Last month, Fighters Only released a special edition commemerating the UFC on 20 years of MMA greatness. Inside the issue we spoke exclusively with the athletes and executives involved in the first ever Ultimate Fighting Championship event, including co-founder Rorion Gracie.
In the interview, ninth-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu red belt Rorion talked about teaching BJJ in the US, how the idea for a televised no-holds-barred fighting contest came about, some of the original combat arena concepts and more.
Rorion on teaching BJJ in the US:
“I put some mats in my garage and every person I met from anywhere, from buying watermelons to putting gas in my car, every time I ran into someone I invited them to a free class. They would come to the class in my garage.
“Soon people from other disciplines started to come and challenge me. There was a lot of interest.”
Rorion on the birth of the UFC:
“Once we had the approval and the money to make the first show happen, we were determined to have the show with the toughest guys. So we put ads in world-renowned martial arts magazines that said, 'Show us your resume with pictures and videos.' we the put together the eight-man tournament, so the winner would fight three times in the same night.”
Rorion on original cage concepts:
“We thought of a moat with alligators. We thought of an arena with sharks around. We seriously thought about an electric fence. But we couldn't in case one guy pushed the other into the moat and he'd get chewed up. We laughed at it, but in Hollywood your mind travels and we just thought of every different possibility... Eventually I settled on the Octagon.”
Read the full interview with Rorion inside Fighters Only magazine, plus more interviews with Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, 'Big' John McCarthy and others. Order your copy here.