Brutal early days of UFC!

Brutal beginnings of the UFC, bare knuckle era!

You know, if I only could, I would make the first “M” in MMA stand for “magic”. While soccer, boxing and chess have centuries of history, mixed martial arts appeared just a little more than twenty years ago but their fan following can be compared to that of the “veterans”. MMA attracts absolutely different people. A former light heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell and the “Red Hot Chili Peppers” lead singer Anthony Kiedis don’t have much in common. But it’s Kiedis who says in this video “”I watched the first one (UFC 1 –, as it happened, as it was broadcast. I was sold instantly”.

In 1993 no one would expect another combat sports tournament to grow into a regular and huge promotion. UFC 1 was actually a vale tudo variation where fighters with an absolutely different experience could test their skills in an unusual setting. Today every MMA fan knows that ground skills are vital even if striking is your forte. But back in 1993 a boxer Art Jimmerson was absolutely unaware of the fact that a BJJ master Royce Gracie could be a serious threat. Well, no one among the experts knew that too. “I was sure Royce was gonna get his head knocked off his body by that boxer”, remembers SEG executive producer Campbell McLaren.

Combat sports style variety was not the only new thing UFC offered to the fans. The fights were unusually brutal too. Few would expect a bout between a sumo wrestler Teila Tuli and the Dutch kickboxer Gerard Gordeau end the way it did. The clash which lasted 26 seconds only, established the standards for mixed martial arts bouts. Tuli rushed at Gordeau, but the Dutch first dropped him and just when the sumo wrestler was trying to stand, Gordeau landed a devastating kick which made the UFC 1 commentator Bill Wallace say: “And all of a sudden this tooth goes flying over my head”.

These days when someone talks about UFC events, they are mostly often associated with MGM Arena in Vegas. But it was Denver and its McNichols Arena where the face of combat sports had changed forever.