UFC Co-Founder Gives Legendary Name He Was Unable To Sign For UFC 1

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UFC co-founder Art Davie has recalled which iconic combat sports name he attempted to place on the UFC’s very first card back in 1993.

This year, the MMA leader will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Since its inception, the UFC has grown into a sporting juggernaut that has developed the sport of mixed martial arts to no end.

Nowadays, Dana White is seen as the long-term face of the business and is credited for its rapid rise to prominence. But before he acquired the UFC alongside the Fertitta brothers towards the turn of the century, a number of others were responsible for creating the concept and bringing it to our screens.

That includes Davie, who formed a blueprint designed to figure out who was the best fighter in the world by merging several disciplines into the same environment. With that, he birthed a sport that now rivals combat staples such as boxing when it comes to mainstream attraction.

While his concept, dubbed “War of the Worlds,” had been consistently rejected, a pitch to Semaphore Entertainment Group in April 1993 proved to be the turning point, with Vice President of Original Programming Campbell McLaren showing interest in the proposal.

Seven months later in November, the UFC’s very first show came together.

The event, held at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado, was broadcast on pay-per-view and featured a tournament format, which saw no weight limitations. Among the competitors were legendary names such as Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie, the latter of whom ultimately won the final by submitting Gerard Gordeau.

However, while he looks back at the event as an overwhelming success, Davie has revealed one star name he’d hoped to have enter the cage for the UFC pilot.

Davie’s Pursuit For Wrestling’s Best Ahead Of UFC 1

During an interview with THE HANNIBAL TV, Art Davie looked back on the creation of the UFC, his part in which ultimately secured a path into the promotion’s Hall of Fame 25 years later in 2018.

After noting that he was looking to incorporate grappling’s best into the previously untested mixed combat equation, something others hadn’t considered, Davie named legendary wrestler Dan Gable as an athlete he’d pursued.

“Not enough people were thinking clearly about, ‘What about grappling? How would grappling figure in?’ Now, I had tried to reach out to Dan Gable at the University of Iowa,” Davie said. “I could never get him on the phone. I wanted to get a top-notch amateur wrestler. Later on, I got Mark Schultz. I got Kevin Jackson. But in the beginning, I couldn’t even get Gable’s assistant to return my call.”

Gable competed in freestyle wrestling at Iowa State University, where he attended between 1967 and 1970. As well as becoming an NCAA Division I national runner-up and two-time national champion, the now-74-year-old amassed an incredible 117-1 collegiate record, with his sole defeat coming in his final match.

Across the next few years, Gable competed internationally. Among his accolades is a gold medal at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, as well as top spot at the 1971 world championships. With that, he’s widely regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.

Dan Gable
Image Credit: sports illustrated.cnn.com

How do you think Dan Gable would have fared in the UFC back in 1993?

Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.

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