To be a true fan of MMA is to understand the history of martial art forms and also to respect that what these great athletes do is much more complicated than the untrained eye could ever imagine.
If you trace it back as far as you can, you get to the connecting link of Kalaripayattu, the very first martial art.
Take a look at this video and see for yourself more about it:
This video by digg dubs it "The Original Martial Art", and they are telling the truth. It started back before defending one's self was just something that a few people wanted to learn to do.
It was essential to living. If you couldn't fight in ancient times, you could literally be killed! Truly awesome to see that something as seemingly archaic as Kalaripayattu spawned what we now have today.