Pancrase – Yes, We Are Hybrid Wrestlers 2


 October 14, 1993 The Tsuyuhashi Sports Center, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan.

This event follows the inaugural Pancrase event by only three weeks and features nine of the ten fighters that were involved last time out. The fights below, plus thousands of others are available on UFC Fight Pass. If you would like to sign up for a subscription (which I heartily recommend) you would be greatly supporting MMA Flashback by clicking on the banner above.

The only new addition to the card is Dutchman Joop van de Ven, who is facing Katsuomi Inagaki. Van de Ven drops Inagaki with the first straight right he throws and follows up with some slaps that echo around the arena. The Dutchman is clearly the stronger man and is getting the edge in both the striking and grappling exchanges. There’s a break as van de Ven forgets to open his hand and lands a punch and as they restart, both men are landing heavy shots. Inagaki attempts to throw van de Ven but ends up on the bottom back mounted. Several times the fighters get tangled up in the ropes and the referee restarts them standing. van de Ven seems to be struggling with the language barrier and the rules. Following a restart, Inagaki unloads a barrage that puts van de Ven down. He seems fairly compos mentis on the ground while receiving his count and it looks like he decides he’d rather just not bother anymore and give it up as a bad life choice.

BasNext up is Takaku Fuke against El Guapo; Bas Rutten, who has a big “R” drawn on each hand to remind him to relax, as in theory, there’s a 10 minute time limit on the bout and he doesn’t want to blow out too soon. He opens up with a front hick which doesn’t quite connect, and Fuke charges in for a takedown. Bas attempts a guillotine, but has no guard and can’t hold on. Fuke pops out, briefly mounts, then rolls for an arm bar. Bas reaches out for the ropes which causes a standing restart (each fighter gets a maximum of 5 of those in a bout, but loses points for it). They go straight back to the canvas, and again, Bas attempts a guillotine from the bottom, but again without guard, so Fuke pulls out. He again attempts to grab an arm, but this time fails and as they get back to their feet, eats a knee to the face from Bas. They clinch and Bas brings up another knee to the liver. It shuts Fuke down and he rolls up into a foetal while the referee counts down to 9. He attempts to spring to his feet at 10, but his body won’t let him and he collapses back to the floor. Two in a row for El Guapo.

FunakiOur third fight is Pancrase co-founder Masakatsu Funaki, who lost to Ken Shamrock in the previous event’s headliner. He’s facing Ryushi Yanagisawa, himself coming off a loss to Bas Rutten. The pair exchange sledge hammer roundhouse kicks to the body, with Yanagisawa coming off worst and ending up on his back taking a count. They re-engage on the feet and Funaki is having the better of it. As Yanagisawa covers up, Funaki reaches down and grabs a leg, taking the fight to the ground. He works for an ankle lock and as he starts cranking, Yanagisawa reaches for the ropes which gets them stood back up, but only briefly. Fugaki has the fight straight back down, and this time cranks a knee bar so far, Yanagisawa can almost taste his boot when he’s tapping. Great fight.

The penultimate bout is Vernon White against undoubtedly the most intense looking dude on the card; Minouri Suzuki. After exchanging kicks, the fight briefly goes to the ground, but White grabs the ropes to get a stand up. Back on their feet, White starts to grow in confidence, throwing a variety of spinning kicks, so Suzuki takes him to the ground where he clearly has the advantage. There’s another stand up when White manages to find the ropes with his feet. Following a third standing exchange punctuated by a huge spinning head kick by White, they go back to the ground, and in a transition to a possible arm attempt, Suzuki manages to catch White’s head in a leg scissor and almost snaps his neck before getting the tap. Not a submission you’ll see very often.

kenThe main event is Ken Shamrock vs Kazou Takahashi. Compared to the other fast fights, this one is a back and forth marathon, with both men having success standing and grappling. Ken maybe has a slight edge, being a little heavier handed and a little stronger on the ground, but Takahashi has his successes too. Half way through the bout, Ken secures an arm triangle from the bottom and reverses Takahashi, who reaches out for the ropes with a foot and the referee breaks them for a stand up. Before he can prise Ken off, Takahashi is asleep. The referee gives Takahashi a little time to wake up, then issues Ken a yellow card warning for holding on after the instruction to break. On the next ground exchange, Ken almost secures the same arm triangle choke, but again, the ropes save Takahashi.  Ken follows up by felling Takahashi with a clean straight right hand, but Takahashi makes the count. Ken starts to become steadily more dominant from this point on, both striking and grappling. Takahashi throws everything he has into a knee bar attempt, but from 50/50 position comes off worst and almost loses his own leg. The referee restarts them on their feet after getting caught up in the ropes, but Takahashi looks like he’s struggling to stand. Ken batters Takahashi striking, and when they go to the ground again, he’s straight to work on a heel hook which gets a quick tap. Excellent work by Ken and a really good showing by both fighters.

Event Highlights

Minouri Suzuki’s leg scissors submission, Ken Shamrock being a boss and Bas Rutten being awesome as always.

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Pancrase – Yes, We Are Hybrid Wrestlers 1


September 21, 1993, Tokyo Bay NK Hall, Urayasu, Chiba, Japan

Before the UFC was born, there was Pancrase. Ken Shamrock entered UFC 1 as “King of Pancrase,” and many UFC and Pride legends were alternating their appearances in those promotions with Pancrase events. This promotion’s back catalogue isn’t quite as easy to get hold of, but where I can, I’ll include Pancrase events in the chronological list of event reviews. Fortunately UFC Fight Pass has several classic Pancrase events, and are adding more all the time. To watch them, click on the banner above and sign up for Fight Pass. If you love fighting, you really won’t regret it.

sddefaultThe first fight of the night is between Minouri Suzuki vs Katsuomi Inagaki. There’s a notably different facial expression on the two fighters’ faces. Inagaki looks a little nervous. Suzuki looks like he’s about to eat someone’s soul. Suzuki takes the fight to the ground early and after a brief grappling and striking exchange, drops back to a 50/50 position. He’s to securing an ankle lock, but Inagaki is able to roll out of it, getting his back taken in the transition. They get tangled up in the ropes, so the referee restarts them on their feet. There’s some booted kicking and open hand striking as per Pancrase rules, before Suzuki takes the fight back to the ground. As Inagaki scrambles back to his feet, he gets caught in a standing guillotine, which Suzuki uses to drag him back down, take his back and from there he works in a rear naked choke. Inagaki grimaces, starts to tap, but goes to sleep in the process. Suzuki wins by submission.

BasNext up is Ryushi Yanagisawa against living legend Bas Rutten. Yanagisawa sends out a low kick which Bas catches, then fires back a thunderous one of his own that generates a gasp from the otherwise eerily quiet Japanese crowd. He follows up with a head kick and a straight right hand that drops Yanagisawa who only just makes it back to his feet before the count of 10. Bas lands another short but powerful combination and Yanagisawa is back on the floor, reconsidering his life choices that have led to him being on the wrong end of El Guapo. He slips peacefully into unconsciousness, and Bas wins by KO. After some celebration, Bas helps roll Yanagisawa into the recovery position and check on him a couple of times before heading back to the locker room. Classy guy.

The third fight of the night is Takaku Fuke vs Vernon White. Fuke has White on the canvas within a few seconds and dominates him, initially almost removing his head from a side headlock, then switching to an arm bar that White submits to before losing the limb. A quick night’s work by Fuke.

Our penultimate fight of the night is Kazou Takahashi vs George Weingeroff. This was Kazou’s first of 61 professional fights spanning two full decades. In contrast it was Weingeroff’s only ever fight. After eating a couple of heavy knees to the face, he was finished off with a head kick just over a minute in. Whatever he went on to do with the rest of his life, he obviously didn’t fancy doing that again.

The final bout of the evening is the promotion’s co-founders, Ken Shamrock and Masakatsu Funaki. Although they were friends, business partners and Funaki was Shamrock’s mentor, from the power of the opening kicks, you can tell this is no pro wrestling work. The early striking exchanges are fairly even, but when they go to the ground, Ken has the upper hand throughout, mounting and riding Funaki. Only when Ken attempts a leg lock does it even up to a stalemate and the referee stands them up. They’re back to the ground in short order with Ken in full mount. Funaki attempts to buck him off but Ken transitions to a tight arm triangle which eventually gets the tap. A jubilant Ken Shamrock wins the Inaugural Pancrase main event.

Event Highlights

It’s a very subdued and dignified martial arts event, compared to the ferocious UFC 1 that was to follow a couple of months later. Highlight of the night for me was Bas Rutten, who’s one of my favourite human beings, and the whole event, short as it was, was very enjoyable.

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UFC 10 – The Tournament

July 12 1996, Fairgrounds Arena, Birmingham, Alabama, USA

After trying out single bouts in UFC 9, this event returns to the familiar tournament structure, though there’s not Super Fight. Bruce Beck and Jeff Blatnik return for commentary duties (Don Wilson is away shooting a movie), John McCarthy is the referee, and there’s a notable debut for ‘Voice of the Octagon’ Bruce Buffer.

24We get underway with undefeated defending tournament champion Don Frye taking on Mark Hall, himself being 3-1 from his previous three events. Frye slams Hall to the ground and goes to work trying to punch his way through Hall’s rib cage. A few minutes in and Hall’s body is already starting to look like a well tenderised steak. There’s some head butts mixed in, but the punishment to Hall’s body is relentless. Hall’s corner is screaming at him to get up and he shouts at them to shut up. Then Don Frye starts pleading with him to quit, but he refuses. After a little over ten minutes, John McCarthy saves Hall from himself and stops the fight. He has a seemingly bottomless well of resilience and bravery, but it’s a one sided beating. Frye progresses.

Next up we have two new comers in Scotty Fiedler against Brian Johnston. Fiedler obviously didn’t enjoy the experience much as this was his first, last and only MMA fight. Johnston throws Fiedler a couple of times and after the second, almost secures a knee bar. Fiedler takes Johnston’s back and gets both hooks in but doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. Johnston sneaks out the back door and takes Fiedler’s back, flattens him out and pounds on the back of the head. John McCarthy pulls Johnston off and stops the fight.

3764_esThe third fight is the UFC debut of Mark Coleman, who’s facing Israeli striker Moti Horenstein. Coleman takes the fight to the ground with ease and unleashes the as yet unchristened “Ground N Pound” he’d go on to be credited with inventing. It could be argued Frye and Severn both employed similar tactics in early tournaments, but there’s no argument that Coleman took it to a new level. After a savage couple of minutes, John McCarthy sees that Horenstein has had enough and he stops it.

The last quarter final is New York Beef Cake; John Campetella against Gary ‘Big Daddy’ Gary Goodridge. Campetella has some early success out grappling Goodridge and landing some heavy shots. A minute in, they’re on the ground with Campetella on top. Goodridge reverses positions and lands a few really big punches from the top. John McCarthy stops the fight and there’s some booing from the crowd who think it was a bit early. They may be right, but I doubt things were going to improve for Campetella with Big Daddy fully mounting him, dropping bombs.

The first semi-final is Don Frye against Brian Johnston. Bruce Beck and Jeff Blatik are joined in commentary by a suspended Tank Abbott. He got into a couple of dust ups at UFC 8 with Allan Goes and John McCarthy, but is itching to get back in the Octagon at the next event to show everyone how it should be done. The first couple of minutes are a fairly even ‘dirty boxing’ match, but 3 minutes in, the fight goes to the ground and Frye has a clear edge. When Frye gets side control and drops a couple of elbows, Brian Johnston decides to tap, rather than take any serious damage.

colemanThe second semi-final is Mark Coleman and Gary Goodridge, both of who had short but ferocious first round fights. Coleman has Goodridge on his back early and drops some short punches and head butts. Goodridge is able to scramble to his feet, but Coleman takes his back standing and has some success punching from behind. They’re right in front of Coleman’s corner and he’s receiving some direction, so Goodridge decides to scuttle sideways round the cage wall to his own corner instead. It doesn’t help much and Coleman continues to smash Goodridge up against the cage. They break and Big Daddy does look the fresher fighter, but before long, Coleman has it back to the ground and unloads everything he has on Goodridge. Coleman takes Goodridge’s back and flattens him out, getting a tap before any more punishment is taken.

Screen_shot_2012-10-19_at_11.32.58_PMAs the final starts, Don Frye is able to sprawl to Mark Coleman’s takedown attempt and gets an arm round his neck. He hangs out there too long though and Coleman easily clears the headlock and takes Frye’s back. Coleman starts smashing Frye’s skull in until around 4 minutes in when they’re briefly back to their feet. Both men are exhausted, particularly Coleman, who has his hands on his knees, sucking air in through every available hole. After another spell on the ground with Coleman dominating, McCarthy separates them to have the doctor take a look at Frye’s cuts. As they re-engage, Frye still has a bit of a spring in his step when they’re striking. As soon as they clinch up though, Coleman’s just too big and strong. After one more Ground N Pound session, John McCarthy has seen enough and calls it for Coleman. It’s not pretty, but Frye loses for the first time and Coleman wins the tournament at the first attempt.

Event Highlights

Incredible show of guts by Mark Hall and solid performances by legends Gary Goodrifdge, Don Frye and Mark Coleman.

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UFC 9 – Motor City Madness

17th May 1996, Cobo Arena, Detroit, Michigan, USA

There’s a change of format for tonight’s event. For the first time ever, there is no tournament. It’s seven stand-alone bouts, including Ken Shamrock defending his Super Fight title for the third time in a rematch against Dan Severn. Following pressure from Senator John McCain, the rules have been adapted to ban head butts and closed hand strikes. Although that’s ignored in most of the fights, it certainly de-supers the Super Fight.

calworsham_display_imageWe open up with two returning fighters. Zane Frazier got his head pounded flat by Kevin Rosier all the way back in UFC 1, while Cal Worsham was holding his own Paul Varelans in UFC 6 until a huge elbow to the top of his head stopped him in his tracks. A few kicks are landed early, but the fighters are looking uncertain, pawing with open hands. Worsham drops for a double leg and takes Frazier to the mat. Rules or not, he lands some short head butts. Frazier looks to John McCarthy for some assistance, but he lets Worsham crack on. The punches start going in too, and John McCarthy remembers he’s supposed to be stopping these techniques so starts chastising Worsham, but with no effect. Frazier decides he’d like to stop eating Worsham’s forehead and taps.

The second fight of the night is 6’8” Brazilian Rafael Carino facing Matt Anderson, who’s a training partner of UFC 3 champion, Steve Jennum. Carino has Anderson on his back in short order, maintains control and gradually works his way to mount. There’s a flash of blood on the forehead of Anderson and John McCarthy stops the fight. A methodical but not particularly thrilling win for Carino.

schultzThe next fight should have been a battle of the big Canadians, with Dave Beneteau facing Gary Goodridge, but Beneteau has broken his hand while preparing. His training partner, highly decorated wrestler Mark Schultz is stepping in on a few hours’ notice to face Big Daddy. Schultz looks really uncomfortable on his feet in the opening few seconds, but as soon as he gets his hands on Goodridge, he explodes into action and takes him down with ease. Schultz has complete ground control and if he was working for the UFC at the time, Mike Goldberg would undoubtedly have uttered the phrase “embrace the grind” multiple times. Half way through the 12 minute regulation time, John McCarthy breaks them up and restarts them on their feet, but Schultz shoots in and puts Goodridge on his back again. Some Ground N Pound (not that the phrase has been coined yet) opens up a cut on Goodridge’s eye brow and Big John stops the fight for the doctor to take a look. It’s not a bad one so they are allowed to restart and it’s the same routine, Schultz gets his hands on Goodridge and slams him to the ground. The bleeding from Goodridge’s cut worsens and as regulation time ends, the doctor takes another look and stops the fight, rather than allow overtime.

hall kitaoNext we have UFC 7 & 7.5 veteran Mark Hall facing the Octagon’s third Sumo fighter, Koji Kitao who outweighs Hall by more than double. As they start, Hall throws a low kick and a punch to Kitao’s face before being taken down hard. The punch has broken Kitao’s nose and there’s a delayed reaction before the blood starts gushing from it. John McCarthy and the doctor take a look, and the fight is stopped. Good effort Mr Hall.

fryeOur final ‘regular’ fight before moving on to the ironically named Super Fight is reigning tournament champion Don Frye returning to fight Amaury Bitetti who’s stepping in to replace Marco Ruas (what a fight that would have been). They clinch up early and Bitetti is initially hanging with Frye, but after a minute or so of dirty boxing, they break and Frye lands a couple of big punches that turn the tide firmly his way. Frye hands Bitetti one of the most savage one sided beat downs you’ll ever see. John McCarthy stops it a couple of times for the doctor to take a look at the cuts, but Bitetti wants to fight on each time. In the end McCarthy saves Bitetti from himself and stops the fight. Amongst his post-fight shout outs, Frye thanks his big brother for “beating him like a red-headed step child” and teaching him how to take a punch. A bit stomach turning in places, but a dominant performance by the Predator.

Which brings us onto the Super Fight. Instructions to not use the head or closed fist were largely ignored for the rest of the card, Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock fully took on board the rules. This has been described as one of the worst MMA fights in history, but in truth, using the word ‘fight’ at all is a bit of a stretch. The majority of the bout is both men circling barely making contact. The fans are booing and chanting “BULL SHIT” and “BORING”, the commentary team are struggling to find anything to talk about, and even John McCarthy is getting annoyed and screaming at them to engage. In the last 10 minutes Dan takes Ken to the ground but he isn’t able to hold him down. A second grappling exchange ends with Dan on his back, mounted by Ken. In the final minute there’s a flurry of action that sees Ken briefly take Dan’s back, but get reversed. In the last 2 minutes of regulation time, Dan finally unleashes the Beast and gives Ken a bit of a mauling. There’s no improvement in the two overtime periods, and Dan Severn picks up a split decision win. Horrible fight.

Dan-Severn

Event Highlights

Even putting the terrible Super Fight to one side, this was not a great event. A couple of the referee/doctor’s stoppages were a bit early, but the Frye / Betetti fight should probably have been stopped much earlier. I personally prefer the stand-alone bouts, but the tournament format was brought back in the next event due to popular demand. The only real highlight was Don Frye being a complete savage.

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UFC 8 – David vs Goliath

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.

Frye SevernFirst 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.

varelans moreiraThe 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.

crucifixThe 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.

frye-adkinsPaul 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.

kimo1Before 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. shamrockThere’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.

frye goodridge

Event Highlights

Excellent debuts from Gary Goodridge, Jerry Bohlander and especially Don Frye. The Super Fight was pretty entertaining too. Very enjoyable event.

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UFC 7.5 – The Ultimate Ultimate

16th December, 1995, Mammoth Gardens, Denver, Colorado, USA

UFC 7.5 has a great list of returning fighters, although there are a couple of notable absences. It’s a tournament of two halves, getting off to a cracking start but slowing down to a bit of an endurance event, for fighters and viewers alike. This tournament is the first to use judges in the event of a fight going to the time limit, and they get well used later in the night.

We get underway with UFC 6 runner up Tank Abbott against UFC 3 champion Steve Jennum. Tank takes Jennum to the matt early and scuttles him over to the cage. He pushes his head into Jennum’s face so hard it looks like he’s going to squirt through the gaps in the fence. Jennum is forced to tap.

Next is a battle of the big men, with Dan ‘The Beast’ Severn taking on Paul ‘The Polar Bear’ Varelans. This one’s on the mat even faster than Tank and Jennum were and Severn has side control and at the second attempt, secures an arm triangle choke. Varelans taps.

The third quarter final is the second meeting of Oleg Taktarov and Big Dave Beneteau. In UFC 6 Beneteau got himself caught in a Taktarov guillotine, which has been his go-to move in a lot of his previous fights. Tonight Taktarov has a new move that he’s going to attempt a LOT. He rolls from a standing clinch and grabs Beneteau’s leg. He does eat a kick from the shod Beneteau, but he holds on his leg lock and gets the tap.

19The last quarter final is reigning tournament champion, Marco Ruas against UFC 3 & 4 veteran, Keith Hackney, who for some reason has replaced his usual black gi pants with Lycra incontinence pants. They exchange leg kicks early, and after Hackney misses with a wild overhand right akin to the one that knocked 616lb Emmanuel Yarborough on his ass in UFC 3, Ruas rushes in, rips Hackney to the ground and back-mounts him. Some heavy shots to the back of Hackney’s head create an opening and a rear-naked choke goes on for the early submission.

The semi-finals get underway with Tank Abbott vs Dan Severn. Tank stuffs Severn’s first takedown attempt, but within a minute, he’s grounded and is being mauled by the Beast. Heavy punches, slaps, knees and elbows are relentlessly dropped and although Tank somehow survives, it’s 18 minutes of utter domination. The judges are called into action for the first time in UFC history, and it’s an easy decision for Severn.

miThe Second semi-final is Oleg Taktarov against Marco Ruas. It’s a cautious start from both fighters with Ruas getting the better of the early striking, having particular success with his patented legs kicks that chopped down Paul Varelans with in the previous event. Taktarov tries a front kick of his own but the knee of his standing leg seems to give way. That spurs Taktarov on to close the distance and clinch against the cage. He drops for his second leg lock attempt of the night, but Ruas is wiser to it that Beneteau was and he fights his way out of it. Ruas lands a few shots before Taktarov wall-walks and they’re back to their feet. Ruas is winning the fight so far, but the altitude is starting to take its toll. Both fighters have slowed right down and are breathing heavily. Ruas pauses to adjust his mouth piece Taktarov throws a punch which stuns him. They clinch and Taktarov reaches round Ruas’ neck for a guillotine and pulls guard. He’s not able to finish the choke and John McCarthy stands them back up. Although it’s slow and laboured, Ruas clearly has the edge in the striking. Bizarrely Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson in commentary, and seemingly the judges too, consider Taktarov’s forward plodding is more ‘aggressive’ than Ruas’ counter striking. At only the second time of asking, the judges make a horrible decision and give a fight to Taktarov that for my money, Ruas clearly won.

photo___ID_155So the final is a high altitude battle between two big guys who have already endured 18 minute semi-finals. Strap in. Severn decides he’s had enough of smashing his knuckles up on opponents’ skulls and elects to bitch-slap Taktarov for the opening few minutes instead. For the third time of the night, Taktarov rolls for a knee bar/leg lock, and initially it’s close. Severn rolls out of it and mounts Taktarov. The variety of strikes he used to pound on Tank is replaced almost exclusively with head butts. 15 minutes in, Taktarov manages to find a way back to his feet, and John McCarthy takes the opportunity to have the doctors and cut man take a look at his face, which is starting to resemble a well tenderised steak. They restart, and Taktarov drops for the leg lock again. It goes badly and he finds himself back underneath Severn being savaged. John McCarthy stands them up, and after some ineffective striking, you guessed it, Taktarov drops for a leg lock, which puts him straight back under Severn for some more punishment for the rest of regulation time. Overtime contains a couple more failed leg lock attempt and some ineffective striking all round. Severn cruises to the finishing line for a decision win.

Event Highlight

Erm? Dan Severn utterly dominating I suppose, but it’s no thriller.

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UFC 7 – The Brawl In Buffalo

8th September, 1995, Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York, USA

UFC 7 runs to the same format as the previous event; an eight-man tournament and a Super Fight. There’s a change to the commentary team, with Bruce Beck and Jeff Blatnik being joined by Don “The Dragon” Wilson instead of stalwart Jim Brown. John McCarthy is the referee and Michael Buffer introduces the fighters.

Proceedings are kicked off by two huge men, with Gerry Harris fighting the returning Paul Varelans. Harris is easily taken down and after taking some punishment rolls to his front. He continues to receive a battering, and when Varelans switches from punches to elbows to the back of the head, Harris calls it a night and taps.

26The second quarter final Is Mark Hall facing UFC 3 runner up; Harold Howard. They crash to the canvas early and some of Halls strikes from the top are open hand, and possibly even claw-like. Howard begins bleeding heavily from the face and Hall gets busy with some hair pulling and head butts. Howard decides he’s had enough and taps.

The third quarter final is another returning fighter, Dutch grappler Remco Pardoel, against newcomer Ryan Parker. Pardoel throws Parker and in side control, he ties up an arm. Some punches are dropped but as Pardoel’s knuckles start to redden, he thinks better of the skull cracking, moves to mount and works to a lapel choke with his own gi.

The last quarter final is the much anticipated debut of Vale Tudo legend Marco Ruas. He’s fighting Larry Cureton who was on the wrong end of a couple of dozen head butts from Todd Medina in UFC 5. Ruas lifts and throws the much bigger Cureton and quickly transitions to mount. More by luck than judgement, Cureton reverses Ruas, who is really active from his back. There’s an attempted arm triangle and arm bar, and finally it’s a leg lock that gets him. Very impressive debut by Marco Ruas.

The first semi-final is a quick one. Mark Hall manages to land a couple of early punches and kicks, but Varelans gets the much smaller Hall in a side headlock and tosses him to the ground. After transitioning to mount and dropping a couple of his trademark elbows, Varelans synchs up a key-lock and gets an instant tap, maybe before it’s fully on. Hall is obviously sufficiently aware what’s going on to know he’s about to lose his arm.

pardoelRemco Pardoel against Marco Ruas is a very different affair. After a couple of leg kicks from Ruas, they clinch up and there’s some standing grappling with Pardoel working hard for a guillotine. Ruas resists being taken down for several minutes, but eventually, they crash to the ground and there’s a frantic struggle to escape a really tight choke. Ruas finds a narrow opening and reverses Pardoel. They spend some time in a 50/50 with Ruas working for leg locks, but eventually he bails on it and puts Pardoel on his back. After some heavy punches, Ruas passes to side control and then to mount. Rather bizarrely, Pardoel taps as soon as he’s mounted and although he’s had a work out, Ruas moves on to the final undamaged.

Next, we move on to Ken Shamrock’s third Super Fight in successive events. The anti-climactic draw against Royce Gracie in UFC 5 was followed by a masterful win over Dan Severn in UFC 6. Tonight he faces the champion from the previous event, Oleg Taktarov. There was some controversy at UFC 5 when Anthony Marcias clearly threw his semi-final to his friend and training partner; Oleg Taktarov. That sets alarm bells ringing before this Super Fight, because Taktarov is a member of the Lion’s Den camp, led by none other than Ken Shamrock. There’s a bit of half-hearted striking early, but they go to the ground fairly quickly. There are a few heavy looking punches and open hand strikes from both fighters, and Shamrock does use his head frequently. The 3 minute overtime is pretty ferocious but while it’s clearly not the outright fix the Taktarov vs Marcias was, I’m not convinced there isn’t some element of a ‘work’ going on. To cut a long story short, they ‘fight’ to a 33 minute draw and Ken Shamrock retains his title.

MarcoRuasThat just leaves the tournament final to take care of. You wouldn’t know Ruas is across the cage from 6’8” of fury by the look on his face. He looks like he’s pool-side in his Speedos, queueing for an ice cream. Varelans charges across the octagon and is met with half a dozen thudding leg kicks. They clinch up occasionally, but each time they separate, Ruas unloads with a mixture of crisp punches and heavy leg kicks. One prolonged clinch ends up with Varelans facing the fence and holding on tight with Ruas giving him a reach around. There’s an exchange of heavy foot stomps but when it grinds to a halt, John McCarthy separates and restarts them. As they come back together Ruas throws another leg kick and Varelans answers with a massive one of his own which momentarily slows Ruas down. As Varelans lumbers forward, Ruas throws a variety of strikes, but it’s the relentless kicks that are clearly having the biggest success. He continues to chop away until finally, TIMBER! Varelans’ leg gives way and he collapses to the canvas. Ruas climbs on top and unloads to finish the big man off. Fantastic performance by ’The King Of The Streets.’

Event Highlight

Marco Ruas hacking down Paul Varelans.

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