23 years to day after UFC 1, UFC 205 in world’s most famous arena
The countdown has begun. Fight fans around the world eagerly await the arrival of the biggest professional mixed martial arts card the world has ever known, UFC 205.
But to understand the importance of 205, you have to understand the evolution of both the sport as a whole, and more importantly the impact the organization would have upon it.
You see, UFC 1 took place nearly 23 years ago, November 12, 1993 to be exact.
The first event was held at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado, broadcast live on pay-per-view and later released on home video. Yes, home video, VHS, those archaic devices you had to rewind before returning to the nearest rental store.
Without giving a history lesson on the entire 23 years, let’s just take a look at where it began and fast forward to today.
On that fateful night, UFC 1 featured an eight-man tournament format, with the winner receiving $50,000. The tournament featured fights with no weight classes, rounds, time-outs, or judges. The two rules, no biting or eye gouging, were to be enforced only by a $1,500 fine. The match only ended by submission, knockout, or the fighter’s corner throwing in the towel.
Fighters from all different walks of life and martial arts backgrounds tested themselves and their skills against one another. The questions that UFC founders Art Davie and Rorion Gracie wanted an answer to was, “Who would win?” Which martial art is the best?”
Rules and athletic commissions were adapted as time rolled by. There were periods of uncertainty during the proecess as dark looming clouds hung overhead. Times of protest and financial instability seemed to never go away. Ownership changed hands on several occasions and at one point there was almost no more. Then there was a glimmering light at the end of the dark tunnel and the launch of a new era was born through the hit television reality series ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ Things started to pick back up and the ‘human cockfighting’ stigma had gone away. Fighters’ names became household, media coverage had gone mainstream, and profits soared.
It is hard to imagine that some of the participants that fought on that very first night are still active in the sport as of 2016. Royce Gracie, the tournament winner, fought Ken Shamrock, a man he defeated to get to the finale in 1993, earlier this year at Bellator MMA 149.
On November 12, 2016, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will hold its biggest pay-per-view event to date in the grandest arena of them all. Yes, 23 years to the day after the birth of the fastest growing sport in the world, the UFC will finally hold its first card in Madison Square Garden as UFC 205 comes to New York, New York with a star-studded lineup never previously assembled.
The Garden opened in 1968 and is the oldest major sporting facility in the New York metropolitan area. It is the oldest arena in the National Hockey League and the second-oldest arena in the National Basketball Association. MSG is the fourth-busiest music arena in the world in terms of ticket sales, behind The O2 Arena, the Manchester Arena and The SSE Hydro in the United Kingdom.
It took years of lobbying and fighting the good fight to convince lawmakers to toss aside preconceived notions and uneducated rationalization before mixed martial arts would once again become a reality, a legal reality inside the Empire State. The UFC paved the way but there were hundreds of thousands of unmentioned names, individuals who will never be recognized that helped get us, fight fans, to where we are today.
Just days away…… your latest UFC 205 fight card:
Main Card (Pay-Per-View)
Eddie Alvarez (c) vs. Conor McGregor
Tyron Woodley (c) vs. Stephen Thompson
Joanna Jędrzejczyk (c) vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Donald Cerrone
Miesha Tate vs. Raquel Pennington
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)
Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Michael Johnson
Rashad Evans vs. Tim Kennedy
Vicente Luque vs. Belal Muhammad
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Jim Miller vs. Thiago Alves
Rafael Natal vs. Tim Boetsch
Liz Carmouche vs. Katlyn Chookagian