Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) marked its 20th year in existence today (Tues., Nov. 12, 2013) and to help kick off the week-long celebration, the promotion asked several notable fighters, including lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, along with Liz Carmouche, Rory MacDonald, Travis Browne and flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, among others, to say a few words in honor of the milestone.
Piece of cake, right?
Well, maybe not. It seems that a simple phrase like "Happy 20th Anniversary" was too tough for some mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, who capped off their marble-mouthed deliveries with a few choice expletives. But hey, we'll give them a pass since the job of a fighter is to kick ass, not take names.
It's still good for a chuckle.
But watching guys like "Showtime" stumble through the taping is a pretty accurate way to sum up the past 20 years of UFC. The shit-show that debuted in late 1993 -- as well as the ill-favored incarnations that followed -- were nothing more than an organized clusterfuck.
Thank God for evolution.
The Gracie family put the world of karate on notice, taking down its best strikers and choking them out with relative ease. While it's not the ace in the hole it once was, jiu-jitsu is still a core foundation of every MMA fighter's arsenal, both offensively and defensively.
Too bad some guys have to learn the hard way.
Once ZUFFA took over several years later, it had the right mix of brains, balls and bank accounts to turn a dying sport into a global phenomenon. When I first saw UFC 1 back in college, I could have never imagined that one day I would be making a living because of it.
What a long, strange trip it has been.
I don't work for UFC, but its ability to create an industry gave me -- as well as people in radio, television, merchandising and print -- a job to support their families. There's a local dojo by me that was able to expand to three locations simply by adding the words "train MMA" on the front window.
And UFC/MMA is still in its infancy, all things considered.
The combat sports promotion will continue to spread across the globe and in the process, likely become a sporting mainstay. To what degree has yet to be determined, but wherever we end up, I'm pretty sure the next 20 years will be just as wild as the first 20.
I'm looking forward to it.