UFC Has Grown Since Its Inception
By Lawrence Leary
In 1993, at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado,
the first Ultimate Fighting Championship was held.
Semaphore Entertainment Group was the television
partner, after HBO and Showtime turned it down, and it
was broadcast on pay-per-view and did very well. It was
marketed as the war of the worlds, a no holds barred
event. For once, everyone was going to see who was the
best mixed martial artist.
Although the first UFC event was a success, they were
faced with a mountain of problems. The sport was too
violent for politicians and athletic commissions and
ended up getting banned in most of the fifty states.
There were no rules, fighters could headbutt, soccer
kick a downed opponent, and even strike to the groin.
This led to the sport being labeled "human
cockfighting," and Direct TV PPV was their only
television partner. By that time, the owners of the UFC
were looking for a way out. They were being pressured to
add more rules and tone down the violence. However, they
believed the violence was what led to the initial
success of the UFC.
Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta (Station Casinos executives)
and boxing promoter Dana White approached the owners of
the UFC with an offer to buy them out. A deal was made
and the two brothers became the owners, while Dana White
took over as the ring leader. They started to work with
athletic commissions and toned down the violence. They
implemented weight classes, got rid of headbutting and
strikes to the groin, etc. They got licensed in most of
the fifty states and the cable television networks took
them back. However, it was the Ultimate Fighter reality
show that launched the sport which has now become one of
the fastest growing sports in the world.