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How the Ultimate Fighting Championship Works


The UFC Today
Injuries in the UFC
Despite the perception of Ultimate Fighting as a brutal sport, injuries are relatively minor and rare. "We've never had a serious injury," says Dana White, "and what I consider a serious injury is something that changes the quality of your life. We've had cuts and broken hands. I think the most serious injury we had was a broken forearm." Most injuries occur during training rather than in the Octagon -- some fighters train six to eight hours a day for several weeks leading up to a fight.

In 2000, SEG promoted UFC 29: Defense of the Belts. It was the last UFC event SEG would produce. The company faced bankruptcy and political pressure had crippled its ability to book and promote shows. Two brothers, Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta, formed Zuffa, LLC (zuffa means "to fight" or "to scrap" in Italian) and bought the UFC. Former amateur boxer and fight promoter Dana White became president of the new organization.

Lorenzo Fertitta was a former member of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and soon the commission oversaw UFC events. This gave the UFC some much needed credibility, and soon cable companies began to carry their pay-per-view events again.

Five-time UFC champion Randy Couture
Image courtesy Josh Hedges
© Ultimate Fighting Championship
Five-time UFC champion Randy Couture

In 2001, the first Zuffa-promoted UFC event, UFC 30: Battle on the Boardwalk, premiered. UFC 30 saw not only the return to wider pay-per-view coverage, but also a return to home video production. Since that event, Dana White has concentrated on increasing the popularity of the UFC and shedding its historically brutal image. Mr. White is quick to point out, "At the end of the day, these guys aren't barbarians the way they were sold early on. These guys are all good guys . . . they come in to compete to find out who's the best fighter in the world."

The Ultimate Fighter & Spike TV
In 2005, Spike TV aired the first season of a reality television series called "The Ultimate Fighter." The show followed a group of UFC hopefuls as they competed for a contract with the organization. Fighters divided into different training camps, and at the end of each episode a member from one team fought someone from the other team. The winner would stay in the competition; the loser would go home. The show marked the first time viewers could watch a UFC fight on a cable station outside of pay-per-view, and it helped to educate views about the UFC. "The Ultimate Fighter" is currently scheduled for at least two more seasons.

In the next section, we'll look at the plans for UFC's future.