The UFC is persevering as it always has: by leaning into the chaos

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The final event of the UFC’s 25th anniversary year served as a proper example of how the promotion has made it this far

When it opened for business in 1993 the Ultimate Fighting Championship was designed to disrupt.

Challenging basic conventions about traditional martial arts this is exactly what the UFC did in its opening act, and from that point forward the company has operated at its best approaching the margins where most people would see only chaos and controversy.

On Saturday, the final event of UFC’s 25th anniversary year – UFC 232 – served as a proper example of how the promotion makes the most of the mayhem that has come to define the larger operation.

By writing their own rules, ignoring those rules when they want, and operating with a moral, ethical and practical flexibility that would have killed off less ferocious beasts, the caretakers of the UFC managed to operate inside the eye of a hurricane with the kind of calm and determination that the best fighters exhibit under heavy fire.

Packaging and selling violence brought fights over perception and pushback from powerful political forces that tried but failed to cap the UFC at its knees. Prior to casino owners from Las Vegas and an all-time great fight promoter turning $2m into $6bn, the UFC had to hang tight, get lean and refuse to die.

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