Category Archives: BLOG

Media coverage for Is This Legal? continues

IS THIS LEGAL?IS THIS LEGAL? MEDIA COVERAGE CONTINUES…

CY INTERVIEW with Chris Yandek and Jay Bildstein:

http://www.cyinterview.com/2014/11/entrepreneur-art-davie-author-of-is-this-legal-the-inside-story-of-the-first-ufc-from-the-man-who-created-it-talks-about-his-book-more/

Shoot The Defence @ShootTheDefence  interviewed @SeanWheelock & discussed “Is this Legal”, @ArtDavie , @BellatorMMA @MLS & #Wrestling. Enjoy! itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/sho…

Johnny Quantum aka Johnny Q interviews the founder of the UFC, Art Davie…

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gamechangerclothingradio/2014/10/03/gamechanger-clothing-radio-brandon-gaitoradam-townsendart-davietony-johnson

TSC’s Fred Richani interviews UFC founder Art Davie and Bellator MMA commentator Sean Wheelock about their new book “Is This Legal?”  @ArtDavie & @BellatorMMA’s @SeanWheelock! A must-listen for all MMA fans! ow.ly/B3hue @SpikeSports

podcast: A riveting and hilarious conversation  had with Art Davie, the man behind the birth of the UFC.  Watch it here: youtu.be/9JUZS9BruzQ

This podcast took place right before Art’s appearance on UFC Tonight on FOX TV on Wednesday 8-27-14.

IS THIS LEGAL? THE BOOK ABOUT THE CREATION OF THE FIRST UFC.

On November 12, 1993, in Denver, Colorado, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) unleashed an explosion of blood – both figuratively and literally – as 6’5” Dutch kickboxer Gerard Gordeau smashed 420 lb. sumo wrestler Teila Tuli flush in the face, less than 30 seconds into the night’s opening fight. The kick sent one of Tuli’s teeth flying into the crowd, instantly establishing that, as one of the commentators said that night, “fighting is not what we thought it was.”

The UFC’s launch came with virtually no warning or fanfare. Yet nearly 90,000 households ordered and watched the event on pay-per-view television. This style-versus-style martial arts tournament was the creation of Art Davie, an ad man and serial entrepreneur who first conjured the idea four years prior.

Now, for the first time, the true story about the creation of mixed martial arts and the inaugural UFC is told by the man who started it all. Equal parts Abner Doubleday, PT Barnum, and Dr. James Naismith, Davie explains how he turned his vision, of a single-night tournament involving the greatest martial arts fighters, into the first UFC, which now stands as an international billion-dollar sports franchise.

This vivid and fast-moving first-person account explores Davie’s adventures navigating through a world of financial risks, political power-plays, egotistical fighters, family feuds, and numerous powder-keg situations – all to answer the age-old question of who is the world’s best fighter?

Written with noted MMA television play-by-play commentator Sean Wheelock (with the foreword by legendary MMA referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy), IS THIS LEGAL? is not just for fight fans, but also for anybody who appreciates the tale of a maverick who’ll stop at nothing to fulfill his vision and achieve his dreams.

IS THIS LEGAL? also features a highly improbable cast of characters, including Academy Award nominee John Milius, NFL Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, action film star Chuck Norris, kickboxing champ Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez, Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Rorion Gracie and pay-per-view TV pioneer Bob Meyrowitz. With the creation of the UFC, Art Davie started a revolution in the world of martial arts. And this revolution was televised. IS THIS  LEGAL? has continued to attract media attention all through the summer of 2014.

Origin of the UFC Name

The Ultimate Fighting Championship

ORIGIN OF THE UFC NAME

“People have asked me who came up with the name, The Ultimate Fighting Championship? In my book, IS THIS LEGAL?,  I tell the story. Here is how it came to be.” – Art Davie

 

 

World's Best FighterWORLD’S BEST FIGHTER

(From Chapter 2, page 39) I decided on the “World’s Best Fighter,” for the working title, wrote a basic outline and executive summary…

This became my “working title” for the 16 man PPV-TV tournament I wanted to promote. It never clicked with our team, perhaps it was too generic. In any event, as we moved forward in late 1992, Rorion Gracie and I formed an LLC corporation in Colorado (where bare-knuckle boxing was allowed) and the “working title” then became “War of the Worlds.” It also became W.O.W. Promotions, which I chose as our company name.

WOW business card

 

 

 

 

2nd Working Title for show (2) Photo by A. Davie

 

WAR OF THE WORLDS

(From Chapter 5, pages 74 & 75) One weekend, I was over at my best friend Les Smith’s place in Laguna Beach for a barbecue. I had taken him and his wife Prentice into my confidence. Even though I now knew that the name wasn’t quite right, I was still calling my project the World’s Best Fighter. As I’m telling them all about the proposed event, Prentice brightened up, looked at me and said, “The War of the Worlds. That’s it Art. Call it the War of the Worlds.”

This was of course the title used by H.G. Wells for his classic science fiction novel, first published in 1898; and it struck me as a name that might actually work. I knew though that there would be the matter of legally obtaining rights to the name. The book had been turned into a movie by Paramount in 1953, and if the film studio didn’t have a legal claim, then the H.G. Wells estate probably did. But I liked Prentice’s idea. Licensing was a problem that I could only hope to deal with when everything else was ready to roll. For now, I decided that this would be my working title, which no one would have a problem with legally. To make things seem a bit more grandiose, I decided to subtitle the event the World Hand-to-Hand Combat Championship. I also figured that legally it we would be OK to use the War of the Worlds name for the company that Rorion and I were going to need.

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIP

(From Chapter 9, pages 159 & 160) I was resigned to the fact that, legally, War of the Worlds just wasn’t going to fly. And then there was the issue raised by Campbell and everyone at SEG that War of the Worlds just didn’t sound specifically like a fighting competition. As much as I liked the name, it was really always a working title. At times, I found myself using World’s Best Fighter again, almost subconsciously hedging my bets. But Campbell didn’t like that name either—too generic. And Meyrowitz, the SEG broadcast producer Michael Pillot, and the SEG sales guy Mike Abramson, all felt the same.

Just before Campbell flew out from New York, Abramson came up with the name Ultimate Fighting Championship. It was his brainstorm and his alone, and it just felt too long, too convoluted to me. Over the phone, Abramson had tried to be persuasive. “Ultimate. There is nothing beyond ultimate. Think about that, Art. Nothing above and beyond ultimate.” I actually loved the words ultimate, fighting and championship, just not in that three-word sequence. But I couldn’t think of a better alternative. Campbell said that he was on board with this name, and Meyrowitz thought it worked as well. I told Campbell that I’d talk to Rorion about it, who I knew would probably have no strong opinion one way or the other.

Michael AbramsonHere is a photo of Michael Abramson, the executive at Semaphore Entertainment Group, our TV partner, who came up with the name that has lasted more than twenty years and has come to define the premier brand in MMA. Michael now works as a commercial & residential realtor for Coldwell Banker in the greater New York City area.

Posted by Art Davie 8-13-14

 

The True Story of the Octagon

1st setup of Octagon 11-10-93  Photo credit A. DavieThe True Story of the Octagon

“There has been so much bogus information about the origins of the Octagon, that knew I had to address it in my book about the creation of the first UFC. Above is the first set-up of the Octagon at McNichols Sports Arena on Nov. 11, 1993. And, here from Chapter 9 of IS THIS LEGAL? is the true story of how the Octagon came to be.” – Art Davie

PAGE 160  As for our fighting area, Rorion did have strong opinions. Repeatedly he had told me that he didn’t care what we used, as long as it wasn’t a boxing ring. Rorion had fought in them personally, and had seen them used in vale tudo fights in Brazil, including with his dad and his brother Rickson. In Rorion’s opinion, they just didn’t work when grappling was involved. And it was without question that grappling would be involved as far as Royce was concerned. Rorion felt that a boxing ring allowed a grounded fighter to slide under the ring ropes for a quick exit, or tie himself up in the ropes to avoid being taken down. I didn’t really care how this would affect Royce, but I did care about the flow of the fights. Rorion made a lot of sense. We needed brutal action,not stalling and escapes. Campbell bought into this logic when I relayed Rorion’s sentiments. “But what would we use then, wrestling mats?” he asked me.
The Cage of DeathPage 161  Inspired by Milius and all of his talk of spectacle and grandiosity, I’d been thinking about this quite a bit. Rorion and I had already spread word around the Gracie Academy that any ideas were welcome—no matter how unrealistic or outrageous. One of Rorion’s students proposed something he called “the Cage of Death.” It featured a mesh enclosure suspended from the ceiling, which would be dramatically lowered from the rafters to surround the fighting mat, and then locked into place. I thought this was pretty cool, and incredibly theatrical. The guy gave me his notes and a sketch. Seeing it on paper, I liked the Cage of Death even more. But it would require a lot of precise coordination and solid engineering that I wasn’t sure we could accomplish.

6-12-93 sketch for UFC ring - Photo by A. DavieOn my own, I came up with three ideas. The first was a circular grappling mat, which would be bordered on the outside by electrified copper flooring panels. My thought was that a fighter would be discouraged from fleeing or even backpedaling, as he would know that a small jolt of electricity was waiting for him. The shock would be nothing major; just a little tingle similar to what happens when a person touches an electrified fence. I floated this idea by Rorion, and he in turn mentioned it to one of his students who was a doctor. “Are you guys trying to kill someone?” was the M.D.’s terse reply. The doctor explained that if a sweaty fighter landed stomach first on the electrified panels, he could possibly suffer ventricular fibrillation—a rapid contraction of the heart—which could cause a heart attack or even sudden death. So I moved on. My second idea felt truly revolutionary to me, and I was curious to see if I’d found the answer. We’d build a huge Plexiglas box, open only on top and with a door created on one side. The fighters would have no way to escape the battle, and the view of the in-house and PPV television audiences would never be obstructed. With a look of disbelief, Rorion asked me about the flooring, and I told him that it would probably be Plexiglas as well. “And you think this would be a good idea for fighting on the ground, Arturo?”

Page 162  He, of course, had a valid point. It would be very uncomfortable, especially for Royce, who was just as offensive and effective fighting off of his back as he was on top of his opponent. Holding closed guard with a 220-pound man on top of you while lying on hard Plexiglas, was not a pleasant proposition. And how about my enormous sumo wrestler Teila Tuli potentially slamming someone down onto the floor? Plus, I started thinking back to my conversations with Pillot about the numerous bright lights required for the broadcast. Clear, shiny Plexiglas was going to look like the surface of the sun on TV, although I did love the thought of putting a camera below the fighters, and shooting upwards for a really unique view. My third idea also involved a grappling mat, but this time it would be surrounded by a moat, filled with water, and sharks or piranhas. Again, an incentive for both fighters to keep moving forward. It would be a gimmick, as we’d use sand sharks or lemon sharks, neither of which are particularly threatening when it comes to humans; or piranhas that would be well fed, thus making them about as dangerous to the submerged fighters as catfish. But what a gimmick it would be. My enthusiasm, though, quickly gave way to the cold, hard and unsexy world of logistics. We would have to transport all of those fish from who knows where to the venue. And we’d have to fill up the moat with water, adding a lot of time to the set up. How practical would this be, event after event? I didn’t even mention my sharks and piranhas concept to Rorion. At that point, I had nothing concrete for Campbell when we met at the Mondrian, other than a lot of Milius-inspired “think big” ideas.

Page 164 Campbell also told me he had talked to Pillot about all of my ideas, concepts and theories regarding our fighting area. To make sure we were heard, I then drafted a fax with a list of bullet points for a designer to use in its creation. It was based on Rorion’s anti-boxing ring position, plus considerations from me about the canvas and the padding underneath. I also suggested in this fax that the fighting area should be at least 30 feet in diameter—six feet bigger than a standard world championship boxing ring. Pillot then gave my list, along with his TV production requirements, to two set designers in California he had worked with in the past: Greg Harrison and Jason Cusson. Pillot told them that we wanted it to look almost primitive, incorporating the feeling of ancient Pankration and the Roman Coliseum. Soon after, I was shown four preliminary design sketches that Harrison and Cusson had created. The first looked like a standard boxing ring, but instead of ropes, a wall of thick fencing surrounded the perimeter. The fence, which started on the floor, and extended a few feet above the canvas, was topped with barbed wire. In the four corners of the ring were lit torches for obvious dramatic effect.

Alternate design 4 of First UFC fighting cage - photo credit Greg Harrison

Alternate design 1 of  First UFC fighting cage -photo credit Greg Harrison

Page 165 The second sketch also featured what seemed like a boxing ring, but this one had an inner fighting area that was enclosed by a thick rope netting, similar to what would hang behind home plate at a baseball stadium. The netting was held in place by support poles Alternate design 2 of First UFC fighting cage - photo credit Greg Harrison (contractor)anchored just outside the four corners of the ring. The third depicted the fighting area with an elevated circular mat. In essence, a raised platform. The mat sloped down to be surrounded by an inside circular walkway, with a circular chain link fence around the perimeter. The Alternate design 3 of First UFC fighting cage - photo credit  Greg Harrison (contractor)fourth and final sketch that I saw employed an octagon shape, enclosed by a chain link fence, and surrounded by an outer catwalk. It was elevated, just like a boxing ring, and had two entry gates placed on opposite sides, which could be locked shut. I immediately felt that this was our winner, as did Harrison, Cusson, and everyone at SEG.

“BTW, Campbell McLaren gives more credit to Jason Cusson than to Greg Harrison as the real architect of the Octagon. Below is a photo of Jason and what he wrote to me recently about his collaboration with Greg Harrison on the development of the Octagon.” – Art Davie

“Greg’s contribution was limited to being the go-between for me and SEG. Greg drew those pictures from my descriptions to him. I had been working with him producing his animation projects. He was busy with other projects but wanted to remain the point of information to keep a paycheck. In a recent interview, he couldn’t come up with the inspiration for the shape (all I knew about martial arts was Chuck Norris’ “The Octagon”), didn’t know who built the octagon, painted the canvas, or how the idea for chain link fence came about. The guy who did the interview told me he was a real tool about using his drawings, too. When it (the UFC) was almost shut down he DIRECTLY gave me full credit for 15 or so years. Now that it’s huge, he wants me to have none. I don’t know what happened in his life to make him so bitter and grasping. Too bad, we were quite close friends once.” – Jason CussonJason Cusson

More Press Coverage for IS THIS LEGAL?

Art Davie - author of IS THIS LEGAL?PRESS COVERAGE BY THE MMA COMMUNITY FOR IS THIS LEGAL? AND ART DAVIE CONTINUES…

MMA journalists continue to cover the book IS THIS LEGAL? … The inside story of the creation of the UFC by Art Davie and Sean Wheelock. The book has resulted in more interviews of Davie by the MMA press.

My good friend Dave Diebert did a great Q & A article for the Star Phoenix. Read it here: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/sports/creator+Davie+chasing+rainbows+decades/10147639/story.html

KTLA CHANNEL 5 in Los Angeles interviewed Art on their morning show 8-22-14. Goto: http://ktla.com/2014/08/22/art-davie-the-creator-of-the-ufc-and-his-new-book-titled-is-this-legal/

Erik Magraken of Combat Sports Law did a generous review of Is This Legal?: http://combatsportslaw.com/2014/08/20/is-this-legal-a-quick-review/

SI.com (Sports Illustrated) does an interview with Art. Jeff Wagenheim conducts the Q & A: http://www.si.com/mma/2014/08/19/ufc-art-davie-gracies-legal

Frank Trigg interviews Art Davie on MMA OddsBreaker on August 14, 2014 http://www.mmaoddsbreaker.com/news/ufc-founder-art-davie-i-wish-ufc-would-put-more-focus-on-the-amateurs/

Art gets interviewed by Rod Simons of
Northern Lights Broadcasting at 96.3 K-Twin in Minneapolis… Listen here:


Alex Donno & Frank Zaffere interview Art on 560 WQAM, the number one sports show in Miami. https://soundcloud.com/wqam/fight-night-with-alex-donno-and-frank-zaffere-8-15-14

Eddie Bravo podcast (#66) on 8-10-14 with Art Davie. The wildest, craziest interview yet. Listen to it on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/eddie-bravo-radio/id590035650?mt=2   or watch it on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yleV_TAxpI

INSIDE MMA Art is interviewed by Ron Kruck and Bas Rutten on Friday, August 8, 2014 

Uncensored MMA Online Radio – Episode #119 – Art Davie & Frank Shamrock interviewed by Dave “The Butcher” Clifford & Chris “The Network” Maltsburger… http://www.blogtalkradio.com/acslivetv/2014/08/12/uncensored-mma-online-radio–episode-119–art-davie-frank-shamrock#ixzz3A92EOrjd

The Roman Show. Lewis Gonzalez interviews Art Davie. Airs on Wednesday, August 6. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theromanshow/2014/08/07/the-roman-show-wsof-cully-butterfieldlewis-gonzalez-and-ufc-creator-art-davie

120 Sports, a digital network backed by Time, Inc., the publisher of Sports Illustrated, did an interview with Art on 7/31/14. Check out the videos:

http://www.120sports.com/video/v87341954/does-ufc-model-still-work

http://www.120sports.com/video/v87341956/best-fighting-styles

http://www.120sports.com/video/v87300202/setting-the-scene-for-ufc-1

http://www.120sports.com/video/v87300190/pulling-together-the-first-ufc

SB Nation/Bloody –  Matthew Kaplowitz  asks Art why Rickson Gracie never fought in the UFC. http://www.facebook.com/l/UAQGjk76FAQG71dtV5wqDNe2dMS8LvclceUbXTBw2OKtpjg/www.bloodyelbow.com/2014/7/28/5939985/art-davie-explains-why-rickson-gracie-never-fought-in-the-ufc

Victor Garcia/Hammerfisting Radio. Posted Tuesday (7/29). Podcast link: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/riotcast/the-hammerfisting-podcast

Art Davie attends Bellator 122 and is interviewed by Jimmy Smith. See the interview here:  https://t.co/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FStydqmTLWE&t=1&sig=af51ad0cf29e256a68a5a063b5f1a3fa99d1b79d&iid=c08fc8e8f2874af693f96bf91f43b0af&uid=1260572035&nid=6+276

UFC Afterbuzz TV on Sunday 7/27. Art is interviewed by Jay Tan, Daria Berenato, and George Hermoza. Watch it here:  https://t.co/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2F1CIIubs5ZB&t=1&sig=0484e51378abfbffe400a1ef92a9c9d741f738b1&iid=d14d037038654b438c5e44e7a4419a65&uid=1260572035&nid=4+1268

Sherdog’s Jeff Sherwood and TJ DeSantis interview Art for www.sherdog.com on BEATDOWN. Have a listen: https://t.co/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FPx5CH1NDAK&t=1&sig=793d731bd31bf13ef69e45b77c389ddd9c1470f6&iid=84e14671d13f4b2c9d5573588d62d578&uid=1260572035&nid=4+1268

IS THIS LEGAL? THE BOOK ABOUT THE CREATION OF THE FIRST UFC

On November 12, 1993, in Denver, Colorado, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) unleashed an explosion of blood – both figuratively and literally – as 6’5” Dutch kickboxer Gerard Gordeau smashed 420 lb. sumo wrestler Teila Tuli flush in the face, less than 30 seconds into the night’s opening fight. The kick sent one of Tuli’s teeth flying into the crowd, instantly establishing that, as one of the commentators said that night, “fighting is not what we thought it was.”

The UFC’s launch came with virtually no warning or fanfare. Yet nearly 90,000 households ordered and watched the event on pay-per-view television. This style-versus-style martial arts tournament was the creation of Art Davie, an ad man and serial entrepreneur who first conjured the idea four years prior.

Now, for the first time, the true story about the creation of mixed martial arts and the inaugural UFC is told by the man who started it all. Equal parts Abner Doubleday, PT Barnum, and Dr. James Naismith, Davie explains how he turned his vision, of a single-night tournament involving the greatest martial arts fighters, into the first UFC, which now stands as an international billion-dollar sports franchise.

This vivid and fast-moving first-person account explores Davie’s adventures navigating through a world of financial risks, political power-plays, egotistical fighters, family feuds, and numerous powder-keg situations – all to answer the age-old question of who is the world’s best fighter?

Written with noted MMA television play-by-play commentator Sean Wheelock (with the foreword by legendary MMA referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy), Is This Legal? is not just for fight fans, but also for anybody who appreciates the tale of a maverick who’ll stop at nothing to fulfill his vision and achieve his dreams.

Is This Legal? also features a highly improbable cast of characters, including Academy Award nominee John Milius, NFL Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, action film star Chuck Norris, kickboxing champ Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez, Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Rorion Gracie and pay-per-view TV pioneer Bob Meyrowitz.

With the creation of the UFC, Art Davie started a revolution in the world of martial arts. And this revolution was televised.

Davie’s interviews about original UFC book

Art DavieORIGINAL UFC BOOK – GREAT INTERVIEWS & REVIEWS OF ART DAVIE’S BOOK… IS THIS LEGAL?

Tom Hoffarth of the LA Daily News did a bang-up interview with Art… http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20140724/on-the-media-ufc-1-and-how-art-davie-created-it-among-all-the-challenges

Read THE FIGHT NERD review of Is This Legal? http://www.thefightnerd.com/art-davie-explains-ufc-history-in-is-this-legal-book-review/

Michael Stets on his #DarceSideRadio with ArtDavie talking about his new book “Is This Legal? and sharing many of his stories sbnation.com/e/5676344

Las Vegas TV – Channel 8 NewsNOW CBS- TV Chris Maathuis interviews Art Davie about the book, Is This Legal? http://bit.ly/1rkbaPE

The MMA Corner @TheMMACorner…The MMA Corner Book Review: Art Davie’s ‘Is This Legal?’ http://themmacorner.com/2014/07/14/the-mma-corner-book-review-art-davies-is-this-legal/

Marc Raimondi @marc_raimondi weighs in with UFC co-founder @ArtDavie with some real discussion about promoting and how it isn’t just about fighting skills on FOX SPORTS. http://msn.foxsports.com/ufc/story/how-do-you-properly-market-fighters-ufc-co-founder-art-davie-weighs-in-071314

Great review of original UFC book on Cage Potato: http://www.cagepotato.com/bookpotato-art-davies-is-this-legal-and-the-ufcs-old-school-age-of-insanity

SiriusXM radio Fight Club interview with original UFC book authors Davie & Wheelock:  

Damon Martin’s ‘The Great MMA Debate’ podcast: 

Interview of original UFC book author Davie on Heidi Fang & Phil Devine’s radio show, MMA Fight Corner: http://t.co/gC0GZGrJEt

Pedro Fernandez of   interviews Davie about creation of original UFC: buff.ly/1oxxWhN

Las Vegas Review Journal by Ron Kantowski about IS THIS LEGAL? and Art Davie http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/ron-kantowski/founder-s-first-step-blazed-trail-ufc

John LaRocca’s great review of the book  IS THIS LEGAL?: f4wonline.com/more/more-top-

Great interview about the original UFC book at ESPN radio ESPN KWWN-AM 1100 radio in Las Vegas: podcast.espn1100.com/kwwn2/4469257.

MMATorch Livecast: UFC Creator and co-author discuss Is This Legal: bit.ly/1lTmVsi

Mike Strata’s review of IS THIS LEGAL?: http://www.mikestraka.com/look-wop-do-it-my-way/

On November 12, 1993, in Denver, Colorado, the Ultimate Fighting Championship was unleashed on an unsuspecting public, with virtually no warning or fanfare, and instantly redefined action sports for a new generation.

The creation of ad man and serial entrepreneur Art Davie, the UFC entered nearly 90,000 US households through pay per view television with an explosion–an explosion of blood—as 6’5 Dutch Savate champion Gerard Gordeau kicked 420 lbs. Sumo wrestler Teila Tuli flush in the face, less than one minute into the night’s opening fight.

The blow not only sent Tuli’s tooth flying into the crowd, it knocked the martial arts and combat sports worlds on their asses. With the very first UFC, the new sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) was launched–although it wasn’t even called that yet–and fighting would never again be the same.

Now, for the first time, the true story of how the Ultimate Fighting Championship came into existence will be told by the man who started it all. In this vivid and fast-moving, first-person account, Davie explains how his idea to crown the World’s Best Fighter, painstakingly evolved into the UFC, which now stands as a billion-dollar sports franchise.

Art Davie is the Dr. James Naismith and Abner Doubleday of MMA (with a touch of PT Barnum), yet his name is largely unknown. That is, until now. Davie’s tale is one of perseverance and against-all-odds determination, as he worked tirelessly for four years to see his dream come to brutal fruition, while meeting resistance at every single turn.

It’s also a mash-up of martial arts, celebrity, sports, and business, involving a highly improbable cast of characters, that includes Academy Award nominee John Milius, NFL Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, action film star Chuck Norris, Brazilian jiu-jitsu godfather Rorion Gracie and pay per view TV pioneer Bob Meyrowitz. This no-holds-barred account of how he started the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and launched MMA, is not just fight fans, but for fans of mavericks in business and life, who stop at nothing to fulfill their dreams.

Whether you’re a hardcore supporter of mixed martial arts, or have never watched a single bout, you’ll be enthralled by Davie’s story of triumph, tempered by constantly lurking disaster. Art Davie created the sport of the 21st Century, which arrived two decades early. He started a revolution, and his revolution was televised. Davie’s book, IS THIS LEGAL? about the creation of the first UFC, is now available at www.amazon.com and www.ascendbooks.com

 

Art Davie’s Dream List of Fighters for first UFC

Mike TysonArt Davie’s Dream List of fighters for First UFC makes it to NineMSN

Davie’s dream list, which included Mike Tyson and Aleksandr Karelin, the Russian “Experiment” has been profiled on NineMSN in Australia.  Justin Faux wrote the article about Art Davie and his book, the inside story of the first UFC, Is This Legal? for NineMSN which appears on the homepage on Thursday July 3rd in Australia.

Here is the link to the article:

http://mmakanvas.ninemsn.com.au/articles/news/1831/ufc-creator-tyson-seagal-hulk-hogan-and-the-fighters-on-my-ufc-1-wish-list.html

Art Davie’s First UFC Dream List

As SEG and W.O.W. got closer to November 12, 1993 to stage the first UFC, Art Davie’s job was to find the 10 fighters needed for the tournament. There were fighters he considered and didn’t approach given their availability or cost.  Mark Gastineau, the Hall of Fame NFL lineman, (he had begun a boxing career in 1991) was on the list, but he was priced out of the budget.

Mitch Green

A boxer Davie considered for the first UFC was Mitch “Blood” Green. He lost a decision to Mike Tyson; then lost a street fight to Mike in front of a Harlem clothing store and got a $45,000 settlement for that “dispute.” Almost every boxer approached wanted a five-figure “appearance fee.”

 

 

 

 

Peter Aerts, Dutch kick boxing champion

The great Peter Aerts, then kicking butt in Europe and Japan, and a thoroughly devastating Muay Thai style kickboxer, was also on  Davie’s wish list for the first UFC. But he would have required a five figure “appearance fee” to come to the states. No go!

 

 

First UFC

The star of Jan Plas’ gym in Amsterdam was Ernesto Hoost, then just becoming a dominant force in K-1. He was due to fight in Asia and Davie couldn’t make a deal for him in time for the first UFC. But Plas proposed Gerard Gordeau as an alternative. Gordeau, who had fought in Japan, was a world champion in Savate; and Gordeau became the European kickboxer Davie signed for the first UFC.

 

 

 

 

karelin-549x668

Aleksandr Karelin was a Hero of the Russian Federation and was the dominant Greco-Roman wrestler on the planet in 1993. He was known as the “Experiment” (at 6’3″ and 285lbs.) and rumored to be the product of Russian science. He would have cost  as much as Mike Tyson. That is if the Russians would have even let him come to the USA for the first UFC.

 

 

 

Emin Boztepe in his prime

Emin Boztepe was a very visible Kung Fu stylist in the martial arts magazines, like Black Belt. He and Rorion Gracie had almost come to legal blows over the “Gracie Challenge.” When Davie asked Rorion if he should approach him for the first UFC tournament, Rorion advised that it would only attract a lawsuit, so Davie never reached out to Boztepe. Emin Boztepe cultivated a reputation for invincibility in articles and advertisements.

 

 

 

Randall 'Tex' Cobb - boxer, kick boxer & actor

Randall “Tex” Cobb was a kickboxer, boxer (he fought Larry Holmes for the heavyweight title) and movie actor. He was on Davie’s wish list, but had a reputation for being a wild man; and his price would have made him unaffordable. Read about him terrorizing everyone on movie sets in IS THIS LEGAL? where John Milius was the director.

 

 

Of course the “Ultimate” dream list fighter for the first UFC was Mike Tyson. He was serving time in an Indiana prison in 1993 and, no matter what, the cost to secure his services was wildly out of range for the UFC.

These were some of the top combat sports athletes Art Davie had on first UFC “wish list.” You can read all about them (and the fighters  who turned Davie down) in IS THIS LEGAL? – the inside story of the first UFC.

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Is This Legal? is now available in bookstores, AMAZON, and Barnes & Noble as well as Ascend books (www.ascendbooks.com ).

MMA Promoters & Fight Gym Owners

Is This Legal?MMA Promoters & Fight Gym Owners

Any MMA Fight promoter or fight gym owner wanting to sell IS THIS LEGAL? The Inside story of the First UFC From the Man Who Created It…

IS THIS LEGAL? is in the bookstores like Barnes & Noble, Crown Books and Costco on July 1, 2014. This book is now available as a hardback and an eBook from Amazon.

The national campaign has already generated healthy pre-orders from MMA fans for this behind-the-scenes, tell-all memoir of the creation of the first UFC from Art Davie. If you want to merchandise this book at your event or in your gym to MMA fans who want to know how the UFC and MMA began…

Contact Dylan Tucker – dtucker@ascendbooks.com / 913-948-5500 and he can set you up.

Check out the publisher, Ascend Books @ http://www.ascendbooks.com/

Was Chuck Norris invited to the first UFC?

Chuck NorrisWas Chuck Norris invited to the first UFC?

Did you know that Rorion Gracie invited Chuck Norris to be a commentator at the first UFC? It’s true, as reported in IS THIS LEGAL?, Art Davie’s new book about the creation of the UFC in 1993. According to Art, he and Rorion went to Chuck Norris’ house to ask him to be a color commentator at UFC1. The way Art tells it, Rorion asked Art if he could go into Chuck’s house first to pitch him and if he ran into trouble, he would get Art, waiting in the car, to come inside and close Chuck on participating. Art had typed up a list of key points about the upcoming tournament and after every point Rorion made, reading from the index card, Chuck responded with, “is this legal?”

“I can understand his reluctance, given his A-list status as a martial artist and film star,” says Davie now. “He didn’t want to be cage side at an event where the cops might bust everybody. Years later, at Chuck Norris’ house, I was pitching him a TV pilot (Spear – about a busted rodeo cowboy who becomes a bounty hunter to avenge his brother’s death) and he made a point of saying in front of everybody in the room that he was wrong about the UFC when he was pitched back in`93. He showed he was a class guy. I respect him still,” says Davie. “But, given his refusal and what he said, I couldn’t resist using his words as the title of my book.”

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Chuck Norris/UFC Story

The whole story of Chuck Norris and the first UFC is detailed in Chapter 9, Is this Legal? of the book IS THIS LEGAL?

Is This Legal? will be available in bookstores in July 2014. Available now for pre-order on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/This-Legal-Inside-Story-Created/dp/0991275640/ref=sr_

Or Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/is-this-legal-art-davie/1119450132?ean=9780

 

 

Rorion Gracie and the key role he played in the first UFC

Rorion Gracie - Photo credit Rorion GracieThe First UFC and the inspiration of Rorion Gracie and the Gracie family

Rorion Gracie… there is no doubt that the key inspiration for me for the first UFC was Rorion Gracie and the Gracie Challenge. As I discuss it in Chapter 3, The Boys from Brazil, in my book, IS THIS LEGAL? ????????????while I had researched Pankration and Vale Tudo in Brazil, among other developments, what Rorion Gracie was doing at his Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance California was the “real deal.”

The history of matches between various martial martial artists had failed to produce a new sport. Bouts between “Judo” Gene LeBell and Milo Savage and Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki, while interesting, had not “clicked” with the public. Inoki vs. Ali 1976

The key problems with these early efforts was twofold: money and the agreed upon rules. But, I was deeply impressed with the willingness that the whole Gracie family displayed when it came to putting their art to the test in actual matches with other martial arts stylists.

Admittedly, the Gracie Challenge had not solved the problem of the money and wrangles over the rules. This is what sabotaged a match between Rorion Gracie and the legendary kickboxer Benny “The Jet” Urquidez. But, the Gracies were purists and the impromptu bouts I saw in the back room of the Gracie Academy from 1990 thru 1992 weren’t about money, despite Rorion’s public announcement of a $100,000 challenge. They were, in the spirit of Helio Gracie, about testing yourself for real.

And, no one in the martial arts in those days seemed to have $100,000 cash to wager, but if you were a black belt and wanted to test out your skills the Gracies graciously accommodated you. No money changed hands during the contests I witnessed and everyone left on friendly terms. Such was the respect the Gracies commanded. It was something to see.

Grandmaster Helio Gracie - Photo credit Rorion GracieHelio Gracie, the first ultimate fighter

And, in a way, that was a tribute to the pioneering efforts of Rorion’s father, Helio. The “old man” as Rorion called him, had been a true innovator and pioneer in his native Brazil. He once put an ad in a Rio de Janeiro newspaper saying in effect, “if you want a broken arm, call me.” Helio was a knight of old in the modern world who put competition and honor before money; and I look back with reverence and fondness whenever I think of him. He was an incredibly unique individual. A giant lived among us for a time.

When I wrote the business plan for W.O.W. Promotions, the company Rorion Gracie and I founded, I proposed the tournament format and the bare minimum of rules with a total purse of $100,000. By getting close to the Gracies, I began to see that it might be possible to create a tournament, a franchise, to bring together martial artists from all the disciplines. I figured that if I had one group of willing, brave souls, we could find others. The Gracies were the linchpin of my efforts to recruit the 10 men needed to compete in the first UFC. That solved the two basic problems that had defeated others in trying to create a popular “kumite.”

Rorion Gracie selected his younger brother Royce and turned me on to Zane Frazier and Jason DeLucia (who had competed in a Gracie Academy match with Royce and lost). Next, I found us a TV partner (Semaphore Entertainment Group) as I knew this venture had to be on Pay-Per-View TV and not a video sold thru mail order. I then recruited the other 7 fighters from ads I placed in martial arts magazines and by calling on 38 different dojos, gym and organizations from Japan to the Netherlands. And the rest, as they say, is history. The Gracies were my main “inspiration” for the event which became the UFC.

You can pre-order IS THIS LEGAL? on Amazon: (http://www.amazon.com/This-Legal-Inside-Story-Created/dp/0991275640/ref=sr_) OR

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/is-this-legal-art-davie/1119450132?ean=9780

Posted by Art Davie

First UFC – Actual rules from the fighter’s meeting

The first UFC: For the record, here are actual rules given to the 10 athletes at the UFC1 fighters meeting on Thursday, November 11, 1993. Campbell McLaren, in recent statement, released a photo of the rules he said were in place prior to the debut event that took place on November 12, 1993. See his post here: http://msn.foxsports.com/ufc/haymaker/ufc-co-founder-releases-original-rules-list-from-first-ever-event-051414

What Campbell posted was an early version of the rules. Notice it says John Milius designed the Octagon and it’s 20′ in diameter. Both statements were later amended.  Set designers Harrison and Cusson were the ones responsible for designing the Octagon and it ended up the 30′ that I had originally suggested in communications with Producer Michael Pillot.

In the post, there was the implication that the rules were just suggestions and that all  Rorion said at the first UFC rules meeting, was, “There is no biting. We are men not animals.” Then he sat down. What really happened was that as Rorion read the rules, the meeting exploded. Zane Frazier challenged the rule about taping fists and Rorion and I soon lost control of the meeting as everyone began to argue.

5-1The First Fighters Meeting

I had typed up the rules for the fighters meeting at the hotel the night before. Below is the Meeting Agenda, which included the rules, that Sumo wrestler Teila Tuli (nee Taylor Wiley) signed. When Tuli signed his, slammed it down on the table and said, “I just signed my paper. I don’t know about you guys, but I came here to party. If anyone else came here to party, I’ll see you tomorrow night at the arena,” that gesture and his declaration ended the squabbles over the rules. You can read all about that meeting in my book, IS THIS LEGAL?

Campbell McLaren was an SEG employee whose focus for the first UFC was the commentators and marketing. He wasn’t an expert about the martial arts or fighting. As I said in my book, IS THIS LEGAL?, quoting the late wrestler Gorilla Monsoon, “Campbell and Bob (Meyrowitz) didn’t know a wrist lock from a wristwatch.” But he was a super pro when it came to the business of television, to be sure.

The 3 founders of the UFC:  Art Davie, Rorion Gracie and SEG’s founder/CEO, Bob Meyrowitz. And, interestingly enough, Kathy Kidd, Sherry Santos and me were the only people working full-time on the UFC in ’93. Everyone else had other gigs, projects or businesses to run.

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What’s the whole story? Anyone who wants to discover how the rules came about and all the drama that took place during that memorable fighters meeting should read my book, IS THIS LEGAL? [http://www.amazon.com/This-Legal-Inside-Story-Created/dp/0991275640/ref=sr_ ]about the creation of the UFC.

Posted by Art Davie

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