According to the book No Holds Barred: Ultimate Fighting and the Martial Arts Revolution by Clyde Gentry, Rorion [Gracie] considered several types of arenas for the original UFC including a floating platform surrounded by alligators. Other things he considered incorporating were barbed wire mesh and electric fencing, so as to play up the no holds barred vale tudo style of the fights. It’s pretty likely that had he gone that route, mixed martial arts wouldn’t still be around today, at least not in America or Japan.
As awesome as it sounds, alligator pits generally don’t work out that well in sports. The last sport to incorporate an alligator pit was Rollergames, which only lasted one totally radical season. I remember watching the show when I was a kid praying to the Lord that someone would fall in, but apparently God doesn’t answer those kinds of prayers. Around the same time I lost my faith … hmmmm…
You can’t help but pine for the days where you could actually consider mixing together barbed wire, wild animals, and no holds barred fighting. Whenever we talk about the WWE doing some MMA, that’s the kind of stuff I’d want from them. But that ship has sailed … maybe back in the wild unregulated days of 1993 you could make two men fight in an electrified ring but now the government has to stick it’s damn nose into everything and ruin our fun.
Of course, I do have to wonder about the veracity of the initial statement. General UFC lore taps Conan director John Milius as the creative mind behind the Octagon. No word on if he gets a cut of the lawsuit money Dana makes suing people over the shape.