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UFC: The Vintage Years

By Robin Postell

This is a long time coming.

Starting out as a freelancer, I was shooting for a story that would get me beyond regional publications in Georgia and into a national market. As I racked up clips in The Athens Banner-Herald, the newspaper where I lived in Athens, Georgia, and in several other magazines, I was longing to get my first gig writing for a broader audience.

Then it happened.

For a girl who was the last one picked for dodge ball in elementary school, who never attended school sporting events, not even UGA football games, the fact that I would enter the national field of journalism covering the next big sporting event was a real anomaly.

But my best friend, Anna-Marie’ Carter, told me her brother Frank had something he wanted me to see. We were home visiting from Athens for the weekend. He was persistent, saying we had to come by and watch this video he had. I was skeptical.

We dropped by his apartment in the upstairs of his father’s law firm on Parrish Avenue in Adel, Georgia.

You know, you always remember where you were when something important happens in your life.

Well, in this case, that’s where I first was introduced to what no one really knew anything about, the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Frank had UFC III on VHS tape. He and his friends had ordered it on pay-per-view and recorded it.

I couldn’t believe the instant guttural reaction I had to watching it.

Me. I was riveted.

Never in a million years would I have expected to have such a reaction towards anything remotely sports-related. That’s almost embarrassing to admit, actually. The book worm in me was sworn to uphold my intellectual superiority and defy such bread and circus event. I was an avid runner, bike rider, and gym rat, but my “sports” were loner acts.

Oddly, Frank must have somehow known this was going to resonate with me.

I’m sure I might have even howled that night while watching Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock. They were characters I could relate to. The fights were challenges to which I could relate.

They were metaphors for something that raged inside of me, a deeply-seeded rage that had been sown throughout my entire life. The emotional childhood with a larger-than-life investigative journalist father, and teen angst that sprung from being the child of divorcing parents, had pinched a psychic nerve that the UFC somehow loosened.

I had to be part of it...

The next day I had contacted the public relations group out of New York handling the next event, which would be held in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Just like that, I was in.

And an editor at Black Belt Magazine caught my pitch.

Finally, I had my national hook.

The whole world burned bright and hard inside me in a new way that was intoxicating. Magical. I remember vividly riding my bike to the UGA track for a run, then sitting down on the grass on the outfield to stretch, marveling at what good fortune had opened up for me.

I looked down into the grass and my eyes fixed on a four-leaf clover. My heart leaped out of me. The magic blazed brighter and higher.

And I found two more, right there.

I was so excited I almost couldn’t contain myself. Shivers coursed over my entire sweaty body. Somehow I managed to hold them in one hand and pedaled back the couple of miles to the house I shared on Briarcliff Road with my friend Anna-Marie’.

Running inside, I gently place them on my desk and studied them incredulously. Yes, they were definitely four-leaf clovers, something I had always heard about and didn’t even know if they actually existed.

In a spiritually-spiked kind of frenzy, I went outside in my front yard and sat down on the grass, deciding to look for more.

And at the risk of sounding like I’m fabricating this whole story, I will tell you what happened next.

I found two more!

At certain points in my life I have experienced serendipitous moments, and this was in the top one percent.

I found a tiny box I’d bought at a hippie store in downtown Athens and put them in there and still have them. All these years, I’ve always kept them right underneath my computer monitor.

Which is right where they are, right now.

See?

This is the box I’ve kept the five four leaf clovers I found that day before attending my first UFC
Barely recognizable now, these five four leaf clovers have always been right by my computer ever since I found them
This is where I keep my four leaf clovers, right under my computer monitor, seen tonight as I work on this UFC page

This will be an evolving page, a scrapbook of sorts. There are so many relics from this era, which haven’t been forgotten by time. Though the sport has grown and evolved, the diehard fans are still interested in its origins.

For those of us who were there at the beginning, this will be a little bit of a reunion site.

Those who visit, I hope you enjoy it. I’m finally going to figure out what to do with all the stuff I’ve been lugging around with me since my first North Carolina UFC many years ago.

At my first UFC I was relegated to the press area behind the velvet ropes, but that didn’t last.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has lived up to what we who were around for the first days of its inception knew it would. To be there for the first fights was to be part of the Woodstock of fighting. Clearly it was going to be a huge new fighting industry.

However, there were politicians trying to stomp it out, including the late Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who also happened to be a member of the Boxing Commission.

I began covering the UFC in its fifth installment, held in Charlotte, North Carolina. It would be the last UFC that the Gracies had a hand in, which was a drag since it had been Royce Gracie and his opponent Ken Shamrock who drew me into it and drove me to cover it.

Though I stopped covering it shortly prior to Dana White purchasing it from Bob Meyrowitz, for a paltry $3 million, the body of work I developed will always be a big part of my writing history.

On this page, I will be adding all my articles from the body of work I built with lots of photos, facts, stories and behind-the-scenes information/interviews.

Oleg Taktarov made his debut at UFC V, pictured here during the pre-fight press conference in Charlotte, NC
This photo was taken at UFC V’s after-fight cocktail party, which I attended with my friend Anna-Marie’ Carter (left). Ron Van Clief, color commentator and fighter, was instrumental in getting me “in the door” during those first days
UFC V was the last event that the Gracies participated in; pictured above right is Rorion Gracie

That’s it for tonight. Just a little taste. There are so many stories I’m eager to share with you – some I probably won’t ever be able to divulge to the public (but wish I could!).

Remember this electrifying sport was sparked by a small group of people who believed in an idea, who came together and brainstormed to life a fighting/entertainment industry that has taken over the world.

Just like we all knew it would.

Until next time,

R

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