The very first color commentator of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Jim Brown, has
died at the age of 87.
Associated Press first reported of Brown’s passing on Friday,
stating that the football great “passed away peacefully” in his
home in Los Angeles on Thursday night, with wife, Monique, at his
bedside. While known for a litany of accolades over his storied
lifetime, Brown made his appearance as the first color commentary
on a UFC broadcast, sitting along with play-by-play caller Bill
Wallace and fellow commentator and martial artist Kathy Long at UFC
1 in 1993.
Brown sat cageside for the first six UFC cards, accounting for the
entire early era of Royce Gracie winning UFCs 1, 2 and 4. The
football star spoke highly of the combatants, at the time generally
specialists in one particular martial art.
“Bill, I’ve been around the toughest fighters in the world:
Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson,” Brown stated at UFC 1.
“I’ve been around the greatest NFL players, the tough guys, Dick
Butkus, Sam Huff, all of those guys. But I’ll tell you, they could
not last in this ring.”
Brown had a reputation for being one of the toughest players on the
field, playing as a running back for the Cleveland Browns while
racking up a tremendous amount of achievements. The 1957 NFL Rookie
of the Year winner went on to earn nine Pro Bowl assignments,
accounting for every year of his career, and he helped the Browns
win the Super Bowl in 1964. Along the way, Brown led the NFL in
rushing yards for eight of his nine years active. Despite all he
had done in sports, Brown knew that this type of combat was a
different beast entirely.
“Would I do it, you mean when I was in my prime,” Brown answered
when asked if he would fight by Wallace at UFC 1. “You’re doggone
right I wouldn’t do it. Not a chance.”
Brown continued, “These guys are experts in what they do, they
trained for years, they’re champions. They know things that nobody
After retiring from the NFL in 1965, Brown embarked on a career in
cinema, where he was cast in films including “The Dirty Dozen,”
“Riot” and “Black Gunn,” among many others. Of note, Brown was also
a minor villain role in cult classic Arnold Schwarzenegger film
“The Running Man,” playing the character of “Fireball” wearing a
jetpack and carrying a flamethrower.
The football legend worked hard after retiring to fight for the
rights of Black Americans, founding the organization Amer-I-Can to
help out young people and former convicts. He also worked alongside
athletes like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ali and many others to stage the
Cleveland Summit in 1967, regarding the Vietnam War and Ali’s
decision not to join the military. He is also considered to have
been the first Black color commentator for a televised boxing
broadcast, doing so in 1965 for the heavyweight championship match
between Ernie Terrell and George Chuvalo.
Original UFC Commentator, Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown Dead at 87