Sandomir didn't attempt to hide his disgust at the Ultimate Fighting Championship's second foray into pay-per-view:
For just $14.95! Yes, friends, beyond Wrestlemania! Beyond boxing! Beyond Tough Man (the amateur boxing event)! Pay-per-view (possible) death!I actually can't find fault with Sandomir for looking down his nose on UFC in the early days, considering that the promoters at the time practically begged the media to treat it like a gladiator match. What bothers me is that the sport has come so far in its 15-year history, and yet Sandomir's story doesn't look a lot different from a lot of mainstream media coverage of MMA today.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship pits 16 martial arts experts in areas from jujitsu and kung fu to wing chun and pentcak silat in a one-night tournament without rules, gloves, rounds, breaks or timeouts, where punches, kicks, elbows, and chokes are encouraged, and winners are decided by surrender, a doctor's diagnosis or death....
Action occurs in an octagonal pit ringed by a five-foot fence, designed by the director John Milius like the one in his film, "Conan the Barbarian." ...The decline of western civilization can be viewed through the pay-per-view prism, from the Julius Erving-Kareem Abdul Jabbar one-on-one bomb to the idiotic Tough Man competition. From Howard Stern's New Year's Eve special to the Riddick Bowe-Michael Dokes title bout. From the Ultimate Fighting Championship II to . . . We'll see. It won't be pretty.
After the jump, see how Sandomir covered the sport in 2007.
In a May 25, 2007 article, Sandomir wrote:
Oh, how M.M.A. (as the sport is known) has changed from its roots - without state regulation and many protections against serious injuries.
Its success, usually viewed through the prism of the hypermarketed Ultimate Fighting Championship, has been building for years. But in the past few months, M.M.A. has catapulted into the mainstream. It is forging an identity distinct from the more venerable combat sport of boxing - or, M.M.A.'s leaders argue, nudging the sweet science further into the sports periphery.
I'm betting that when Sandomir wrote that first story, he didn't think he'd still be writing about the UFC 13 years later.