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XARM – What the %$##? (An Interview with Art Davie)

I listened.

I already knew the punch line but wanted to hear someone else describe it so I could jump in at the end and pound the table with my fist along with everyone else who was hearing about it for the first time.

Image of a Punch setup from


“It’s called XARM and basically you lock into an arm wrestle and then all hell breaks loose with kicks, punches and just two guys tied together kicking the crap out of each other.”


Everyone around the table at the local MMA gym waits for the first sign that this is real and then the comments begin as the voices elevate and everyone starts to act it out.

“Can you believe it? I mean, think about the destruction two talented, powerful guys would lay on each other” the one MMA vet says while reaching across the table with one hand pulling on my shirt.

Say what you want about XARM but give Art Davie credit– he has us talking again about the possibilities of something that sounds off the wall.

Image of art davie from Who is Art Davie? Any MMA history buff would know that Art co-promoted the very first UFC tournament. Numero Uno. It was 1991 and Art was given the task of researching what was at the time an underground sport called mixed martial arts. He met none other than Rorian Gracie and in less than a year’s time they put together the “War of the Worlds” or the Ultimate Fighting Championship as we now know it today. Davie didn’t stop at UFC just for you trivia nuts out there – he brought K-1 from Japan to North American pay-per-view audiences as well.

At we can’t just hear about something as creative as XARM and leave it untouched for our audience. So we sat down with none other than Art Davie himself for a one-on-one interview about XARM as well as his views on MMA and the UFC today.

MMAT: With the explosion of the UFC and MMA over the last number of years, are you proud of what it has become or are you disappointed about the road they have taken?

AD: I’m proud that UFC® has gotten more mainstream acceptance for the sport. I’m concerned that they may be following the WWE business model a little too closely.

MMAT: How did the idea of the XARM Fighting League Come about?

AD: Piranha Entertainment and Ripe-TV were looking for a new sports entertainment franchise. Executives at Ripe knew and recommended me. Out of our meetings, XARM was born.

MMAT: How does someone become a competitor in XARM?

AD: Tedd Williams of Gladiator Challenge and I review applications from athletes in kickboxing, arm wrestling and MMA. Both of us know managers from California to Maine.

MMAT: You mention in your blog that the “real technique in MMA is gone.” Some would agree with you. What do you say to those who see XARM as two one armed bar room brawlers with far less skill than your average UFC fighter?

AD: Every combat “sport” works within parameters designed into the sport (10oz. gloves and a 20 foot ring in boxing; 5oz. gloves and a cage or ring in MMA etc.) XARM is a “close-in” combat sport, and has its own parameters and dynamic. In the early years of the UFC traditional martial artists criticized the event, saying it was just two men locked into a cage for the purposes of a brawl. I think XARM is getting the same type of criticism today. Any new road alienates those who know the older road. XARM, since we began last summer, has already begun to evolve. The athletes, themselves, are changing it. Two years from now it will look a lot different than it does now as the fighters adapt to the table and bring new styles and strategies to the game. This is what happened in the transition from NHB to MMA too!

Image of a leg tangle from


MMAT: What do you say to those people who suggest that XARM is actually more violent than MMA since you are only able to defend yourself with one hand?

AD: The same thing I said to traditionalists back in the day at the UFC, “If it’s not for you, you don’t have to watch it.” I could also say it’s safer since you only have to face one hand and two feet in each round!

MMAT: What are the future plans with XARM? Are you planning to get it onto television?

AD: XARM is represented by The William Morris Agency in Beverly Hills, California. They see a transition to cable TV in our future. We plan to host at least six live events in 2009 and have applied for sanctioning in California; with plans to submit applications for sanctioning in four other states.

MMAT: Would you ever consider getting back into Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC?

AD: Right now all I’m considering is how to grow XARM. That will take all my time and energy, but you never know what the tide brings in, as the Tom Hanks character says in film, “Castaway”.

MMAT: Where do you see XARM in a year from now? 5 years from now? Do you ever foresee it taking over MMA?

AD: XARM will be in the early stages of growth in the next year as, worldwide (remember the Internet was in its infancy in the early days of the UFC) our audience finds us. Five years from today I see us with a footprint in North America and Asia with the first inroads being made into Europe. I see XARM taking its place alongside boxing and MMA as a sport that appeals to young men and women worldwide.

  • Dunce says:

    I don’t know much about who Art Davie is, but this sport is laugh out loud hilarious and pretty bad.

    It’s not really a martial art. It’s more of a bar room arm wrestling tourney, with neon suits.

  • Don P says:

    Ahhhh, somebody tries to make a franchise out of almost nothing.
    XFL – haha – where are they now ?
    USFL – haha – where are they now ?
    WBF by Vince Mcmahon with bodybuilders – haha – where is it now ?
    XARM is a HORRENDOUS IDEA. Your going into direct combat sports competition with the MMA/UFC, WWE and PRO BOXING.

    This has a snowballs chance in hell of ever getting a fan base and true recognition. haha – in a year from now, XARM what ? Is that a deodorant ??? Stupid Concept. Failed.

  • Joel L says:

    Art Davie should be respected for what he helped bring to the fans. The first ever UFC.

  • Big Jake says:

    He didn’t build the ufc into what it is today, idiots like him are the reason we went through the dark ages and almost didn’t survive. You can acredit white and the fertittas with our success. Its embarassing for me as an amateur mma athlete to see stupid crap like this, with that being said, i think gary goodridge finally found his niche, this fits him to a t.

  • Ricco says:

    Art Davie did a lot of good things for MMA. He pretty much brought it into existence.

    That is saying alot. He should get more respect in the MMA community. He built this thing to what it is today.

  • Bill R says:

    Man.. watching this compared to MMA is really hard..

    It’s almost like watching Rio Heros.. but at least that had real fighting.


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