In 1993, no one would’ve thought that what was supposedly a one-time thing would blossom into the UFC that we know, and most of us love today. So, how well do you know the early UFC? Here are 10 facts about the early years of the Ultimate Fighting Championship:
- The first match needed to be loud – and loud it was. In one corner was a sumo wrestler, a 400-pounder. His opponent – a 6-foot, eye-gouging, head-biting, rule-breaker. Long story short, it took a kick to the yokozuna’s head and a couple of teeth flying into the crowd for the match to end.
- The objective? Differentiate! The solution? Consider using barbed wire, electric fencing, an alligator moat, and even a shark tank. Good thing they decided to push through with the Octagon as it is today. Thank you, Conan the Barbarian!
- You didn’t have to be a pro to fight. UFC lucked out in signing the only man reportedly able to knock down fighting legend Frank Dux of Kumite fame – Zane Frazier. But moving forward, they just started taking in anyone willing to fight, from cab drivers to porn stars.
- A few years in and stateside bans hit them hard! There were plenty of things happening in UFC 12, from the debut of Vitor Belfort to Joe Rogan to the introduction of the different weight divisions. It’s only right for something to go wrong.
- Who knew the UFC was once a rec center for athletes? Wait and get paid. Now that’s a sweet deal. Art Jimmerson was a boxer who, while waiting for a prize bout, dabbled in the UFC, tapping out at the first potential sign of injury.
- Vitor Belfort fought as Vitor Gracie in homage to his trainer. But steroid-related allegations pressured him to drop the moniker altogether. Remember, testing wasn’t mandatory back then.
- Wrestling backgrounds dominate the UFC today, but back then, no wrestlers were on the roster, nor did management have any interest in including them in the mix.
- There were only three ways to end a fight: KO, submission, or having a towel literally thrown into the Octagon. Referees couldn’t stop the bout no matter what. Let’s thank Big John McCarthy for being the change.
- Shamrock versus Gracie almost didn’t happen. Thank God it did, as it’s possibly one of the best rivalries to date!
- Professional fighting knowledge was not the norm. Fighters used their street brawling skills every single time.
Surprised, shocked, a little confused? What do you think of the early UFC?