UFC 1 – Once upon a time was the beginning – can you see how far we have come?

How long have you been an MMA fan? Well if you have as long as me, then you have been a fan of MMA that was forged all the way back at UFC 1 in 1993 during the rough and tumble days of the sport.

Now what we are really focusing on in this post is the evolution of the sport from where it first originated in modern times.

I say modern times because there have been unarmed combat competitions that have existed for thousands of years if not longer, just look at the Olympic games in Ancient Greece or events in ancient Babylon and you can clearly see that fighting has existed for so long in our history.

But the mainstream modern sport of MMA was very much grandfathered by the likes of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Gene Lebell and Royce Gracie.

But it was when UFC 1 happened that a televised fight with very few rules was broadcast to the world and is where the sport truly began – the original thinking was to determine what martial arts style was the best in a real fight.

It really was a wild west time, there were no rounds, no time limits, also only biting and eye gouges were not allowed, but anything else could be done to your opponent. Here’s a video that will show you the main highlights of UFC 1 and is a great history piece –

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The wild west was brutal

As you can see from the highlights, this insemination event for the UFC was brutal and was very much lacking in skill apart from the likes of Gerard Gordeau, Ken Shamrock and legendary Royce Gracie who we will get into later.

So in this UFC 1 event and in general in the early days of the sport fights getting finished by Head stomps, soccer kicks, low blows, headbutts, 12-6 elbows and tap outs due to just generally not having enough skill were common.

Also there was no weight classes in these days and at UFC 1 the biggest weight disparity on the card was actually the opening bout between Gerard Gordeau and Teila Tuli where the 217 pound kick boxer Gordeau was out weighed by around 198 pounds by the gint 415 pound Sumo wrestler Tuli.

But despite the weight difference Gordeau went on to win the fight in decisive fashion by TKO against an opponent that was basically twice his size.

A brutal end to the first fight in a brutal age of the sport –

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Who fought and who won at UFC 1?

  • Gerard Gordeau vs Teila Tuli – The opening fight didn’t last long as Tuli rushed Gordeau in the fiirst 15 seconds, then Gordeau fended off the attack, landed a short hook/uppercut Tuli dropped, then Gordeau landed a huge headkick to a downed Tuli after just 26 seconds followed by a follow up right hook ending the fight by TKO.
  • Kevin Rosier vs Zane Frazier – Sloppy and fun fight, but Rosier landed a huge knee which dropped Frazier and then when Frazier manged to get back up, Rosier threw a flurry to hooks, uppercuts and hammer fists on the feet to drop Frazier again, then finish him off with some more hammer fists on the ground and headstomps before Fraziers corner threw in the towel at 4:20.
  • Royce Gracie vs Art Jimmerson – Poor Art Jimmerson, the pro boxer wore a single boxing glove, but was no match for the legendary Royce Gracie’s dominant Gracie Jiu-Jitsu style and was quickly taken down ,then Roye got top mount landed very few strikes but simply smothered Jimmerson who had no knowledge of how to escape in anyway and was forced to submit at 2:18 going back to boxing.
  •  Ken Shamrock vs Patrick Smith – Lovely stuff from the legend Shamrock, he shoots in to the legs, then changes levels getting his under hooks, then secured his hands with a solid gable gripped clasped, sucks Smith close to his body then pivots and explodes into a lovey supplex throw. Then he lands some shots on the ground, before picking an ankle, sitting back and finishing the fight with an Ankle lock at 1:49.
  • Gerard Gordeau vs Kevin Rosier – This really didn’t take Gordeau long, and after a few exchanges it was clear Rossier was not in the fight and his corner abruptly threw in the towel at 0:59 seconds.
  • Ken Shamrock vs Royce Gracie – such a classic match. Royce shoots in, Ken sprawls then there is some back and forth grappling for 30 seconds or so. But shortly after Ken rolled the wrong way, giving up his back, then Royce used his Gi to his advantage and locked in a Sleeve choke quickly forcing Shamrock to tap after 0:57 seconds.
  • Jason Delucia vs Trent Jenkins – cut a dry fight Delucia goes in for the the take down, gets a little outside trip puts Jenkins n his back then, takes his back immediately and gets a nice rear naked choke on a helpless Jenkins at 0:52 seconds.
  • Royce Gracie vs Gerard Gordeau – then in the main event Royce stepped up against the the solid kick boxer Gordeau and long story short he took Gordeau down and quickly secured a rear naked choke at 1;44 becoming the first UFC winner.

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What happened after UFC 1?

Controversy, despite Royce Gracie showing amazing dominance with beautiful Jiu-Jitsu – after the first few UFC events, it started to become very difficult for the UFC to get into many states due to bias, uneducated regulations and misunderstandings from high level politicians like John McCain.

This article explains very well what the UFC was facing in the early days and the changes that needed to happen to get the sport legalised in all states.

But after more rules and regulations were put into play to protect fighters, gloves and eventually drug testing were brought in etc, the sport has slowly been accepted more and more into mainstream culture with huge companies like Reebok and even celebrity owners getting involved and the sport continues to grow at a sometimes quick but sometimes slow pace.

So MMA has a strange type of growth, which in a world full of increasing tensions I believe will become more popular then any of the biggest sports – our natural attraction to competition is in its purest form from a sporting perspective in MMA, it is the only thing close in today’s world that resembles the truest and purest of this competition – a fight to the death like the modern day Gladiators in the coliseums of Rome you could say.

The sports still not perfect, but it really has come a long way…

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Can you see how far we have come?

Its been a long rad, bu ever since UFC1 the sport has come a long way, but no matter how you feel about MMA in 2018, the reality of UFC 1 cannot be changed.

Its was a brutal early time for MMA, but im glad the sport started the way it did, because we wouldn’t be where we are now were it not for the beginnings, the seed so to speak.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed today’s post and please leave a comment or question in the comments below.

Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe and as always stay tuned for more from the world of MMA right here at the MMAGateway.

See you soon!

Marley Dawkins


  1. Reading this article has actually left me in tears 😉 When I look at the past videos, I see the amateurism in a good way. Back then everything wasn’t used to be about money only. Fighters were actually accepting challenges and were fighting to prove themselves and this was their main goal.

    Now the money has come into the bigger picture and fighters aren’t spirit oriented anymore. Or maybe that’s just my opinion.

    • Hey Tyler, yeah I agree as amateur as everything was back then, there is a purity to this time in the sport, because as you point out, it was really all about the competition n these days, money wasn’t really a factor – but now money seems to be the main thing many fighters focus on.

      Do you have any kids that love training? Well of you do make sure they get the BEST equipment

      See you soon!

  2. Love this site! I’ve been a fan from the beginning. Looking at some of the pics and videos you have bring back memories. Reminds me how one dimensional fighters were years ago and how they truly are mma fighters today. Years ago no one could match Gracie with his Jiu jitsu. Very few fighter new the art or had a clue on how to defend it.

    • Yep as much as this site is for martial arts education, training equipment, news and event schedules – its also a must go too site for any veteran MMA fans who just wana reminisce on the old days 🙂 and yeah in real life to this day if a guy is good at Jiu-Jitsu he will have a massive edge in any street fight against anyone of any size.

      But in professional MMA nowadays you need much more then just a top level Jiu-Jitsu game, you need the complete package! Oh yeah have you got yourself a good rashguard? Great for Grappling or Wrestling.

      Take it is easy man!

  3. Wow really brings back memories! I remember when fighters had no idea how to counter Gracies Jiu jitsu no matter how big they were. Today they truly are mma fighters but years ago they were very one dimensional. I’m a former wrestler and now coach for the last 18 years so I love this stuff! Great site keep it up!

    • Thanks for the feedback man! Yeah it really was an infant stage of the sport, like you say nobody could really stop Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in those days, but now you need a bit of everything to be at the top levels of MMA.

      Cool to hear you were a Wrestler and now your coaching – Wrestling is still one of the best bases for an MMA fighter to have. Are you a fan of Cliff Keen equipment? Some of your students might like this!

      See you around bro!

  4. I was introduced to this ‘sport’ by my children. As a youth I watched wresling and boxing and thought this was similar. Imagine my shock. The brutality and no holds bared aspects of the encounters totally threw me. Blood flow didn’t stop the fight until it was recognized that the competitor could go on no longer. Women in action are as ruteless as men. I can find no pleasure in it.

    • Hi Russel I understand your perspective, but perhaps you need to take a step back and re look at the sport with new eyes – sure in the times of UFC 1 every fight was violent, but nowadays with the amount of rules and regulations that must be adhered to, the sport has really cleaned itself up.

      This article will help you understand the purity and honour in the sport, as well as the point of self-defence where conflict and violence is the opposite of what a true martial artist looks for in life

      See you around!

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