UFC record: History, Zuffa, WEC merger, Strikeforce purchase of the largest MMA promotion

‘UFC’ is an American MMA promotion organisation based in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is owned and run by Endeavor Group Holdings, Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and MSD Capital through Zuffa, LLC.

Source: MMA India

It is the world’s largest MMA promotion business, with a roster that includes some of the sport’s top competitors.  The UFC holds events all over the world that feature twelve weight classes (eight men’s divisions and four women’s divisions) and follow the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.

The UFC has held almost 500 events as of 2020. Dana White has been the president of the UFC since 2001. Under White’s leadership, the UFC has developed into a multibillion-dollar global phenomenon. The first tournament was held in 1993 at Denver’s McNichols Sports Arena.

McNichols Sports Arena. Source: WikiMedia commons.

The early Ultimate Fighting Championship competitions aimed to find the most effective martial art in a contest with few rules and no weight classes between competitors from various fighting disciplines such as Boxing, Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sambo, Wrestling, Muay Thai, Karate, Taekwondo, and Judo.

Following that, combatants began to incorporate efficient techniques from more than one discipline, which indirectly contributed to the development of a distinct fighting style known as modern mixed martial arts. UFC’s parent business, Zuffa, was sold for US$4.025 billion in 2016 to a group led by William Morris Endeavor (WME–IMG), which included Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and MSD Capital.

With a TV deal and expansion in Australia, Asia, Europe, and new markets within the United States, the UFC has grown in popularity and achieved greater mainstream media coverage; the promotion earned $609 million in total revenue in 2015, and its next domestic media rights agreement with ESPN was valued at $1.5 billion over a five-year term.


Art Davie. Source: MMA Junkie

Art Davie presented an eight-man single-elimination tournament named “War of the Worlds” to John Milius and Rorion Gracie. The competition was inspired by the Gracie family of Brazil’s Gracies in Action movie series, which depicted Gracie jiu-jitsu pupils defeating martial artists from other disciplines such as karate, kung fu, and kickboxing.

The competition would also feature martial artists from various disciplines facing off in no-holds-barred fighting to decide the best martial art, with the goal of replicating the excitement of the bouts Davie watched on the recordings.

WOW Promotions was looking for a television partner in 1993 and approached pay-per-view producers TVKO (HBO) and SET (Showtime), as well as Campbell McLaren and David Isaacs of the Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG). Both TVKO and SET declined, but SEG — a pioneer in pay-per-view television who had organised such unusual events as a tennis match between Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova – became WOW’s partner in May 1993.

Fighters often possessed talents in only one discipline and had minimal experience versus opponents with various skills, as was characteristic of most martial arts at the period. Kickboxers Patrick Smith and Kevin Rosier competed, as did savate fighter Gerard Gordeau, karate expert Zane Frazier, shootfighter Ken Shamrock, sumo wrestler Teila Tuli, boxer Art Jimmerson, and Royce Gracie, the younger brother of UFC co-founder Rorion, who Rorion handpicked to represent his family in the competition.

Royce Gracie’s submission skills were the most effective in the inaugural tournament, winning him the first-ever UFC tournament title after submitting Jimmerson, Shamrock, and Gordeau in quick succession. With 86,592 pay-per-view television subscribers, the show was a huge success.

Zuffa era

SEG was on the verge of bankruptcy after a protracted battle to get sanctioning when Station Casinos entrepreneurs Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, along with their business partner Dana White, approached them in 2000 with an offer to buy the UFC. A month later, in January 2001, the Fertittas paid $2 million for the UFC and established Zuffa, LLC as the parent organisation running the UFC.

Fertittas along with Dana White. Source: Forbes

The emergence of stricter rules

Although the UFC utilised the phrase “There are no rules” in the early 1990s, the UFC did operate with some restrictions. Biting and eye-gouging were prohibited, but hair pulling, headbutting, groyne strikes, and fish-hooking were permitted.

In a UFC 4 qualifying fight, participants Jason Fairn and Guy Mezger agreed not to pull their hair, since they both had ponytails tied back. Keith Hackney and Joe Son squared off at the same event, and Hackney landed a flurry of crotch shots on Son while he was on the ground.

WEC merger

World Extreme Cagefighting was purchased by Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, in late 2006, and the first WEC event under new management took place in 2007. The WEC soon found a home on the Versus Network, with its first event airing there in June 2007. Zuffa announced in 2010 that the WEC would merge with the UFC.

On December 16, 2010, the WEC hosted its final card. The UFC adopted the WEC’s bantamweight, featherweight, and lightweight weight categories, as well as their corresponding fighters, as a result of the merger. The UFC also made the previous WEC Featherweight and Bantamweight Champions, José Aldo and Dominick Cruz, the inaugural UFC Champions in their respective weight classes.

Strikeforce purchase

Source: Strikeforce

Dana White announced the purchase of Strikeforce by Zuffa on March 12, 2011. White went on to say that Strikeforce will continue to function as a separate promotion, with Scott Coker in charge.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker announced Fedor Emelianenko’s comeback for an undisclosed July or August event and stated that the Zuffa-owned business would continue to co-promote with M-1 Global. Following the acquisition, many of Strikeforce’s biggest stars and champions, including Jason Miller, Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem, and Cung Le, signed with the UFC.

Strikeforce saw modest modifications under Zuffa’s ownership, including the full adoption of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, the closure of the promotion’s men’s weight divisions below lightweight, and the discontinuation of amateur undercard bouts.

Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine was the final Strikeforce event on January 12, 2013, after which the company was dissolved and all fighter contracts were either terminated or incorporated into the UFC.

UFC records

Top UFC contenders with their respective belts. Source: Sports bible.
Youngest ChampionJon Jones23 years, 8 months
Oldest ChampionRandy Couture45 years, 146 days
Longest reign as a ChampionAnderson Silva2,457d (6y 8m 22d)
Most championship reignsRandy Couture5
Most BoutsDonald Cerrone
Jim Miller
Most WinsDonald Cerrone23
Most FinishesCharles Oliveira17
Most KnockoutsVitor Belfort12
Most SubmissionsCharles Oliveira14
Most Decision WinsGeorges St-Pierre12
Most wins in title boutsJon Jones14
Most title boutsRandy Couture
Georges St-Pierre
Jon Jones
Most consecutive title defensesDemetrious Johnson11
Longest winning streakAnderson Silva16
Most Post Fight AwardsDonald Cerrone18
Most Performance of the Night AwardsCharles Oliveira9
Most Knockout of the Night AwardsAnderson Silva7
Most Submission of the Night AwardsJoe Lauzon6
Most Fight of the Night AwardsEdson Barboza
Nate Diaz
Frankie Edgar
Most total fight timeFrankie Edgar6:02:51
Shortest average fight timeMisha Cirkunov2:29
Most takedowns in a single boutKhabib Nurmagomedov21 of 27 attempts
Fastest knockoutJorge Masvidal0:05
Fastest submissionOleg Taktarov0:09
Fastest Title Fight KnockoutConor McGregor0:13
Fastest Title Fight SubmissionRonda Rousey0:14

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