The sport of MMA has exploded at an unbelievable rate in the short time it’s been around, and the UFC has handed the sports world some truly unforgettable moments along the way. So instead of just saying “Happy 20th Anniversary UFC,” let’s celebrate by taking a look back at some of the most epic knockouts, submissions, and everything else in between from the past 20 years.
This Flashback Friday: Royce Gracie submits Gerard Gordeau to win UFC 1.
Let’s start from the beginning. While today’s UFC fight cards feature individual bouts, the original structure called for one-night tournaments. Fighters would have to defeat several opponents to be declared the winner. When a skinny Royce Gracie dominated a series of giant, angry sluggers and finished the tournament with a rear-naked choke over the 6’5”, 216 lbs. Gerard Gordeau, he blew of lot of minds back in 1993. Whether you watched it live, or rented it on fuzzy VHS years later, this was most mainstream sports fans first exposure to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. After that night, nothing about mixed martial arts would ever be the same.
There’s a reason that most talented mixed martial artists cite Gracie as their inspiration forfighting. He went up against three talented strikers, way out of his weight-class, and finished each one in under two-and-a-half minutes in a single night. After choking out Ken Shamrock in his second bout of the tournament, Gracie wasted no time wrapping up eight-time Dutch Karate champ Gordeau like an anaconda a few heartbeats into their championship bout.
Within seconds, Gracie had tripped him and taken him to the mat. He was quickly in full mount, making a martial arts champion look helpless as he worked a ground game that not a single fighter in the tournament was prepared to counter. Fast forward another few seconds and he had Gordeau’s back, already in the process of putting him to sleep as the Dutch giant desperately tapped out.
And just like that, Royce Gracie became the first ever UFC Champion and winner of $50,000.Gracie would go on to become the first and only three time tournament winner of the pre-Zuffa UFC. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is now an iconic style of fighting and BJJ is an integral part of nearly every fighter's arsenal.
Subscribe to UFC.TV to watch this fight and hundreds more in their extensive library and see Royce win for yourself!