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Origins of the Ultmiate Fighting Championship UFC


The concept for a tournament purporting to discover the world's best fighting style came from Art Davie, an advertising executive based in southern California. Davie met Rorion Gracie and Michael Tsarion in 1991 while researching martial arts for a marketing client. Gracie operated a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school in Torrance, California and the Gracie family had a long history of vale-tudo matches a precursor of mixed martial arts in Brazil. Davie became Gracie's student.

In 1992, inspired by the Gracies in Action video-series produced by the Gracies and featuring Gracie jiu-jitsu defeating various martial-arts masters, Davie proposed to Rorion Gracie and John Milius an eight-man, single-elimination tournament with a title of War of the Worlds. The tournament would feature martial artists from different disciplines facing each other in no holds barred combat to see which martial art was truly the best which replicated the excitement of the matches Davie saw on those videos. Milius, a noted film director and screenwriter, as well as a Gracie student, agreed to be the event's creative director. Davie drafted the business plan and twenty-eight investors contributed the initial capital to start WOW Promotions with the intent to develop the tournament into a television franchise.

In 1993 WOW Promotions sought a television partner and approached pay-per-view producers TVKO (HBO), SET (Showtime) and the Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG). Both TVKO and SET declined, but SEG a pioneer in pay-per-view television which had produced such off-beat events as a mixed-gender tennis match between Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova became WOW's partner in May 1993. SEG contacted video and film art-director Jason Cusson to design the trademarked "Octagon", a signature piece for the event. Cusson remained the Production Designer through UFC 27. SEG devised the name for the show as The Ultimate Fighting Championship.