Ultimate Fighting Championship has become a sports powerhouse largely eclipsing boxing and wrestling with younger fans. Like these other institutions, UFC has endured its share of growing pains and even scandals. However, fans of the sport ultimately prefer to focus on the personalities and fights.
UFC was formed in the early 1990s but entered many peoples’ consciousness when Senator John McCain waged a campaign to ban the burgeoning sport because he considered it alarmingly brutal. Obviously he didn’t prevail, but he did succeed in pushing the sport to reform to mitigate some of the gratuitous violence.
UFC rose through the ranks to become a sports and entertainment sensation promoting popular and sometimes controversial match-ups to the delight of millions of fans.
15. The Agency Formerly Known as Endeavor
William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, LLC has made a name for itself as one of the biggest and most successful talent agencies around with offices in Beverly Hills, New York, Nashville, Miami and London. This mega agency was formed in 2009 when Endeavor Agency merged with William Morris Agency.
The agency represents talent across many fields including, movies, music and sports. However, it is less known that in 2016 WME/IMG actually bought Ultimate Fighting Championship, MMA’s most recognized brand, for $4 billion.
WME/IMG has been representing some UFC fighters for several years if there have been changes to these relationships since the agency purchased UFC.
14. Fighting as Entertainment
Several critics of UFC, including former fighters have charged the organization as being as “fake” as the WWE. This raises an interesting set of issues because the WWE used to hold that it was a real sport, but has since embraced the notion that it is really selling entertainment.
This is an important distinction, but it legally allows it to manipulate, some would call it fix, matches without breaking any laws. The WWE has become a highly successful, but partially scripted form of entertainment. Some have argued that UFC has done the same thing so it can script scenarios and outcomes as it chooses.
This might be good news for fans who want interesting story-lines and sensational match-ups, but its definitely bad news for gamblers.
13. Training with the military
There is a difference between fighting in the octagon and fighting on the battlefield, but the military is trying learn what they can about MMA. UFC fighter Dominick Cruz traveled to help train soldiers in his skills.
The details of his training mission have been kept secret, however it has been reported that Cruz traveled to several U.S. military bases around the world to meet with soldiers to help them hone their self-defense skills. Most likely the MMA fighter trained with men from elite units such as the Navy SEALs and Army Delta Force.
12. Fishing for Victory
Mixed martial arts like other combat sports is known to be fairly brutal at times. Boxing and wrestling have both been very popular sports despite or because of the possibility of bloodshed and serious injury in the ring. UFC came under serious scrutiny in the 1990s when Arizona Senator John McCain took an interest in the sport.
Unfortunately for hard core fans the senator’s interest was in reigning in what he perceived as the more brutal elements. The technique known as fish hooking became the focus of critics and the media. A fighter will use his fingers to grab and poke his opponent often jamming his fingers in his mouth like a hook in a fish’s mouth.
McCain’s campaign did lead to the UFC banning fish hooking and similar techniques.
Animal lovers knew Steven Irwin as the Crocodile Hunter for his exploits as an adventurer who fearlessly faced down crocodiles and other dangerous beasts. He tragically died when he was stung in the chest by a stingray. According MMA fighter Kyle Noke has talked about how Irwin was a huge fan of UFC.
Irwin’s rugged spirit of adventure didn’t allow him to stay in the stands. He apparently built a training area at his compound where he could workout and spar. Nope claimed that Irwin was very strong and determined – no doubt from wrestling crocodiles. Nope believes that his friend was talented enough that he could have fought in the octagon.
10. A Star was Born?
Ronda Rousey is a skilled fighter; she earned a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics Games in Judo. She also has charisma and star quality that led to several movie and television roles. She became a MMA star and the pretty face of UFC for several years. But in retrospect was Ronda Rousey a great MMA fighter?
Perhaps hindsight is 20/20, but a growing number of critics charge that UFC never should have touted her as an unbeatable champion — even though she vanquished the best contenders. Against fighters like Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes, the results were not pretty — but should they have been expected?
We will likely never get a definitive answer about the reality versus the hype because after her two losses Rousey probably has retired for good.
9. Cut Me Mick
High school wrestlers have been known to use some extreme measures to “make weight.” Unfortunately some of them and their MMA at UFC sometimes suffer serious consequences. The extreme weight cutting problem seems to be hiding in plain sight with a number of sports outlets covering the issue without getting much response from UFC.
MMA in general has experienced several weight cutting related deaths, but to date UFC has avoided this outcome. Some fighters have lost 25-30 pounds in a week. This is mostly water weight that is sweated out. Ronda Rousey supposedly lost 17 pounds in a day by spending 5 hours in a sauna just to show that she could.
8. Putting the Wood to it
“… You need to be a man and owe me a public apology. And if I don’t get that, I’m going to start leaking some s— that people don’t want to be out in the wind. I’m not kidding about that.” So said fighter Tyron Woodley about the controversial head of UFC Dana White.
Woodley was reportedly unhappy with comments UFC’s Dana White made about Woodley’s performance in the octagon. The question people wanted answered was: what sh*t was Woodley talking about? Some people speculated that he had embarrassing information about Dana White.
Others wondered if he had information about the truth regarding allegations that UFC fights are scripted.
7. Coupling Outside the Octagon
Ronda Rousey is known to fans of UFC as a fighter who quickly made a mark in the sport of MMA. She went on to have roles in television and film, but fans hope her fighting career isn’t really over. One role fans may not be used to the pretty pugilist filling is wife. In April 2017 Rousey exchanged wedding vows with fellow MMA fighter Travis Browne in Hawaii.
The couple got engaged during a trip to New Zealand after about two years of dating. Observers speculate that the timing of the ceremony was no accident but designed to unfold away from the medias’ gaze as it was focused on the McGregor vs. Mayweather fight.
6. Team Caveman
Coffee is a stimulant, for some it is a performance enhancing drug (PED) so it should not be a surprise that a UFC fighter wants a piece of the multibillion dollar coffee business. Caveman Coffee Company is based in New Mexico where founders Keith Jardine, Tait Fletcher and Lacie Mackey roast small batches of special coffee blends.
Their sports and entertainment careers have given these entrepreneurs a leg up when it comes to battling in the highly competitive world of high-end, specialty coffees. As an avid coffee drinker I intend to sample Caveman coffee for myself because I’m eager to see if it will give my next workout a jolt.
5. Let’s Brock!
Brock Lesnar is a force to be reckoned with; this was obvious as far back as 1996 when he won a gold medal in wrestling in Atlanta. Brock has gone on to make a name for himself both in UFC and WWE.
A former WWE employee has maintained that Lesnar and fellow WWE star Kurt Angle had a feud that had been brewing for a while and finally came to a head in 2003 a few hours before a major event.
According to the source the two fighters actually got into the ring and prepared to square off, when Vince McMahon stormed onto the scene and abruptly put a stop to the proceedings. This is an incident I would have paid good money to see.
4. The Devlin Inside
Colin McGregor has many people in his corner to help him with his MMA training and fight strategies. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that it isn’t his trainers or his managers that he credits with much of his success at UFC. The most important person in his life is his long-time girlfriend Dee Devlin.
This pretty brunette has been his rock through his many trials and tribulations in and out of the octagon. They met an club in Ireland and have pretty much been inseparable ever since. Although she doesn’t get involved in his training, she does help him manage his reported $14 million fortune.
3. White Hot
The UFC is a rough and tumble place and not for the feint of heart. Dana White seems like just the right tough guy to lead the organization right? Well, it depends who you ask. While many associates and MMA fighters have good things to say about Mr. White a man with his larger than life personae is bound to have detractors.
According to some sources he is quick to bully journalists who don’t want to write flattering things about him or UFC. As leader of a high profile organization this isn’t particularly shocking, but his relationships with some UFC fighters is more problematic.
I’ve already mentioned his dust up with Tyron Woodley and a number of fighters have come out negatively about UFC’s Reebok deal because they say it limits their ability to cultivate other sponsors.
2. Cocaine Cowboy
Chuck Liddell is known to MMA fans as one of the true champions of UFC. Unfortunately, to many YouTube viewers he’s known from the infamous “Chuck Liddell on Cocaine?” clip. The 49 second clip in question has had millions of views, but it is inconclusive. One could definitely make the case that Liddell is snorting cocaine or at least something while watching a fight.
However, sniffing is not exactly proof. He does appear to be pretty amped up while watching the fight, but hell he’s Chuck Liddell that could be Liddell being Liddell. Many who have viewed the clip have made up their minds one way or the other, but the controversy will likely continue.
1. Trumping McGregor vs. Mayweather
Sitting presidents have attended sporting events, but it is always a security nightmare for the Secret Service agents who protect him. President Trump is known to be a fan of UFC and no one was surprised when the media began reporting that Trump was interested in attending the historic McGregor vs. Mayweather fight that was held in Las Vegas in August 2017.
UFC president Dana White told reporters that the president’s office had contacted UFC headquarters to let them know Mr. Trump was indeed interested in attending the event. White responded to questions about the president’s attitude about attending such a high profile venue: “He feels like he’ll ruin events, he’ll ruin the event if he shows up.”
When it came time to make a decision the official word was that Trump deferred to the Secret Service and decided not to attend, but we don’t know if that is the real reason.