The UFC today is a global powerhouse in the world of MMA, with a valuation close to $2 billion. But, a recently unearthed video shows how different it looked when the first ever UFC fight took place.
The video in question was shared on Instagram by user @pierremma_ and depicts the first ever UFC fight to take place at the first ever UFC event, UFC 1, way back in 1993. The very first fight was between Gerard Gordeau from the Netherlands and Tella Tuli from America.
WATCH: The first ever UFC fight takes place in 1993
Gordeau managed to progress to the final (UFC 1 was a tournament-style event) but ultimately lost out to Royce Grace of the Gracie family fame, which created the Gracie style of jiu-jitsu.
When was UFC 1?
UFC 1 was held at the former McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado on November 12 1993 but less than half of the arena’s 16,000 total capacity was filled with spectators. However, nearly 90,000 live pay-per-view buys were recorded by people wanting to watch the spectacle at home.
In stark contrast, UFC pay-per-view events that feature the likes of Conor McGregor, retired fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov or rising talent such as Paddy Pimblett, are held in huge stadiums and arenas that sell out in record time.
McGregor’s most recent UFC event, UFC 264, for example, was held at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada with an attendance of just over 20,000 people.
The video of UFC 1 also highlights how much the clothing the fighters wear has changed, too. Today, UFC fighters are contractually obliged to wear clothing provided by French brand Venum, which specialises in clothing for combat sports such as MMA. Venum replaced Reebok as the official outfitting partner of the UFC in 2020.
In the video of UFC 1, however, the fighters appear to be wearing whatever they feel comfortable in, with Gerard Gordeau wearing a pair of grey sweatpants.
UFC 1 History
UFC 1 was the event responsible for implementing many of the traits we associate with the UFC today. Primarily, UFC 1 introduced the octagonal cage, which was chosen to help the fights appear to be more brutal when broadcast on television. It was originally proposed to top the cage with razor wire, but this was ultimately dismissed.
The McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado was also chosen deliberately because at the time, Colorado has no athletic commission, so the team behind UFC 1 – Rorion Gracie and Art Davie – didn’t need to seek government approval for bare-knuckle fighting.
Unlike the UFC as we know it today, UFC 1 didn’t split fighters by weight class, fights didn’t have rounds – UFC fights today last for a maximum of five rounds, which last up to 5-minutes each – and there were no judges to award points.
In short, UFC 1 certainly paved the way for a new style of sports entertainment that has been adopted by hundreds of thousands of fans with each passing year. Because of its popularity, the UFC’s biggest stars, such as McGregor, can now earn some serious money. Conor McGregor, for example, is said to have earned an estimated $25.3 million through prize money winnings just from UFC fights.