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 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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