ESPN’s ’30 for 30′ podcast about UFC 1 makes an old story feel new
It sounds like a tale you already know, or at least think you know: the origin story of the UFC. And chances are you have heard it before, in several different ways and from a variety of sources, but maybe never quite like this.
As much as I enjoy the ESPN “30 for 30” series, I can’t say I had high expectations for the podcast episode “No Rules – The Birth of the UFC.” It just felt like subject matter I was already too familiar with, plus the old-school hardcore fan in me always feels like the more mainstream the media outlet, the more likely they are to screw up something important when it comes to MMA and its history.
I was very pleased to find out how wrong I was this time.
The podcast, produced by Chris Berube of Pineapple Street Media, does an impressive job of telling the story of the UFC’s inception and its first event in a way that feels detailed and comprehensive, but also novel.
Part of it is the medium itself. You’ve probably read stories about the creation of the UFC. Maybe you’ve seen a TV special about UFC 1. But the podcast form gives you this story in a way that’s part vibrant oral history and part historical examination.
When Art Davies talks, you get a sense of his fast-talking huckster charm. And when it’s Rorion Gracie, you want to chuckle slowly at the madness of it all right along with him.
Then there’s sumo wrestler Teila Tuli telling the story of how he saved the event from coming apart at the seams during the pre-fight rules meeting. And if you don’t want to hear about Gerard Gordeau sitting around backstage before the fights started, smoking cigarettes and staring people down, well, I just don’t know what to tell you.
Of course, this podcast also includes some familiar characters being exactly who we expect them to be. For instance, are the Gracies going to continue glorifying their brand of jiu-jitsu at every opportunity? Definitely. And is Ken Shamrock still complaining that he would have won if he’d been allowed to wear shoes? You bet he is.
But in all, this manages to be a thorough, engaging look at the inception of a phenomenon that gave way to a sport. No matter how many times you think you’ve heard this story, this podcast will make you feel like you haven’t heard it all.
That’s not easy to do, and it’s worth an hour of your time to enjoy and appreciate it.
This story ESPN’s ’30 for 30′ podcast about UFC 1 makes an old story feel new first appeared on MMA Junkie.