Blog post by: Tyler Boughton
I believe the date was November 12th 1993, to be honest I double checked just in case someone fact checked me for accuracy. It was the first UFC event broadcast on T.V (pay-per-view) and if you asked anyone who managed to view it, it was something you had never seen on T.V before that date. Brutal, ground-breaking, and full of potential, but seriously lacking in structure, and stability. (Even now some would argue its sustainability) Most don’t know this about the history of the UFC, but this first event, by all current standards would be considered a flop. Most of the big name “fighters” of this era didn’t partake in the event, the media avoided it, the venue was barely at half capacity, and the winning purse a fraction of what some fighters make today. But you’re not here for a history lesson. However, as with everything it’s humble beginning is something you need to recognize when talking about collectibles and cards, as is the case with most everything.
Since getting into the collectible scene I’ve been amazed at what the card market has evolved into, how they increase in price with various styles (chrome, different parallels, numbered) and UFC is no different. But like every sport, these past few years have seen a real shake-up in its interest, both as a sport, and in the collectibles that people seek. In the earlier years you could go to a fight (if it came to your city) and make an evening of it, maybe pick up a shirt, or a banner, perhaps a poster. Merchandise was plentiful and there was tons of it everywhere. But these days, going to a fight is almost impossible as most take place on an “island”, making it less accessible for the average fan and more likely to attract those with big money.
Now, collectibles, cards, and memorabilia have become the focus, yes, the UFC has cards, just like baseball has for countless years, and all other sports. And to my absolute shock, these too have a significant market. I wouldn’t say in the same range as the longer standing sports like Hockey, Football, and Baseball, yet to say that it’s not worth your interest if you are a collector is a flat out lie.
I happened across a box of some older cards myself recently, and at first glance I passed the majority of them off, even a more knowledgeable collector didn’t seem interested. And much like other sports, it’s the names you hear circulating in the sporting news that you need to pay attention to. Older names are great, but “what’s hot” and “who’s trending” tends to be where the market leads you when it comes to the UFC as the history isn’t as notable as it’s current state. Far bigger budget, and much better fighting, and far more matches and events rather than a handful a year. But it’s a tricky market, the rise and fall of a fighter can be quick, and what can start as a knockout, can quickly become a phantom punch, with little to no force behind it at all.
"Unlike some sports, there’s no “off season” so its appeal is a constant.
But the UFC isn’t going anywhere, it’s found a place in daily sports talk, and fighters train year round. Unlike some sports, there’s no “off season” so its appeal is a constant. Sleeping on this area of card collecting really shouldn’t be something you do. In the box I stumbled across I’ve found gems I didn’t even know about, and I have been a fan of the sport since day one.
I would have never even thought of submitting any of the cards in the box for grading, it was just something I stumbled across, but within a few hours of researching the cards online, I was picking from the pile the best UFC cards I could find (old and new) to prep and to be sent off to KSA for grading and to get these “shards” of the past, present, and future protected for years to come.