In the near 17 years that the UFC has been gracing our homes, the sport of MMA has come a long ways. Let’s take a look at where the UFC started and where the UFC is today.
The Beginning: On November 12th, 1993, UFC 1 was hosted in Denver, Colorado which featured an 8 man tournament. Such names as Art “One Glove” Jimmerson, Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie fought in this tournament with Gracie ultimately winning.
Revenge of the Warriors: On December 16th, 1994 at UFC 4, Royce Gracie won his third UFC tournament by defeating Dan Severn via triangle choke. Royce then cemented his place in the UFC history books.
Judgement Day: On February 7th, 1997 at UFC 12, Mark Coleman became the first UFC heavyweight champion when he choked out Dan Severn.
Ultimate Japan: On December 21st, 1997, The UFC made its first visit to Japan. This was also the first visit to a country in Asia. This fight card included the likes of Maurice Smith, Tank Abbott, Kazushi Sakuraba and Randy Couture.
Redemption: On May 15th, 1998 at UFC 17, Chuck Liddell made his MMA debut defeating Noe Hernandez. This fight card also marked the first UFC debut of UFC veteran Carlos Newton as well as Pride veteran Dan Henderson. UFC 17 also hosted the legendary head kick KO that Pete Williams landed on Mark Coleman.
High Stakes: On November 17th, 2000 at UFC 28, the UFC made it’s Atlantic City debut with a storm. Andrei Arlovski made his UFC debut defeating Aaron Brink via armbar. Josh Barnett made his UFC debut defeating Gan McGee via TKO. And a famous bout between Randy Couture and Kevin Randlemanheadlined the card with Couture winning in the third round via TKO.
New Ownership: In January 2001, Zuffa, LLC, owned by Frank Fertitta, Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White, purchases the UFC brand and completely restructures MMA into a highly organized sport.
Battle on the Boardwalk: On February 23rd, 2001 at UFC 30, Jens “Little Evil” Pulver made UFC history when he defeated Caol Uno in a 5 round battle to become UFCs first lightweight champion.
Locked and Loaded: On May 4th, 2001 at UFC 31, the UFC premiered the weight class realignments which are the current standard. These weight classes include lightweight (155 lbs), welterweight (170 lbs), middleweight (185 lbs), light heavyweight (205 lbs) and heavyweight (265 lbs).
Return of the Champions:On September 28th, 2001 at UFC 33, the UFC makes its debut in the “City of Sin” and fight capital of the world, LasVegas, Nevada. This card featured 2 title fights with Tito Ortiz defeating Vladimir Matyushenko to retain his light heavyweight championship and Jens Pulver defeating Dennis Hallman to retain his lightweight championship.
Brawl at the Hall: On July 13th,2002 at UFC 38, the UFC made history with its European debut in London, England at the Royal Albert Hall. Matt Hughes defeated Carlos Newton via TKO in the 4th round to retain his welterweight championship while Great Britain’sown Ian Freeman shocked the world with his upset victory over Frank Mir.
Hall of Fame: On November 21st, 2003, two men were honored by the UFC when they were the first to be inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame. Those two legendary figures were none other than Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock.
The Ultimate Fighter: On January 17th, 2005, Spike TV aired the first season of the reality show television series “The Ultimate Fighter” in which fighters would compete for a 6 figure UFC contract. This show would later contribute to the success of the UFC and MMA as a whole. The 1st season featured light heavyweight and middleweight fighters with Forrest Griffin winning the light heavyweight division and Diego Sanchez winning the middleweight division.
All or Nothing: UFC 67 was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mirko CroCop made his debut technically knocking out Eddie Sanchez while Anderson Silva defeated the very tough Travis Lutter in impressive fashion. This event also proved to show that the UFC was on the up and up because 72% of the audience came from outside Nevada.
Fight for the Troops: On December 10th, 2008, the UFC entertained the troops. Over 8,000 military personnel fill the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, North Carolina for UFC: Fight for the Troops. A simultaneous fundraiser for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund raised over 4 million dollars.
Redemption:On April 19th, 2009 at UFC 97, the UFC made it’s second trip to Montreal, Quebec Canada. Montreal would go on to set the NorthAmerican attendance record with 21,451 attendees. This record defeated Montreals previous record from UFC 83 by only 61 people.
UFC 100: Arguable the best fight card to have been produced by the UFC, UFC 100 didn’t upset when it came to talent and show. UFC 100 featured the long anticipated rematch between heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and interim heavyweight champion Frank Mir in which Lesnar proved himself to be a frighteningforce. Also Georges St Pierre dominated Thiago Alves in a bout many believed he would be dethroned. This amazing card also featured the KO of the year when Dan Henderson landed a devestating overhand right on Michael Bisping.
UFC 110: On February 21st, 2010, the UFC made it’s debut in the land of kangaroos and wallabees when it landed in Sydney, Australia. This event also was the fastest selling event to date with tickets selling out in 2 hours.