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 ).

How UFC 1 was almost derailed at the 11th hour.

063014-UFC-Art-Davie-Book-PI-CH.vadapt.955.medium.0How UFC 1 was almost derailed at the 11th hour .

Fox Sports published an excerpt  today from Chapter 10 of IS THIS LEGAL?, Art Davie’s behind-the-scenes, tell-all book about how the event almost got drailed 24 hours before the show. Check out the link:

http://msn.foxsports.com/ufc/haymaker/the-story-of-how-ufc-1-was-almost-derailed-at-the-11th-hour-070114

Fox shared how the idea Art Davie had been carrying around for years was about to come true. With the help of partners Rorion Gracie and Semaphore Entertainment Group (Campbell McLaren as the point man), Davie was about to change martial arts and combat sports forever.

No one was sure what would happen at UFC 1 on Nov. 12, 1993. And then, 24 hours before the event was scheduled to occur, there was a serious roadblock: the whole thing almost didn’t happen.

In an excerpt from Chapter 10 (There Are No Rules) from his new book with Sean Wheelock, “Is this Legal?,” Davie tells the tale of the fighter meeting the night prior to the first UFC and how if not for massive sumo wrestler, Teila Tuli, MMA might not even be a thing today.

The UFC was a joint development between W.O.W. Promotions, a Colorado LLC owned by Art Davie and Rorion Gracie and Semaphore Entertainment Group, a New York corporation founded by Bob Meyrowitz. The first UFC took place on November 12, 1993 at McNichols Sports Arena and was broadcast on PPV-TV.

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IS THIS LEGAL? is available today (July 1, 2014) in bookstores, as well as AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE and the publisher, ASCEND BOOKS (www.ascendbooks.com)

UFC Fan Expo coincides with launch of IS THIS LEGAL?

Art DavieUFC Fan Expo week coincides with strong press coverage and the July 1 North American launch for IS THIS LEGAL?

Art Davie’s behind-the-scenes book about the first UFC hits the bookstores on Tuesday, July 1, 2014, the week of the UFC FAN EXPO.  An eBook version will be available for Kindle/Nook & mobile devices on July 1 as well. IS THIS LEGAL? has been available for pre-order in June thru Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Here’s the press schedule for IS THIS LEGAL during UFC Fan Expo week:

June 30 / Heidi Fang at The MMA Fight CornerFox Sports 670 AM in Las Vegas will interview Art at 8:00-9:00 am PST.

July 1 / Justin Faux wrote an article about Art and Is This Legal? for NineMSN which appeared today in Australia. http://mmakanvas.ninemsn.com.au/articles/news/1831/ufc-creator-tyson-seagal-hulk-hogan-and-the-fighters-on-my-ufc-1-wish-list.html

July 2 / Joel Brock of MMA Mayhem Radio in Atlanta will interview Art for a live radio podcast at 11:30am PST

July 2 or 3rd / Seat Williams, with two other hosts, will interview Art during their 11 am to 2 pm show on KWWN-AM (1300) in Las Vegas.

July 3KVBC-TV, Channel 3, NBC in Las Vegas at 6:30 pm PST. Art  will be interviewed by Randy Howe.

July 3 / Art will be cageside, autographing books, at Tuff’N’Uff’s Future Stars of MMA show at the Texas Station Gambling Hall & Casino in Las Vegas.

July 3 / The Las Vegas Review Journal has assigned sports columnist, Ron Kantowski, to do a column on Art which will run Thursday July 3rd.

July 4 / Ascend Books is hosting an invite-only Media Luncheon with Art in the New Orleans room at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. The time is 12:30-3:30pm, PST. Appetizers and an entree lunch menu will be provided. Art will talk about the book and answer questions from MMA media.

July 6 / On Sunday host Pedro Fernandez will interview Art on RING TALK (http://ringtalk.com/) on Sports Byline AT 12:10 pm PST.

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IS THIS LEGAL? – Available through AMAZON:

http://www.amazon.com/This-Legal-Inside-Story-Created/dp/0991275640/ref=sr_

BARNES & NOBLE:

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

ASCEND BOOKS:  http://www.ascendbooks.com/

Davie’s book is a behind-the-scenes, tell-all memoir about the four years it took to launch the first UFC. The title comes from film star Chuck Norris’ response when he was asked to be a commentator at the first UFC event held on November 12, 1993. Davie’s book covers the rejection by the traditional martial arts establishment, cable giants HBO, Showtime and ESPN and the lengthy, arduous process of recruiting fighters. IS THIS LEGAL? is featured extensively in the media during International Fight Week / UFC Fan Expo.

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/

Is This Legal? Press Release

Is This Legal?IS THIS LEGAL?
THE INSIDE STORY OF THE FIRST UFC
FROM THE MAN WHO CREATED IT

July 1, 2014 — 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 in his behind-the-scenes, tell-all book, IS THIS LEGAL? 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.

IS THIS LEGAL? is a vivid and fast-moving first-person account exploring 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.

Advance Praise For Is this Legal?

Randy Couture
UFC Hall of Famer & Former UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Champion
Is This Legal? is an honest, shocking, enthralling and nostalgic look back at the creation of the modern age of mixed martial arts in the United States. This is all the real stuff that no one gets to see or hear about, when the newest combative sport of MMA was forged, and Art Davie was one of its founding fathers! Thanks goes out to Art for persevering, and giving all professional martial artists a place to ply our wares and test our skills.

John Milius
Director of Conan The Barbarian & Academy Award Nominated Screenwriter
This would make a great movie.

Frank Shamrock
First-Ever UFC Middleweight Champion
The first Ultimate Fighting Championship reset the martial arts culture in the U.S., and created a brand-new American sport that’s now become a global phenomenon. Art Davie’s vision of blending combat sports and entertainment inspired a pay-per-view and martial arts generation, while creating new careers for combat sports athletes.

Excerpts From Is This Legal?

On the first Ultimate Fighting Championship’s “Creative Director”—Academy Award Nominated Screenwriter John Milius:

Milius invited us to his office at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. In addition to filling in Milius on SEG and our capital raise, we wanted to discuss the fighting area for the event with him. After all, as the director of Conan the Barbarian, Milius had Arnold Schwarzenegger fighting in a pit—imagery that I absolutely loved. His time was always tight, so I knew that we had to get every idea that he had. Right away, I accepted a Montecristo from Milius, and as our meeting progressed, he would go to the door and blow smoke down the hallway.

“I like to piss off the Disney pukes,” he explained, which made me laugh.

Milius thought that perhaps the gladiatorial approach would be the ticket. He told us that we should have cheerleaders, but that we’d call them the “vestal virgins.” He also thought that we should get a mascot, something like the USC Trojan. As Milius was cranking into high gear, the phone rang. Julie Ann, Milius’ secretary, answered it, then came in and announced, “Moses is on the phone.” Charlton Heston wanted to talk about some National Rifle Association business.

As much as I liked Milius before that meeting, I liked him even more after it. In the land of Hollywood cool, he was the coolest.

On the rules meeting that almost ruined the first Ultimate Fighting Championship:

At this point, Rorion and I had completely lost control of the meeting. The fighters and their camps were all loudly arguing, and I could see that this whole f—— event was coming apart before it had even started.

Everyone, with the lone exception of Gerard Gordeau, was going crazy, and Rorion was completely swallowed by the moment.

It then hit me like a full on punch to the face that I’d made a terrible miscalculation. From the fighters’ perspective it was bad enough that Rorion was one of the people in charge of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but now he was also the rules director of an obviously made-up sanctioning body. The fighters couldn’t help but ask how Rorion could possibly be impartial when his brother was in the tournament, representing the style of fighting created by his father and uncle? I was the one who personally wrote the rules—not Rorion—but he was the one standing in the front of the room, listing and defending them.

Then Teila Tuli, in the most dramatic and theatrical of gestures, stood up and announced, “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.” He then slammed his signed paper down on the table. The sound reverberated throughout the room.

With that, it became eerily quiet. And then the Gracie brothers started applauding. Then Trent Jenkins started applauding. And within seconds, everyone, apart from Frazier, was applauding.

On the pre-fight breakdown of Royce Gracie:

“Art, you’re not going to believe what I just saw,” he said. “Royce absolutely lost it after rehearsal.”
Todd went on to tell me that after everyone had cleared out, he saw Royce and Rickson walk back into our fighting area. They knelt on the mat facing each other, and Royce just started crying inconsolably. Rickson then tightly embraced his brother, the way a father holds his sobbing child who has just awoken from a terrible nightmare.

What Todd had to say actually didn’t surprise me at all. The crushing pressure of the moment was squarely on the shoulders of Royce, and I seriously doubted that he’d asked for any of this. Without question, this wasn’t about him, it was about his dad, his brothers, his uncle—the entire Gracie name and legacy. At that point, I truly believed that my partner Rorion should have made amends with his brother Rickson, because this was going to be far too much for poor, sweet Royce to bare.

On the final contract negotiations with Pay Per View partner SEG and President Bob Meyrowitz:

Immediately, I could tell that Meyrowitz was wired, but was trying his hardest to remain calm. He clearly didn’t want to piss me off, but acting like this was against his nature, and I thought it must be killing him.

“I’m good with everything else Bob, but SEG is going to have to pay all fighter purses after tonight. That’s prize money and guarantees. It’s just part of talent costs. And fighters are the talent for this show.”

The call dragged on and on, extending past the hour mark. We kept going over this issue, with SEG offering to pay varying percentages of the fight purse, none totaling the 100% that I demanded. Either Meyrowitz was going to blink first, or I was. This was about the future of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but without tonight, there would be nothing.

“OK, Art. You win. Are you happy? I hope you’re f—— happy!”

The contract was faxed to my hotel room, and I signed it at 5:47 p.m.—seventy-three minutes before our on-air time.

I was right on the verge of caving in, but Meyrowitz lost his nerve and caved first. There was no time to celebrate though, as I had to get my ass back to McNichols Arena, and watch my dream now finally become a reality. But then I decided that there was time for one more glass of scotch.

On the Gerard Gordeau vs. Kevin Rosier fight in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship:

The Dutchman then went in for the kill, and landed a huge right hand that dropped Rosier against the base of the fence. Gordeau then proceeded to pummel Rosier, who kept trying to get up, only to be literally beaten back down by his opponent.

Sensing the end of the fight, Gordeau delivered a vicious elbow to the head, and then a stomp to Rosier’s ample gut. Rosier rose up and tapped the mat in submission, which the referee Hélio Vigio missed completely. Gordeau did see the tap, and mercifully walked away from his devastated opponent. The towel was thrown in a few seconds later, which was spotted by the referee.

Gordeau had followed his twenty-six second squash of Teila Tuli with a 59-second beat down of Rosier, which earned him a place in the final.

I felt certain that Gordeau had engaged in tougher battles on the streets of Amsterdam against unruly brothel and hash bar owners who were late on their debt payments. In two fights, he had thrashed a pair of men who weighed in at a combined 740 plus pounds, and he hadn’t even been hit.

I said out loud, to no one in particular, “F— who’s going to beat this guy?”

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Posted 6-14-14