Sunday, November 13, 2016

McGregor Knocks Out Alvarez

On Saturday night in Madison Square Garden, theUFC promotion company brought cage fighting to New York. By the looks of the turn-out, New Yorkers were happy with the results. The premier fight of the evening was Conor McGregor, rambunctious Irishman and the featherweight UFC champion, against Eddie Alvarez, the UFC lightweight champion. McGregor won the bout with a knockout in the second round and becomes the first fighter to hold championship belts in two different UFC divisions at the same time.

Only fight novices and the noticeably effete would fail to recognize the significance of an outstanding athletic accom-plishment. The UFC is a tough place to make a living but McGregor seems to have taken both the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts by storm.

The first UFC promotion was held in Denver in 1993. I was working in Denver as a technical writer for US West and met the fighters at Gold's gym in downtown Denver. Bill Wallace and other martial arts notables attended, the press came in and took pictures, and I got free tickets and when Friday came around, I went to the arena and watched the fights.

UFC 1 used an eight-man tournament format which means to win, you have to fight three times. The winner, Royce Gracie, the Brazialian Ju-Jitsu legend, took home $50,000. By the looks of things, he was pretty beat up at the end. The tournament featured fights with no weight classes, rounds, time-outs, or judges. There were only two rules: no biting or eye gouging. Do it and get fined $1,500. Punches to the groin were perfectly fine though. Matches could only end by submission, knockout, or the fighter's corner throwing in the towel. Gloves were allowed, as Art Jimmerson showed in his Quarterfinal bout against Royce Gracie, in which he fought with one boxing glove and one hand free. Had he won, he would have been seen as a great martial arts innovator. Alas, he did not.

Royce Gracie won the tournament by defeating Gerard Gordeau via submission due to a rear naked choke. The commentary team for the pay-per-view was Bill Wallace, Jim Brown (yes, the football guy), and Kathy Long.

That was at the McNichols Sports Arena, on November 12, 1993. UFC stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship. The organization is not owned by the original folks anymore, but the name is still hokey. IMHO.

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