UFC Hall of Fame: Marc Ratner’s journey in mixed martial arts

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A seminal boxing bout took place in November 1993 in Las Vegas. Undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe met Evander Holyfield in a rematch the previous November, the second act in a gripping heavyweight trilogy. Outdoors at Caesars Palace, building this Clash of the Titans is one of the best moments in boxing.

Unexpectedly, the fight suddenly came to a halt in the seventh round when James “Fan Man” Miller parachuted into the ring, causing the bout to be delayed by 21 minutes. It was then that Marc Ratner, who was the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, kicked in and sprinted towards the timekeeper.

“There was nothing in the rulebook that explained what to do when someone stole in the ring,” says Ratner. “So I knew I had to go straight to the timekeeper and ask him how much time was left when the fight was paused.”

A seasoned referee from decades of officiating in high school and college sports, Ratner showed poise under pressure during the chaos that followed Riddick-Holyfield. And it’s the same poise and attention to detail he brought to the UFC career, which began 15 years ago when he was hired as vice president of business. regulations by former CEO Lorenzo Fertitta.

“Marc is that calm behind the storm,” says Fertitta. “I don’t know if we could have developed the sport like we did without him on the regulatory side. He’s been doing it all in the background, doing an amazing job while providing that calm feeling, and he continues to exceed expectations. “

Ratner is expected to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on Thursday. That’s quite a feat, especially since he’s already a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. His defining moment in the UFC came five years ago when New York City legalized mixed martial arts, forever changing the landscape of sports in the United States.

“When the vote was finally passed, after all these battles, it was emotional,” Ratner said. “It had all been so unfair. It was a political battle that had nothing to do with sport. And I will always remember our first fight at Madison Square Garden.

Unbeknownst to him, Ratner’s professional career took him on a direct journey to the Octagon. All of the controversies and arguments he has resolved over the years in boxing have helped him develop skills that fit right into MMA.

“This guy is a fucking legend,” said UFC president Dana White. “He also showed another side of mixed martial arts, and he did it at a time when people weren’t listening or thought they had already made up their minds about the sport.

“I’ve been in this business since I was 19. Everyone hates everyone. It’s like that. But not Ratner. Everyone loves Ratner. He is humble; he’s a great human being. He is a huge asset to the UFC, as well as to combat sports as a whole.

Proud father and grandfather, Ratner notes the irony that he played a role in combat sports.

“I was definitely never a fighter,” Ratner says. “I’m the most nonviolent guy in all of the UFC.”

Even his humble nature cannot obscure the importance of this achievement. Ever since Fertitta persuaded him to come aboard in 2006, accepting a three-year contract (which Ratner jokes, renews in perpetuity), he has been relentless and determined to fight for the UFC. The sport has grown considerably over the past two decades and Ratner has played a key role in its role as regulator.

Fertitta recalls that when they were expanding the UFC, it was Ratner who contributed to their success. “Marc has made a significant contribution to help build this sport, and that is part of his legacy,” said Fertitta. “He criticizes the judges, holds meetings with officials, points out areas that are missing and has done the same on the health and safety side. All of this was vital for us as a young company looking to grow, especially as it shared this with regulators and lawmakers around the world. “

Thursday’s Hall of Fame ceremony will take place in Las Vegas, particularly suited to Ratner. While his work with the UFC was the centerpiece of his distinguished career, an even more meaningful moment came in Vegas when he met his wife, Jody.

After moving to Vegas in 1957, Ratner worked with his father in the beauty and barber supplies business. They opened a store in Vegas – Ace High Beauty Supply – and Ratner traveled to sell supplies. Fate intervened in 82, when he fell in love with a receptionist at one of the beauty salons. They got married in 86.

“She’s the one I thank,” Ratner said. “Without it, none of this happens. “

Vegas is now where Ratner will forever be a part of UFC history. He stands alongside all the legends in the sport, playing a leading role in the growth and continued success of the UFC.

“I’ve always thought Hall of Fame should be about fighters, but I’m honored,” Ratner says. “I’m so proud to have been on the ground floor of the UFC and to be able to play a part in its success.

“Besides getting married and having children, it was the best decision of my career. I love coming to work and I love being a part of it.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Justinbarrasso.

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