What started out as a showcase for Brazilian jiu-jitsu has turned into a worldwide phenomenon. The Ultimate Fighting Championship has evolved into the premiere mixed martial arts organization in the world. The UFC started back in 1993 by the legendary Gracie Family of Brazil. Early UFC matches featured 'no holds barred' fights that were broadcast on US-based pay-per-view television. The UFC began as a way to bring fighters from various disciplines to see which fighting style would come out on top. The early UFC events were controversial as many fights descended into glorified street brawls, but the UFC also introduced many people to mixed martial arts.
Early UFC matches featured no time limits, few rules and fighters from various different backgrounds and weight classes. It wasn't unusual to see 180-pound martial artist enter the 12-foot octagonal cage to fight a 600-pound bouncer or 300-pound bar brawler.
Over time, promoters decided to market the UFC as a legitimate sport rather than a bloodsport. While there were ups and down (the UFC nearly filed for bankruptcy at one point), the UFC slowly entered the mainstream.
In 2001, Dana White and casino executives Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta took over the UFC and transformed it into a juggernaut. The group created the Ultimate Fighter reality TV show for Spike TV, which helped draw new fans to the sport. The UFC recently held UFC 100 and shows no signs of slowing down.
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