The UFC celebrated its 200th event last weekend in Las Vegas.  It was the usual pageantry of title fights, out of cage controversies, last second cancellations, but something was missing.  No, I'm not referring to Jon Jones. 

The UFC celebrated its 200th event last weekend in Las Vegas. It was the usual pageantry of title fights, out of cage controversies, last second cancellations, but something was missing. No, I'm not referring to Jon Jones.
Published reports confirmed today that Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta had sold the UFC to an entertainment group in Los Angeles. Dana White will stay on as owner and operator of one of the most successful sports leagues in America. UFC is one of the most popular brands on television and is now international. It prints money. However, that wasn't always the case.

Twenty-three years ago, I watched UFC One in a small one bedroom apartment while finishing up my work on a teaching degree. It was the most fantastic and brutal sport I'd ever seen. There were no weight divisions or rules, or so it seemed. It was Judo versus Jiu Jitsu, versus Boxing. You get the picture. The pay per view buy was incredible, and the sport had an enormous cult-like following.

However the road to four billion dollars, yes that's what the UFC sold for, was not paved with gold. In fact, it was banned in most states and was on the verge of bankruptcy. Dana White talked his friends, the Fertittas into buying the company for 2 million dollars. They went on to lose a cool forty million before finding the magic formula.

What I'll miss about the UFC is the great comeback story that rivals any entrepreneurial success. As the company was looking for anyone to buy it, they threw a Hail Mary that's credited with saving Ultimate Fighting.

As a last gasp effort, the UFC leadership bought time on a fledgling network owned by CBS called Spike TV. At the time, Spike was carrying the WWE Show Raw. The UFC produced its show called The Ultimate Fighter that followed the WWE. The company lost money on the show. However, the final fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar exposed a nation to the sport we know today.

Without the show, the season, and that fight, we wouldn't have witnessed the incredible popularity of the UFC.

Yes, the UFC will continue to grow, but it will miss the commitment of the Frank and Lorenzo. I can't imagine the pressure that they were under while owning the UFC during its dark times.

A tip of the cage to the trio that made a difference. Check out the humble beginnings of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.