UFC celebrates 20th anniversary - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

UFC celebrates 20th anniversary


Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, UFC 167 will feature a championship bout between Georges St. Pierre and Johnny Hendricks.

But let's flash back for a moment.

On Nov. 12, 1993, boxer Art Jimmerson stepped into the octagon for UFC 1 wearing only one glove, to fight mixed martial arts legend Royce Gracie.

"They told me I was fighting the smallest guy who had no opportunity of winning, so they suckered me in," said Jimmerson.

Jimmerson tapped out without landing a punch.

That's how the UFC was born, but it didn't grow up until 2001.

"I got a call from Dana (White) and he said the owner of the UFC is looking to sell," said current UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta. 

The Fertitta family bought the UFC for $2 million at the prompting of now UFC President Dana White.

"When we bought it, this thing wasn't allowed on pay-per-view. Not allowed on pay per view!" White exclaimed. "Porn is on pay-per-view, we were not, just to show you the uphill battle we had."

Twenty years later it's the most successful fight organization in the world, even better, no event brings in more money to Las Vegas Boulevard.

"We're the No. 1 event from an economic impact standpoint on an annual basis that comes to Las Vegas," said Fertitta. 

That's a major source of pride for both Fertitta and White.

The UFC holds at least four fight cards in Las Vegas each year, drawing fans and their money from all over the world.

Bjoern Morawietz is a UFC fan from Germany in town this weekend, in fact, he's made 11 trips to Vegas over the years. He can't recall how much money he's spent.

"I don't even think about it," said Morawietz.

Certainly no one would have thought a boxer with one glove would be the start to what the UFC is now.

"We're in 175 countries, 23 different languages, and more than a billion homes worldwide. That's how far we've come," said White.

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