The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a world-renowned mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company that has become increasingly popular over the years. Despite its widespread success and notoriety, there are still many interesting and unknown facts about the UFC that many fans are unaware of. In this article, we will discuss 10 of the most surprising facts about the UFC.
1. The UFC almost didn't exist
The UFC almost didn't exist due to strict regulations and opposition from politicians and media figures. In 1996, Senator John McCain famously referred to the sport as "human cockfighting" and called for it to be banned. However, after implementing rule changes and safety measures, the UFC was able to overcome this opposition and continue to grow.
2. It was initially marketed as a "style vs. style" tournament
When the UFC first began in 1993, it was marketed as a tournament where fighters from different martial arts backgrounds could compete against each other to determine the best fighting style. However, as the sport evolved, fighters began to incorporate techniques from multiple disciplines, leading to the birth of modern MMA.
3. The first UFC event had no weight classes or time limits
The first UFC event, held in Denver, Colorado in 1993, had no weight classes or time limits. This led to some incredibly mismatched fights, with smaller fighters being pitted against much larger opponents. In later events, weight classes and time limits were implemented to promote fairness and safety.
4. The UFC was once banned in several US states
As previously mentioned, the UFC faced a lot of opposition in its early years, and as a result, it was banned in several US states. However, after implementing rule changes and working to improve the sport's image, the bans were lifted, and the UFC was able to expand to other parts of the world.
5. The UFC has had a controversial history with drug testing
Like many sports, the UFC has had a controversial history with drug testing. In the past, there were accusations of widespread steroid use among fighters, and the UFC was criticized for not doing enough to combat the issue. However, in recent years, the UFC has implemented more rigorous drug testing protocols to ensure a level playing field.
6. The Octagon was originally a trademarked term
The UFC's famous Octagon was initially a trademarked term, meaning that no other MMA promotion company could use a similar structure. However, after the UFC's patent expired, other companies began to use similar cages in their events.
7. The UFC was once owned by casino owners
From 2001 to 2016, the UFC was owned by Zuffa LLC, a company primarily owned by casino owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta. The Fertitta brothers were instrumental in turning the UFC into the global powerhouse it is today, investing heavily in the sport and promoting it aggressively.
8. The UFC has had several celebrity owners
In 2016, the UFC was sold to a group of investors for over $4 billion, including several celebrity owners such as actor Mark Wahlberg, musician Adam Levine, and talk show host Conan O'Brien.
9. The UFC has had some high-profile crossover fights
Over the years, the UFC has had several high-profile crossover fights, where MMA fighters have taken on boxers or other athletes from different sports. One of the most notable examples was the 2017 fight between UFC fighter Conor McGregor and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr.
10. The UFC has its own video game franchise
In addition to its live events and television broadcasts, the UFC has also developed its own video game franchise, allowing fans to simulate their own MMA fights and play as their favorite UFC fighters.
In conclusion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has a rich and complex history filled with fascinating and surprising facts. From its origins as a "style vs. style" tournament to its current status as a global sports powerhouse, the UFC has had to overcome numerous challenges and controversies to get to where it is today. Despite facing opposition from politicians, media figures, and even some of its own fans, the UFC has continued to evolve and grow, attracting new audiences and expanding its reach around the world. Whether you're a die-hard fan or a casual observer, these 10 unknown facts about the UFC offer a glimpse into the organization's past, present, and future.