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 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 – 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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UFC 6 – Clash Of The Titans

14th July 1995, Casper Events Center, Casper, Wyoming, USA

UFC 6, the first with no Gracie involvement. Also, as there’s no Steve Jennum and Dan Severn is in the Super Fight, we’re guaranteed a first time tournament Champion.

Bruce Beck, Jeff Blatnik and Jim Brown are all on duty, and as always, John McCarthy is the third man in the cage. Our ring announcer for the night is beautifully dressed, silky voiced Michael Buffer. A definite step up in class from Rich Goins or Ron Jeremy.

abbottkomatuaThe tournament gets underway with the debut of the one and only David “Tank” Abbott. He’s being welcomed by John Matua who has a 120lbs weight advantage, but as they meet in the middle of the cage it’s not a factor. Tank throws some heavy leather and completely starches Matua in 20 seconds. Welcome to the UFC Tank. “Cake walk, baby!”

Next up is retired US Marine and Tae Kwon Do practitioner; Cal Worsham taking on 6’8”, 300lbs Trap Fighter; Paul Varelans. Worsham gets the better of the early punching exchanges, but Varelans is like a Terminator. He brings a crushing elbow down onto the back of Worsham’s skull and shuts him down instantly. Absolutely brutal KO.

The third quarter final is UFC 2 finalist Pat Smith against Rudyard Moncayo. Pat’s been working on his submission game since losing to Royce Gracie last time out and is even wearing a wresting singlet for this outing. As McCarthy starts them, Pat throws a glorious front kick which almost puts Moncaya through the cage wall and into the first row. Immediately back to their feet, Pat gets Moncayo in a standing guillotine and throws a variety of punches, knees and elbows, there’s a scramble and they go to the ground. Pat grabs a choke and Moncayo taps. Very efficient win by Pat Smith.

The last quarter final is all-round nice guy, big Dave Beneteau against UFC 5 runner up Oleg Taktarov. Beneteau is successful right from the off with a double leg, but Taktarov manages to get back to his feet. Beneteau unloads a barrage of punches, and Taktarov goes for his own takedown. There’s a scramble and Taktarov ends up on his back, but slams on a tight guillotine which forces a quick tap from Beneteau.

tank varelans 1The semi-finals get underway with Tank Abbott against Paul Varelans. After throwing a quick right hand, Tank surprises Varelans by taking him to the ground.  After dropping some bombs, Tank raises up, puts his knee across Varelans’ face and throat, grabs the fence with both hands and uses it to pull down hard, all the time grinning maniacally. He drops a couple more punches for good measure and John McCarthy steps in. Varelans is really not happy about it, but it’s a good stoppage. In his post-fight interview, Tank says he’d heard Varelans say he likes to take people down and tickle them, so he’d decided to take Varelans down and tickle his brain.

The second semi-final is Oleg Taktarov against alternate Anthony Macias, who’s stepping in for Pat Smith who’s pulled out with stomach cramps. The problem here is, they share a promotor, and are friends and training partners. The other alternate still fit to fight is Guy Metzger, but he’s in Taktarov’s corner. By 9 seconds into the fight, Macias has tapped to a guillotine he clearly gifted to his mate. Macias was tapping before the choke was even applied. The crown knows it; the commentary team know it; we all know it. Bullshit!

super fightNext up is the second ever Super Fight. The first one at UFC 5 was a big let-down, so we’re hoping for better this time. Before we get underway, we check in with ‘The King Of The Streets’, Marco Ruas, who’s booked to fight in UFC 7. He’s particularly looking forward to facing either of tonight’s Super Fight competitors; Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock, but he’ll have to earn that right by winning a tournament. After a little over a minute of evenly matched standing grappling, an attempted takedown goes wrong for Severn and almost gets himself caught in a fight-ending standing guillotine. He doesn’t learn his lesson and drops for a second takedown. Shamrock puts on a second guillotine, Severn drops backwards to his butt which makes it tighten and he taps. Excellent job by Ken Shamrock, and at the second attempt, we have a Super Fight champion.

olegtaktarovvstankabbott_display_imageThe tournament final is Tank Abbott against Oleg Taktarov. Tank lands some big punches in the first couple of minutes, but as the gas tank starts to quickly empty, the grappling comes into play and the match evens up. They hit the canvas with Tank in Taktarov’s guard, and although they’re both active, it’s a bit of a stalemate. After about 6 minutes they stand and Tank, despite blowing out his arse, has a bit more success, but within a minute they’re back on the ground and back to an exhausted stalemate. Every now and again, Tank’s batteries recharge enough to drop some thunder, but it’s short lived each time. Eventually McCarthy restarts them on their feet and Tank lands a couple of clean shots, but somehow Taktarov survives them. Tank drops for a takedown and gets sucked into what’s becoming a trademark guillotine for Taktarov. Tank turtles up and Taktarov climbs on in the most laboured back mount you’ll ever see. He reaches round for a rear-naked choke that gets the tap. It’s a Herculean effort by both men, and both are unable to get to their feet for quite some time. Tank is the first man walking, and he’s heading backstage for a well-earned cocktail or two. Taktarov doesn’t even have the energy to receive his belt.

Event Highlight

Two words: Tank Abbott!

You have to wonder what would have happened if Pat Smith hadn’t retired ahead of his semi-final with Oleg Taktarov. A Smith/Tank final could have been a barn-burner, or if Taktarov had got through Smith, he’d have likely been pretty banged up. Certainty in much worse shape than he was after effectively being given a bye by his mate, Anthony Marcias.

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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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