UFC 5 – The Return Of The Beast

7th April 1995, Independence Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

ufc_5There’s a bit of a change of format for this event. In addition to the eight-man tournament, there’s a ‘Super Fight” which will crown the first UFC Champion-proper. The winner of the night’s tournament will be the next in line to challenge the Super Fight champion next time round. The commentary is provided by the now regular team of Bruce Beck, Jim Brown and Jeff Blatnik. There’s a new ring announcer for the night too, with Rich ‘Go Go’ Goins being replaced by Ron Jeremy (no, not that one).

The tournament gets underway with Andy “The Hammer” Anderson fighting Jon Hess. As well as his various Black Belts, Anderson boasts an 86-0 bare knuckle challenge match record, all won by KO. He’s also pledging to donate the $50,000 to children’s charities if he wins it. Long way to go yet Andy, but nice gesture. Jon Hess is 6’7” and 295lbs, to Anderson’s 5’9” and 238lbs. Despite being only 26, Hess is claiming to be a 4th degree master in his own fighting style of SAFTA (Scientifically Aggressive Fighting Technology of America). It doesn’t look very scientific as the fight begins. You remember at school when the big awkward fat kid got made to face the tough kid in a prearranged fight, but instead of taking a beating like he was supposed too, he charged the length of the school yard and crashed furiously into his opponent? It looks like that. Anderson tries to take Hess down but he’s just too big. He gives up on the grappling and collapses to the canvas when Hess rakes across his eyes with a clawed hand. Despite the ‘No Holds Barred’ headline, eye gouging is one of the few techniques prohibited, and this is a bad one. Hess drops down on Anderson, and although now blinded, Anderson manages to reverse Hess and end up on top. More eye gouging draws a scream of agony from Anderson and a warning from John McCarthy to pack it in. They stand and Hess unloads on Anderson until McCarthy pulls him off and stops the contest. Nasty fight!

The second quarter final matches Jeet Kun Do fighter Todd Medina against kickboxer Larry “Thunder Foot” Cureton who looks really tasty on the heavy bag in his VT. Although Cureton is four inches taller, he gives up 30lbs in weight to the stocky Medina. Cureton is unable to stop an immediate takedown by Medina and straight away, any advantage he may have had in striking is taken away. Initially, Cureton looks like he’s got a decent guillotine choke going, but Medina pops his head out, then brings in down into Cureton’s face a couple of dozen times. Medina passes to side control, leans the blade of his forearm on Cureton’s throat and drops a couple more head butts. Cureton has had enough and taps. After the fight, it looks like Medina has come off worse from the head butts than Cureton, despite winning the fight.

Next up is classic grappler v striker match up of Oleg “The Russian Bear” Taktarov against Ernie Verdecia. The fight goes a little clumsily to the ground immediately, with Verdecia on top. Taktarov keeps it tight from the bottom, then just over two minutes in, sweeps Verdecia and cranks a headlock from side mount. A relatively straight forward win for Taktarov.ufc-5-severn-charles

The last quarter final is the eponymous Dan “The Beast” Severn facing Joe Charles, who was an alternate in UFC 4, and who missed out on fighting Severn that night by virtue of a coin toss. There’s some serious meat in the Octagon with Charles and Severn both weighing in at 260lbs, plus Big John McCarthy not far behind them. Severn catches a Charles kick and drives him hard into the fence and down to the canvas. After taking a bit of punishment, Charles attempts an arm bar from the bottom, but Severn pulls out of it. As Charles rolls away, Severn slams on a rear naked choke and it’s over.

Jon Hess is a no-show for his semi-final (broke all his fingernails on Andy Anderson’s cornea maybe). He’s replaced by Canadian grappler Dave Beneteau who beat Wing Chun practitioner Asbel Cancio in 21 seconds in his prelim. He’s up against Todd Medina, who’s face is a bit of a mess from using it as his primary weapon in his opening fight. Beneteau wastes no time putting Medina on his back and unloads some big punches. Medina quickly calls it a night and taps.

The Second Semi is The Russian Bear vs The Beast. As expected this goes to the ground quickly and Severn begins mauling Taktarov with a mixture of punches, open palm strikes and the odd head butt. Taktarov attempts an arm bar from the bottom, but it’s like trying to submit an angry bear. Severn drops several sickening knees on Taktarov’s skull which open him up. Some more head butts and knees go in. Eventually, John McCarthy has seen enough and steps in to save Taktarov.

Next up is the Super Fight between Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie. A 30 minute time limit was instituted before the event, due to UFC 4 over-running it’s PPV slot well before the final. It’s a good job, because otherise, they might still be fighting today.

[EDIT: at the time of writing, bizarrely, they actually ARE fighting today!!.Bellator 149 is being held at the Toyota Center, Houston, Texas, headlined by Royce Gracie v Ken Shamrock. 21 years since UFC 5. Hopefully, the rematch is a bit more “Super.”]

[EDIT 2: It wasn’t.]

1865405_origThe fight is on the mat in under a minute  and is a grind from the outset. There are bursts of energy and activity, but it’s basically a stalemate, with Ken stuck in Royce’s guard for 30 minutes. A 5 minute overtime is agreed, but other than Royce taking some facial damage in the opening exchange, it’s no different to the previous session. After 36 total minutes the first Super Fight is declared an anti-climactic draw.severn

The tournament final will have to save the night. Severn and Beneteau are both well rested and undamaged from their previous fights. They clinch up from the outset, and the two huge men fight for control. A couple of minutes in, Severn trips Beneteau, and instead of pounding on him, as he has with his previous opponents, he goes straight for a key-lock submission and gets a quick tap. Great performance by Severn to dominate the night.

Event Highlights

Dan Severn was thoroughly deserving of the nick name “The Beast” and his performance was the highlight of the event.

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UFC 4 – Revenge Of The Warriors

16th December 1994, Expo Square Pavillion, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.

Ufc4After the debacle that was UFC 3, this included three alternate bouts to make sure no one walked straight into the final without fighting. There were some returning fighters from earlier events and some great first timers. We also have a new commentary team of anchor Bruce Beck and color commentator Jeff Blatnick. They are joined by the ever-present Jim Brown.

The first fight of the night is the 51 year old Ron ‘The Black Dragon’ Van Clief who is drawn against Royce Gracie. Van Clief comes out in the now standard Gracie-esque human train. black dragonHe looks in great shape, and that’s not even just “for his age.” Royce has Van Clief on the canvas in seconds, mounting with relative ease. After a couple of minutes of short strikes, Royce raises up and drops a few heavier ones. Van Clief rolls to his front, Royce works in a choke and gets the tap.

Next up is a returning Keith Hackney who fought and beat 6’8” 616lb behemoth Emanuel Yarborough in the previous tournament. This time he faces Joe Son, manager of UFC 3 competitor Kimo, who is a much more manageable 5’4” and 220lb. When you’ve watched this fight, it stays watched. After a couple of early exchanges, Joe Son gets a body lock and drops Hackney to the canvas. They stand, with Hackney trapped in a front headlock,  he lands a big uppercut to Joe Son’s groin which is a taste of things to come. Son drives Hackney back to the cage and they crash to the mat with Hackney on top and Son on his back. Hackney lands half a dozen full power, eye watering punches to the groin which makes Son let go of the head lock he’s been attempting, and makes every man watching cross his legs and take a sharp intake of breath. Hackney presses down on Sons throat  with one arm and appears to be attempting to relieve him of his bright red trunks with the other. HackneyJoeSonSon taps and Hackney moves on. Don’t shed any tears for Joe Son and the brutal groin shots he took though. I won’t go into detail here, but take a look at his Wikipedia page and what he’s currently serving life for. Not a good guy. In fact, it’s a shame Keith Hackney didn’t get at him a decade early and permanently crush those stones.

Boxer Melton Bowen is next up, facing defending champion, Steve Jennum. Bowen is the first fighter to compete in open hand 4oz gloves and is what you might call ‘a specimen’. Jennum initially keeps the fight at kicking distance, and the first time Bowen gets close enough to wing a hook, Jennum ducks under and gets his hands on him. Jennum takes Bowen down, mounts, creates some distance and drops some bombs, including a really nasty looking head butt. Bowen manages to briefly find a way back to his feet but is hip-tossed back down and once again mounted. Jennum drops everything he has on Bowen’s head pausing briefly to attempt a key lock, before going back to raining down punches. Just when it looks like Jennum is running out of ideas and gas, Bowen offers up an arm, Jennum grab hold of it and finishes with an arm bar. Absolutely exhausted, our defending champion is forced to retire from the tournament following this win.

The last quarter final gives us our first look at Dan ‘The Beast’ Severn. At 6’2” and 260lbs he dwarfs his opponent Anthony ‘Mad Dog’ Marcias who allegedly has home field advantage. At 5’10 and 190lbs, he’s going to need more than having some friends in the crowd. severn_display_image_display_image_crop_northAs the fight starts, Marcias throws a few harmless leg kicks, and as Severn gets hold of him and drags him to the mat, a few elbows go in too. That just enrages Severn who starts throwing Marcias about like a rag doll, including a couple of sickening suplexes. Severn struggles to find an actual submission, and just resorts to trying to squeeze Marcias’ brains out of his ears. That has the desired result and gets the tap.

The first semi-final is Royce Gracie against Keith Hackney. It takes Royce a few attempts to get into grappling range, and takes some punishment on the way in. They clinch against the fence and Royce delivers several decent knees to Hackneys head. Royce gets a grip on a dazed Hackney, pulls guard, and after a couple of failed triangle attempts, switches to an arm bar resulting in Hackney tapping.

As Steve Jennum is out, Dan Severn needs a new opponent from one of the three winning alternates. I like to imagine that the decision on who got the dubious honour of facing The Beast was sorted out by someone standing in front of a lined up Joe Charles, Guy Mezger and Marcus Bossett and saying, “Right lads, I need a volunteer to fight Dan Severn.” Charles and Mezger catch each other’s eye and deftly take a step backwards. “Good man, Marcus, well volunteered.” *Gulp!* Actually, it was decided by a coin toss, but I like my mental picture better. Bossett is a traditional karate guy and is here to show the kids, if you set your mind to it, you can achieve anything. Bossett opens up with a solid kick to Severn’s body which momentarily stuns the big man. Emboldened by that, Bossett attempts a spinning kick and pays for it be being dumped unceremoniously on his back. Severn mounts and starts attempting to remove Bossett’s head from his shoulders, who decides the best example to set his young students is that sometimes a quick tap is preferable to decapitation.

gracie severnSo, the final is a real David and Goliath affair, with Royce Gracie facing Dan Severn, and truth be told, it’s a bit of a grind. Royce is on his back in under a minute and is trapped there for the rest of the fight. If Severn had any kind of a submission game, or even any striking, the fight could have been over early. Severn’s strategy is essentially to crush Royce into submission. After a grueling ten minute mauling, Royce throws his legs up for an attempted triangle choke. “Nothing there,” exclaims a clueless Jeff Blatnik who’s been relentlessly pimping wrestling from the off and doesn’t see any way Severn can be beat. Severn (nor Blatnik) doesn’t realise how much danger he’s in, or that stacking Royce has he’s doing is the only thing saving him from getting choked unconscious. Royce is forced to let it go and takes another few minutes of punishment. Quarter of an hour in and Royce throws a second triangle attempt up. “Nothing there, there’s nothing there,” again professes Blatnik. To everyone’s complete surprise, except Royce and his corner (who they’re right in front of), Severn taps before he passes out. Royce has worked so hard for this, that he REALLY doesn’t want to let it go. He squeezes with every remaining ounce of strength he has before John McCarthy peels him off. Incredible show of guts by Royce Gracie to survive and find the finish.severn

Event Highlights

Keith Hackney mashing Joe Son’s taters, and Royce submitting The Beast.

Special anti-highlight mention for Jeff Blatnik. Every time I rewatch these early UFCs I remember how much I hate the sound of his voice, banging on about wrestling and missing any of the subtlety of what the non-wrestlers are doing.

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UFC 3 – The American Dream

9th September 1994, Grady Cole Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

UFC3_LogoAfter the massive improvement from UFC 1 to UFC 2, UFC 3 was a bit of a step backwards in many ways. Styles are now broken down into just two broad and over simplified categories of punchers and grapplers. We’re back down to eight fighters from the sixteen of UFC 2, which means one less round of fights. The biggest issue with this event though was the injuries along the way that turned it into a it of a farce. One notable rules change is that as well as KO, submission and the towel coming in, John McCarthy now has the power to stop the fight.

First fight of the night is Sumo fighter Emanuel Yarborough against Kenpo Karate fighter Keith Hackney. Yarborough is 616lbs which even dwarfs UFC 1’s sumo fighter Teila Tuli, let alone the 200lb Hackney. As Yarborough approaches, Hackney throws a leg kick, which has no effect, followed by an over hand open palm strike which against all odds, drops Yarborough. Hackney pounces on him and tries to take advantage but after only one follow up strike slips and Yarborough crashes down on him. Kackney manages to drag himself free and back on UFC3_Hackneytheir feet, Yarborough throws Hackney against and through the cage door. Hackney is ushered back into the Octagon and they restart. As Yarborough plods forward Hackney does his best to stay out of range, throwing low sidekicks and open over-hands. When Yarborough does finally get hold of Hackney he eats a few punches to the head and goes down. Hackney throws a couple of dozen punches to Yarborough’s melon and he’s completely unable to get up. John McCarthy steps in and makes his first stoppage. Hackney’s hand is a mess but he moves on.

The second quarter final is Ken Shamrock facing Judoka Christophe Leininger. It goes to the ground predictably quickly and Leininger throws a series of punches to the top of Shamrock’s head from the guard, which looks like it sucks for both parties. They exchange head butts, then as Leininger goes for a triangle, Ken explodes out and takes his back. Leininger tries to find a way out but ends up on his back taking a lot of punishment from Ken and taps from a combination of strikes and exhaustion.

Next up is the wonderfully named local Thai Boxer Roland Payne against Canadian Karate/Jui Jitsu fighter Harold Howard. Payne’s not a bit guy but he certainly looks the business on the pads in the preamble. Howard is a lot bigger and looks like a complete psychopath in his video. After a brief exchange on their feet, Payne surprises us with a takedown but he can’t keep Howard on the mat. They’re up and down a couple more times and both land heavy strikes until Payne is on the receiving end of a big right hand to the temple that shuts him down. A frantic and ferocious 45 second fight ends with Howard winning by KO.

UFC3_KimoThe last quarter final is defending two time champion Royce Gracie facing lay preacher and alleged Tae Kwon Do master, Kimo Leopoldo. (alright mate). He’s dragging a massive cross behind him on his way to the give Royce ‘The Good News’ in the Octagon. Kimo charges out and Royce gets his hands on him straight away. There’s a little over a minute of Royce trying to drag the fight to the ground before a throw goes badly and he ends up underneath Kimo. They’re back and forth for a couple of minutes, reversal after reversal and Royce gets hold of Kimo’s ponytail/top knot, almost managing to drag him into a triangle choke with it. About four minutes in, Royce grabs hold of an arm bar from the bottom and gets the tap. Our defending champion wins but he’s utterly exhausted and limps out of the Octagon.

It’s confirmed that Keith Hackney has smashed his hand to pieces on Emmanuel Yarborough’s skull and has retired from the competition. He’s replaced by Felix Mitchell who will fight Ken Shamrock. Mitchell is slated as Shaolin Kung Fu, but he looks like a boxer on the heavy bag, and that’s confirmed in his ring intro. Mitchell initially steps into the Octagon wearing open hand gloves but decides to take them off at the last minute. The fight beings as a standing grappling match which Ken seems to have a slight edge in, although Mitchell does fire a couple of eye watering knees right between Ken’s legs that lift him clean off the ground. Ken doesn’t even wince. Mitchell attempts to wedgie Ken with his yellow budgie smugglers, but they collapse to the ground with Ken on top. Mitchell rolls onto his front, Ken sinks in a deep choke and gets the tap. Ken limps away with a damaged ankle and that’s the last we see of him tonight.

The next fight is supposed to be a semi-final between Harold Howard against Royce Gracie. Howard’s really been looking forward to this apparently, and he makes his way to the Octagon in a Gracie-esque train, looking all business. Royce’s approach to the Octagon much more laboured. The fighters are introduced, but before John McCarthy can get them started, Royce retires from the competition. Howard is furious, screaming and stamping his feet. He still turns and bows as he storms out of the Octagon though. Classy old school martial arts etiquette. That’s juxtaposed by a classless display of Kimo charging into the Octagon to celebrate his part Royce’s retirement.

With Ken Shamrock out, Harold Howard is left to fight the remaining alternate, Ninja cop Steve Jennum. As they start, Howard attempts a front scissor flip kick, which Jennum backs out of range of. Howard springs back to his feet and lands some heavy punches that stun Jennum. Howard gets hold of Jennums neck and cranks a guillotine, first standing, then from his back, but he doesn’t have full guard so Jennum is able toUFC3_Jennum step out of it. They exchange punches on their feet before Jennum trips and mounts Howard. Jennum is dropping punches but Howard seems to be blocking them all. John McCarthy stops the fight and the towel comes in at roughly the same time. Jennum earns $60,000 for his one and a half minute’s work.

What a mess. Three of the four winning quarter finalists retired, Hackney got a bye to the final, less than 20 minutes’ actual fight time across the whole event. Not a great display really.

Event Highlight

Keith Hackney dropping a 616lb Emmanuel Yarborough was pretty impressive.

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UFC 2 – No Way Out

11th March 1994, Mammoth Gardens, Denver, Colorado, USA.

ufc2_logoUFC 2 grew to sixteen fighters from the eight involved in UFC 1. Bill Wallace has been evicted from the anchor spot by Brian Kilmeade. NFL hall of famer Jim Brown returns and they are joined by Hollwood stuntman (and I think Royce Gracie student) Ben Perry.  Sadly, seven of the extra fights took place before the PPV started, so we just get a summary of the results.

The first fight shown is defending champion Royce Gracie’s prelim against Karateka Minoki Ichihara. Royce is the larger man for a change, but the biggest man in the cage is Big John McCarthy, making his first appearance. Royce gets Ichihara to the ground in seconds and mounts. Ichihara manages to hold on to Royce for a while and certainly doesn’t hand the submission over, but after almost five minutes of Royce softening him up, Ichihara thinks he sees and opening to explode out.  Royce takes the opportunity to grab a lapel of Ichihara’s gi and choke him with it (although the commentary team are convinced it’s an arm bar).

Before the quarter finals begin, there’s some announcements of a drop out and an alternate, some brief but brutal highlights from a couple of prelims, and a short summary for the uninitiated about the various martial arts represented in the competition, which are catagorised as Karate, Kung Fu, Kickboxing, Grappling and “Exotics”.

The first quarter final sees Ninja Scott Morris face Kickboxer Pat Smith. Both men had won their prelims in under a minute by guillotine choke. Morris charges out and when they clinch up, he attempts some sort of suplex throw. That ends badly with him on his back, mounted by Smith. Some heavy elbows and punches are dropped and Morris goes limp. A bloody and concussed Morris tries to stand but his legs are rubber. Good job Pat stopped himself from killing Morris because John McCarthy wasn’t looking like dragging him off.

The next fight is an all Karate affair between Johnny Rhodes who’d won a gruelling 12 minute prelim, and alternate Fred Ettish who’d stepped into this round without fighting. Ettish gives away 30lbs to Rhodes and the first time the bigger man connects, it shows. Rhodes batters Ettish then finishes off with sort of a schoolyard choke.

UFC2_WeitThe third quarter final is between French Kickboxer Orlando Weit and Dutch grappler (and team mate of UFC 1 runner up Gerard Gordeau) Remco Pardoel and it’s a bit of a nasty one. Even though Weit is 5’10” 170lb, and Pardoel is 6’4” 260lb, because Pardoel’s prelim was a lot longer, commentator Ben Perry doesn’t give him a chance here. Pardoel throws Weit to the ground but ends up on top but with his back to him. Pardoel adjusts position and an opening appears for him to drop some really heavy elbows on Weit’s skull, who goes limp after the second one. Five more come down and Weit’s legs twitch with each one. Fortunately, Pardoel notices Weit is out and stops the beating, again Big John is not getting involved.

The final quarter final bout is Royce Gracie against Jason DeLucia who has apparently previously tested his Five Animals Chinese Kung Fu against Royce in a private challenge match and come up short. The fight goes straight to the ground and Royce completely dominates, finishing with a belly down arm bar which he holds onto for a LONG time after the tap. Not cool Royce. DeLucia is quick to congratulate him though, which was classy in the circumstances.

The first semi-final matches Johnny Rhodes against Pat Smith. This one starts as a straight kickboxing match with both fighters landing some decent shots until a minute in they clinch up. Smith reaches over to grab a standing guillotine and leans back, almost lifting Rhodes clean off the floor. Rhodes tries to tap but he’s having to relieve the pressure on his throat by pushing on Smith’s waist with both hands. Instead he manages to tap by stamping his foot and fortunately, Big John’s getting the hang of this now and jumps in to save Rhodes.

UFC2_RemcoThe second semi-final is Royce Gracie against Remco Pardoel. Royce is back to giving up a lot of weight, but despite that, he gets his hands on Pardoel quickly, takes his back standing and drags him to the ground. Royce reaches round and for the second time tonight, chokes his opponent using their own gi. Brilliant.

Before the final, we check in a cage-side, broken-handed Ken Shamrock who’s chomping at the bit to get back in there, and also spend some time with the clueless commentary team. Ben Perry really is talking some nonsense.

The final starts and right out of the gate, Pat Smith lunges in with a kick and misses, allowing Royce to get his hands round his waist. Pat attempts a hip toss, but it goes wrong and they land with Royce on top, initially in half guard and quickly transitioning to mount. Royce lets some short punches go, but before he can follow up with a submission, Pat submits and the towel also come in for good measure. Royce makes beating a very tough guy look really easy again.

Ult. Fighter/Gracie

So, Royce Gracie is champion again, and this time he’s going skiing with the money.

Event Highlights

Royce’s takedowns, control and finishes were excellent in this event, and they were counter-balanced by a couple of brutal KO finishes by Pat Smith and Remco Pardoel.

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UFC 1 – The Beginning

12th November, 1993, McNicolls Sports Arena, Denver, Colorado, USA.

UFC1_LogoOk, so, we start at The Beginning. Eight of the deadliest fighters in the world (allegedly) face off to determine who is the Ultimate Fighting Champion. No Rules (well, almost), no judges and no time limits.

Bill ‘Super Foot’ Wallace welcomes us to the “Ultimate Fighting Challenge” and after battling with a bit of wind (blame the altitude) he introduces us to his commentary team. NFL hall of famer Jim Brown is quite clear he doesn’t think that either he, any of his NFL buddies, or even his boxing friends like Ali, Fraser or Tyson would last long in the cage. Bill tries to persuade Jim he’d do ok, but Bill’s having none of it. Kickboxing Champion Kathy Long does at least give strategising a try. Bit of a spoiler from Rod Machado who virtually tells us Royce Gracie is going to win, and we have our first look inside the cage with Brian Kilmeade.

We get the fights underway with 410lb Hawaiian Sumo fighter Teila Tuli taking on Dutch Savate player Gerard Gordeau. Despite weighing literally half what Tuli does, Gordeau actually has a decent height and reach advantage. Saying that, most of us have a height and reach advantage over our cars, but if the handbrake goes while we’re downhill from it, that’s not much help. After a little bit of circling, Tuli charges, Gordeau backs up, and Tuli hits the mat face first. As he rolls onto his butt, Gordeau unleashes a roundhouse kick square in the face, sending a tooth into the front row. The ref signals time out and a bloodied Tuli stands up. He’s keen to continue and a tuxedo wearing Rorion Gracie also tells the ref he can carry on, but some sort of consensus between the doctor, the ref and Tuli’s corner is reached and the fight is stopped. Gordeau progresses.

Next up is a relatively even match up on paper. 6’4”, 265lb kickboxer Kevin Rosier facing 6’6” 230lb American Kenpo fighter Zane Frazier. With both Ed Parker and God in his corner, how can Frazier lose? We’re told Rosier has an impressive 66-8 kickboxing record, with all 66 coming by way of KO. You have to see Kevin Rosier’s shorts to believe them, but it’s not a fashion show, so we’ll not dwell on it. Just picture a 265lb man in a nappy (diaper for any American readers). This is a ferocious scrap, at least for the first couple of minutes. Groin strikes, hair pulling, knees, elbows, clinching and dirty boxing. Four minutes in, and both fighters are totally gased. Frazier takes a huges breath and shakes his hand, probably damaged in the early exchanges, and Rosier empties the tanks. Frazier crumples to the canvas under a barrage of wild strikes and when a couple of heavy head stomps go in, Frazier’s corner has seen enough and throw in the towel. Kevin Rosier reveals in his post-fight interview that what was going through his mind in the cage was “what the hell am I doing out of retirement” and his primary strategy was to let Zane get exhausted punching him in the face before taking him out. Mission accomplished.

The third fight is our first look at Royce Gracie. 170-180lb depending who you listen to and 6’1”. He’s facing #10 ranked IBF Cruiserweight Art Jimmerson who has elected to wear a boxing glove on his left hand, but not his right. Royce leads with a few kicks, high and low, before dropping for a double leg and putting Jmmerson on his back and immediately mounting him. Before Royce gets anything going, Jimmerson taps. Easy game.

The last qualifying fight is the Ken Shamrock against Patrick Smith. Two dangerous and angry looking dudes. Ken gets his hands on Pat very quickly and throws him to the ground. After being stuck in Pat’s Guard for little while, Ken stands and drops back into a heel hook, and although Pat tries to kick and elbow his way out, it’s not long before he’s wearing his foot backwards and he’s forced to tap. There’s an attempt at some ‘afters’ by both fighters, but they’re successfully kept apart.

UFC1_GordeauThe first semi-final is Gordeau v Rosier. Although it was the big kick that won the first bout for him, Gordeau apparently broke his hand, but is fighting on. Rosier charges out as he did in his first fight, but a couple of wicked leg kicks from Gordeau soon slow him down. Gordeau throws a few broken right hands before switching to some devastating elbows. A stomp to the ribs of a downed Rosier is the final shot, and the towel comes in. Rosier is great in interview again after the loss. He’s apparently come out of retirement for this tournament only a few weeks earlier and is determined to get back in shape and challenging the various world Kickboxing champs. Sadly, looking at his post-UFC 1 record that never happened. He instead became a bit of a journeyman punching bag in both early MMA and professional boxing. He died in April 2015 from a heart attack, aged 53. Shame, seemed like a really nice guy in the interviews. RIP Kevin.

The second semi-final is the highly anticipated Gracie v Shamrock match up. Ken looks fired up, ready to kill someone. In contrast, Royce looks calm and stoic, but still deadly serious. As they approach, Royce fakes a leg kick and shoots in for a take down from a long way out. Ken sprawls and flips Royce onto his back. There’s a quick scramble back to their feet, then Royce pulls guard. Another scramble and Royce is on top, rolling Ken up in a ball. As Ken tries to escape, he shows Royce his back and in a flash, the choke is on and it’s over. There’s a little confusion as Royce lets the choke go before the ref acknowledges the tap, but Ken confirms he submitted straight away.

After an awkward attempt at a presentation to honour the Grand Master Helio Gracie, mostly drowned out by booing idiots, we’re on to the final. Royce uses the same faked low kick and shot he did on Ken, but this time there’s no sprawl. Gordeau manages to stay on his feet for a few seconds, but Royce is stuck to him and eventually drags him to the ground, quickly mounting him. A couple of head butts to soften him up, and as Gordeau rolls away, the choke goes in and it’s over. Royce holds on to the choke a long time after the tap, but after the confusion at the end of the semi-final, I guess he wanted to make sure.

So there it is. Royce Gracie is UFC 1 champion and is off to Disney Land with the $50,000 prize. At the time it seemed a lot more shocking that it does now. No serious injuries, not much blood, everyone walked out of the cage unaided.

UFC1_Royce

Event Highlights

Royce Gracie making it look easy, plus Kevin Rosier and Ken Shamrock’s post fight interviews. Both classy and funny in victory and defeat.

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