LOS ANGELES, CA – In just two decades, the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC) has become one of the most successful and fastest-growing sports leagues in the world. A new two-hour documentary, FIGHTING FOR A GENERATION: 20 YEARS OF THE UFC, premiering Tuesday, November 5 (9:00 PM ET) on FOX Sports 1, examines the rise of the organization, from early days of dealing with political pressure and financial hardship, to successfully building a worldwide brand.
On the eve of the UFC 20 year anniversary, which began with UFC 1 in early November, more than 60 interviews from past and present owners, fighters, celebrities and politicians, were conducted over a four-month period. Various voices including former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, Senator John McCain, rock musician Anthony Kiedis, actor David Spade, pro skateboarder and MTV star Rob Dyrdek, past and current fighters and many others discuss what the UFC means to them and how it has evolved into the major sports property that it is today.
“FIGHTING FOR A GENERATION: 20 YEARS OF THE UFC is an entertaining and educational show that does a brilliant job of tracing the UFC’s wild history and of documenting its explosive growth,” says Yahoo! Sports MMA Columnist Kevin Iole. “It’s a compelling account of the UFC’s struggle for survival in its early years. It hits all the right notes in a fast-moving show that will keep even casual fans riveted.”
USA TODAY’s lead MMA reporter John Morgan concurs: “For newcomers to the sport, watching FIGHTING FOR A GENERATION: 20 YEARS OF THE UFC is the fastest way to familiarize yourself with the path the UFC has taken to today, and for hardcore fans it’s a fun ride down memory lane. This is the most complete look at UFC history to date, and I think every MMA fan will enjoy reliving the transformation of the promotion from spectacle to the most exciting sport on the planet.”
The documentary provides viewers with an inside look at the origin of the UFC through intimate interviews with founders Art Davie and Rorion Gracie, including an explanation of what prompted them to begin the organization in the first place. After initial success, Davie explains that their unconventional and sensational marketing also triggered outrage from politicians such as Senator McCain, who labeled it “human cockfighting,” a term that began to haunt them. “We had been labeled and sometimes in America when you get labeled, you’re stuck,” Davie says. “And that’s what had happened to us.”
McCain discusses what he initially thought of the UFC, and how his opinion has changed: “I was appalled,” he says of what he saw in the early days. “It was a matter of safety, the health and life of the combatants. I was interested in stopping the barbaric behavior that put people’s lives at risk.” Now he believes the UFC is legitimate. “It’s become a sport with amazing popularity and success. There are rules, there are regulations, and there are restrictions and that I think has been a dramatic improvement and I’m very pleased to see it.”
UFC president Dana White summed up what the UFC has become and why it’s so popular: “What me and the Fertitta brothers truly believe is that we have the most valuable sports franchise on earth. This thing is global and is just getting started. And you’ve heard me say it a million times, and I’ll say it again. I don’t care what color you are. I don’t care what country you come from and I don’t care what language you speak, we’re all human beings. Fighting is in our DNA, we all get it and we like it.”
FIGHTING FOR A GENERATION, 20 YEARS OF THE UFC premieres Tuesday, November 5 (9:00 PM ET) on FOX Sports 1. Follow on Twitter at: #UFC20Years.