By Tyler Davidson
By Tyler Davidson
Blood splatters onto the mat.
Debilitating punches land on the face and body, inflicting as much physical damage as humanly possible.
Stiff kicks knot up an opponent’s muscles. Faint gurgling sounds are heard as a man’s life is nearly choked out of him.
This isn’t “Bloodsport” or “Fight Club.” This is the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
A phenomenon that has taken America by storm in the last few years. The idea of the UFC was born in 1991, with advertising executive Art Davie and jiu-jitsu trainer Rorion Gracie.
Gracie and Davie came up with the idea of an eight-man tournament that was to feature practitioners of a variety of disciplines.
Davie and Gracie would go on to form WOW Promotions and, in partnership with pay-per-view pioneer Semaphore Entertainment Group, put on the first official Ultimate Fighting Championship event.
This event took place at the end of 1993 and drew almost 90,000 viewers to pay-per-view.
Seven years later, in early 2001, boxing promoter Dana White and Sation Casinos executives Frank and Lorenzo (co-owners of Zuffa, an entertainment company) purchased UFC from SEG, which was quickly nearing bankruptcy at the time. SEG subsequently secured sanctioning by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Since then, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has enjoyed a momentous rise to the forefront of sports,.
It draws regular celebrity attendees like actors Michael Clarke Duncan who starred in “The Green Mile,” and “Sin City” and Kevin James (“King of Queens”) to their events.
This is thanks largely in part to the success of the UFC’s offshoot reality series, “The Ultimate Fighter.”
First airing in January of 2005, “The Ultimate Fighter” was the brainchild of the Ferttita brothers.
After the two appeared in their own reality show, “American Casino,” they realized what promotional wonders a UFC-based reality series could do.
From here, the show became less of an idea and more of a goal.
After Spike TV (formerly TNN) secured the rights to “The Ultimate Fighter” (a tournament-style show that would train fighters for weeks, rewarding the winner with a six-figure UFC contract) and gave it a fitting timeslot directly following “WWE RAW,” the show became one of the highest rated on the network.
In addition to airing several seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Spike TV also gained the rights to two more UFC-related shows; “Ultimate Fight Night,” a live UFC television event, and “UFC Unleashed,” a highlight package of previous fights.
The exposure of the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Spike TV has, in turn, dramatically increased the buy rate of UFC pay-per-views.
By the airing of the “UFC 40” in 2002, pay-per-view buys were around the 150,000 mark.
This number seems a bit paltry now in comparison to the buy rate of “UFC 61,” which, when held in July of 2006, drew around 775,000 buys.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has grown exponentially, from a simple eight-man “best of the best” tournament to a full-fledged money-making machine.
UFC’s biggest gate in history was at “UFC 57” in early 2006, where it drew around $3.3 million, complete with sponsors and prime time TV shows.
The more UFC grows, the more it proves that violence is, pardon the pun, bleeding into the mainstream.