Fighters who lost in the first round of UFC 1 went home with a very light paycheck, according to UFC co-founder Art Davie.
UFC 1: The Beginning took place way back in November 1993 in Denver, Colorado. It was the first event of its kind, pitting fighters from different martial arts disciplines up against each other in an eight-man tournament.
Davie and fellow UFC co-founder Rorion Gracie were the masterminds behind UFC 1, which aimed to find out which martial art was the most effective. Fighters weren’t separated by weight class and there were minimal rules, with the most notable being a ban on eye-gouging and biting.
The eight-man UFC 1 tournament consisted of three rounds—a quarter final, semifinal and final—and featured fighters from a range of martial arts, including sumo wrestling, kickboxing, taekwondo and many more. The event was hugely successful, generating over 86,000 pay-per-view buys.
Fighting three times in one night, Royce Gracie became the first UFC champion by defeating Gerard Gordeau in the UFC 1 final. Gracie has of course since gone down as a UFC legend and was likely handsomely renumerated for his feat—at least compared to those who lost in the quarter finals.
In an interview with The Hannibal TV, Davie was asked how much those fighters who lost in the first round actually took home, and the answer may surprise you.
“A thousand dollars,” said Davie.
Following UFC 1, Davie went on to stage four more UFC events over the next two years with Rorion Gracie, before the duo sold their stake in the promotion to Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG). After failing to secure wide-spread sanctioning for UFC fights, SEG sold the promotion to its current owner Zuffa in 2001.
What’s your take on UFC 1 fighters being paid just $1,000?