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The UFC On Fox: Saying Goodbye To The UFC Gladiator

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The UFC Gladiator has opened more than 100 pay per view telecasts. Now he's a thing of the past. Jonathan Snowden pays tribute to an icon.

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Ten years ago Zuffa revolutionized the mixed martial arts in America. Everything changed. The fights meant something again. Times Square was on the agenda. Instead of Campbell McClaren, the lovely Carmen Electra met the press. The television broadcasts included individual entrance songs for the fighters, pyrotechnics, and the brand new announce team of Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

And, of course, the Gladiator.

You've seen him before every UFC event, donning his armor, assembling his weapons, girding his loins, sanding his hands, and preparing for battle. He seemed an odd choice for a sport distancing itself from charges of "human cockfighting" and, yes, comparisons to Roman excess. But he's been with us now for more than a decade, paired for posterity with Stemme's now iconic "Face the Pain" song.

More than 100 numbered UFC events have opened with our Gladiator friend. His is an act impossible to skip - literally. On DVD many a frustrated fan has tried in vain to skip past him to the main menu. You couldn't avoid him - until now. Part of the UFC's grand deal with Fox is an upgrade in production. Stemme and the Gladiator are out.

"We're gonna change everything, graphics, show openings for pay-per-views and fight nights," Dana White said. "We're going to enhance the look and feel. The gladiator (PPV) opening is going away."

Some UFC fans aren't taking this change lying down. A Facebook site popped up almost immediately:

The UFC has signed with FOX. As a result, they're doing all new graphics and show opens which means, as confirmed by Dana White, the iconic and epic "Gladiator" show open is GONE.

From live events to watching on screen, this show open is part of what pumps people up for these events.

I, for one, will miss the unnamed Gladiator. Like the musclebound living logo that represented King of the Cage, he was a bridge to our past. Yes, he was out of date. Sure, he was a little cheesy. Homoerotic? You betcha! But he represented an era. A simpler time when MMA was ours, when it didn't belong to corporations and decisions were made by a focus group of whoever was in Dana White's office.

I'm sure Fox will come correct with some flying robots and high speed graphical wizardry. And I'm sure it will look amazing. That won't change the small piece of me yearning to see the symbol of our sport. Goodbye my Gladiator friend. Gone too soon.