Origin of the UFC Name

The Ultimate Fighting Championship


“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



(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.


(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