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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