The UFC was founded in 1993 by Campbell McLaren, Rorion Gracie, Art Davie, Bob Meyrowitz, and David Isaacs. It sold to ZUFFA for $2 million, in 2001, and sold again to WEM-IMG in 2016 for $4 billion, the largest sale of a sports property in history. Today it is worth perhaps $10 billion.
In addition, the UFC spawned the rise of mixed martial arts, and the greatest change in the practice of martial arts ever. Where once effectiveness was determined by arguments and theatrical demonstrations, MMA offers a method as simple as wheels on luggage - if you want to determine what methods of fighting actually work, have exponents of different approaches actually fight.
One fight may mean nothing, could simply be a reflection of the individuals. However, over time, through fights in the arena, and endless exchanges in the gym, truths emerge. It is the equivalent of the germ theory of disease coming to medicine. And of the five men named above, one was the primary architect - Art Davie. If you love MMA, he’s a hero. But he’s also human, and thus not infallible.
Mark Twain was the greatest writer in US history. Then he invested in a worthless automatic typesetting machine called the Paige Compositor, and eventually filed for bankruptcy.
Joe Louis was perhaps the greatest fighter in US history. Upon retirement, he launched a competitor to Coca-Cola called Joe Louis Punch, and other equally unlikely ventures, and eventually filed for bankruptcy.
As noted, Art Davie co-founded the UFC. Then, in 2008, he launched XArm.
Contested across a 28" × 16" table, adjustable for height from 34" to 46", XArm Bouts consist of three one-minute rounds, with a one-minute rest period between rounds. Players are allowed one second to accompany and assist them table-side. To prevent the players from separating, their arms used for arm wrestling are bound together with a strap, leaving the other arm free to punch and submit the other.
It failed, and in 2011, on Indian land outside the control of regulators, Davie and his partners Alan Winters and Wyndam Chow announced the re-launch.
The trio of Davie, Winters, and Chow had the support of Endomol USA – the North American division of a global entertainment company responsible for a number of high-profile television series including “Big Brother,” “Deal or No Deal,” “Wipeout,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Fear Factor” and “1 vs. 100.”
“We’re doing things in a non-traditional way, and we think there will be some unique things that are really interesting to MMA fans,” said Davie to MMAjunkie. “We see this as different but within the combat-sports entertainment space.”
Winters described the new XArm as shiny and new, compared with the original.
“What everybody saw with XARM back a couple of years ago was a pretty primitive version of where we’re headed with it,” said Winters. “The technology that we’re going to build into this is going to be really interesting because you don’t see it anywhere else. … We fancy this as the first sport really created for digital media.”
The market spoke, and XArm died again. If history is any gauge, X-Arm should be renewed any time now.
It was however compelling content, in its way.
After this period, Davie wrote, with Sean Wheelock, Is This Legal?: The Inside Story of The First UFC From the Man Who Created It. It was published by Ascend Books on July 1, 2014. The volume chronicles the period October 1989 through November 13, 1993, when Davie worked on the first UFC event.
And the search for new, crazy combat sports continues. Slap Fighting Championship is the latest, but that’s another story …