ByJustin Golightly, writer at Creators.co
Design wizard. MMA mathematician. Lifelong martial artiste. Justin Golightly is a lover of the fighting sports and writes for Middle Easy.
Justin Golightly

On September 9, 1994, MMA was still the wild west.

There were no rounds. No weight limits. No time on the clock, and no judges to leave a decision with.

The third installment of the Ultimate Fighting Championship followed the original eight-man tournament format; a format that wouldn't end until UFC 9, but was then immediately brought back for UFC 10 due to fan demand.

The reason for the UFC's creation was to identify the best martial artists in a fighting environment that was as close as possible to the street. Co-founder Rorion Gracie had a bit of an ulterior motive though: to prove to the world that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu specifically was the most most effective martial art in the world.

Out of an entire family of experts—including a veritable grappling deity in the form of Rickson Gracie—they picked the unassuming Royce.

Royce Grace becoming the very first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament winner.
Royce Grace becoming the very first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament winner.

In the last two tournaments, Gracie submitted all challengers to become the champion both times. This time seemed to be no different.

Just shy of a welterweight, Gracie went to war with a Hawaiian beast named Kimo Leopoldo, who weighed approximately 250 lbs. at the time. It couldn't have worked out better for the Gracie family's mission statement. To a layman, Leopoldo looked like the guy who'd smash absolutely anyone. What could this puny man do, even if he did submit all those other guys? Surely his tricks wouldn't work on this scary dude?

The original Ultimate Fighting Championship 3 home video.
The original Ultimate Fighting Championship 3 home video.

However, Gracie's tricks did work. After a back-and-forth brawl, he submitted the tribal-tatted titan. Following the fight, Gracie was so exhausted that he wasn't be able to continue in the tournament, but it didn't matter. For the third time, Royce Gracie flipped our presuppositions of how fights work upside down and destroyed our tough man worldview.

This was the beginning of Jiu-Jitsu taking over the Earth.

Watch the entire fight between Royce Gracie and Kimo Leopoldo courtesy of the UFC below.