UFC 1 star Art Jimmerson dies aged 60

The former pro boxer fought jiu-jitsu icon Royce Gracie in 1993, heralding the arrival of mixed martial arts

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Friday 10 May 2024 10:18 BST
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Art Jimmerson, who fought at the first ever UFC event, has died at the age of 60.

The UFC announced the news on Thursday (9 May), writing on social media: “Rest in peace to one of the first to ever do it, UFC 1 competitor Art Jimmerson.”

The cause of Jimmerson’s death has not yet been disclosed.

The American fought eventual champion Royce Gracie at the first ever UFC event, on 12 November 1993, losing to the Brazilian in the first round of the one-night tournament.

The event, which preceded modern mixed martial arts, saw competitors from different fighting backgrounds testing their specific skillsets against each other’s.

Jimmerson, a professional boxer and former Golden Gloves champion, fought with a boxing glove on his left hand at UFC 1, while his right hand was uncovered.

The American was submitted by jiu-jitsu icon Gracie in just over two minutes at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado.

Jimmerson was subsequently given the nickname “One Glove”, and he would later make public appearances with the glove on his left hand.

In 2019, Gracie told The Independent of UFC 1: “It was hard to find participants to accept the rules. I remember my brother Rorion and [promoter] Art Davie were going after the No 1 karate guy and asking him to participate. No 1 would decline, they would go after No 2 and so on. For boxing, the same thing.

Jimmerson (left) in action against jiu-jitsu specialist Royce Gracie at UFC 1
Jimmerson (left) in action against jiu-jitsu specialist Royce Gracie at UFC 1 (Getty Images)

“A lot of people did not have faith this was gonna go through. It’s illegal to fight on the streets. ‘How are you gonna put this on national TV?’ Everybody was debating about that. The night before, when they did the draw out of the hat for who was fighting who, that’s when people started to realise: ‘Oh s***, this thing’s gonna happen! We’re gonna get in a fight tomorrow. What are the rules?’

“There were no rules. ‘Do I need boxing gloves?’ Nope. ‘Do I need shin pads?’ Nope. ‘Everything goes?’ Yep. ‘But what if I kick him in the nuts?’ It’s okay. The only rules were no eye-gouging and no biting, so it was very simple.”

After submitting Jimmerson, Gracie submitted Ken Shamrock and Gerard Gordeau to win UFC 1.

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