by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It’s simple mathematics to say that there would be no UFC 100 without a UFC 1.
In celebration of the promotion’s milestone event, MMAWeekly.com decided to go back to the beginning with someone who was there at the start, and can also add a uniquely feminine view of the proceedings, UFC 1 commentator Kathy Long.
Long, a five-time world kickboxing champion and former pro boxer, achieved a level of mainstream breakthrough success in the early 90′s, making her an obvious choice for a new fighting event eager for exposure.
“Someone called wanting to know if I wanted to color commentate this event, they were calling it the Ultimate Fighting Championship,” said Long. “At the time I was just retiring, so it was an opportunity to get behind the scenes instead of being in the fight, so I thought, ‘What the heck?’”
When asked if she had any idea of what the event was going to be prior to it actually happening, Long replied, “No, we really had no clue. That seemed to be the theme throughout the entire evening; no one had a clue.
“It certainly made for an exciting event, though.”
Long expanded on the notion that uncertainty was not only a concept for the action within the cage itself, but also behind the scenes as well.
“The massive confusion in the rules meeting and in the dressing rooms was very apparent,” she commented. “There was a strong debate on whether or not to use gloves, boxing gloves, no gloves or hand-wraps only.
“No one quite knew what should be done, could be done, and there was quite a bit of confusion in that rule meeting. The event went off, and I think people were really excited with what went on, but confused at the same time.”
The thing that most sticks out in Long’s mind was not so much about the evening’s outcome, but more so something that happened while cage side.
“A tooth flying by me was probably one of the most memorable moments,” she recalled. “I don’t know who got hit, but they got hit pretty squarely in the face and his tooth literally flew right past me.”
Having watched the evolution of the UFC from spectacle to sport, Long is most impressed by the athletes themselves during the transition.
“I watched it grow and become something really complex, but amazing to watch,” she said. “As the fighters got better and learned more, and brought that into the art and evolved as it did; the amount of knowledge a fighter has to have to do well and compete in it is astounding, really.”
Shifting focus from the UFC, to the female side of the sport, Long was asked about the fact that for the first time in MMA history, a female MMA title fight would be headlining a major event when Gina Carano and Cris “Cyborg” Santos meet for a Strikeforce title on Aug. 15.
“As a woman, and an athlete, I’m incredibly grateful, especially to see it in my lifetime,” she responded. “I have been the main on an all-male card out in France, but to see it now, especially on major television, I feel is finally about time.
“Thanks to Strikeforce, and other organizations like them, it looks like we’ll finally have our day; and it looks like (that day is) Aug. 15 on Showtime.”
Having conquered the ring as both a kickboxer and boxer, Long herself has made the transition to MMA, and on the same evening Carano and Santos make history, Long will be starting the next chapter of her fighting career at the Call to Arms II event.
“I’m very humbled with the thought of competing in this very complex and at times complicated sport,” she stated. “I really hope I do well in it. I know there’s a lot I have to learn, but I’m excited and I’m ready.
“If I can be a good representative, if I can get back into the limelight – especially in the media – and fight well, it’s only going to help women all the way around and the sport all around. I hope I can do it justice.”