Ultimate Fighting Championship

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Ultimate Fighting Championship
Type Private
Industry Mixed martial arts promotion
Founded November 1993 (1993-11)
Founder(s) Campbell McLaren, Art Davie, Rorion Gracie, Bob Meyrowitz12
Headquarters Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Key people Lorenzo Fertitta, Chairman/CEO
Dana White, President
Marc Ratner, VP Regulatory Affairs
Joe Silva, VP Talent Relations/Matchmaker
Parent Zuffa, LLC
Website www.UFC.com

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the largest mixed martial arts promotion company in the world,3 which hosts some of the top-ranked fighters in the sport45 and produces events worldwide.6 Based in the United States, the UFC has eight weight divisions and enforces the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.7 The UFC has held over 250 events. Dana White serves as the president of the UFC while brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta control the UFC's parent company, Zuffa, LLC.8910

The first UFC event was held on November 12, 1993 in Denver, Colorado. The purpose of the event was to identify the most effective martial art in a real fight between competitors of different fighting disciplines, including Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sambo, Wrestling, Muay Thai, Karate, Judo, and other styles. In subsequent competitions, fighters began adopting effective techniques from more than one discipline, which indirectly helped create an entirely separate style of fighting known as present-day mixed martial arts.11

With a TV deal and expansion into Canada, Europe, Australia12 the Middle East,13 Asia14 and new markets within the United States, the UFC as of 2011 has gained in popularity, along with greater mainstream-media coverage. As of 2011 viewers can access UFC programming on pay-per-view television in the U.S., Brazil, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Italy. UFC programming can also be found on Fox, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 215 in the U.S., on BT Sport in the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as in 150 countries and 22 different languages worldwide. UFC programming is shown in 130 countries worldwide,16 and the UFC plans to continue expanding internationally, running shows regularly in Canada, Brazil and the U.K., with an office established in the U.K. aimed to expand the European audience.17

The UFC has also bought and absorbed rival promotions Pride, World Extreme Cagefighting and Strikeforce.

History

The former logo of the UFC, used from 1993 to 1999.

Early competition – early 1990s

Royce Gracie used Brazilian jiu jitsu in the early years of UFC to defeat opponents of greater size and strength.

Art Davie proposed to John Milius and Rorion Gracie an eight-man single-elimination tournament called "War of the Worlds". The tournament was inspired by the Gracies in Action video-series produced by the Gracie family of Brazil which featured Gracie Jiu-Jitsu students defeating martial-arts masters of various disciplines such as karate, kung fu and kickboxing. The tournament would feature martial artists from different disciplines facing each other in no-holds-barred combat to determine the best martial art and would aim to replicate the excitement of the matches Davie had seen on the videos.18 John Milius, a noted film director and screenwriter, as well as a Gracie student, agreed to act as the event's creative director. Davie drafted the business plan and twenty-eight investors contributed the initial capital to start WOW Promotions with the intent to develop the tournament into a television franchise.19

In 1993 WOW Promotions sought a television partner and approached pay-per-view producers TVKO (HBO), SET (Showtime) and Campbell McLaren at the Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG). Both TVKO and SET declined, but SEG–a pioneer in pay-per-view television which had produced such off-beat events as a gender tennis-match between Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova–became WOW's partner in May 1993.20 SEG contacted video and film art-director Jason Cusson to design the trademarked "Octagon", a signature piece for the event. Cusson remained the Production Designer through UFC 27.18 SEG devised the name for the show as The Ultimate Fighting Championship.21

WOW Promotions and SEG produced the first event, later called UFC 1, at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado on November 12, 1993. Art Davie functioned as the show's booker and matchmaker.22 The show proposed to find an answer for sports fans' questions such as: "Can a wrestler beat a boxer?"23 As with most martial arts at the time, fighters typically had skills in just one discipline and had little experience against opponents with different skills.24

The television broadcast featured kickboxers Patrick Smith and Kevin Rosier, savate fighter Gerard Gordeau, karate expert Zane Frazier, shootfighter Ken Shamrock, sumo wrestler Teila Tuli, boxer Art Jimmerson and 175 lb (79 kg) Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Royce Gracie—younger brother of UFC co-founder Rorion, whom Rorion hand-picked to represent his family in the competition. Royce Gracie's submission skills proved the most effective in the inaugural tournament, earning him the first ever UFC tournament championship 25 after submitting Jimmerson, Shamrock and Gordeau in succession. The show proved extremely successful with 86,592 television subscribers on pay-per-view.

However, the promoters did not intend for the event to become a precursor to a series. "That show was only supposed to be a one-off", eventual UFC president Dana White said. "It did so well on pay-per-view they decided to do another, and another. Never in a million years did these guys think they were creating a sport."26

With no weight classes, fighters often faced significantly larger or taller opponents. Keith "The Giant Killer" Hackney faced Emmanuel Yarborough at UFC 3 with a 9 in (23 cm) height and 400 pounds (180 kg) weight disadvantage.27 Many martial artists believed that technique could overcome these size disadvantages, and that a skilled fighter could use an opponent's size and strength against him. With the 175 lb (79 kg) Royce Gracie winning three of the first four events, the UFC quickly proved that size does not always determine the outcome of the fight.

During this early part of the organization, the UFC would showcase a bevy of different styles and fighters. Aside from the aforementioned Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock and Patrick Smith, the competitions also featured competitors such as Hall of Famer Dan Severn, Marco Ruas, Gary Goodridge, Don Frye, Kimo Leopoldo, Oleg Taktarov and Tank Abbott. Although the first events were dominated by jiu-jitsu, other fighting styles became successful: first wrestling, then ground and pound, kickboxing, boxing, and dirty boxing, which eventually melded into modern mixed martial arts.

In April 1995, following UFC 5 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Davie and Gracie sold their interest in the franchise to SEG and disbanded WOW Promotions. Davie continued with SEG as the show's booker and matchmaker, as well as the commissioner of Ultimate Fighting, until December 1997.

Emergence of stricter rules

"Big" John McCarthy referees as Tank Abbott puts Cal Worsham against the cage at Ultimate Ultimate 1996.

Although UFC used the tagline "There are no rules!" in the early 1990s, the UFC did in fact operate with limited rules. It banned biting and eye-gouging, and frowned on (but allowed) techniques such as hair pulling, headbutting, groin strikes and fish-hooking.

In fact, in a UFC 4 qualifying match, competitors Jason Fairn and Guy Mezger agreed not to pull hair—as they both wore pony tails tied back for the match. Additionally, that same event saw a matchup between Keith Hackney and Joe Son in which Hackney unleashed a series of groin shots against Son while on the ground.

The UFC had a reputation, especially in the early days, as an extremely violent event, as evidenced by a disclaimer in the beginning of the UFC 5 broadcast which warned audiences of the violent nature of the sport.

UFC 5 also introduced the first singles match, a rematch from the inaugural UFC featuring three-time champion Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock, called "The Superfight". This proved an important development, because singles matches would feature fighters who suffered no prior damage from a previous fight in the same event, unlike tournament matches. Singles matches would become a staple in the UFC for years to come.

"The Superfight" began as a non-tournament match that would determine the first reigning UFC Champion for tournament winners to face;28 it later evolved into a match that could feature either title matches or non-title matches. The "Superfight" would eventually completely phase out tournament matches; by UFC Brazil, the UFC abandoned the tournament format for an entire card of singles matches (aside from a one-time UFC Japan tournament featuring Japanese fighters). UFC 6 was the first event to feature the crowning of the first non-tournament UFC Champion, Ken Shamrock.

Controversy and reform – late 1990s

The violent nature of the burgeoning sport quickly drew the attention of the U.S. authorities.29

Before reform, Senator John McCain prominently opposed the UFC.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) saw a tape of the first UFC events and immediately found it abhorrent. McCain himself led a campaign to ban UFC, calling it "human cockfighting," and sending letters to the governors of all fifty US states asking them to ban the event.30

Thirty-six states enacted laws that banned "no-hold-barred" fighting, including New York, which enacted the ban on the eve of UFC 12, forcing a relocation of the event to Dothan, Alabama.31 The UFC continued to air on DirecTV PPV, though its audience remained minuscule compared to the larger cable pay-per-view platforms of the era.

In response to the criticism, the UFC increased cooperation with state athletic commissions and redesigned its rules to remove the less palatable elements of fights while retaining the core elements of striking and grappling. UFC 12 saw the introduction of weight classes and the banning of fish-hooking. For UFC 14 gloves became mandatory, while kicks to the head of a downed opponent were banned. UFC 15 saw limitations on hair pulling, and the banning of strikes to the back of the neck and head, headbutting, small-joint manipulations, and groin strikes. With five-minute rounds introduced at UFC 21, the UFC gradually re-branded itself as a sport rather than a spectacle.32

Led by UFC commissioner Jeff Blatnick and referee John McCarthy, the UFC continued to work with state athletic commissions.33 Blatnick, McCarthy and matchmaker Joe Silva created a manual of policies, procedures, codes of conduct and rules to help in getting the UFC sanctioned by the athletic commissions, many of which exist to this day.33 Blatnick and McCarthy traveled around the country, educating regulators and changing perceptions about a sport that was thought to be bloodthirsty and inhumane.33 By April 2000, their movement had clearly made an impact.33 California was set to become the first state in the U.S. to sign off on a set of codified rules that governed MMA.33 Soon after, New Jersey adopted the language.33

As the UFC continued to work with the athletic commissions, events took place in smaller U.S. markets, including Iowa, Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming and Alabama. SEG could not secure home-video releases for UFC 23 through UFC 29. With other mixed martial arts promotions working towards U.S. sanctioning, the International Fighting Championships (IFC) secured the first U.S. sanctioned mixed-martial-arts event, which occurred in New Jersey on September 30, 2000. Just two months later, the UFC held its first sanctioned event, UFC 28, under the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board's "Unified Rules".34

As the UFC's rules started to evolve, so too did its field of competitors. Notable UFC fighters to emerge in this era include Hall of Famers Mark Coleman, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes and Tito Ortiz, as well as notables Vitor Belfort, Mark Kerr, Pedro Rizzo, Murilo Bustamante, Pat Miletich, Frank Shamrock, Mikey Burnett, Jeremy Horn, Pete Williams, Jens Pulver, Evan Tanner, Andrei Arlovski and Wanderlei Silva, among others.

The Zuffa era – early 2000s

Zuffa LLC bought UFC in 2000. After the long battle to secure sanctioning, SEG stood on the brink of bankruptcy when Station Casinos executives Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and their business partner Dana White approached them in 2000, with an offer to purchase the UFC. A month later, in January 2001, the Fertittas bought the UFC for $2 million and created Zuffa, LLC as the parent entity controlling the UFC.

"I had my attorneys tell me that I was crazy because I wasn't buying anything. I was paying $2 million and they were saying 'What are you getting?'" Lorenzo Fertitta revealed to Fighter's Only magazine, recalling the lack of assets he acquired in the purchase. "And I said 'What you don't understand is I'm getting the most valuable thing that I could possibly have, which is those three letters: UFC. That is what's going to make this thing work. Everybody knows that brand, whether they like it or they don't like it, they react to it.'"35

With ties to the Nevada State Athletic Commission (Lorenzo Fertitta was a former member of the NSAC), Zuffa secured sanctioning in Nevada in 2001. Shortly thereafter, the UFC returned to pay-per-view cable television with UFC 33 featuring three championship bouts.

Struggle for survival and turnaround

The UFC slowly, but steadily, rose in popularity after the Zuffa purchase, due partly to greater advertising,36 corporate sponsorship, the return to cable pay-per-view and subsequent home video and DVD releases.

With larger live gates at casino venues like the Trump Taj Mahal and the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the UFC secured its first television deal with Fox Sports Net. The Best Damn Sports Show Period aired the first mixed martial arts match on American cable television in June 2002, as well as the main event showcasing Chuck Liddell vs. Vitor Belfort at UFC 37.5.37 Later, FSN would air highlight shows from the UFC, featuring one-hour blocks of the UFC's greatest bouts.

Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock was instrumental in the UFC's turnaround into a mainstream sport.

UFC 40 proved to be the most critical event to date in the Zuffa era. The event sold out the MGM Grand Arena and sold 150,000 pay per view buys, a rate over three times larger than the previous Zuffa events. The event featured a card headlined by a highly anticipated championship grudge match between then-current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz and former UFC Superfight Champion Ken Shamrock, who had previously defected to professional wrestling in the WWE before returning to MMA. It was the first time the UFC hit such a high mark since being forced "underground" in 1997.38 UFC 40 also garnered mainstream attention from massive media outlets such as ESPN and USA Today, something that was unfathomable for mixed martial arts at that point in time.39 Many have suggested that the success of UFC 40 and the anticipation for Ortiz vs. Shamrock saved the UFC from bankruptcy; the buyrates of the previous Zuffa shows averaged a mere 45,000 buys per event and the company was suffering deep monetary losses.39 The success of UFC 40 provided a glimmer of hope for the UFC and kept alive the hope that mixed martial arts could become big.40 Long time UFC referee "Big" John McCarthy said that he felt UFC 40 was the turning point in whether or not the sport of MMA would survive in America.

"When that show (UFC 40) happened, I honestly felt like it was going to make it. Throughout the years, things were happening, and everything always looked bleak. It always looked like, this is it, this is going to be the last time. This is going to be the last year. But, when I was standing in the Octagon at UFC 40, I remember standing there before the Ortiz/Shamrock fight and looking around. The energy of that fight, it was phenomenal, and it was the first time I honestly said, it’s going to make it." –"Big" John McCarthy41

Despite the success of UFC 40, the UFC was still experiencing financial deficits. By 2004, Zuffa had $34 million of losses since they purchased the UFC.42 Fighters who came into prominence after Zuffa's takeover include Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Rich Franklin, B.J. Penn, Sean Sherk, Matt Serra, Ricco Rodriguez, Robbie Lawler, Frank Mir, Karo Parisyan and Nick Diaz.

The Ultimate Fighter and mainstream emergence

Faced with the prospect of folding, the UFC stepped outside the bounds of pay-per-view and made a foray into television. After being featured in a reality television series, American Casino,43 and seeing how well the series worked as a promotion vehicle, the Fertitta brothers developed the idea of the UFC having its own reality series.

Their idea, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF)–a reality television show featuring up-and-coming MMA fighters in competition for a six-figure UFC contract, with fighters eliminated from competition via exhibition mixed martial arts matches–was pitched to several networks, each one rejecting the idea outright. Not until they approached Spike TV, with an offer to pay the $10 million production costs themselves, did they find an outlet.42

In January 2005, Spike TV launched TUF in the timeslot following WWE Raw. The show became an instant success, culminating with a notable season finale brawl featuring finalists Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar going toe-to-toe for the right to earn the six-figure contract, an event that Dana White credits for saving the UFC.44

On the heels of the Griffin/Bonnar finale, a second season of The Ultimate Fighter launched in August 2005, and two more seasons appeared in 2006. Spike and the UFC continued to create and air new seasons until the show moved to FX in 2012.4546

Following the success of The Ultimate Fighter, Spike also picked up UFC Unleashed, an hour-long weekly show featuring select fights from previous events. Spike also signed on to broadcast live UFC Fight Night, a series of fight events debuting in August 2005, and Countdown specials to promote upcoming UFC pay-per-view cards.

After a very successful run on Spike and with the upcoming announcement of the UFC's new relationship with Fox, Spike officials made a statement regarding the end of their partnership with the UFC, “The Ultimate Fighter season 14 in September will be our last... Our 6-year partnership with the UFC has been incredibly beneficial in building both our brands, and we wish them all the best in the future.”47

With the announcement of UFC's partnership with Fox in August 2011, The Ultimate Fighter which entered its 14th season in that September, has moved to the FX network and air on Friday nights starting with season 15 in the Spring of 2012. The new format took the show in a completely different direction, which included fighters being on the ‘Ultimate Fighter’ for 13 weeks total, with each elimination fight airing live on FX on Friday nights.48

Surging popularity and growth – mid-2000s

New York City Times Square ad for UFC 88: Breakthrough featuring Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans

With increased visibility, the UFC's pay-per-view buy numbers exploded. UFC 52, the first event after the first season of The Ultimate Fighter featuring eventual-UFC Hall of Famer Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell avenging his defeat to fellow eventual-Hall of Famer Randy Couture, drew a pay-per-view audience of 300,000,49 doubling its previous benchmark of 150,000 set at UFC 40. Following the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, the UFC's much-hyped rubber match between Liddell and Couture drew an estimated 410,000 pay-per-view buys at UFC 57.

For the rest of 2006, pay-per-view buy rates continued to skyrocket, with 620,000 buys for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie—featuring Royce Gracie's first UFC fight in 11 years—and 775,000 buys for UFC 61 featuring the highly anticipated rematch between Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz, the coaches of The Ultimate Fighter 3.50 The organization hit a milestone with UFC 66, pitting Ortiz in a rematch against Liddell with over 1 million buys.51

The surge in popularity prompted the UFC to beef up its executive team. In March 2006, the UFC announced that it had hired Marc Ratner, former Executive Director of the Nevada Athletic Commission,52 as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. Ratner, once an ally of Senator McCain's campaign against no holds barred fighting, became a catalyst for the emergence of sanctioned mixed martial arts in the United States. Ratner continues to educate numerous athletic commissions53 to help raise the UFC's media profile in an attempt to legalize mixed martial arts in jurisdictions inside and outside the United States that have yet to sanction the sport.

In December 2006, Zuffa acquired the northern California-based promotion World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) in order to stop the International Fight League (IFL) from making a deal with Versus (now NBC Sports Network). At the time, the UFC had an exclusive deal with Spike, so the purchase of the WEC allowed Zuffa to block the IFL from Versus without violating their contract.54 The WEC showcased lighter weight classes in MMA, whereas the UFC featured heavier weight classes.55 Notable WEC fighters included Urijah Faber, Jamie Varner, Carlos Condit, Ben Henderson, Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Eddie Wineland, Miguel Angel Torres, Mike Thomas Brown, Leonard Garcia, Brian Bowles, Dominick Cruz and José Aldo.

In December 2006, Zuffa also acquired their cross-town, Las Vegas rival World Fighting Alliance (WFA). In acquiring the WFA, they acquired the contracts of notable fighters including Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Martin Kampmann.

The sport's popularity was also noticed by the sports betting community as BodogLife.com, an online gambling site, stated in July 2007 that in 2007 UFC would surpass boxing for the first time in terms of betting revenues.56 In fact, the UFC had already broken the pay-per-view industry's all-time records for a single year of business, generating over $222,766,000 in revenue in 2006, surpassing both WWE and boxing.57dead link

The UFC continued its rapid rise from near obscurity with Roger Huerta gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated and Chuck Liddell on the front of ESPN The Magazine in May 2007.58

Pride acquisition and integration

A fight between Fedor Emelianenko and Mark Coleman in the Japanese, ring-based Pride organization.

On March 27, 2007, the UFC and their Japan-based rival the Pride Fighting Championships announced an agreement in which the majority owners of the UFC, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, would purchase the Pride brand.5960

Initial intentions were for both organizations to be run separately but aligned together with plans to co-promote cards featuring the champions and top contenders from both organizations. However, after purchasing Pride, Dana White felt that the Pride model was not sustainable61 and the organization would likely fold with many former Pride fighters such as Antônio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira, Maurício "Shogun" Rua, Dan Henderson, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipović, Wanderlei Silva and others already being realigned under the UFC brand.62 On October 4, 2007, Pride Worldwide closed its Japanese office, laying off 20 people who were working there since the closing of its parent company Dream Stage Entertainment (DSE).63

On June 18, 2008, Lorenzo Fertitta accommodated the UFC's growth by announcing his resignation from Station Casinos in order to devote his energies to the international business development of Zuffa, particularly the UFC. The move proved to be pivotal, as Fertitta helped strike TV deals in China, France, Mexico and Germany as well as open alternative revenue streams with a new UFC video game and UFC action figures, among other projects.64

Fighters exposed to the UFC audience—or who became prominent—in the post-Pride era include Anderson Silva, Jon Fitch, Lyoto Machida, Cain Velasquez and Jon Jones, among others.

UFC 100 – late 2000s-present

Popularity took another major surge in 2009 with UFC 100 and the 10 events preceding it including UFC 90, 91, 92, 94 and 98. UFC 100 was a massive success garnering 1.7 million buys65 under the drawing power of former NCAA wrestling champion and current WWE superstar Brock Lesnar and his rematch with former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir, Canadian superstar Georges St-Pierre going head-to-head with Brazilian knockout artist Thiago Alves, and Pride legend Dan Henderson opposing British middleweight Michael Bisping; rival coaches on The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom.

UFC 100 was unique in that it drew significant interest from ESPN, which provided extensive coverage of the event in the days preceding and following it.66 In fact, ESPN would eventually devote additional coverage of the UFC and other MMA news with the television debut of "MMA Live" on ESPN2 in May 2010.67

The buzz from UFC 100 was hampered significantly in the second half of 2009 after a rash of injuries and other health-related issues6869—including Brock Lesnar's life-threatening bout with diverticulitis70—forcing the organization to continuously scramble and reshuffle its lineup for several events.

However, the momentum gradually began to pick up in the first quarter of 2010 after victories from defending champions Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, as well as Lyoto Machida's first career defeat to "Shogun" Rua for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. These fights segued into a very popular clash between former UFC Champions and rivals Rashad Evans and Quinton Jackson—rival coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 10: Heavyweights—at UFC 114, featuring the UFC's first main event headlined by African-American fighters.71 The event scored over 1 million pay per view buys72 as Evans secured a unanimous decision victory.

UFC 129 shattered previous North American gate and attendance records.

This momentum carried into the summer of 2010 at UFC 116, which featured the return of Brock Lesnar defending his UFC Heavyweight title against the undefeated interim-champion Shane Carwin before 1.25 million PPV viewers.73 Lesnar survived an early barrage of Carwin's punches in a contest that was nearly stopped by referee Josh Rosenthal.74 However, Lesnar recovered in the second round to submit Carwin via arm triangle choke to retain the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Championship. The event as a whole was critically acclaimed in the media757677 for living up to the hype with a number of exciting fights that were featured on the televised card.

After a dramatic fifth round, last minute victory by UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva over Chael Sonnen at UFC 117, Lesnar finally surrendered his belt to the undefeated Cain Velasquez via 1st round TKO at UFC 121. The fight produced Velasquez's eighth knockout or technical knockout in his first nine MMA fights.78

UFC 129 featured Georges St-Pierre vs. Jake Shields at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is currently the largest UFC event in North American history,7980 which coincided with a two-day UFC Fan Expo at the Direct Energy Centre.8182 The event sold out 55,000 tickets for gate revenues exceeding $11 million,83 shattering previous MMA attendance and gate records in North America.83

TRT

On February 27, 2014 the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned the use of Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). The UFC followed suit and banned the use of TRT for any of their events, including international markets where the UFC oversees regulatory efforts.84

WEC merger

Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, purchased World Extreme Cagefighting in late 2006 and held the first WEC event under new ownership on January 20, 2007.85 Soon thereafter the WEC made its home on the Versus Network with its first event debuting on Versus in June 2007.86

On October 28, 2010, Zuffa announced that its sister promotion, WEC would merge with the UFC. The WEC held its final card on December 16, 2010. As a result of the merger, the UFC absorbed WEC's bantamweight, featherweight and lightweight weight divisions and their respective fighters. The UFC also made the last WEC Featherweight and Bantamweight Champions, José Aldo and [Dominic Cruz]] respectively, the inaugural UFC Champions of their new weight divisions.87

Reed Harris, who started World Extreme Cagefighting with Scott Adams, had mixed emotions on the merger. “It’s kind of like when your kid goes off to college: at first you’re not happy, but after you think about it for a while, you’re really happy,” Harris told MMAWeekly.com in an exclusive interview immediately following the announcement. “At the end of the day, I never imagined this thing would be where we’re at today. I’m extremely proud and happy that I was involved with something that will now be part of what may be, some day, the largest sports organization in the world.”88

Strikeforce purchase

The Strikeforce cage

On March 12, 2011, Dana White revealed that Zuffa had purchased Strikeforce.89 White went on to explain that Strikeforce will operate as an independent promotion, and that Scott Coker will continue to run the promotion. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker announced the return of Fedor Emelianenko on an unspecified July or August event and said that Zuffa-owned company would continue to co-promote with M-1 Global.90 Following the purchase, the UFC signed many of Strikeforce's top stars and champions, such as Andrew Fox, Jason Miller, Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem, and Cung Le. Under Zuffa's ownership, Strikeforce made minor changes, including adopting the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts in full, closing the promotion's men's weight classes below lightweight, and ceasing promotion of amateur undercard bouts. After an extension was reached to continue Strikeforce through 2012, the promotion's heavyweight division (sans Heavyweight Grand Prix finalists) was merged into the UFC, and the promotion's Challengers series was ended.

The final Strikeforce show was Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine on January 12, 2013, after which the promotion was dissolved and all fighter contracts were either ended or absorbed into the UFC.

Fox partnership

UFC on Fox Nielsen ratings
Event Date Rating Share Viewers Ref.
Velasquez vs. dos Santos November 12, 2011 3.1 5 5.7 million 91
Evans vs. Davis January 28, 2012 2.6 5 4.7 million 92
Diaz vs. Miller May 5, 2012 1.5 3 2.4 million 93
Shogun vs. Vera August 4, 2012 1.4 3 2.4 million 94
Henderson vs. Diaz December 8, 2012 2.5 5 4.4 million 95
Johnson vs. Dodson January 26, 2013 2.4 5 4.2 million 96
Henderson vs. Melendez April 20, 2013 2.2 4 3.7 million 97
Johnson vs. Moraga July 27, 2013 1.5 3 2.4 million 98
Johnson vs. Benavidez 2 December 14, 2013 1.8 3 2.8 million 99
Henderson vs. Thomson January 25, 2014 1.9 3 3.2 million 100

On August 18, 2011, The Ultimate Fighting Championship and Fox announced a seven-year broadcast deal through the Fox Sports subsidiary, effectively ending the UFC's Spike TV and Versus (now NBC Sports Network) partnership. The deal includes four events on the main Fox network, 32 live Friday night fights per year on their cable network FX, 24 events following The Ultimate Fighter reality show and six separate Fight Night events.

The promotion's first broadcast television event – UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos – broke form by showcasing only one fight to television viewers. In the main event, Junior dos Santos abruptly dethroned then-undefeated UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez by knock-out at 1:04 in the first round. The telecast peaked with 8.8 million viewers tuning into the fight with an average audience of 5.7 million, making it by far the most watched MMA event of all-time and the most watched combat sports event since 2003's HBO bout between Lennox Lewis and Vitaly Klitschko.101

The Ultimate Fighter changed formats and now be live and air on Friday nights on FX,clarification needed followed by a live fight card. Many of the preliminary fights before UFC pay-per-views and UFC Unleashed programming will be on Fuel TV. Additional programming begins in January, including live fights, pre-shows and post-shows, Countdown shows, UFC Ultimate Insider, UFC Unleashed, UFC Primetime, UFC Knockout series, Best of Pride and weigh-in specials.

One of the other programming opportunities that is already in motion is a weekly UFC magazine-style show. When asked about the potential for a weekly magazine-style series, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta responded, “Not only weekly, but, potentially, multiple times per week you’ll have a UFC magazine (show).”102 The UFC will maintain production control of its product, including the use of its broadcast team of Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. Fox Sports will produce the pre- and post-shows.

Women's MMA

Ronda Rousey is the first female UFC champion.

On November 16, 2012, the eve of UFC 154: St. Pierre vs. Condit, Dana White confirmed with Jim Rome the UFC will feature women's MMA with the signing of its first female fighter, Strikeforce bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.103 She subsequently became the first female UFC champion, the first olympic medallist with a UFC title, and the first woman to defend a UFC title.

On December 11, 2013 the UFC picked up the contracts of 11 female fighters to fill up their 115-pound division. The Strawweight's will take part in the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter, the season winner will be the first UFC women’s strawweight champion. Some of the fighters include Felice Herrig, Claudia Gadelha, Tecia Torres, Bec Hyatt, Joanne Calderwood, and even Invicta FC's Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza and many more.104

International expansion

In addition to the UFC PPV and The Ultimate Fighter events in the United States. UFC events have been held in 12 other countries. Puerto Rico, a United States territory, host UFC 6 in 1995.

UFC Japan: Ultimate Japan was held in 1997, followed by UFC 23: Ultimate Japan 2 in 1999, UFC 25: Ultimate Japan 3 and UFC 29 in 2000. The promotion returned in 2012 with UFC 144, followed by UFC on Fuel TV: Silva vs. Stann in 2013.

UFC Brazil: Ultimate Brazil was held in São Paulo in 1998. The promotion returned to Brazil in 2011 for UFC 134, and has hosted a total 12 events.

UFC 38 was held in London, United Kingdom in 2002. UFC returned to the United Kingdom in 2007 with UFC 70, and has held a total 14 events there. UFC 93 was held in Ireland in 2009 as well.

UFC has visited Canada 14 times, starting with UFC 83 in 2008. Five UFC events have been held in Australia, beginning with UFC 110 in 2010.

UFC 99 was held in Germany in 2009 and UFC 122 in 2010. UFC on Fuel TV: Gustafsson vs. Silva was held in Sweden in 2012, featuring local fighter Alexander Gustafsson, and UFC on Fuel TV: Mousasi vs. Latifi in 2013.

UFC 112 was held in the United Arab Emirates in 2010, UFC on Fuel TV: Franklin vs. Le in China in 2012, and UFC Fight Night: Saffiedine vs. Lim in Singapore in 2014. Most Recently, UFC Fight Night: Kim vs Hathaway was held in Macau, China in 2014.

The Ultimate Fighter has had international editions as well: Brazil since 2012, China since 2013, and Canada vs. Australia in 2014.

On September 16, 2012, CEO Lorenzo Fertitta announced that the UFC would be expanding the Ultimate Fighter to India, furthering international expansion. Because of mixed martial arts' relatively unknown status within India, and its population of 1.2 billion, Fertitta claimed that India would be a viable market to expand the UFC brand, however challenging. The UFC struck a deal with Sony SIX to produce the episodes and subsequently air them as well. Currently, filming is set to begin during the summer of 2013, and air later that fall.105

Additional events are planned for Brazil, Australia, China, Europe and the Middle East from 2014.106107

Rules

The current rules for the Ultimate Fighting Championship were originally established by the New Jersey Athletic Control Board.108 The set of "Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts" that New Jersey established has been adopted in other states that regulate mixed martial arts, including Nevada, Louisiana, and California. These rules are also used by many other promotions within the United States, becoming mandatory for those states that have adopted the rules, and so have become the standard de facto set of rules for professional mixed martial arts across the country.

Rounds

UFC matches vary in maximum length, depending on whether the match is for a Championship title, or is a fight card's "main event" fight. In all fights, each round can be no longer than five minutes. Championship fights last for a maximum of five rounds. Beginning with UFC 138 on November 5, 2011, non-championship "main event" fights (i.e. the final fight on the card) will also last for a maximum of five rounds. Non-main event bouts last for a maximum of three rounds. UFC on FX: Alves vs. Kampmann featured the organization's first two flyweight fights as part of its first flyweight tournament, which consists of bouts that, in the event of a draw, go to a fourth "sudden victory" round held to determine the winner, who advances. There is a one-minute rest period between rounds.

Weight divisions

The UFC currently uses eight different weight classes:

Weight class name Upper limit
in pounds (lb) in kilograms (kg) in stones (st)
Flyweight 125 56.7 8 st 13 lb
Bantamweight 135 61.2 9 st 9 lb
Featherweight 145 65.8 10 st 5 lb
Lightweight 155 70.3 11 st 1 lb
Welterweight 170 77.1 12 st 2 lb
Middleweight 185 83.9 13 st 3 lb
Light Heavyweight 205 93.0 14 st 6 lb
Heavyweight 265 120.2 18 st 13 lb

Non-title fights have a one pound leniency. In addition, there are two other weight classes specified in the Unified Rules which the UFC does not currently use:

Cage

Shot of The Octagon from UFC 131; Junior dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin

The UFC stages bouts in an eight-sided enclosure officially named "The Octagon". Originally, SEG trademarked the concept as well as the term and prevented other mixed martial arts promotions from using the same type of cage, but in 2001 Zuffa gave permission for other promotions to use octagonal cages, reasoning that the young sport needed uniformity to continue to win official sanctioning. Today Zuffa reserves exclusive use of the name "The Octagon".109

The UFC cage is an octagonal structure with walls of metal chain-link fence coated with black vinyl and a diameter of 32 ft (9.8 m), allowing 30 ft (9.1 m) of space from point to point. The fence is 5 ft 6 in to 5 ft 8 in height. The cage sits atop a platform, raising it 4 ft (1.2 m) from the ground. It has foam padding around the top of the fence and between each of the eight sections. It also has two entry-exit gates opposite each other.110 The mat, painted with sponsorship logos and art, is replaced for each event.

Attire

All competitors must fight in approved shorts, without shoes. Shirts (except in the women's division), gis or long pants (including gi pants) are not allowed. Fighters must use approved light-weight open-fingered gloves, that include at least 1" of padding around the knuckles, (110 to 170 g / 4 to 6 ounces) that allow fingers to grab. These gloves enable fighters to punch with less risk of an injured or broken hand, while retaining the ability to grab and grapple. A mouthguard and jockstrap with protective cup are also required, and fighters are checked for these by a State Athletic Committee official before being allowed to enter the cage/ring.111

Originally the attire for UFC was very open if controlled at all. Many fighters still chose to wear tight-fitting shorts or boxing-type trunks, while others wore long pants or singlets. Several wore wrestling shoes. Multi-time tournament Champion Royce Gracie wore a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi in all his early appearances in UFC, while Art Jimmerson appeared in UFC 1 wearing one standard boxing glove. As of UFC 133 there has been a ban on speedo style shorts after Dennis Hallman wore one in his fight against Brian Ebersole. UFC president Dana White was so furious about the fighter's choice of attire that he awarded an honorary "getting those horrifying shorts off TV as soon as possible" bonus to Ebersole for finishing the fight in the first round, and in following post-fight interviews made it clear that speedo style shorts will no longer be tolerated.

Match outcome

Matches may end via:

  • Submission: a fighter clearly taps the mat or his opponent, verbally submits, or clearly communicates being in pain (such as by yelling) to a degree that causes the referee to stop the fight. Also, a technical submission may be called when a fighter either loses consciousness or is on the verge of serious injury while in a hold.
  • Knockout: a fighter is put into a state of unconsciousness resulting from any legal strike.
  • Technical Knockout (TKO): If the referee decides a fighter cannot continue, the fight is ruled as a technical knockout. Technical knockouts can be classified into three categories:
    • referee stoppage (the referee ends the fight because one fighter is deemed unable to intelligently defend himself)
    • doctor stoppage (a ring side doctor decides that it is unsafe for one fighter to continue the bout, due to excessive bleeding or physical injuries)
    • corner stoppage (a fighter's cornerman signals defeat for their own fighter)
  • Judges' Decision: Depending on scoring, a match may end as:
    • unanimous decision (all three judges score a win for fighter A)
    • majority decision (two judges score a win for fighter A, one judge scores a draw)
    • split decision (two judges score a win for fighter A, one judge scores a win for fighter B)
    • technical decision (a fighter is rendered unable to continue as a result of an unintentional illegal element or move, resulting in a decision based on the finished and unfinished rounds if the number of rounds to be judged is sufficient)
    • unanimous draw (all three judges score a draw)
    • majority draw (two judges score a draw, one judge scoring a win)
    • split draw (one judge scores a win for fighter A, one judge scores a win for fighter B, and one judge scores a draw)
    • technical draw (the bout ends in a manner similar to that of a technical decision, with the judges' scores resulting in a draw)
  • Disqualification: a fighter intentionally executes an illegal move that is considered by the referee or opponent to be injurious or significant enough to negatively alter the opponent's performance should the fight continue, resulting in the opponent's victory.
  • Forfeit: a fighter fails to compete or intentionally and prematurely ends the bout for a reason besides injury, resulting in the opponent's victory.
  • No Contest: a fighter is rendered unable to continue or compete effectively as a result of an unintentional illegal element or move and there is not a sufficient number of finished rounds to be judged to make a technical decision viable, or both fighters are rendered unable to continue or compete effectively. Also, a fight may be ruled a no contest if the original outcome of the bout is changed due to unsatisfactory or illegal circumstances, such as a premature stoppage or a fighter's testing positive for banned substances.

In the event of a draw, it is not necessary that the fighters' total points be equal (see, e.g., UFC 41 Penn vs. Uno, or UFC 43 Freeman vs. White). However, in a unanimous or split draw, each fighter does score an equal number of win judgments from the three judges (0 or 1, respectively).

Judging criteria

The ten-point must system is in effect for all UFC fights; three judges score each round and the winner of each receives ten points while the loser receives nine points or fewer (although 10–10 rounds are given in the rare event that a judge feels the rounds was too close to warrant giving one fighter 10 and the other 9.) Scores of 10–8 are typically awarded for dominant rounds and anything more dominant is scored less. 10–7 rounds are very rare.

Fouls

The Nevada State Athletic Commission currently lists the following as fouls:112

  1. Biting
  2. Eye-gouging
  3. Fish-hooking
  4. Groin attacks
  5. Small joint manipulation
  6. Hair pulling
  7. Head-butting
  8. Putting a finger into any orifice or into any cut or laceration on an opponent (see Fish-hooking)
  9. Striking to the spine or the back of the head (see Rabbit punch)
  10. Striking downward using the point of the elbow (see Elbow (strike))
  11. Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea
  12. Clawing, pinching or twisting the flesh
  13. Grabbing the clavicle
  14. Intentionally attempting to break an opponent's bone
  15. Kicking the head of a grounded opponent
  16. Kneeing the head of a grounded opponent
  17. Stomping a grounded opponent
  18. Kicking to the kidney with the heel
  19. Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck (see Piledriver)
  20. Throwing an opponent out of the ring or fenced area
  21. Holding the shorts or gloves of an opponent
  22. Spitting at an opponent
  23. Engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to an opponent
  24. Holding the ropes or the fence
  25. Using abusive language in the ring or fenced area
  26. Attacking an opponent on or during the break
  27. Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee
  28. Attacking an opponent after the bell (horn) has sounded the end of a round
  29. Flagrantly disregarding the instructions of the referee
  30. Timidity, including, without limitation, avoiding contact with an opponent, intentionally or consistently dropping the mouthpiece or faking an injury
  31. Interference by the corner

When a foul is charged, the referee in their discretion may deduct one or more points as a penalty. If a foul incapacitates a fighter, then the match may end in a disqualification if the foul was intentional, or a no contest if unintentional. If a foul causes a fighter to be unable to continue later in the bout, it ends with a technical decision win to the injured fighter if the injured fighter is ahead on points, otherwise it is a technical draw.113

Match conduct

  • After a verbal warning the referee can stop the fighters and stand them up if they reach a stalemate on the ground (where neither are in a dominant position or working towards one). This rule is codified in Nevada as the stand-up rule.
  • If the referee pauses the match, it is resumed with the fighters in their prior positions.
  • Grabbing the cage brings a verbal warning, followed by an attempt by the referee to release the grab by pulling on the grabbing hand. If that attempt fails or if the fighter continues to hold the cage, the referee may charge a foul.
  • Early UFC events disregarded verbal sparring / "trash-talking" during matches. Under unified rules, antics are permitted before events to add to excitement and allow fighters to express themselves, but abusive language during combat is prohibited.

Evolution of the rules

  • UFC 1 – Although the advertising said There Are No Rules, there were in fact some rules: no biting, no eye-gouging and no groin attacks. Fights ended only in the event of a knockout, submission or the corner throwing in the towel. Despite this, the first match in UFC 1 was won by referee stoppage, even though it was not officially recognized as such at the time.
  • UFC 2 – Groin attacks were unbanned. Time limits were dropped ending the need for judges. Modifications to the cage were added (the fence became 5 feet tall but would continually grow in height afterwards and the floor became the canvas that is still used today).
  • UFC 3 – The referee was officially given the authority to stop a fight in case of a fighter being unable to defend himself. A fighter could not kick if he was wearing shoes. This rule would later be discarded, then changed to 'no kicking with shoes while on the ground' and then reinstated, before finally being discarded.
  • UFC 4 – After tournament alternate Steve Jennum won UFC 3 by winning only one bout, alternates (replacements) were required to win a pre-tournament bout to qualify for the role of an alternate.
  • UFC 5 – The organizers introduced a 30-minute time limit. UFC 5 also saw the first Superfight, a one-off bout between two competitors selected by the organizers with the winner being crowned 'Superfight champion' and having the duty of defending his title at the next UFC.
  • UFC 6 – The referee was given the authority to restart the fight. If two fighters were entangled in a position where there was a lack of action, the referee could stop the fight and restart the competitors on their feet, in their own corner. In UFC 6 they officially adopted the 5-minute extension to the 30-minute rule which had been used in UFC 5.
  • Ultimate Ultimate 1995 – This event was the first to introduce the no fish-hooking rule and to reinstate judges. Time limits were changed to 15 minutes in the quarter-finals, 18 minutes in the semi-finals and 27 minutes in the finals.
  • UFC 8 – Time limits changed to 10 minutes in the first two rounds of the tournament, 15 minutes in the tournament final and Superfight. Time limits would continually change in the later UFC events. Fights could now be decided by a judges decision if the fight reached the end of the time limit. The panel was made up of three judges who simply raised a card with the name of the fighter they considered to be the winner. In this fashion, a draw was not possible since the only two possible outcomes of a decision were 3 to 0 or 2 to 1 in favor of the winner.
  • UFC 9 – To appease local authorities, closed fisted strikes to the head were banned for this event only. The commentators were not aware of this last minute rule that was made to prevent the cancellation of the event due to local political pressures. Referee "Big John" McCarthy made repeated warnings to the fighters to "open the hand" when this rule was violated. However, not one fighter was reprimanded. UFC 9 was also the last UFC event to feature the superfight.
  • Ultimate Ultimate 1996 – This event was the first to introduce the "no grabbing of the fence" rule.
  • UFC 12 – The main tournament split into a heavyweight (over 200 lbs.) and lightweight (200 lbs. and under) division; and the eight-man tournament ceased. Fighters now needed to win only two fights to win the competition. The Heavyweight Champion title (and title bouts) was introduced, replacing the Superfight title (albeit matches were still for a time branded as "Superfights").
  • UFC 14 – The lightweight division was re-branded middleweight. The wearing of padded gloves, weighing 110 to 170 g (4 to 6 ounces), becomes mandatory. Gloves were to be approved by the UFC. Hair-pulling, groin strikes and kicks to a downed opponent became illegal.
  • UFC 15 – Limits on permissible striking areas were introduced. Headbutts, elbow strikes to the back of the neck and head and small joint manipulation became illegal.
  • UFC 21 – Five minute rounds were introduced, with preliminary bouts consisting of two rounds, regular non-title bouts at three rounds, and title bouts at five rounds. The "ten-point must system" was introduced for scoring fights (identical to the system widely used in boxing).
  • UFC 28 – The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board sanctions its first UFC event, using the newly developed Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. Major changes to the UFC's rules included barring knee strikes to the head of a downed opponent, elbow strikes to the spine and neck and punches to the back of the neck and head. Limits on permissible ring attire, stringent medical requirements, and regulatory oversight were also introduced. A new weight class system was also introduced.114 This new set of rules is currently the de facto standard for MMA events held in the U.S. and is still in use by the UFC.
  • UFC 31 – Weight classes are re-aligned to the current standard. Bantamweight moves from 150 to 155 and becomes known as lightweight. Lightweight becomes known as welterweight, middleweight becomes light heavyweight, and a new middleweight class is introduced at 185 pounds.
  • UFC 43 – In the event of a stoppage fights restart in the position the fight was stopped.
  • UFC 94 – After an incident where Georges St-Pierre was accused of putting vaseline on his back, corner men were disallowed from bringing vaseline into The Octagon. Lubricant may now only be applied outside The Octagon before the commencement of the first round.
  • UFC 97 – Foot-stomps are banned.
  • UFC 98 – Foot-stomps are allowed again.
  • UFC 133 – Speedo style trunks are banned.115
  • UFC 138 – First 5-round non-title main event.116

The Ultimate Fighter

Fights that occur on The Ultimate Fighter are classified as exhibition matches under NSAC sanctioning, and thus do not count toward the professional record of a fighter. Match outcomes also do not need to be immediately posted publicly, which allows for fight results to be unveiled as the series progresses.

These exhibition matches variably have two or three rounds, depending on the rules used for each season. In most seasons, preliminary matches (before the semi-final bouts) were two rounds; in season two, all matches had three rounds. For two-round matches, if there is a draw after two rounds, an extra five-minute round ("sudden victory") is contested. If the extra round concludes without a stoppage, the judges' decision will be based on that final round. All matches past the first round use three rounds as per standard UFC bouts. During the finales for each series, the division finals have the standard three rounds, plus a fourth round if the judges score a tie.

UFC events

Production team

Octagon girl Arianny Celeste

Comedian, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Taekwondo black belt117 Joe Rogan teams up with play-by-play announcer Mike Goldberg to provide commentary during broadcasts of nearly all UFC events. The "Veteran Voice of the Octagon" is announcer Bruce Buffer.118 Arianny Celeste and Brittney Palmer are Octagon girls.119 Each fighter is assigned a cutman by the promotion who cares for the fighter before the fight and in between rounds. Jacob "Stitch" Duran is one of the best known cutmen working for the organization.120 Matches are made by matchmaker, and VP of Talent Relations, Joe Silva.121 Burt Watson is the production manager for all UFC events, including fighter weigh-ins and other public events held before fights that frequently draw crowds of fans and reporters.122123

Fighter salaries and contracts

A UFC fighter generally does not have a salary. They are paid per fight, with amounts depending on how well-known the fighters are and how well sponsored a fighter and an event is. Fighters will typically get paid money to fight with an additional bonus if they win. Cash bonuses are also awarded for "Fight of the Night" and "Performance of the Night" (formerly known as "Knockout of the Night" and "Submission of the Night").124 The size of these bonuses are $50,000 USD, and, for less well-known fighters, they can be several times larger than the contracted amount for the fight.125 Contracted amounts generally have to be declared to the State Athletic commission however the UFC also pays undisclosed locker-room bonuses to fighters.126 In recent years UFC fighters' contracts and merchandising rights have been the subject of dispute between fighters (represented by growing the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association) and UFC, which has attempted to defend existing regulations.127

Current champions

Male

Division Upper weight limit Champion Since Title defenses
Heavyweight 265 lb (120.2 kg; 18.9 st) United States Cain Velasquez December 29, 2012 (UFC 155) 2
Light Heavyweight 205 lb (93.0 kg; 14.6 st) United States Jon Jones March 19, 2011 (UFC 128) 6
Middleweight 185 lb (83.9 kg; 13.2 st) United States Chris Weidman July 6, 2013 (UFC 162) 1
Welterweight 170 lb (77.1 kg; 12.1 st) United States Johny Hendricks March 15, 2014 (UFC 171) 0
Lightweight 155 lb (70.3 kg; 11.1 st) United States Anthony Pettis August 31, 2013 (UFC 164) 0
Featherweight 145 lb (65.8 kg; 10.4 st) Brazil José Aldo November 20, 2010 (UFC 123) 6
Bantamweight 135 lb (61.2 kg; 9.6 st) Brazil Renan Barão July 21, 2012 (UFC 149) 3
Flyweight 125 lb (56.7 kg; 8.9 st) United States Demetrious Johnson September 22, 2012 (UFC 152) 3

Female

Division Upper weight limit Champion Since Title defenses
Bantamweight 135 lb (61.2 kg; 9.6 st) United States Ronda Rousey December 6, 2012 (UFC on Fox 5 Conference) 3
Strawweight 115 lb (52.2 kg; 8.2 st) vacant 0

UFC Hall of Fame

Name Date of Induction Notes
Royce Gracie November 21, 2003 (UFC 45)
Ken Shamrock November 21, 2003 (UFC 45)
Dan Severn April 16, 2005 (UFC 52)
Randy Couture June 24, 2006 (The Ultimate Fighter: Team Ortiz vs. Team Shamrock Finale)
Mark Coleman March 1, 2008 (UFC 82)
Chuck Liddell July 11, 2009 (UFC 100)
Charles Lewis, Jr. July 11, 2009 (UFC 100) a[›]
Matt Hughes May 29, 2010 (UFC 114)
Tito Ortiz July 7, 2012 (UFC 148)
Forrest Griffin July 6, 2013 (UFC 162)
Stephan Bonnar July 6, 2013 (UFC 162) b[›]

^ a: The only non-fighter inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
^ b: The only fighter who was not a UFC Champion to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Media

Music

  • UFC: Ultimate Beat Downs, Vol. 1, an album of music featured in and inspired by the UFC.

Video games

In January 2007, Zuffa and video game developer/publisher THQ announced a license agreement giving THQ worldwide rights to develop titles under the UFC brand. The agreement gives THQ exclusive rights to current and next-generation consoles as well as to PC and handheld titles. Also included are "certain wireless rights" which were not detailed. The licensing agreement was set to expire in 2011, although it appeared to have been extended to 2017. On June 6, 2012, during the E3 Exhibition, THQ had announced that they will be giving the license of UFC Undisputed to EA. The move came about months after UFC Undisputed 3's release, which THQ felt did not make a profit for the company. UFC 4 will feature fighters from Strikeforce.

Action figures

Round 5
The first UFC action figure collectibles were released by Round 5 Corporation in May 2008.128 Series one of their figures includes Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Matt Hughes, Tito Ortiz, and Randy Couture. Series two (released on November 10, 2008) includes Wanderlei Silva, Sean Sherk, Rich Franklin, and Anderson Silva.

In July 2009, Round 5 acquired the UFC license through Jakks Pacific and subsequently released 5 more series under the UFC and Pride brands. 2 packs were released in August 2010 and includes a UFC Octagon cage and Pride ring display stand. Limited edition versions include fabric walk out tees or paint variations and are limited in number with foil and holographic packaging variances. Special edition and exclusive versions have been released at various UFC Fan Expo events.

Jakks Pacific
On June 10, 2008, it was announced that UFC had signed an exclusive four-year contract with Jakks Pacific to create action figures for UFC. As of 2009 the schedule envisages the release of these figures in November 2009. They have currently been 8 series released and they feature special Legends, PRIDE, and WEC style figures as well. Three 2 packs series have also been released, as well as several expo and internet exclusives. There are also several different octagon cage playsets that have been released, including the "Octagon Playset", "Official Scale Octagon Playset", and "Electronic Reaction Octagon Playset". A PRIDE style ring playset was also originally planned, however no news have been given on its status or release date since then.129130131

Jakks Pacific UFC Deluxe Figure Lineups: Series 0: Royce Gracie (Legends Packaging), Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir, Rashad Evans, Keith Jardine, Houston Alexander, Kendall Grove, and Miguel Angel Torres (WEC Packaging)132

Series 1: Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva, Forrest Griffin, Michael Bisping, Evan Tanner (Legends Packaging), Kevin Randleman (PRIDE Packaging), Cheick Kongo, and Mike Swick133

Series 2: Nate Marquardt, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mike Thomas Brown (WEC Packaging), Bas Rutten (Unreleased in this series, moved to series 6), Georges St-Pierre (Unreleased in this series, moved to series 6), Lyoto Machida (Unreleased in this series, moved to series 5), Quinton Jackson (Unreleased in this series, moved to series 8), and Thiago Alves (Unreleased in this series, moved to series 6)134

Series 3: Chuck Liddell (Legends Packaging), Karo Parisyan, B.J. Penn, Jon Fitch, Mark Coleman (Legends Packaging), Thiago Silva, and Maurício Rua (PRIDE Packaging)

Series 4: Wanderlei Silva, Sean Sherk, Rich Franklin, Matt Hughes, Kimbo Slice, Jamie Varner (WEC Packaging), Don Frye (Legends Packaging), and Andrei Arlovski (Unreleased in this series, later released in series 7)

Series 5: Lyoto Machida (1 of 100 inserts were also released randomly and contained a special die cast version of the UFC belt), Quinton Jackson (PRIDE Packaging), Matt Hamill, Dan Severn (Legends), Kenny Florian, Matt Serra, and Stephan Bonnar

Series 6: Thiago Alves, Randy Couture (Unreleased, was originally supposed to be a 1 of 100 inserts that was to be released randomly and contain a special die cast version of the UFC belt), Georges St-Pierre, Clay Guida, Frank Mir, Tito Ortiz, Jens Pulver (WEC Packaging), and Bas Rutten (Legends)

Series 7 (If bought at Target, each of them, except for Nogueira, also came with a replica UFC event mini-poster): B.J. Penn (Legends Packaging), Anderson Silva, Andrei Arlovski, Forrest Griffin (Legends Packaging), Diego Sanchez, and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira (PRIDE Packaging, 1 of 100 inserts were also released randomly and contained a special die cast version of the PRIDE belt)

Series 8: Matt Hughes (Legends Packaging), Chuck Liddell (PRIDE Packaging), Frankie Edgar (1 of 100 inserts were also released randomly and contained a special die cast version of the UFC belt), Nate Diaz, and Quinton Jackson

Jakks Pacific UFC Deluxe 2 Packs Figures Lineups: Series 1: Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva, Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar, Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin

Series 2: Lyoto Machida vs. Shogun Rua, Georges St-Pierre vs. Matt Hughes, Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell (Was supposed to be canceled due to copyright issues, however only 1,000 packs managed to make it to several K-Mart stores)

Series 3: Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz, B.J. Penn vs. Kenny Florian, Dan Severn vs Royce Gracie (Legends Packaging)

Expos Exclusives: Georges St-Pierre (Boston Expo 2010, 1 of 500)

Ringside Collectibles Internet Exclusives: Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar: The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Final, Dana White, Quinton Rampage Jackson 1 of 1000135

DVD

Every pay-per-view UFC event has been released onto DVD. UFC 23 through UFC 29 were not released in the US on home video or DVD by SEG. They have since been released onto boxsets which feature around 10 events each set, in chronological order.

Xbox Live

UFC on Xbox Live launched on December 20, 2011. Xbox Live subscribers are able to view pay-per-view events in high definition (720p), access a library of live and on-demand video content, connect with friends to predict fight results and have the ability to compare fighter statistics and records. Other functions are also available.136 Free fights have recently been streamed for a limited time.

See also

References

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  2. ^ "UFC Creator Bob Meyrowitz Announces New MMA Promotion". MMAjunkie.com. January 29, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2011. 
  3. ^ Gross, Josh (March 20, 2011). "UFC buys rival Strikeforce". ESPN. Retrieved July 2, 2011. 
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  5. ^ "Sherdog.com's Pound-for-Pound Top 10". Sherdog.com. August 21, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-15. 
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  7. ^ "Learn UFC Rules". Ultimate Fighting Championship. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
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  9. ^ Hedegaard, Eric (June 12, 2008). "What The F**k Is Dana White Fighting For?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-06-04. "And while other mixed-martial-arts outfits have sprung up, none is as big or has as much top-notch talent as the UFC." 
  10. ^ Stefano, Dan (June 25, 2009). "Former UFC champ helps promote Pittsburgh event". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  11. ^ "Royce Gracie's Legacy, BJJ's Relevance on the Decline in Modern MMA". Bleacher Report. 2012-04-27. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
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