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Forget what you have seen in movies or what you have heard about martial arts. This was the real deal. First time I have ever hear of the UFC was in a Playboy magazine back in 1993. I remember, the ad said that fighters from different styles were to fight in a no hold bar competition. Sumo, Tae Kwan Do, Jujitsu, Kickboxing, Karate etc, were to be represented in the tournament with no weight classes. The first thing that came in to my mind was "can this be real?" Something like this wasn't seen before, or at least in the US. The only place was in movies and video games, but never for real.
I was in high school at the time, and a friend of mine and I managed to convince his mother to let us watch the event on PPV. The house was packed of people who were drawn by curiosity. The first fight started, and after Gerard Gordeau kicked the big sumo guy to the ground, I remember my friend's mother saying out loud "oh my God, he killed him." That first fight left an impression in everyone's mind that would last for a long time. But what left an even bigger impression, was the 170 pounds Brazilian fighter, by the name of Royce Gracie. Gracie managed to win the tournament that night, and changed the way we looked at martial arts. Gracie later became a legend. Another great legend that made his US debut in this event was Ken Shamrock. Shamrock became a UFC hall of fame, a Super Fight Champion, and was the first to have an elite MMA training camp called the Lions Den.
It was brutal, it was bare, and it was real. If I were to describe the event in one word, I would say, awesome. There were no flying spinning kicks or fancy fighting like in the movies, but there was the sense of shock. Shock, because for the first time, we got to see what was effective in a fight and what wasn't. Yes, the UFC has come a long way and has evolved immensely since then. But this event laid the foundation that shaped what we know today as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). It's funny to watch this event today, not because of the fights or the fighters, but because like us, the people evolved didn't know what to expect of it. The commentators didn't know what to say in many occasions. They even brought Jim Brown, perhaps to make the event legit. Jim Brown had little or no knowledge of martial arts, which made his comments a little awkward. Even the referee didn't know when to stop a fight or to let it continue. However, if you want to see how it all started, I strongly recommend this classic.
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