The origin of the octagon

It´s almost a tradition at the beginning of of every week which precedes UFC, Dana White decrees in his social media “Fiiiiiiight weeeek !!!! “, really this way with many letters and sometimes capital letters, like is was a child barely containing his excitement. On the same day staffs and other UFC employees goes to various parts of the world to organize this spectacular scenario. In few days to octagon is mounted and ready to receive the gladiators of the new millennium – to paraphrase Galvão Bueno. After the event it is dismounted as fast as it is mounted. A few minutes after Ryan Bader´s victory over Minotouro in São Paulo workers hurried to dismount and store everything, the process lasted until the early morning. The next week UFC will go to Melbourne, Australia, on the other side of the globe.

Measuring 32 meters in diameter, 6 meters high and 750 square meters, the octagon was created with the safety of the fighters in mind. Well, at least that is what they said officialy, but the true story of how this happened, the scenario of epic battles is inconclusive. As fast as he is mounted in the arenas of the World he was created, leaving the paper weeks before UFC 1 in 1993.

6-1“As for our fighting area, Rorion did have strong opinions. Repeatedly he had told me that he didn’t care what we used, as long as it wasn’t a boxing ring. Rorion had fought in them personally, and had seen them used in vale tudo fights in Brazil, including with his dad and his brother Rickson. In Rorion’s opinion, they just didn’t work when grappling was involved. And it was without question that grappling would be involved as far as Royce was concerned. Rorion felt that a boxing ring allowed a grounded fighter to slide under the ring ropes for a quick exit, or tie himself up in the ropes to avoid being taken down. I didn’t really care how this would affect Royce, but I did care about the flow of the fights.” said Art Davie, co-founder of UFC. Even students from the famous Gracie Academy give their ideias about the ideal scenario: “Rorion and I had already spread word around the Gracie Academy that any ideas were welcome—no matter how unrealistic or outrageous. One of Rorion’s students proposed something he called “the Cage of Death.” It featured a mesh enclosure suspended from the ceiling, which would be dramatically lowered from the rafters to surround the fighting mat, and then locked into place. I thought this was pretty cool, and incredibly theatrical. The guy gave me his notes and a sketch. Seeing it on paper, I liked the Cage of Death even more. But it would require a lot of precise coordination and solid engineering that I wasn’t sure we could accomplish.” said Mr. Davie.

The only consensus of all while creating the Octagon is that, in fact, Art Director: Jason Cusson fabricated the scenario. Cusson says his inspiration for the Octagon was the Chuck Norris movie. “Harrison – Greg Harrison, designer – and I worked together … and I said, ‘How about an octagon? There’s this Chuck Norris martial arts movie coming out … ‘It was that simple. Greg was the one who designed it but the idea came from me.” The only consensus of everybody, in creating the Octagon is that, in fact, Art Director: Jason Cusson manufactured the scenario. Cussin said the inspiration for the octagon came from the homonymous film from Chuck Norris. “Harrison – Greg Harrison, designer – and I worked together (…) and I said, ‘How about an octagon? There’s this Chuck Norris movie, martial arts coming out… ‘It was that simple. Greg was the one who designed it but the idea came from me. ” Cusson boasts.

Art Davie was influenced by filmmaker John Milius (known for his film Conan The Barbarian), had a more fertile imagination or could see what the octagon will be like cinematographic, something never seen before. One of his ideas which became to a sketch was a circular mat that would be surrounded by electrified panels that would give a slight shock, according to Mr. Davie this would make the fighter give up from running away from the fight. His other idea not much less bizarre was a mat surrounded by a moat with sharks and piranhas. Again a good initiative for both fighters.

8-1In 1993, posters which circulating in magazines and even gyms said that fighters compete on a stage projected by famous director John Milius. For SEG producer (pioneer of PVV events and a partner of UFC) Michael Pilot, Davie consulted Milius but his ideas were not possible. On his side of the story – and the most accepted – Pilot, said that he match Greg Harisson weeks before the event in an MTV awards (both worked together with Will Smitt) and trusted his project. “The main problem I encountered was creating something that was good for all martial arts and TV. It needed to contain the fighters, protect the camera operators. Pillot told me that he would have different types of athletes, including Sumo wrestlers. So I made a couple of designers. It’s interesting that all the people who claim to have designed the Octagon are not designers, yet they claim to have created the octagonal design. ” reveals Mr. Harrison.

The design was finalized and approved by SEG, the project was taken to Mr. Cusson, who had the task to produce it. He finished in two weeks using wood planks for structure. “We had a big place in downtown Los Angeles, we set up and dismantled everything in parts so it would be easier to get it together again, “says Mr. Cusson. The plataform was completely wide and painted by a freelance artist. All of this was take to Denver, Colorado to be examined by Mr. Pilot and SEG.

Thus, the first format of the octagonal cage was built and mounted at the McNichols Sports Arena in November of 1993 for the historical UFC 1. “The place where the combat would be was unpacked and then mounted on the floor of the arena that same morning. The adjustments were still being made and when I first saw him, I was really speechless. As good as the sketch done by Harrison, I felt that this incredible combination of art and modern architecture was even more impressive live. A nine-meter octagonal wrapped in gray upholstery, the metal-screen covered in black plastic, the white canvas with our prominent logo in the center – all matching to achieve a balance between the primitive and the futuristic.” says Mr. Davie.

Regardless of who was responsible for the creation of the octagon, it was patented in 1997 by UFC. It revolutionized the world of martial arts. The angles prevent the fighters from getting stuck in a corner with no way out. In the octagon no martial arts discipline has a advantage. The spectator has a perfect vision like was watching on the TV.

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