The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is one of the most well-known combat sports around the world. Since its founding in 1993 by Art Davie and Rorion Gracie, the UFC has become a multi-billion dollar powerhouse in the world of mixed martial arts. Rorion Gracie comes from a family that created their own form of jiu-jitsu, known as Gracie jiu-jitsu, to defeat all other martial artists, regardless of the training or size of the martial arts fighter.
The Gracie family members have participated in UFC matches, most notable being Royce Gracie, the first-ever UFC champion. Royce entered the inaugural UFC championship tournament as the smallest competitor. However, thanks to the family’s Gracie jiu-jitsu form of martial arts, Royce was able to overpower his opponents in all three of his fights to win the tournament.
In that first tournament, there were no weight classes and minimal rules. However, the UFC has created more rigorous rules and weight classes for fighters since that time. Fighters also began adopting techniques from multiple disciplines, which indirectly helped create a different style of fighting known nowadays as mixed martial arts.
The UFC had its share of problems in the past, nearly folding several times during the early parts of the 2000s. The UFC also came under fire from politicians in the late 90s who saw it as nothing more than glorified “human cockfighting,” leading the UFC to adopt rules and regulations if they wanted to stay in business. Before turning things around, the UFC had difficulty between politicians and money issues for about ten years.
The Ultimate Fighter: The Reality Show That Saved the UFC
In January of 2005, the UFC, in partnership with Spike TV, would air a reality show called The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) that showcased MMA fighters competing for a six-figure contract with the UFC. The show was first aired right after WWE Monday Night Raw and would be a massive success for the UFC. Dana White, the current president of the UFC, credits TUF with saving the UFC from the brink of folding.
The UFC has eight different titles for their men’s division and four titles for their women’s division which are defended when a number one contender is determined. Below is the list of UFC titles by division:
- Men’s Heavyweight Champion
- Men’s Light Heavyweight Champion
- Men’s Middleweight Champion
- Men’s Welterweight Champion
- Men’s Light Weight Champion
- Men’s Featherweight Champion
- Men’s Bantamweight Champion
- Men’s Flyweight Champion
- Women’s Featherweight Champion
- Women’s Bantamweight Champion
- Women’s Flyweight Champion
- Women’s Strawweight Champion
The titles have defended an average of 1-3 times each year, depending on how many contenders the champion gets.