UFC or The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the largest promotion of Mixed Martial Arts in
the world. Based in America, the UFC has been around for 25 years, and in that time has
established itself as the home of Mixed Martial Arts.
UFC was founded in 1993 by Art Davie, Bob Meyrowitz, Rorion Gracie, David Isaacs, John
Milius, and Campbell McLaren. The UFC came from an idea by Art Davie when he proposed
the idea of a War of the Worlds tournament, which would be an eight-man single elimination
tournament. They started WOW production, later getting a contract for pay-per-views with SEG.
They called their show The Ultimate Championship.
When it was first founded, the UFC had the famous tagline of there are no rules. However, there
were a few rules it followed then which got stricter with the passage of time.
Controversy and reform of UFC:
The violent nature of UFC drew the ire of the Government, with Senator John McCain calling the
sport ‘human cockfighting.’ This attention was not to the favour of UFC, as it saw ‘no-holds
barred’ fighting being banned in a number of states, as well as New York. UFC was forced to
relocate to Dothan, Alabama.
In response, UFC cooperated with the State Athletic Commissions and increased the number of
rules, including groin strikes, fish hooks, as well as regarding ground strikes. Slowly but surely
this saw a rise in their audience once more.
Following the struggle to survive, SEG was on the brink of bankruptcy in the 2000s. Dana White
and the Fertitas approached and bought UFC from them, forming Zuffa, LLC.
They tried to bring the events to larger audiences and made it a larger live event with fights
taking place in Casinos in Las Vegas and Trump Taj Mahal. Although there were initial problems
with trying to make money, UFC 40 saw them turn around. They sold out the MGM Grand Arena
and sold over 150,000 pay-per-views, which at that time was a massive number.
However, despite the success, the losses were accumulating. Seeing that their pay-per-view
business model was not helping them, Zuffa made a foray into the world of television. The
Ultimate Fighter began being broadcast on a regular basis and they found Spike TV as an outlet.
The live broadcast of the season finale of the reality show, The Ultimate Fighter drew a huge 1.9
Dana White credited this event with having saved UFC.
The Mid-2000s and rise in popularity:
The mid-2000s were critical for the UFC, as this era saw a huge surge in the popularity of the
sport. UFC 60 saw 620,000 pay-per-view buys, a rematch between Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell
saw them hit a milestone at UFC 66, putting them over 1 million in pay-per-view buys.
With the continued rise in popularity of the UFC, they started to buy out their competition. They
first bought PRIDE, which was followed by a huge coup when they purchased Strikeforce in
UFC also started Women’s Fights with Ronda Rousey being a pioneer. Since then, there are
women’s fights on almost every UFC event.
UFC-Fox Partnership and UFC-ESPN Partnership:
The partnership which finally set UFC up as the giant that they are today was the partnership
with FOX. The partnership lasted for 8 years, from 2011 to 2018. Since 2019, UFC has started a
new partnership with ESPN.
Top UFC Fighters:
Over the years, UFC has had a large number of top talent from around the globe, including:
Ken Shamrock, Conor McGregor, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Georges St-Pierre, Daniel Cormier,
Cain Velasquez, Michael Bisping, Frank Mir, Demetrious Johnson, Jon Jones, Khabib
Nurmagomedov, Anderson Silva, to name just a few.
Top 15 Highest UFC Selling Pay Per Views of all time
|1||10/6/2018||UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor||2,400,000||$180 million|
|2||8/20/2016||UFC 202: Diaz vs. McGregor 2||1,650,000||$90 million|
|3||7/11/2009||UFC 100: Lesnar vs. Mir||1,600,000||$82 million|
|4||3/5/2016||UFC 196: McGregor vs. Diaz||1,500,000||$80 million|
|5||12/12/2015||UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor||1,400,000||$80 million|
|6||11/12/2016||UFC 205: Alvarez vs. McGregor||1,300,000||$83 million|
|7||7/9/2016||UFC 200: Tate vs. Nunes||1,200,000||$71 million|
|8||7/3/2010||UFC 116: Lesnar vs. Carwin||1,160,000||$55 million|
|9||11/15/2015||UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm||1,100,000||$60 million|
|10||12/30/2016||UFC 207: Nunes vs. Rousey||1,100,000||$60 million|
|11||12/30/2006||UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz 2||1,050,000||$53 million|
|12||5/29/2010||UFC 114: Rampage vs. Evans||1,050,000||$51 million|
|13||10/23/2010||UFC 121: Lesnar vs. Velasquez||1,050,000||$45 million|
|14||12/28/2013||UFC 168: Weidman vs. Silva II||1,025,000||$57 million|
|15||11/15/2008||UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar||1,010,000||$47 million|