UFC co-creator Campbell McLaren
As UFC prepares for its New York City debut at Madison Square Gardens with the UFC 205 card featuring Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez, the promotion has come a long way.
UFC 205 on November 12th will be the 23rd anniversary of the very first UFC show which took place at Denver, Colorado and bears little similarity to the mixed-martial arts event we know today.
Campbell McLaren is one of the co-creators of UFC and he joined Off The Ball to talk about its inauspicious early beginnings which was an eight person contest with prize money of $50,000.
"It's a good recollection for me mostly," he began.
"What I think is important to really keep in mind is The Brawl in Buffalo (AKA UFC7) was that event was the one that I think MMA was literally, actually, factually and historically created. Because before UFC 7, we weren't doing MMA. If you'd seen the old show, you do know that it was martial art versus martial art."
McLaren explained that he wanted to make UFC into the "reality version" of the old computer game Mortal Kombat.
"So it was a karate guy versus a judokan versus a boxer versus a ju jitsu expert and so it was martial art versus martial art. But in 7 we see this ultimate badass - I hope I can say badass on the radio in Ireland - in Marco Ruas who was known as King of the Streets. He came into the tournament and he was doing a mix of Brazilian ju jitsu, he was a very good puncher - big hands, heavy hands, a lot like Conor [McGregor] - and he was also using Muay Thai kicks which we really hadn't seen before UFC 7," he said of a time when fighters were more characterised and weight divisions were not a thing in the very early days.
"So I think the Brawl in Buffalo is significant, not only because I was the first guy to do the UFC in New York, but also because that's when we start to see this mix and it's that very mix that keeps our sport exciting."