R. I. P. UFC 1993-- REBIRTH 2009

JAMES E KING IIIContributor IAugust 2, 2009

R. I. P. UFC 1993 - REBIRTH 2009

In 1993, Dana White was managing two MMA fighters Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. In August of ‘93, upon hearing of the coming demise of UFC, Dana contacted his boyhood friend, Lorenzo Fretitta, successful casino promoter, and former commissioner of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. A month later Lorenzo, and his older brother Frank, bought the UFC, installed Dana as president, and formed Zuffa, LLC to own and manage the UFC.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship held on November 12, 1993, now known as UFC 1, was an eight man tournament, no weight class/limits, with the winner getting $50,000. The matches had no time limits, and could only end by submission, knockout, or "throwing in the towel". It was shown only on pay-per-view, and later distributed by home video. These earlier matches, along with its early "reputation" made the UFC "unmarketable", "too brutal", likened to the gladiator arena by many, including Senator, and combat war veteran, John McCain. The UFC was ostracized by all the major sports, had no sponsors, or media contracts; they had to "legitimized" themselves in order to become marketable; they spent some years catering to a pay-per-view, and home video "underground" audience. Eventually political pressure, and "good business sense", and they decided to make the necessary changes.

This weekend, UFC 101, will be held in Philadelphia, Pa. All UFC matches are sanctioned by State Athletic Commissions. There are legitimate weight classes, timed rounds, fighters are tested, and the emphasis is on Mixed Martial Arts, dropping the "no holds barred" tag. When they secured a deal with Spike TV, a network that mainly caters to a male-oriented, 19 - 35 demographic, with the Ultimate Fighter Challenge, and WECage, which caters to the lighter weights of MMA, the road back to ‘mainstream acceptability’ was begun. Now, UFC sponsors include Burger King and Harley Davidson. The total purse for UFC 100 was $1, 790, 000, and UFC 101 is even bigger. This weekend UFC announced their new deal with ESPN (UK) and Ireland, assuring even more European exposure. UFC has also held matches in Germany, where Dana White has "celebrity-like" status. The UFC has come a long way.

Dana White has cut off negotiations with M-1, and effectively Fedor Emelianenko. After making repeated offers for his services the UFC has moved on, and resigned "Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz. Dana has signed the notable fighters from Trump/Cuban’s Affliction debacle, and recruiting the talent he needs to make th UFC, MMA’s most public vechcle. B. J. Penn, and Anderson Silva, are known worldwide. Tito Ortiz is marketable, maybe past his prime, but maybe with something to prove. M-1 and Emelianenko will have to deal with UFC, sooner or later, especially considering the influence that Dana has managed to seize. The UFC has only way to go, and that is UP! Great job Dana, thank you, and we look forward to watching MMA, for many years to come.