First UFC mixed martial art event (1993)
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (later renamed UFC 1: The Beginning) was the first mixed martial arts event by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), held at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado, on November 12, 1993. The event was broadcast live on pay-per-view and later released on home video.
Although the event was the lowest profile by the contemporary standards (the venue was less than half-packed, the grand prix of the tournament was as big as a regular sparring partner biannual salary, major martial arts observers and columnists didn’t bother to show up, the press in general neglected the event, big-name fighters turned down the offers to participate in,) it pioneered the intestylistic match-ups between the practitioners of different martial arts, and set the pattern for the future sporting events of the kind.
- 1 Background
- 2 History
- 3 Results
- 4 UFC 1 bracket
- 5 Cultural significance
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
UFC 1 was co-created by Rorion Gracie and the Torrance-based UFC promoter Art Davie, who decided to take locally famous Gracie Garage Challenge fights versus California’s martial artists to a new level, televised nationally, with the opponents picked internationally.
They didn’t come up with a 16-man tournament, as the big-name martial artists, mainly kickboxers, namely Dennis Alexio, Benny Urquidez, Stan Longinidis, Jean-Yves Thériault, Rick Roufus, Stan Longinidis, Maurice Smith, Bart Vale, Hee Il Cho, George Dillman, Gene LeBell, Rob Kaman, Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hoost, Masaaki Satake, were among the others “publicly invited” by Art Davie, but have shown no interest in participation. Davie placed ads in martial arts magazines to recruit fighters. He found less than a dozen, who answered the call. The promoters came up with an eight-man tournament format, with the winner receiving $50,000.
They wanted it to look brutal on television, so John Milius, one of Rorion Gracie’s students and a Hollywood veteran who had directed Conan the Barbarian, decided the fights should take place in an octagonal cage fenced with chain link. Campbell McLaren, a SEG executive, wanted people to consider the championship a live, televised version of Mortal Kombat, a popular video game, in which victorious fighters got to “finish” their opponents through moves such as ripping their spines out of their bodies. That one and the Davie’s idea to top the cage with razor wire were rejected.
General regulations agreed upon were:
- No doping probes.
- No holds barred.
- No rules.
- No mandatory gloves and combative uniform (bare-knuckle contest).
- No judges’ scores.
- No time limits.
- Knockout, tapout, or corner stoppage (indicated by towel) are the only determination methods. Referee could only halt a match pending the corner decision.
McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, a place which elevation above sea level is one-mile high, has been chosen because Colorado had no athletic commission and thus no governing body from which they would need to get approval for bare-knuckle fighting. The arena hosted only two fight cards in its history, both of minor significance, occurred earlier in 1993.
The major accomplishment though for the promoters was to gather a celebrity commentary team for the event. The commentary team for the pay-per-view was Bill Wallace, Jim Brown, and Kathy Long, with additional analysis from Rod Machado and post-fight interviews by Brian Kilmeade. The ring announcer was Rich Goins. Jason DeLucia was an alternate for the event, having defeated Trent Jenkins in the alternate bout. However, as no fighter pulled out during the tournament, he was not called upon.
The tournament featured fights with no weight classes, rounds, or judges. The three rules, no biting, no eye gouging, and no groin shots were to be enforced only by a $1,500 fine. The match only ended by submission, knockout, or the fighter’s corner throwing in the towel. Gloves were allowed, as Art Jimmerson showed in his quarterfinal bout against Royce Gracie, which he fought with one boxing glove.
Royce Gracie won the tournament by defeating Gerard Gordeau via submission due to a rear naked choke. The referees for UFC 1 were João Alberto Barreto and Hélio Vigio, two veteran vale tudo referees from Brazil.
UFC 1 bracket
The event and its outcome catapulted Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to new heights in the United States and worldwide. Its gate and PPV buys ensured that there would be more UFCs in the near future, which proved to be the case.
- UFC 1 results at Sherdog.com
- UFC 1 fights reviews
- Official UFC website
- MMA Mental History UFC 1
- MMA Origins: UFC 1
- The Brutal Beginnings of the UFC