History of MMA in United States: Colorado

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This is the sixth of a 50 part series documenting the history and the current state of MMA for each of the 50 states in the United States of America. Each part will chronicle the history of MMA as well as several notable fighters and camps in each state. States will be completed in alphabetical order. This is the history of Colorado MMA. Be sure to check out the previous part on California.

History of Colorado MMA

Colorado, the 38th state to join the Union, is mostly known for its contribution to the history of MMA in the United States for being the home of UFC 1. Before the UFC or even MMA was considered a sport in this country, Colorado was its first home. Since then the popularity and acceptance of MMA has grown to where it is almost legal everywhere to hold an MMA event. The state is also home to some of the best fighters in the sport today and some of the best fight camps in all of MMA.

Colorado Commission

The Colorado Office of Combative Sports and Colorado Combative Sports Commission is responsible for sanctioning all MMA bouts within the state. The commission consists of seven members, two of which are non-voting members. Those two spots consist of licensed physicians who serve as advisors to the commission and office. William Artist is the current chair of the commission. Though Colorado hosted UFC 1, the state did not have a commission at that time so the UFC was responsible for making and following its own rules.

UFC 1: The Beginning

Art Davie and fellow co-creator Rorion Gracie decided to launch an eight-man tournament. There would be one expert from a different discipline of martial arts. The goal of the tournament was to display which was the most superior of the arts. Gracie’s goal was to display Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as the dominant art form. November 12, 1993, in the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado was the site of the first UFC event. This night would be the start of a new sports phenomenon that to this day continues to grow in popularity.

The first bout ever in the UFC saw Gerard Gordeau representing Savate kick out the tooth of sumo representative Teila Tuli. The sport became very real for many who felt the UFC would be just another pro wrestling knockoff. Jiu-Jitsu representative Royce Gracie would go on to win the tournament defeating the one boxing gloved Art Jimmerson, shootfighter Ken Shamrock, then Gordeau in the finals. The first UFC event is full of landmark and iconic moments to this day talked about by fans.

Home to Future Major Events

The UFC has been in the state of Colorado for nine events, six in the city of Denver alone. They are set to return for the state’s 10th hosted event on November 10, 2018, when the UFC looks to invade the Pepsi Center in Denver for a UFC Fight Night card.

Denver would actually host three of the first eight UFC cards. UFC 2: No Way Out would see Royce Gracie when the tournament yet again. Ultimate Ultimate 1995 would be a huge tournament win for Dan Severn. The first time judges were used in case of a draw was at Ultimate Ultimate 1995. Legends such as Oleg Taktarov and Tank Abbott put on a showing at this event.

The last visit to the UFC’s original home soil was UFC on Fox: Shevchenko Vs. Pena which took place January 28, 2017, in Denver. Valentina Shevchenko defeated Julianna Pena by second-round submission in the main event. Donald Cerrone would be defeated by Jorge Masvidal via second-round TKO.

Strikeforce also made a trip to “The Centennial State” for Strikeforce: Payback. The event took place on October 03, 2008 in Broomfield, Colorado. The 3,000 plus fans in attendance would witness home state striker, Duane Ludwig, knockout Sammy Morgan in the first round. Another home state star, Michelle Waterson, competed on the prelims, winning by submission in the first round against Tyra Parker.

Notable Fighters and Camps in the State of Colorado

Colorado is home to many devastating strikers in the sport of MMA. In the brightest spotlight currently is UFC women’s strawweight champion, Rose Namajunas. Namajunas has defeated former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her last two bouts when many though Joanna was unbeatable. Rose’s coach, Trevor Wittman, is also a Colorado native. In the world of MMA, he has one of the most technical striking systems. They call the 303 Training Center home which is located in Westminster, CO. 303 Training Center (303 being the area code) is also home to other fighters. UFC fighter JJ Aldrich and former UFC heavyweight Pat Barry train along Rose and Wittman.

Former UFC and WEC lightweight champion, Benson Henderson, was born in Colorado Springs, CO. Henderson was on a skid losing three of four in Bellator. He won via submission over Roger Huerta in round two at Bellator 196 in his last bout. Colorado is also home to several heavy-handed strikers such as former UFC heavyweight Shane Carwin and Brendan Schaub. Bob Sapp, who made a name for himself in the Japanese MMA scene, was also born in Colorado Springs, CO.

Part seven of the 50 states series will be the state of Connecticut. Check back with MMASucka to keep up with the series.

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Matt's love and passion for martial arts began at the age of four with Taekwondo. Matt later trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu while serving nearly ten years in law enforcement. Matt has just recently discovered his passion of writing on mixed martial arts.

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