50 Random MMA Facts You Never Knew
Serious MMA fans know their sport. But no one knows everything. Here are 50 MMA facts guaranteed to win you your next bar bet and wow the ladies. Or at least win the bar bet.
These 50 facts are listed in no particular order, though I'll start with some of the easier ones and move on to facts that are more obscure. Some are related to actual fighting. Others less so. Others much less so. But all should be of interest to casual and hardcore aficionados alike.
If by some crazy chance you already know one or more of these, no refunds will be issued. Please do, however, accept my sincere congratulations.
50. The UFC Belt Really Is Made of Gold
At a glance, it may look like nothing more than a strap of Taiwan's finest, but apparently it is real gold. Or gold plating, anyway.
From what I can tell, the UFC championship belts (along with pretty much every single other championship belt) are fashioned by two guys: Dave Millican and Javier Cortez.
And for those eager to actualize their dreams of glory without having to fight anybody or go to the gym or anything like that, you can own your own gold-plated belt for about $1,000.
49. The Author of the UFC Pay-Per-View Theme Song
No iPod playlist is complete without it.
Are you ready? Drumroll, please. The song is "Face the Pain" by the band Stemm.
48. Joe Son Played Random Task, Also Evil in Real Life
47. The First Fighter to Wear Gloves
UFC 14 was the first event to require gloves. But the now-ubiquitous open-fingered fight glove made its first appearance in 1994, when pro boxer Melton Bowen wore them into the Octagon against Steve Jennum at UFC 4.
Judging by the photo, the gloves weren't very helpful.
46. Translating GSP's Tattoo
In a 2007 interview, welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre said the "tattoo on my chest means that there are two sides to me. I can be very rude and I can be very nice. I like to be rude when I fight."
45. Zuffa Is a Real Word
I always assumed it was a combination of the Fertittas' grandmothers' names or something like that. But it is the Italian word for "scuffle." Molto bene.
44. Tito Ortiz's Real Name Is Jacob
Jacob Christopher Ortiz.
43. The Octagon: Inspired by Chuck Norris?
I know, I know. What ISN'T inspired by Chuck Norris?
One could make a case for adding the UFC's signature cage to the list. The 1980 ninja film "The Octagon," starring Norris, has become a cult hit among martial arts film enthusiasts. I know, I know. What involving Norris HASN'T become a cult hit among martial arts enthusiasts?
It's possible it's just a coincidence. But maybe it's not. In the film, the climactic fights take place in something called The Octagon.
The actual octagonal cage was first used by the Cage of Rage promotion back in 1993. But for UFC purposes, some of the promotion's forebears (including the Gracies) commissioned art director Jason Cusson to officially design "the Octagon," which the UFC promptly (and smartly) trademarked.
42. A UFC Champion Who Only Won Two Fights
Two Steve Jennum slides in the same slideshow? Now I've seen everything.
When an injured Ken Shamrock could not continue to the finals at UFC 3, a nice, fresh Jennum came in to face Harold Howard for the tourney title.
The Ninja Cop won by submission, and went on to defeat the also-aforementioned Bowen at UFC 4. But he would never win another MMA fight after that, losing to Tank Abbott, Marco Ruas and Jason Godsey before calling it a career.
41. A Toothsome Proposition
Most serious fans know that Gerard Gordeau's 30-second knockout of Telia Tuli at UFC 1 was the first fight in UFC history.
It's also fairly well known that a kick from Gordeau sent one of Tuli's teeth flying into the crowd.
But apparently, that's the part where it really got interesting.
According to Erich Krauss's book Brawl, two more of Tuli’s teeth embedded in Gordeau’s foot. To avoid an open wound, doctors decided not to remove the teeth in the cage. Gordeau fought twice more that night with two teeth stuck in his foot. Of course, he lost to Royce Gracie in the final.
To the surprise of not many, the wound became badly infected. After returning home, Gordeau spent many weeks at the doctor getting treatments.
So yeah. That's disgusting.
40. Dana White Never Had a Pro Boxing Fight
It's the photo Dana White probably wishes he could spirit away.
The UFC prez stands intently in the training room, leading a bevy of ladies through their paces in a boxercise class.
Actually, I don't think it's so bad. We all have to pay the bills, right? And who doesn't have a couple skeletons in their closets these days? I know I do. I have an Ashlee Simpson song in my iPod right now.
Plus, Dana White did fight as an amateur and work with real boxers, and never claimed he was a pro. It's just that it's slightly humorous, is all.
(Photo credit: URDirt)
39. Ken and Frank Shamrock Aren't Actually Brothers
Newer fans may not realize that these two former champions are not blood relations.
Ken (born Kenneth Wayne Kilpatrick) and Frank (born Frank Alisio Juarez) were both adopted by Bob Shamrock, who operated a boys' home in California.
38. Bas Rutten's Pattern of Defeat
Speaking of the Shamrocks, legendary fighter, broadcaster and general personality Bas Rutten is 2-3 against Frank and Ken Shamrock combined, but 26-1-1 against everyone else.
37. First Winner of a UFC Postfight Bonus
Dana White first doled out bonus money for fight, knockout and submission of the night at UFC 70 in 2007.
That night, Michael Bisping and Elvis Sinocic took home fight of the night honors and Gabriel Gonzaga got KO of the night for his head kick on Mirko Cro Cop.
But because Terry Etim's chokeout of Matt Grice happened before the other two, that performance, dubbed submission of the night, was the first bonus winner ever.
(Photo credit: Susumu via Sherdog)
36. "The A-Team" Was Not Quinton Jackson's First Feature Film
Rampage has been working in motion pictures, or as I call it, "the industry," for more than three years. He's a regular Jack Palance over there.
Before he was B.A. Baracus, Jackson made his big-screen debut in the 2008 action movie Bad Guys. And the industry would never be the same.
The jewel of his pre-Baracus career, though, was The Midnight Meat Train, the 2008 horror flick he starred in with Bradley Cooper (yes, that Bradley Cooper).
35. Lightning Strikes Twice on Damacio Page
At WEC 35, Brian Bowles defeated Page by guillotine choke at 3:30 of the first round.
At UFC on Versus 3, Bowles defeated Page by guillotine choke at 3:30 of the first round.
Any mathematicians out there? I'd really like to know the odds on this one.
34. First MMA Fight to Be Aired on Cable TV
When Robbie Lawler took on Steve Berger at UFC 37.5 on Fox Sports Net, it was the first MMA fight ever on cable.
The event was headlined by Chuck Liddell decisioning Vitor Belfort.
33. Submission Due to Smother
Of course I have to feature the great Emmanuel Yarborough here. He's the Michael Jordan of smother submissions.
But believe it or not, he's not the only one to do it in a professional fight. Back in 2000, Ricco Rodriguez pulled it off (pushed it on?) against Takayuki Okada at Pride 10.
32. The First "Mixed Martial Art"
No biting, no eye gouging.
Those were the only rules of pankration, a combination of grappling and hand-to-hand combat the ancient Greeks invented as a war technique but also played as an Olympic sport.
31. Frank Mir Bounced at the Spearmint Rhino
Bouncing is a natural way for fighters to make money. Rashad Evans, George St. Pierre, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and Cain Velazquez are just some of the names who moonlighted behind the velvet rope.
But the Spearmint Rhino...man. When Mir worked there earlier in his career, that took it to another level.
Not that I ever, ever frequent such establishments, but my understanding is that the Spearmint Rhino is the most famous gentlemen's establishment in Las Vegas.
Which pretty much makes it the most famous gentlemen's establishment in the world.
30. Ken Shamrock Takes Frye's Foot as a Trophy
These two hated each other. Frye's loathing for Shamrock prevented him from tapping to some nasty leg and ankle locks at Pride 19.
Frye ended up taking the decision, but the submission attempts did permanent damage.
29. The True Triangle Master
Before there was the Sassangle or even the McKenzietine, there was the Triangular Strangler.
Joe Pearson notched 22 of his 39 professional wins by triangle choke, or 56 percent of his victories. At 58 percent, Paul Sass holds a slightly higher percentage in winning seven of 12 victories by way of triangle, but with far few fights.
Exciting bonus fact: Sass is also not the UFC record-holder for most overall wins by triangle. That would be one Evan Tanner, who won nine contests that way.
28. Only Fighter to Ever Knock out Cabbage
Wesley "Cabbage" Correira had not been knocked out 21 fights into his professional career. Especially impressive considering that's precisely what every single one of his opponents was trying to do.
The famously stone-headed Cabbage fell to Tank Abbott in his 22nd contest. It ended up being Cabbage's only KO loss in 33 bouts.
(Photo credit: Onzuka)
27. Bas Rutten Is a Magical Man
See that finger? That's a maaaagic finger!
Prior to 2000, Bas Rutten and partner Stephen Quadros provided English commentary for PRIDE events on tape delay.
That explains why El Guapo was able to provide fight analysis even as he cornered Mark Kerr in the fight footage.
Or does it?
26. Mirko Filipovic Was Not Always Cro Cop
The former Croatian police officer and parliament member began his hall of fame career as "Tiger."
25. Joe Rogan and Eddie Bravo: Cut from the Same Plant
24. But That's Nothing...Mike Goldberg Calls Airplane Races
When he's not calling UFC fights, Goldie is the announcer for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
Goldberg also does play-by-play for Arizona Cardinals football games and some other random stuff. A man of many parts.
23. Technically, Junior Dos Santos Is the UFC Superfight Champion
The belt Ken Shamrock won in 1995, the UFC Superfight Championship, was subsequently renamed the heavyweight championship. The line remains unbroken right up to today.
22. The First American Black Belt Under the Gracie Family
That's right. Matt Serra was the first, studying with Renzo.
21. Only Super Heavyweight Fight in UFC History
The UFC 28 bout between Josh Barnett and Gan McGee was the first and only super heavyweight bout staged in the promotion. Barnett won by TKO.
(Photo credit: Susumu)
20. Bruce Buffer the Black Belt
19. The Iron Man's Record-Book Dominance
Travis Fulton has the most KO/TKO wins in MMA history with 92. Gilbert Yvel is second with 31.
Fulton also has the most MMA wins by submission with 152. Jeremy Horn is second with 61.
And with a record of 247-49-10, he also has the most wins.
If you're scoring on quantity alone, the Iron Man is your guy.
Exciting bonus fact: Royce Gracie still holds the record for most submission wins in the UFC with 11.
18. B.J. Penn Is First Finisher at 155
B.J. Penn's win over Joe Stevenson at UFC 80 in 2008 was the first 155-pound title fight in the UFC that did not go to the judges. That's seven years without a finish.
(Photo credit: MMA Worldwide)
17. The UFC Is the Louisiana Purchase of Modern Sports
Zuffa purchased the UFC in 2001 from Semaphore Entertainment Group for $2 million.
According to the terrific site MMA Payout, UFC 141 raked in $3.1 million on gate alone.
Not so much a random fact, but worth pointing out, in my opinion. It shows how far the sport has come since that time, and what a slam-bang deal this was for White and the Fertitta brothers.
16. Forrest Griffin’s First MMA Fight Was Against Dan Severn
Strange to think these two symbols of very different eras actually met in the cage. It's like learning Jon Jones fought Frank Shamrock.
But it happened. It was in a promotion called RSF back in 2001. Severn won by unanimous decision in his 58th pro fight to send Griffin to 0-1.
15. The Longest Winning Streak in MMA
Between January 1996 and May 2000, Igor Vovchanchyn won 32 consecutive fights. (There was also a draw and a no contest in there.) The record still stands today.
14. Gary Goodridge Goes over the Top
He was apparently one of the greatest arm wrestlers of all time. But he didn't have any MMA background before taking two whole lessons of kuk sool won before UFC 8.
Exciting bonus fact: Great to finally find out what became of Luke Skywalker after he defeated the Emperor.
13. Chuck Liddell Was an Extra in "The Postman Always Rings Twice"
The champ had a tiny part in the 1981 remake of the classic film noir, which starred Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange.
12. Tag-Team MMA: This Happened
Check it out here. It's like watching ice basketball.
11. Jeff Monson Worked as a Children’s Counselor
The fighter known as much for his anarchist worldview and confrontational ink as for his world-grade jiu-jitsu has a master's degree in psychology, and he worked in crisis evaluation and counseling.
10. First MMA Fight
Vale Tudo? Shoot fighting?
You'll have to dig a lot deeper than that. The first publicized fight pitting different styles of combat against each other occurred alllllll the way back in Shanghai in 1909, when British boxer Hercules O'Brien tangled with Huo Yuan Jia, a Chinese Wushu fighter.
Huo, who often challenged fighters from other disciplines, was immortalized in the 2006 film Fearless, starring Jet Li.
9. Mac Danzig Was a Pro Skateboarder
Plenty of fighters have interesting side jobs or former lives, but this is one of the more interesting and lesser known.
Danzig was a sponsored skateboarder and is also a professional photographer.
8. Vladimir Putin, Fedor Emelianenko Seem Like Good Buddies
Kidding aside, I don't know exactly what it is, but there is some kind of relationship between the two.
Most recently, Putin gave Fedor a little pep talk after Fedor's win over Jeff Monson.
Putin is an avid judo practitioner. So that may have something to do with it.
Also, is that Jean-Claude Van Damme on the left? I think it is.
7. UFC 1 Was Originally Going to Have a Moat Around the Cage
And alligators, too. Someone even momentarily considered electric fencing. Seriously.
6. First MMA Organization
Shooto is the oldest MMA organization on the planet. It started in 1985. Vale tudo can be traced back to the 1920s, but was not an organization per se.
5. UFC Knockout Is the Only Event in History to Not Feature a Knockout
Talk about jinxing yourself.
It was UFC 76, headlined by Chuck Liddell and Keith Jardine. A likely TKO on paper, but as we all know, Jardine captured a decision in that fight.
No other bout on the entire card (which included strikers like Shogun Rua, Jeremy Stephens and Anthony Johnson) ended in a striking-related stoppage.
4. Shogun Used to Be a Runway Model
Before devoting himself full time to MMA, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was a male model in Brazil.
Also, is this him acting in a Portuguese soap opera? Ye gods.
(Photo credit: MMAWeekly)
3. Kimo Leopoldo, Cross Smuggler
According to Clyde Gentry, author of the book No Holds Barred: Evolution, Kimo Leopoldo was originally banned from carrying a cross on his back on the way to the cage at UFC 3.
The two men then shot a bunch of dogs while stealing candy from a baby.
2. America's First MMA Fighter: Theodore Roosevelt
One of history's more pugnacious presidents did more than fight the railway commissions.
He wrestled, boxed and practiced judo most of his life. In fact, he was the first American to earn his brown belt.
1. Vitor Gracie?
Known as a striker today, Vitor Belfort also has a BJJ black belt under Carlson Gracie.
He was so close with Gracie, in fact, that he took the last name, and started his career as Victor Gracie. (Not sure why he changed Vitor to Victor...might as well go all out, I guess.)
He was never actually adopted by Carlson Gracie, but with Carlson's encouragement took the last name as an homage.
Victor Gracie, 19, defeated Jon Hess by first-round KO in 1996. Then, after pressure from the rest of the Gracie family, Vitor Belfort returned to his given name.