UFC co-founder Art Davie: We changed the world

Monday, November 12, 2012

Every November 12, Art Davie lights a cigar in celebration of the anniversary of the birth of a sport.

“This is an important day,” he said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “This was the day 19 years ago that we changed the world.”

Davie was one of the founders of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which had its first event in Denver on this date in 1993. It was a project that had been in the works for over a year. At the time, Davie had a rough concept of a new fighting format, but things did not truly coalesce in his mind until reading a Playboy article about Rorion Gracie and Brazil’s most famous fighting family.

“I remember Rorion and I and [executive producer] Campbell [McLaren] walking around,” he said. “I was walking around smoking a cigar and drinking a single-malt scotch and we looked at each other and said, ‘This is huge. This is unbelievable. We’re taking over the world. This is going to rock people right to their socks.’ We knew it.”

In time though, the UFC would face many obstacles, based upon the promotion of the sport’s violence as a selling point. Eventually, he parted ways with the company, but he’s watched the sport and the promotion grow from afar, feeling, he says, sometimes as a “divorced father with someone else raising my kid.” But that’s OK, he says. It’s still a pleasure to watch something that he helped conceive enter the sport and pop culture landscape.

“I had to bang heads with a lot of people who said to me, ‘What else you got kid? You got anything else, because this is nuts?'” he said. “And I said, no, this is going to be big. You wait and see.”

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