It’s spreading all over the country like the flu, and later this week, it’ll cause people to fake being sick just so they can get out of work for two days.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, ready or not, here it comes!
It’s time for the NCAA Division-I Men’s Basketball Tournament, known alliteratively as March Madness.
Most people consider the tournament to be the best days of the entire year on the sports calendar, as do I.
While checking on the status of your bracket or brackets is only part of what makes the next few weeks arresting television and/or streaming video (if, of course, you’re unfortunately stuck at the office this Thursday and Friday), tournament formats are old hat for mixed martial arts.
Our trek begins in November of 1993 at UFC 1 in Denver.
The initial Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view, which was later released for home viewing on VHS cassette (remember those?) consisted of a night-long tournament with an eight-contender field.
Royce Gracie was the tournament champion that night and won $50,000. The pay-per-view telecast of the card had a buyrate of 86,000 viewers.
For UFC 2 six months later, again in Denver, the field was doubled to 16 competitors for the tournament, again won by Royce Gracie. Subsequent UFC tournaments reverted back to an eight-contender bracket.
The earliest UFC events used a tournament format, with UFC 6 and UFC 9 being the first events not to conduct a tournament.
In the late 1990’s, UFC conducted cards with four-contender tournaments, with the tournament format ending in 1999’s UFC 23.
Bellator MMA launched a decade ago and in its earliest years, conducted year-long tournaments in various weight classes. It wasn’t until 2015 that the promotion held traditional monthly cards.
For a tournament format in current MMA, one need look no further than the Professional Fighters’ League in its current format: Six weight classes, each with a regular season where fights are contested for points.
After the regular season, eight fighters from each division advance to the playoffs, with two-round quarterfinals and three-round semifinals during the same card, culminating in title fights on New Year’s Eve.
Finally, in less than two months, INVICTA FC will bring the tournament format to women’s MMA with the Phoenix Rising tournament.
If you missed the launch promo earlier this month, take a look:
Are you READY!? For the first time in Invicta history, we are launching a one-night, eight-woman tournament this May 3rd streaming live and exclusively on @UFCFightPass! #PhoenixRising pic.twitter.com/j5lGPWxQMg
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) March 3, 2019
Best of luck to you if you’re filling out a bracket.
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