On November 11, 1993, the UFC was born.
As most things go through some growing pains, the organization now known as the leader in mixed martial arts had to overcome considerable hurdles before reaching their illustrious position. Today, the UFC brand is presented as the leader in sports entertainment, but its early days revolved around the delivery of blood and guts to viewers, which sparked opposition from people in government, such as Senator John McCain, and soon many cable companies wanted nothing to do with it.
The UFC entered a very dark period and would have vanished if a pair of brothers, Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, hadn’t purchased the company under the Zuffa LLC trademark for approximately $2 million. Their new acquisition wasn’t out of the woods just yet, but a rebranding with rules and acceptance from several state athletic commissions shed a new light on what was perceived as human cockfighting.
There were times the brothers and their longtime friend Dana White, who was appointed President of the promotion, wondered if they’d be able to bring their brand of fighting to the surface, both financially and in the public’s eye. The fact was, the trio was well aware that they had something valuable on their hands, and the tide began to shift in 2005.
Following the first season of The Ultimate Fighter—a reality show that forced a collection of the country’s hottest cage fighting prospects into one Las Vegas mansion, and then had them compete in a tournament style format for a UFC contract—the finale event drew an incredible amount of attention. As Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar battled it out to become members of the UFC’s roster, more and more eyes gravitated to the screen. When the final horn of the third round sounded and both competitors were awarded contracts, a new fanbase emerged.
Though the UFC was still a ways away from being considered mainstream, it was definitely a turning point. With many years and man hours invested, mixed martial arts inched its way into the common sports fan’s vernacular.
In 2016, the UFC had grown its value exponentially, and the Fertittas sold their company to WME/IMG to the tune of a little over $4 billion. Currently, Dana White is still at the helm as the President, and the UFC is broadcasted on the largest sports platform, ESPN.
Prompted from the A to Z Challenge at: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.