The UFC is celebrating its 20-year anniversary in 2013 and today is the day to blow the candles.
On November 12, 1993, in Denver, Colorado, ten men entered a new format of battle cage.
A fenced octagon was the stage for eight fights that evening (counting the alternate) in a bracket that led to a $50,000 prize (more or less the amount paid as bonuses for fighters on UFC events today).
The warriors were: Gerard Gordeau, Teila Tuli, Kevin Rosier, Zane Frazier, Royce Gracie, Art Jimmerson, Ken Shamrock, Patrick Smith, Jason DeLucia (alternate), Trent Jenkins (alternate).
Fighters didn’t use gloves, except for Art Jimmerson, who wore one single glove in his left hand for his quarterfinal match against Royce.
Promotion posters read no rules, but eye gouging and biting were prohibited, but fights really had no time limits.
Good thing all ended quite fast.
Royce Gracie was there to prove the point his brother Rorion (co-inventor of the Ultimate Fighting Championship) was trying to make; that Jiu-Jitsu was (and is) the most efficient form of combat ever invented.
For that opening night, Royce did just that when he beat his three opponents by submission.
First he choked Jimmerson, then caught Shamrock (semifinal) and Gerard Gordeau in the final with rear naked chokes.
Royce fought another 9 times in the UFC until the 5th edition, on April 7, 1995, leaving undefeated and bringing the attention of hundreds of thousands of people to the efficiency of Jiu-Jitsu both in sport competitions and on the streets.
Then came the Fertitas, Dana White, Vegas and it became the multi-million dollars worldwide company the UFC is today.
Royce would fight one last time in the UFC, in 2006, when he was defeated by Matt Hughes (TKO), on UFC 60.
Watch the video of Royce’s final match that night and witness how things changed since then.
Or, if you have the time, watch the whole thing: