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 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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