UFC 1, and Cane Toads, Predicted Web 3
4 minute read
Prior to the 1993 Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in Denver, CO, there was plenty of doubt about which martial art tradition reigned supreme. Morbid curiosity drove myself and two sadistic classmates that year to rent the VHS to see if sumo wrestling had any clout in a fight versus boxing versus… what else was there? Kickboxing, Savate, Karate, and others, faded rapidly into the background to reveal that Royce Gracie (the guy who won that year as well as the next 2 years), and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (his fighting style), reigned supreme.
Modern Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) borrows useful pieces of various disciplines, but relies disproportionately on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). And as you would expect, MMA itself has emerged as a profoundly practical martial art in and of itself. It was forged in a fire of all disciplines, and that’s why it is particularly efficient, and seems so brutal when used against other disciplines.
It was the freestyle allowed in UFC 1 that allowed for a superior fighting style to emerge in this way, and once we understand this, the sheer magnitude of incoming Web 3 will be more clear.
Cambrian Explosions, Cambrian Extinctions
One more example…
In ecological systems, when there is new space in which to grow and flourish, organisms rapidly expand into them. This phenomenon takes into account a lack of predators, and presence of food sources. “Invasive species” are threatening to local ecosystems exactly for this reason. Zebra Mussels throughout the Great Lakes region of the United States compete with native mussels and out-compete fish for plankton. Cane Toads, that were intentionally introduced into Australia in 1935 in order to protect cane fields from cane beetles, ended up devouring well outside of their intended scope, out-competing native insectivores. Oh, they are also poisonous throughout their life cycle, limiting predators from doing their part to get rid of them.
This type of pressure on an ecosystem may lead to rapid evolution of both the introduced organism, and on the surrounding ecosystem. Fruit flies (drosophila spp) in Hawaii are an example here, and went through “adaptive radiation,” resulting in some extremely bizarre and incredible looking varieties in an extremely short time frame. BJJ is not equivalent to MMA, but they share an ancestor.
At the same time, competitive advantage may cause local extinction. Cane toads are also a problem in Florida, where local extinction of predators, due to cane toads, fuels the ongoing cane toad explosion. In my city, there once were dozens, possibly hundreds of kung-fu centers. Today, these are almost completely replaced by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA gyms.
You see where this is going. The Web 2 explosion of the late 1990s was exactly like watching UFC 1, and happened concurrently. A few strategies emerged as supreme at that time, so both Amazon and Gracie are household names, but Webvan.com and Teila Tuli might take some googling (uh — graphic warning if you watch the Tuli video).
Web 3 is currently expanding into a vast space, nearly a void, with perhaps 4% of the global population owning cryptocurrency at the moment. OpenSea, an NFT sales platform (think eBay for NFTs), had 213,000 accounts open as of August 2021, with over 1 billion in sales. There is room yet to gallop. UFC 1 of Web 3 is already scheduled, some fights are in process.
The fact that anyone with a computer and a a few USD can deploy smart contracts means that anyone is welcome to this fight.
Web 3’s UFC1
Fight 1: might be as simple as currency versus currency — FIAT versus BTC/ETH/ALGO etc.
Fight 2: Large, centralized finance institutions (cFi?) versus decentralized finance (DeFi). Goldman Sachs versus Pancake Swap.
Fight 2.1: Quicken Loans vs Bacon Protocol
Fight 3: Centralized art distributors versus decentralized systems. Shutterstock vs Foundation.app.
Fight 3.1: Universal Music Group vs Royal.
Fight 4: Centralized vs open gaming economies: EA/Blizzard versus Axie Infinity.
Fight 8: Object identification: art historians versus DUST.
There are many others — please tweet your thoughts: https://twitter.com/MigTigMusic
Clear winners and losers are less certain than how the landscape will change. Strategies we thought would never be unseated are about to get their teeth knocked out (seriously, I’d never encourage you to watch that Tuli video but hoooo-llyyyyy-shit).