After three rounds of warfare, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonner stood before us, battered and beaten, but certainly not broken.
The first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” was forcefully over but the UFC was just getting started after millions of newly minted fans have witnessed one of the greatest fights in the history of the young sport.
It was one of the perfect sports moments where everything comes together at the right time and nothing will ever be the same.
After the victory of the first Ultimate Fighter, eight more seasons gave rise to some of the organizations, and the sports, elite fighters, with a tenth season now in the making. The brand name developed a fan base that is second to none in mixed martial arts, pushing the sport into the mainstream.
The hit reality show featured on Spike TV, along with constant airings of “Ultimate Knockouts” and other showings of the best fights the UFC has to offer, has allowed mixed martial arts to get the exposure it so desperately needed.
Not only did the show make new fighters like Forrest Griffin popular, it catapulted existing fighters like Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell into the limelight.
Along with Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture is widely credited for bringing mixed martial arts into the mainstream of American pop culture and sports. However, both of these legends have the success of the show to credit for the exposure they each received.
UFC 53 was the fight card that followed The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale and featured a rematch between the sports two biggest stars. The PPV buy rate for the event was 280,000 which was the foundation.
Fast forward to UFC 66, which featured the rematch between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. The UFC blew the roof off of the house by doing over one million pay per view buys. Hard to imagine that Liddell vs. Ortiz 1, at UFC 47, did one/tenth that number.
As pay-per-view sales continued to soar, the UFC climbed toward its apex in 2006.
Through the hit reality show featured on Spike TV, along with constant airings of “Ultimate Knockouts” and other showings of the best fights the UFC has to offer, the UFC continued to gain exposure unlike any other organization of the sport may claim.
However, the exposure of the UFC has not only benefited the company, but the sport of mixed martial arts as well. Never before had this sport of man vs. man seen the popularity, nor gained the credibility it so long deserved. The UFC has managed to grant the sport those invaluable benefits, along with climbing to the top of the pack of mixed martial arts organizations.
With the UFC sitting as the frontrunners of this operation, mixed martial arts was becoming a legitimate sport in the eyes of millions, with a fan base increasing exponentially from event to event.
In 2007, the UFC looked to further secure its place at the top of the list of mixed martial arts organizations, as Pride Fighting Championships announced that it would be overtaken by the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
With the removal of Pride and the competition it had previously brought forth, the UFC was seemingly the lone organization at the top of the mixed martial arts kingdom. However, though Pride is no more, several other organizations have since risen as challengers to the ultimate organization, seeking an overthrow of power.
In 2006, the mixed martial arts version of Strikeforce was created by Scott Coker.Three years later, Strikeforce has grown emphatically in popularity, and, through its purchase of the assets of Pro Elite, so has its roster of fighters. A recent co-promotion with Affliction spurs that cause as well.
However, Strikeforce’s roster does not set it apart from other organizations looking to dethrone the UFC, but rather its partnership with Showtime; a similar path that was taken by the UFC through Spike TV.
Through its work with Showtime, subscribers of the channel are able to see great cards without having to pay the price of a pay-per-view event. To better its chances of success, when CBS decides it is willing to give mixed martial arts another shot, Strikeforce will become a force in the efforts to make mixed martial arts even more mainstream, while becoming a true challenger to the undisputed organization of the UFC.
However, the roster, events, and popularity of the UFC, along with its constant exposure on public television, are far greater than any other organization looking to rise to a mainstream level.
The UFC boasts the greatest fighter roster in mixed martial arts, along with the most competitive divisions. However, these divisions, while seeing rise to some of the greatest in mixed martial arts today, are beginning to see some of the former greats fade into the sunset.
With Chuck Liddell spiraling downwards, Tito Ortiz being exiled from the organization, and Ken Shamrock down and nearly out, the UFC has seen some of its original stars falling out of the sport’s spotlight. However, the fighters of this modern day are making up for the holes left by these UFC legends as the incoming talent has fortified the untouchable fortress of the UFC.
As Liddell, Ortiz, and Shamrock were the greatest fighters of old, Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, and B.J. Penn are the elite fighters of the present.
These three fighters have leaped to the top of the pound for pound rankings and lay claim to the championship belts in their respective divisions. They have become the most notable names in mixed martial arts today, along with providing the UFC with the best fighters in their respective divisions.
While the old greats may be fading away, the UFC has managed to keep the talent alive by weaving the best fighters modern day mixed martial arts has to offer into their tapestry of success.
With nearly every division claiming the best fighter of his respective weight class, the UFC has managed to create the greatest roster mixed martial arts has ever seen. Through the many seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter”, the UFC has gained a following unrivaled by any organization.
With the fights featured for UFC 100, the UFC now boasts the greatest card in the history of mixed martial arts.
The UFC has grown into the most successful organization in mixed martial arts today, giving the fans elite pay-per-view events, the opportunity to watch the sport from their own living rooms, and the chance to look on as the greatest fighters of the sport compete.
However, the greatest achievement of all is the fan base derived from the UFC, which has given the sport of mixed martial arts the notoriety never before imaginable.
With the stellar card at UFC 100, and the ever growing competition of the UFC divisions, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has become the pinnacle of organizations in mixed martial arts, along with creating a fan base formerly incomprehensible for the sport, as it looks forward to the auspicious future the world of mixed martial arts certainly has in store for it.