You know we couldn’t get out of the top 10 without paying honor to the event that started it all. UFC 1 was the beginning, the nucleus of it all. Without it you wouldn’t be reading this countdown now, so let’s see why we should respect this ground breaking event:
The whole premise of the event was to display how Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was the most dominant form of martial arts. The main proponent of the movement was the legendary Gracie family.
The Gracies were a family from Brazil which were bred to fight. They would take on all comers in Brazil in order to prove that their brand of Jiu Jitsu named “Gracie Jiu Jitsu” was the greatest and most effective form of fighting.
The idea for the tournament was the brainchild of Rorion Gracie and Art Davie. It consisted of a single-elimination tournament that had very few rules. The winner would end up getting $50,000.
In order to truly show the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, the Davie and Rorion decided to have Royce represent the family since due to his slim and frail frame.
The seven other fighters which were involved in the event came from different disciplines, and it truly looked like a fighting madhouse.
THE WILD FIGHTS
Going in to this event, I am pretty sure that the fighters didn’t know what to expect. Well they managed to get their answer pretty quickly in the first fight of the night.
Gerrard Gordeau, a savate fighter from The Netherlands faced off against a huge sumo wrestler from Hawaii named Telia Tuli.
At first glance it looked as though Tuli would destroy the much slimmer Gordeau. After launching a rushing attack at the Dutchman, Tuli fell to the mat after losing his footing. While on the ground against the cage, Gordeau launched a devastating kick to Tuli’s face that launched one of his teeth into the crowd.
This definitely set the tone for the entire card, as most of the fights were so wild due to the “anything goes” rules that the fighters involved were just doing whatever it took to win. Once of my favorite fights of the evening has to be the matchup between Kevin Rosier and Zane Frazier, where Rosier literally defined the words “beatdown”, by ending the fight with stomps to Frazier’s face and body.
THE BIRTH OF TWO MMA LEGENDS
UFC 1 marked the debut of two men who would later be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie. Their semi final matchup was essentially the finals match, and it was a great one.
With Shamrock’s shoot wrestling/grappling background, he was a pretty formidable foe for Gracie who, up until then, had been rolling through the tournament with ease. Gracie would go on to win the tournament two more times after UFC 1, while Shamrock would go on to take part in some pretty legendary fights including a three fight war with Tito Ortiz, and a great PRIDE battle with another future UFC legend Don Frye.
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF JIU JITSU
Recently, I re-watched the entire card for UFC 1 and was truly amazed at what Royce Gracie was able to do. He confused his opponents with a style that not many people were familiar with then.
He was able to show the world that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was a highly formidable martial art, which in turn created the start of the modern day Mixed Martial Artist. As the UFC began to grow in popularity it was becoming obvious to incoming fighters that in order to be really great at this sport you need a blend of both stand up skills and a great Jiu Jitsu game.
This sparked the growth of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the United States, and as a BJJ practitioner myself, I’m thankful.