I will never forget the first time I watched UFC 1. I was 11 years old and I was at the video store with my mom. I begged her to rent the tape for me. Although she wasn’t too keen on letting me watch it, I pestered her until she caved. When we got home, I ran right to my room and popped it in the VCR. I was hooked.

I watched that tape at least three times before we had to return it the next day. I just couldn’t get enough of this “real fighting” that was unfolding before my eyes. Art Davie’s “Is This Legal: The Inside Story of the First UFC from the Man Who Created It” isn’t the mindless self-promotional piece of literature that you would almost expect from an ad man like Davie. Rather the book is all about the journey of an idea—to determine who really is the world’s best fighter.

This book is a must read for all MMA fans out there. If you are a longtime fan of the sport, this is a revealing story of how that first UFC came about and all the hurdles that Davie had to overcome to see his vision come to fruition. For new MMA fans, it tells the story of how this sport got its start as a spectacle and how it almost didn’t happen.

The most interesting part of the book was the development of the relationship between Davie and Rorion Gracie, one of the UFC’s founders. Davie’s relationship with Gracie grew from first being a student, to helping grow the Gracie’s instructional tape distribution to getting Rorion and the Gracie name on board with his vision of a mixed-style, one-night, full-contact martial arts tournament.

Gracie and Davie became friends through the process, allowing Davie to get an inside look at the first family of MMA. Davie’s retelling of the story gives readers an opportunity to get a feel for the family dynamics of the Gracies, and he even airs out a couple of the family’s little-known secrets.

The star of this book isn’t Davie or Gracie, though. The real star of the book is the idea, the vision for an ultimate proving ground for the best fighters in the world to compete to see whose style really was the best.

From cover to cover, “Is This Legal” is an excellent read for MMA fans, as well as sports fans in general. It is the story of a man who had an idea and a vision, and it tells the tale of the journey he embarked on to see his vision—a vision that launched a new sport—become a reality.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.