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Categories: gets results and the mainstream media gets one right for a change

The title of this post not withstanding, the odds are that’s campaign to combat the Zuffa Myth* had nothing to do with the fact that the mainstream media finally wrote an article that accuratley told the history of the UFC. Still, it was nice to see this extensive artcile in yesterday’s Baltimor Sun that managed to avoid giving credit to Zuffa for implementing rules that were in place for years before it bought the UFC:

The UFC ran its first show in 1993. That pay per view posed simple, almost childlike, questions: If you threw two fighters in an octagonal cage, would the karate man beat the wrestler? How would a 180-pound grappler fare against a 500-pound sumo?

As it turned out, 86,000 people paid for the answer. The show was supposed to be a one-shot deal, but given its success, the promoters ran another and another. The audience grew to a peak of 260,000 pay-per-view buys for a 1995 event. The company’s marketing in those days touted an absence of rules and a surfeit of blood. Fans lapped it up, but the UFC caught the attention of the wrong man in McCain.

“They did a real Christians and lions promotion,” said Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which has covered UFC from its inception. “And that bit them real bad down the line.”

McCain is a longtime boxing fan but hated to see a sport in which a man could stomp on the head of a supine opponent. He called the UFC un-American and began a quest to eradicate it.

The company responded to McCain’s criticism by adding weight classes and five-minute rounds and banning more vicious aspects of fighting such as knees and kicks to the head of a downed opponent. But these gestures could not stave off the political pressure. Pay-per-view companies and cable distributors stopped carrying the UFC, and its future as anything more than an underground sport seemed in doubt.

. . .

Many of the necessary rule changes were already in place. But White embraced regulation with almost religious fervor, believing that the UFC would only be accepted if subject to as many rules as boxing. He liked to say McCain was more a savior than a destroyer, forcing mixed martial arts to get its house in order. A key first step to business success came when the Nevada commission sanctioned UFC. That meant the company could stage its shows in a town set up to support big fights.

You have to wonder whether the UFC is finally backing away from the Zuffa Myth, or if the reporter actually researched the history of the UFC. Either way, it is nice to see an article that gets it right for a change.

* Zuffa’s p.r. campaign in which it slams the prior UFC management for not implementing rules or seeking state sanctioning when in fact that prior management adopted nearly every current UFC rule and helped the sport of MMA get sanctioned in states such as New Jersey.

(Hat tip to Zach Arnold from tags: , , , ,

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  1. At least this guy spoke with Meltzer. But it also shows that the Zuffa-run UFC is now an offshoot of pro “wrestling” and sports entertainment, albeit with real fights.