Ok so I’m the new guy here at mma-freak.com and I figured that I would start off by telling you a bit about how I came to love the sport. Over the years I have dabbled in a few different martial art styles such as Tukido, Muay Thai, and Karate before finally settling on Tae Kwon Do (the ITF version I must add) and I remember vividly my first encounter with cage fighting.
I use the term cage fighting as back in the early days the sport of MMA didn’t exist; the UFC was a tournament showcasing how various styles of martial arts fared against each other. It was a Tuesday night back in 1994 and there was a few of us gathered in my friends house when his brother, who was the British Tae Kwon Do Champion at the time, came strolling through the door with a rather pleased look on his face and a package under his arm.
Turned out this package contained the UFC 1 VHS tape. None of us had heard of the promotion before so when he explained exactly what it was we wasted no time in getting it on the TV. We all had that kind of nervous excitement similar to that felt by a young teenage boy about to watch his first ever porn movie. We were all keen martial artists, so the prospect of watching a real life ‘Blood Sport’ was superb.
The synopsis on the back of the VHS cover promised no gloves, no rules (kind of), no weight classes, and a cage. Fucking yes yes yes yes! We all hoped that there was a TKD practitioner in the mix as we wanted to gauge how our style matched up against the rest. Therefore, we adopted Gerard Gordeua as our representative in the tournament since his style seemed closest to ours. He didn’t disappoint. It took only 26 seconds for our jaws to drop to the floor in disbelief when Gerard soccer kicked Teila Tuli square in the jaw, sending his teeth flying across the arena. Tremendous! Next up was a certain Brazillian called Royce Gracie. Until this point martial arts and fighting in general for me was all about the stand up game. I had never heard of Royce before or even BJJ but it was fairly clear when I saw him enter the arena with an entourage of about 12 men that he must have something special about him.
From gasping at the sinister and menacing aura of the Gracie family entrance, I was soon pissing myself laughing at some guy walking into the cage with only one boxing glove on. WTF was that all about Mr J! But no one in the room with me was prepared for what was about to happen; here we had an average looking guy willing to risk being on the receiving end of bare knuckle punches or kicks in order to shoot in and grab hold of his opponent. Weird or what?! Yes, it turned out Royce’s fighting style was to drag an opponent to the ground and look to dislocate a limb, break an arm, inflict ligament damage, or if you were lucky, just choke you the fuck out.
Basically, if you didn’t catch Royce clean on the chin with your first throw then it was highly likely your next move was to tap. It transpired the point of the UFC event was to show the world no matter how big, strong or violent you thought you were Gracie jiu jitsu had the answer. The first UFC event was so popular the fighters knew it would return and they also knew that to be able to compete in the UFC they must understand and learn what Royce was doing. MMA was inadvertently born from this moment. Royce and the Gracie family had just changed the world of fighting forever. I was hooked and have watched every UFC event since.
It is not surprising that the UFC, thanks to Dana White’s vision and relentless determination, has become a global phenomenon. God only knows why it took to the early 90’s for such a sport to make it’s main stream appearance.