Newspaper article The Canadian Press

UFC Creator Writes Inside Story on Four-Year Mission to Get UFC 1 off the Ground

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

UFC Creator Writes Inside Story on Four-Year Mission to Get UFC 1 off the Ground

Article excerpt

UFC creator offers inside story on UFC 1

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Entrepreneur Art Davie spent nearly four years trying to create the first Ultimate Fighting Championship. He finally made it happen on an unforgettable night in November 1993.

Davie's goal was to create a pay-per-view tournament that pitted boxers, wrestlers and martial artists against each other. The plan came to fruition when eight fighters converged at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver for a one-of-a-kind card that put the UFC and mixed martial arts on the map.

As he writes in his book, "Is This Legal? The Inside Story of the First UFC From the Man who Created It," the event nearly went off the rails at the fighters meeting on the eve of the tournament.

Some fighters disagreed on the three core rules: no eye gouging, no biting and no groin strikes. Others didn't like that shin guards and elbow pads were verboten or Davie's partner, Rorion Gracie, had a younger brother -- the legendary Royce Gracie -- in the field.

The various fighters and camps started arguing in the hotel conference room and things got heated. That's when sumo wrestler Teila Tuli -- all 425 pounds of him -- stood up and took control.

As Davie recalls, Tuli exclaimed in dramatic fashion he was there to party.

"If anyone else came here to party, I'll see you tomorrow night at the arena," he said.

With that, Tuli slammed his signed acceptance paper down on the table. Silence filled the room for a short time before everyone started to applaud.

The tension was gone, the meeting was adjourned and UFC 1 would soon be a go.

"I knew and I think a lot of the participants understood that we were really blazing a really new path in the stratosphere," Davie said in a recent interview. "This was going to be big."

The book offers a first-person account of the adventures leading up to that eight-man, single-night tournament. …

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