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By Kendall Jenkins on 10/15/2018 2:36 PM

November 12th will mark the 25th anniversary of UFC 1. The seminal mixed martial arts event was far ahead of its time and kicked started the current world of UFC. Yet, the very first UFC event was a world away from what fight fans expect today from the organisation. The original show featured one-night tournaments to crown a champion. Fights on the original card did not have rounds, rather bouts had tired fighters chocking each other out in short fights.

The first UFC competition was a wild west with little thought put into the event beforehand. Subsequent UFC events would help the company grow and become what it is today. It took time, however. It also took UFC to the brink of going under before it could grow into the $7 billion business it is today. Now, UFC fans from all over the world can bet on events using promotions such as Bethard Bonus code.

Growing Public Interest

UFC 1 was the dark ages and most modern mixed martial arts fans would probably have difficulty sitting through all of the original event. The lack of rounds, the less than slick production, and the tournament style would be completely foreign. Yet, the wild west, bare knuckle fight tournament attracted nearly 8,000 people to the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado. The intrigue of the event also attracted 86,000 pay-per-view buys, which was made up of many professional wrestling and boxing fans. Five months later, UFC II would attract 300,000 buys on PPV.

Wild West of UFC I

The initial event attracted more than just public interest. It attracted fighters from all over the world with their own bizarre stories. In fact, the original UFC event had numerous strange stories that have gone down as legend.

UFC was co-created by Rorion Gracie and many have said the competition was simply an infomercial for his Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes. The Gracie family had internal issues. Rickson Gracie was expected to represent the family in UFC 1. However, Royce Gracie was later chosen over his brother due to family strife. Due to the anger and resentment in the Gracie family, Rorion feared for his life and asked referee “Big” John McCarthy to get him a gun. McCarthy was a policeman when outside the octagon and Gracie wanted his help during the original event for protection.

The competition almost didn’t take place. It wasn’t due to a falling out with fighters or a problem with the PPV providers. It was simply because the fighters had no idea what the rules were. Fighters had been left in the dark over the event and how it would be run. Contracts still hadn’t been signed and UFC 1 nearly didn’t happen. With 24-hours to go until the event, fighters’ fears were soothed thanks to Rorion Gracie and Art Davie, the UFC’s co-creators. What were the three main rules of UFC I? No eye-gouging, no biting, and no groin strikes. Although fighters were still in the dark over some matters, they decided to fight.

The Tournament

The great thing about UFC 1 and why the salad days of the competition were better than today’s fare, was due to the variety in fighters. At one time, UFC was made up of various fighter disciplines from Brazilian jiu-jitsu to wrestling to boxing. Art Jimmerson famously wore one boxing glove in his quarterfinal fight with Royce Gracie during the event. Not only was it a hodgepodge of styles, but the tournament was open weight.

Gracie would run the table in the tournament format defeating Jimmerson, Ken Shamrock in the semi-finals (which Shamrock still argues about the fight being fixed in favour of Gracie), and Gerard Gordeau in the final.

Gracie would go on to win UFC 2, UFC 3, UFC 4, and draw the final bout of UFC 5 against Shamrock. The fighter became a household name 25 years ago and it sparked the UFC into a sideshow interest has now become an accepted form of sports.