The first in a three-part series chronicling the 15 greatest moments in UFC history as the company celebrates its 15th anniversary.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship debuted in Nov. 1993 in Denver, and nobody, neither the promoters nor the participants, had any idea what they were getting into.
Seconds into the first match, Gerard Gordeau, a kickboxer bouncer from The Netherlands who was more famous as a sometimes pro wrestler in Japan, literally kicked the teeth right out of the mouth of Teila Tuli, billed as a 420-pound sumo wrestler. That show created UFC’s first two stars, Royce Gracie, who won the eight-man tournament, and Ken Shamrock, who went on to become one of the most important people in the development of the sport.
Since then, the UFC has been on a 15-year-ride of cult popularity, public misunderstanding, near death, and a resurrection to the extent it is the biggest thing on pay-per-view in North America.
There have been 119 shows, all over the world. In recent years, it has set gate and merchandise records in many venues.
Yet, it is still banned in New York and Toronto, and on an international level, a lot of the media still react like the U.S. media in the 1990s, seeing it as something they simply can’t accept as a sport.
Here’s a look at five of what were not necessarily the best matches, but were the most memorable matches of the early years, before the Fertitta brothers purchased the company and president Dana White put his distinct stamp on the product.LINK