Not since 1986-87 Fleer Basketball have collectors had the opportunity to grab rookies of the brightest stars of a particular sport in one product as they do with the 2009 Topps UFC Round 1 offering. Since there had been no basketball product since the weak 1981-82 Topps Set, the Fleer release had “rookie cards” of an unbelievable cast of future Hall of Famers and Legends like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Akeem Olajuwon, Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler and many others.
But even that legendary set hardly compares in rookie card density and rarity to this amazing collection from Topps. In fact, a combination of factors makes this set/box/case one of the top trading card offerings ever. Yes, ever. As of this writing, Topps Round One cases are selling in the $6,000 range after an initial secondary market entry in the $1,000 range.
In early 2009, both Upper Deck and Topps were planning Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) sets. Upper Deck, after delay after delay, chose not to make their MMA set while Topps carefully put together their own UFC-endorsed collection. One must wonder if the executive at Upper Deck who made that call is still around. Additionally, Georges St. Pierre got paid for his appearance in the cancelled set.
It appears that Topps was cautious as well as credible reports hold that only 500 cases were made. That’s nothing for any card issue, let alone one that includes a cast of rookie cards of the fastest rising sport in the United States and beyond.
Nearly every big name in the incredibly popular UFC is represented in that first set with most having an autographed rookie card as well. To name a few, Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, B.J. Penn, Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, Forrest Griffin, and Rampage Jackson all have autographed rookies. Even Brock Lesnar, Tito Ortiz, Lyoto Machida and Shane Carwin are in the regular set. It’s unbelievable.
For the pack busters there are high end, limited to 25 autos and auto relics that go for hundreds and thousands on eBay. In fact, the regular autos of the aforementioned regularly sell in the mid-hundreds on eBay.
Even the regular sets have gone ballistic, with 99 card sets selling in the $75 range online after humble $10 debuts.
About the only knock on the set is that it looks like it was rushed out the door and put together by a well-intended group of scissor-wielding cub scouts. The borders are dark and always chipped, taking grading out of the realm of possibility for most cards.
But in the end, few will argue that this is one of the most important trading card sets of all time and will hold a tremendous value as MMA and the UFC continue to earn fans… and card buyers.
Collecting Advice: Even at current market valuations, this is still a remarkable buy. Watch for articles from us addressing the cards to buy in the subsequent Round Two and Main Event UFC sets.
Be sure and use the eBay and Amazon.com search engines at the top of this page to identify the lowest priced UFC cards online.