Before the UFC was a multi-billion dollar entertainment conglomerate, before the million dollar contracts and pay-per-view revenue splits, mixed martial arts was not a particularly glamorous industry. Enter Don Frye.
He was a man’s man. The kind of guy who could get a girl pregnant just by looking at her. A fireman by training, he was one of MMA’s earliest well-rounded fighters. His bouts are the stuff of legend.
His fight against Yoshihiro Takayama is one of the most epic slugfests in MMA history. Forget technique and game plans, it was pure primal combat. Just dudes punching each other in the face until a a champion was crowned.
It was all-out war for six minutes, with Frye emerging as the victor halfway through the first round after the ref decided that Takayama had had enough. His ability to take a beating is incredible! I’ve never seen someone eat so many punches without being staggered. You could fly a cruise missile into his chin and he wouldn’t go down. Check out full highlights from the fight:
The fight was organized by the now-defunct Pride Fighting Championships, which operated between 1997 and 2007 before being acquired by Zuffa, the then-parent company of UFC.
When Zuffa (the Italian word for “fight”) bought Pride, the plan was for the Pride and UFC to exist alongside one another. That didn’t end up happening, and Pride essentially got absorbed by the UFC.
Zuffa was purchased in 2016 by entertainment conglomerate WME-IMG for $4 billion dollars, making the Fertitta brothers (casino moguls who owned 81% of the company) and Dana White (9% stake) very rich men in the process.
Now under the umbrella of the world’s largest talent organization, the UFC is poised to soar to new heights in 2017 and beyond. But none of that would have been possible without the blood, sweat, and tears of men like Don Frye.