Check out this original UFC 1 ad from 1993!

Check out this classic ad from the December 1993 issue of “Black Belt Magazine”, which featured this full-page ad for the premiere event of the Ultimate Fighting Championship!

“Who will be the Ultimate Fighter?” this ad asks, which is practically the same ad campaign used today for the UFC’s reality show, “The Ultimate Fighter.” The picture in this advertisement looks like a screen-capture from a vale tudo match, since the first event had not yet debuted on November 12. No matches are listed here, but various styles are, ranging from sumo, kickboxing, tae kwon do, savate, and draka… which I have never heard of until now. Interesting to note that while jiu-jitsu appears, it does not explicitly say Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. BJJ was still an enigma at the time, but even as far back as 1989 the style had been gaining interest in the inner circle of martial arts, heightened by the Gracie Challenge which was in full swing by this era.

This issue of “Black Belt” also featured an interview with Chuck Norris discussing his brand-new TV show, “Walker: Texas Ranger,” an article about Linda Lee Caldwell suing Crowvision after the wrongful death of her son, Brandon Lee, on the set of “The Crow,” and instructional sections on Karate counter-strikes and Tae Kwon Do spinning kicks.

UPDATE: According to the original Executive Producer of the UFC from the first event through UFC 21, Campbell McLaren, the company used a stock photo for the image above, since the magazines needed the ad before they had confirmed any fighters. When asked by this reporter as to what Draka was, McLaren stated, “Draka was supposedly a russian kick boxing plus grappling style. At one point I had a brochure from the Draka organization. It sounded so cool and threatening, I had to use it.”

For anyone who is still doing their holiday shopping, why don’t you check out The Fight Nerd’s Holiday Shopping Guide to make your life easier. I did all the work for you, so you know what to buy and what not to touch with a 10-foot cattle prod.

Comments (11)

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  1. campbell mclaren says:

    Great ad considering I had no idea what UFC I was going to look like. I think the martial arts magazines that were running this ad needed the final copy before Art Davie and I had confirmed any fighters. We used a stock photo. I have a framed copy of this in my office.

    This low budget ad points out how important the publicity was to launching the UFC- if I had not said provocative things that got picked up by the press there might not be a UFC today.

  2. PingPong says:

    WTF is Draka?

  3. James Schipper says:

    Campbell, do you have any copies of the ads before that one you guys ran in Black Belt? The one seeking applicants?

  4. campbell mclaren says:


    Maybe somewhere with the UFC windshield sun blocker, the official UFC martial arts academy patches, the UFC II keychain, the first UFC gym towel, the Octagon Photo frame…. We made all that stuff for the cable operators in hopes they would do contests for the PPV buyers. There was some goofy stuff.

    On a more serious note I also have Dr Joe Estwanik’s very used prototype gloves, the original art work from the Mad Magazine cover story, the original fighter rules sheet (not that long) and the original production book from UFC I. Historic indeed.

  5. James Schipper says:

    Nice! I remember calling the number on the ad and talking to Art about the specifics of what they were looking for.

  6. campbell mclaren says:


    Not that I blame you but why didn’t you enter?

  7. God haven’t see ads like this in forever. Really brings back memories.

  8. James Schipper says:

    I didn’t have a fight record of any kind, and I had trained (Machado) Jujitsu. He said they needed it to sell, and they wanted variation. They already had Royce, obviously.

    But I like to think I contributed to the success of MMA by not making it in, because I probably would have been killed immediately no matter who I faced, and a death in the very first event would have seriously hampered the growth of the sport 😀

  9. K. Yamada says:

    ^^^ This is hilarious. Good one Schipper. lol

  10. James Schipper says:

    I found where they had the old Black Belt magazines online in the Google. I was actually looking for something else, which was oddly in the same issue. But the ad is here on the very bottom corner of page 69 of the August 1993 issue: The very first UFC Entrance advertisement.


  11. zachary says:

    campbell, he im writting a paper on the UFC for my sociological analysis and critical thinking class. It would help me emmensley if you could send me some of the copys official articles discussed previously I would especially be interested in the ufc1 official rule book.

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