Dana White Calls Bruce Lee the Father of MMA but He Actually Rejected the Style
In the decades before his death, Bruce Lee garnered a tremendous amount of respect for his commitment to his craft, along with what he stood for in his life. Lee made a significant impact on mixed martial arts as it’s become one of the most popular sports in the world.
MMA 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 didn’t actually like that style of fighting.
Dana White believes Bruce Lee is the father of MMA
Since his death on July 20, 1973, Lee’s impact has only grown as he’s left a lasting influence on the mixed martial arts world.
UFC President Dana White seems to honor Lee whenever possible. During an interview for EA Sports UFC in 2014, White stated that he believes Lee started mixed martial arts. “The Gracies were the founding fathers of the actual UFC,” he explained. “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.”
White has stayed on that route, even calling him the “father of MMA” over the years. Lee’s connection to MMA does exist, but he didn’t share the same affinity for it as White.
Bruce Lee didn’t like the style of MMA
Throughout his short life, Bruce Lee was known for many things, including acting, directing, and martial arts. What he did in the latter often gets the most publicity 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 participation in many forms of fighting helped him create his own style: Jun Fan Gung Fu.
All of this led to Lee feeling that the sport of martial arts was too stuck on traditional methods not 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 he felt it was best for the fighter to use what worked best to their capabilities. No one method or approach to fighting is a superior technique.
Regardless, Bruce Lee has been a steady source of motivation for MMA fighters. Lee’s physical ability continues to inspire generations of athletes. Although his life was cut short, it didn’t put a cap on the impact he has made.