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October 22, 2014

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Ratner recalls his brief fighting career

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Marc Ratner, showing off his vaunted right hand.

Marc Ratner’s fighting career didn’t last long. He went 0-1, that loss by knockout.

A one-punch TKO, actually.

“I remember it well. I was 11 or 12 years old,” the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s vice president and former executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission said earlier this afternoon, about 90 minutes before the UFC light-heavyweight bout between Anderson Silva and James Irvin at the Pearl Theater at the Palms. “I was at one of my friend’s house. I was teasing his younger brother, and he just hauled off and hit me. It was in So-Cal, where I was growing up, in Pomona and yeah … he just hit me right in the face, my lip bled and that was it.”

Ratner spent more than 20 years with the Nevada state commission and served as its executive director from 1992-2006, when he was lured from that post by the Las Vegas-headquartered Ultimate Fighting Championship. At a lithe and fit 63 years old, he says he’s “the most non-combat person in the combat world,” and estimates he’s seen more than 7,000 fights ranging from boxing to kick boxing to mixed martial arts events. His first UFC event was in May 2006, “around UFC No. 35, somewhere in there, so I have seen a lot of fights.”

There have been innumerable tense moments in that tenure, when Ratner wondered if someone might actually try to land a blow on that lip.

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“I’ve been in some horrible confrontations in the back room, where it’s tough when a guy gets beat controversially and I am the face of the commission,” he said. “Nobody ever hit me, but there were times I was a little intimidated.”

By the Nation of Islam, even.

“The time I was most intimidated, I’ll never forget, was before the third (Evander) Holyfield-(Riddick) Bowe fight,” Ratner said. “The Nation of Islam was guarding Riddick’s dressing room, and when I went to bring the gloves in, and all these guys were 6-5, 250, and I said, ‘I gotta do this – we gotta get the gloves on the fighter.’ They let me in, but they made sure to bump into you a little bit, to sort of remind you of their size.”

But Ratner came away unscathed.

“I have a great job,” he said, laughing and adding, “knock on wood.” Then he found some wood trimming in the Pearl hallway, made a fist and gave it a couple of shots.

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