It wasn’t that Lee didn’t value martial arts, but that he felt it was best for the fighter to use what worked best to their capabilities. There is no one method or approach to fighting that is superior technic.

Bruce Lee forever respected in the MMA world


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Regardless of that being the case, Bruce Lee has been a steady source of motivation for many fighters to explore the realm of MMA.

Lee’s physical ability was awe-inspiring for many and continues to be for the many generations of athletes well after his time. Although his life was cut short, it didn’t put a cap on the impact he has made on many people over the years.

Lee may not have fully embraced MMA’s use, but his influence and fingerprints are all over it.