16th February 1996, Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
This event has the familiar format of a ‘Super Fight,’ plus an eight-man tournament, but tonight, there’s a twist. All of the first round fights purposely pit a smaller guy against a bigger guy, hence the title of David vs Goliath.
The now familiar commentary team of Bruce Beck, Don Wilson and Jeff Blatnik make the UFC’s first and only trip to Puerto Rico to call the event.
First up, we have 206lb Dan Severn protégé Don ‘The Predator’ Frye facing local fighter Thomas Ramirez, who tips the scales at 410lbs. Blink and you’ll miss it. Don Frye throws a lead right hand that knocks Ramirez back, a couple more that glance off, then one more that gets through and Ramirez is out cold, eyes open, but completely glazed over. Welcome to the Octagon Don Frye.
The Goliath in the second quarter final is UFC 6, 7 & 7.5 veteran Paul Varelans, facing BJJ legend, Joe Moreira. In contrast to the opening 8 second fight, this one goes the full 10 minutes and isn’t what you’d call a thriller. Moreira is landing the cleaner punches at boxing range, and although he’s unable to get Varelans to the ground from the clinch, he’s landing the better shots on the break. Varelans is relentlessly plodding forward and constantly raising his lead leg, perhaps still sore from the battering it took from Marco Ruas five months earlier. In the end, all three judges give the fight to Varelans, most likely due to the constant forward motion, but it could have easily gone the other way.
The third opener is a double debut of Lion’s Den product Jerry Bohlander, giving away 130lbs to the original Pit Bull, Scott Ferrozzo. In the clinch Ferrozzo is tossing Bohlander around like a ragdoll. Standing and on the ground, Bohlander has to withstand a mauling for the majority of the fight. Bohlander tries to apply a choke using the shoulder strap of Ferrozzo’s wrestling singlet, but it’s not as effective as a gi lapel choke. With just over a minute left, Ferrozzo attempts a throw, but it goes wrong and he’s briefly on the bottom. There’s a scramble and they are back to the feet, against the cage. Bohlander has managed to reach round Ferrozzo’s thick neck for a standing guillotine and gets the tap. Good effort Jerry.
The last quarter final is Gary ‘Big Daddy’ Goodridge against Tank Abbott’s buddy, Paul Herrarra. Goodridge is announced as representing the Korean art of Kook Sool Won, although he was allegedly awarded the status of 4th degree black belt after two lessons in the art. Straight out of the traps, Herrera shoots for a double leg and Goodridge sprawls. They roll and come to rest with Herrera trapped in a crucifix. Goodridge slams eight sickening elbows to Herrera’s temple, and he’s out cold after the first two. Absolutely savage finish.
Paul Varelans is not able to come out for his semi-final, due to a broken foot so alternate Sam Adkins is brought in to face Don Frye. There’s some feinting by both men, but Frye snatches a quick single leg and puts Adkins on his back. There’s some confusion in the commentary team who think they see Adkins tap, but to me it looks more like a panicked grab at Frye to stop the barrage of shots he’s raining down. There’s a lot of claret which prompts John McCarthy to jump in and stop the fight. Adkins is unhappy with the stoppage, but he was in a bad position and was likely done.
The second semi-final is Jerry Bohlander fighting Gary Goodridge, and for the second time tonight, he’s being tossed around by the bigger man. Bohlander is on his back in short order, but to everyone’s surprise, perhaps even his own, he reverses and mounts Goodridge. It’s a temporary state of affairs and Big Daddy powers his way out, back to the top position. Bohlander tries to work an ankle lock with Goodridge standing over him, but he eats a couple of huge punches and John McCarthy steps in to save him. Brave effort by Bohlander, but Goodridge moves on to fight Don Frye in the final.
Before that final, we have our Super Fight, with Kimo Leopoldo facing defending champion, Ken Shamrock. I’m not sure if Kimo has “forgotten his P.E. kit” but he’s literally fighting in his underwear. Kimo charges across the Octagon and opens up with a low kick, which is met with a straight punch and Ken takes the fight straight to the ground. He methodically works his way from side control to half guard and eventually to full mount. There’s a lapse in judgement as Kimo is allowed to sit up. He shows Ken his back but it isn’t capitalised on. Kimo spends a little time on top dropping head butts, but he gives Ken too much distance and gets pushed off. At the third time of trying, Ken secures a knee bar and Kimo taps before he’s taking his leg home in a bag. A masterful display on the ground by Ken Shamrock and an excellent defense of his Super Fight belt.
That just leaves the tournament final to take care of. Don Frye has barely broken a sweat yet, clocking up less than a minute of fight time in the previous two bouts. Goodridge treats us to an impressive gun show as he finally ditches the gi. Frye gets the better of the early stand up, but loses position in the clinch and has his back taken. Big Daddy wastes the positional advantage by lifting and throwing Frye away. They clinch against the cage wall and Frye wins the dirty boxing exchange. Again, Goodridge picks Frye up but this time he stays on him as he throws him to the floor. Frye sneaks out the back door, rolls Goodridge onto his back and begins to unload. Goodridge reaches out an arm and taps the mat. Solid night’s work by Don Frye.
Excellent debuts from Gary Goodridge, Jerry Bohlander and especially Don Frye. The Super Fight was pretty entertaining too. Very enjoyable event.