UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a mixed martial arts (MMA) sporting organization that has been around since 1993. It is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada but holds matches all around the world. UFC started in 1993 as an idea to determine which form of fighting was superior, whether it be boxing, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, karate, or any other form of martial arts. After its inception, UFC fighters began incorporating techniques from multiple martial arts forms to create what we now know as mixed martial arts. Dana White is the current president of UFC and UFC is owned and operated under William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC.
History of UFC
In the early 1990s, business entrepreneur Art Davie offered an idea to Jon Milius and Rorion Gracie of an eight-man single-elimination fighting tournament called “War of the Worlds” (WOW). The premise behind WOW would be that fighters could be from any martial arts discipline and the fight would be broadcast on pay-per-view television for viewers to enjoy. Milius volunteered to become the event’s creative director and WOW eventually partnered with Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG) – a top contender of pay-per-view television. SEG was responsible for naming the show as The Ultimate Fighting Championship. The first UFC event, called UFC 1, was held in Denver Colorado on November 12, 1993. Multiple fighters with various martial arts backgrounds competed including kickboxers Patrick Smith and Kevin Rosier, savate fighter (French boxing) Gerard Gordeau, karate fighter Zane Frazier, shootfighter, Ken Shamrock, sumo wrestler Teila Tuli, boxer Art Jimmerson, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu Royce Gracie. Royce Gracie’s impressive jiu-jitsu earned him the title of the first ever UFC winner. The first broadcast on pay-per-view was quite successful with 86,592 subscriptions.
Originally, there were no weight classes for UFC. This was interesting because UFC proved that skill often is more important than size when it comes to fighting, as the 175 lb. Royyce Gracie won the first four UFC events with his jiu-jitsu. Other forms of martial arts were successful within UFC in the early years including wrestling, kickboxing, boxing, and dirty boxing. Overtime, these styles combined to create modern day mixed martial arts. At its beginning, the UFC boasted “There are no rules”. It allowed dangerous fighting techniques such as hair pulling, headbutting, groin strikes, and fish-hooking. But these lenient rules did not last long. In 1996, Senator John McCain sought out to ban UFC due to its extremely violent nature. Due to Senator McCain’s campaign, thirty-six states created laws that banned “no-hold-barred” fighting. In response to the criticism, the UFC began to work with state athletic commissions. In February 1997, the UFC banned fish-hooking and began to introduce weight classes into the competition. A few months later, it became required to wear gloves while fighting and kicks to someone’s head while they were on the ground were banned as well. Additional rules that were added to UFC fighting included fouls on hair pulling, neck, head or throat striking, headbutting, small-joint manipulations, and groin striking. With all the new rules, the UFC began to brand itself as a sport rather than an extravagant show. By 2000, the UFC come up with a standard set of rules and regulations for MMA fighting.
Even with the new rules for MMA, SEG had almost gone bankrupt. In 2001, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta bought the UFC for $2 million. They created Zufa LLC as the parent company controlling the UFC. The purchase by the Fertitta’s was extremely beneficial to the UFC. The UFC was gaining popularity again after a lull in the late 1990s. In November 2002, UFC 40 aired on pay-per-view and was the most successful event the UFC had seen thus far. It had 13,022 attendees at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas and 150,000 pay-per-view subscriptions. The event was headlined by UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz and UFC Superfight Champion Ken Shamrock. The matchup between Ortiz vs. Shamrock also garnered the attention from ESPN and USA Today, something mixed martial arts had never seen before. It was definitely a turning point for the evolution of the sport.
As the years went on, UFC as a sport became more and more popular. In 2005, UFC 52 had 300,000 pay-per-view subscriptions which was double the previous record set by UFC 40. UFC 61 (2006) featured a rematch between Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock. This highly anticipated rematch garnered 775,000 buys on pay-per-view. With each new event, the UFC was obtaining more and more pay-per-view subscriptions. By 2010 with UFC 116, the event had 1.25 million pay-per-view buys for the match-up between Brock Lesner vs. Shane Carwin. The UFC continues to hold events with millions of viewers. It has become one of the most profitable and most watched sports in the world.
Women in UFC
With UFC 154, president Dana White confirmed that women would now be competing in events. Ronda Rousey became the first female UFC champion in November 2012. She defended her title six times before finally losing to Holly Holm on November 2015 at UFC 193.
The current rules that UFC must follow are the “Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts” which were established by the New Jersey Athletic Control Board. Some of the basic regulations include that no match can be longer than five minutes. Fights take place in an eight-sided enclosure called “The Octagon”, which is the official and trademarked term. All fighters must wear approved short, no shoes, and men cannot wear shirts. Required protective gear includes gloves, mouth guards, and cups for males. Judging UFC fights is based on a ten-point system with three judges and one referee. The official rules state “The 10-Point Must System will be the standard system of scoring a bout. Under the 10-Point Must Scoring System, 10 points must be awarded to the winner of the round and 9 points or less must be awarded to the loser, except for a rare even round, which is scored (10-10).” There are multiple weight divisions which are listed as followed:
- Strawweight: no minimum weight – 115 lbs
- Flyweight: 116 – 125 lbs
- Bantamweight: 125 – 135 lbs
- Women’s Bantamweight: 125 – 135 lbs
- Featherweight: 135 – 145 lbs
- Lightweight: 145 – 155 lbs
- Welterweight: 155 – 170 lbs
- Middleweight: 170 – 185 lbs
- Light Heavyweight: 185 – 205
- Heavyweight: 205 – 265
- Super Heavyweight: over 265 lbs
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