A boxing match can last up to 12 rounds. A UFC fight might be over in 12 seconds. All it takes is a powerful punch, swift kick, or strong submission hold. It’s drama incarnate. That is what makes mixed martial arts the pinnacle of the fighting world, and the UFC stands atop the mountain alone. In fact, MMA and UFC have become synonymous in many respects, thanks to the marketing genius of company president Dana White, the trademarking of the “Octagon,” and the breadth of talent the promotion has attracted (and elevated)—including Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell, Ronda Rousey, Jon Jones, Conor McGregor, and countless others.
To celebrate UFC’s tremendous run and its 25th anniversary, the company is embarking on one of the most ambitious projects that any professional sports league has ever undertaken: UFC 25 Years in Short. The 25-part documentary series chronicles the company’s history through 25 different short films—one dedicated to each year of its existence—and is produced by a star-studded roster of ESPN 30 for 30 veteran filmmakers.
The docs will cover some of the biggest milestones in UFC history, such as its humble beginnings in 1993 when it pit masters of various martial arts disciplines against one another in combat. UFC 1 was so successful that it effectively birthed the sport of mixed martial arts. The docu-series will also track the rise and promotional brilliance of Dana White, who packaged the sport around its personalities through The Ultimate Fighter reality series. Of course, UFC 25 Years in Short will also highlight the fighters that helped turn the UFC from a niche sport into a behemoth worth billions that is continuing to grow.
The first installment of the series entitled “OCTO,” which dropped in mid-September, details the birth of the eight-sided cage (i.e. the Octagon). Since then, episodes have released every week exclusively on UFC Fight Pass (the company’s streaming service that offers a free trial), and will continue to release through the month of November.
Out now is “COUNTRY BOY CAN SURVIVE: The Story of Matt Hughes’ Fight for Survival,’” one of the more inspiring episodes in the series. It profiles Hughes, a former two-time UFC Welterweight Champion and UFC Hall of Famer, and the greatest fight of his life: recovering (miraculously) from a deadly head injury after his truck was hit by a train in June of 2017.
Dana White himself describes UFC 25 Years in Short as “a fun way to tell the history of UFC,” promising that “each one of these films is linked to a pivotal moment in the UFC timeline.” His description couldn’t be more appropriate, as the history of the UFC can only be told through moments—the knockouts, the upsets, the split-second decisions, and the remarkable comeback and come-up stories outside of the Octagon. A must-see series for UFC fans of the past, present, and future, you can watch the first full episode of UFC 25 Years in Short “OCTO” above.