MMA on DVD: UFC Hits: Volume 1
–Not bad for another $10 investment from the bargain bin, huh?
–This DVD is from 2000 and chronicles the very early days of the company: SEG still owns the UFC at this point, and their major marketing premise is that they’re completely no-holds-barred fighting.
–For those of you who aren’t familiar with the differences between today’s UFC and the UFC of the early 1990s, let me bring you up to speed. At this point in the UFC’s history, there were:
No rounds: fights lasted until a knockout, submission, or doctor or ref stoppage, or until 20 minutes had elapsed.
No judges: if no one was either knocked unconscious or forced to submit after 20 minutes, the bout was declared a draw.
No weight classes: the original UFCs were open-weight tournaments, which led to some completely absurd size mismatches.
No gloves: most of the fighters fought bare-knuckled.
No restarts: if a fight went to the clinch or the ground, it stayed there until something happened, which was an awfully long time in a lot of cases.
No rules: remember those handy 34-point guidelines that the Nevada State Athletic Commission came up with? They’re useless here.
–Our host on this trip down memory lane is Mike Goldberg.
Gerard Gordeau vs. Teila Tuli: We start with the very first fight from the very first UFC way back in 1993 in Denver, Colorado. Tuli is a huge Samoan, while Gordeau is a kickboxer of sorts. Both men circle to start, then Tuli rushes in for a takedown, but Gordeau sidesteps him and Tuli goes crashing into the fence and onto his keister. As Tuli starts to get up, Gordeau kicks him square in the face from point-blank range (loosening some teeth) and then blasts him in the face with a right hook. Seeing a healthy trickle of blood under Tuli’s eye, the referee stops the fight and awards it to Gordeau.
Scott Morris vs. Pat Smith: This one’s from UFC 2, and for those of you that care, current Fox News apparatchik Brian Kilmeade is doing play-by-play. Morris rushes Smith from the word go and looks to take him down, but Smith falls on top of Morris, immediately mounts him, and then just buries him with punches and elbows until a very young-looking Big John stops the fight. The fight was maybe twenty seconds long, and least ten of those were Morris fighting to take Smith down.
Remco Pardoel vs. Orlando Weit: This fight is also from UFC 2. Remember those ridiculous size mismatches that I was talking about? Weit is 5’10” and 170, while Pardoel is 6’4″ and 260–you tell me who the favorite would be here. Weit fires off a leg kick to start, but Pardoel armdrags him to the mat and into an odd position: Weit is flat on his back, while Pardoel is laying on his back on top of Weit, essentially in side control. Pardoel hangs on to Weit’s arm as if to attempt some kind of armbar or kimura, but then gets bored, leans back, and elbows Weit in the face over and over again. Weit, pinned under the much bigger man, has nowhere to go until his corner mercifully throws in the towel.
Emmanuel Yarborough vs. Keith Hackney: And speaking of ridiculous, here’s Emmanuel Yarborough: at nearly 600 pounds, Yarborough is roughly three times the size of Hackney. But don’t fear for poor Keith, ladies and gentlemen…let’s just say that it’s not 600 pounds of muscle. Hackney, probably afraid that Yarborough is going to try and use him as an appetizer, circles frantically and pops the big man with a leg kick that does nothing. Throwing caution to the wind, he rushes forward and crowns Yarborough with a big palm strike, knocking him down! He rushes in to try and knock him out, but Yarborough trips him up, takes his back, and starts pounding away.
Hackney miraculously escapes and gets back to his feet, but Yarborough shoves him the cage door and out into the audience. After the restart, Hackney goes back to circling and throwing the occasional strike; Yarborough keeps trying to cut the ring off, but can’t catch up to Hackney. Hackney throws a low kick that Yarborough catches, but as Yarborough pulls him closer, Hackney starts unloading with right uppercuts. Finally, the big man topples backwards and Hackney dives in and fires away until Yarborough submits.
Harold Howard vs. Roland Payne: Payne snaps off a leg kick, and Howard punches him in the face to counter, so Payne shoots in and gets Howard down. Howard immediately rolls through and kicks Payne off, then gets in and rushes over to knee Payne in the head, but Payne, from all fours, catches Howard’s knee, takes him down, and passes right into side control. Both men reverse each other’s reversals and get back to their feet; Payne lands a couple of kicks to Howard’s ribs, but Howard just murders Payne with a huge right hook, and Big John stops the fight.
I’ll say this: these fights may be short on technique, but they’re long on action. There’s absolutely no feeling-out period as these fighters are basically rushing each other with complete abandon.
Kimo Leopoldo vs. Royce Gracie: This is from UFC 3, and to fill you in on the backstory, Royce had won the first two UFCs (remember–they were tournaments, after all) in a walk, basically choking out everyone in his path and establishing Brazilian jiu-jitsu as the premier martial art in this sort of competition. Here, he has got to go up against the massive Kimo, who has a definite size and strength advantage over the slighter Royce.
Royce rushes out and immediately tries to get Kimo to the ground, but has a lot of trouble moving the bigger man. After about 25 seconds of grappling, Royce pushes Kimo out of the octagon door, so Big John shuts the door and tells both men to resume hostilities. Royce lands a couple of knees to Kimo’s midsection in the clinch, but still can’t get him to the ground; remember, this is before restarts, so we’ve really just seen a minute and a half of clinching. Throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Kimo, Royce, sportsman that he is, headbutts Kimo and then knees him in the junk but still can’t get him down. Finally, after a minute and 40 seconds, Royce falls to the ground and Kimo takes his back; he tries to get a choke, but Royce rolls over and gets free. The next three minutes are almost nothing but reversals: every time Royce moves Kimo into position for a choke or armbar, Kimo escapes, stands up in Royce’s guard, and re-establishes position, or throws a punch that finds his way through Gracie’s hands. Finally, Royce is able to get leverage on Kimo by grabbing his ponytail and pulling it close and eventually rolls him into an armbar for the submission. After the match, Royce is completely gassed, and had to withdraw from the tournament, in fact. This wasn’t a classic in any sense of the term, but it was a historically significant fight in the sense that the MMA world started to notice a few cracks in Royce Gracie’s armor.
Joe Son vs. Keith Hackney: Now here’s a match that will forever live in infamy. We get a double dose of Hackney tonight, and for those of you that aren’t familiar with Joe Son, he’s Kimo’s rather large manager/trainer/spiritual guru. He also played Random Task in Austin Powers, if that’s a better frame of reference for you. Anyway, Hackney starts the fight keeping his distance and throwing kicks at Joe, but Joe pulls him into a clinch, takes him down, and starts working from his half-guard. Hackney rolls away a little, so Joe grabs a front facelock and turns it into a guillotine choke. Still stuck in the choke, Hackney gets to his feet, so Joe walks him over to the fence and cranks away; Hackney, in turn, trips Joe up and gets into side control, even though Joe is still choking him.
Alright, here’s the Kodak moment: in order to get free from Joe’s choke, Hackney just starts unloading punches on Joe’s genitalia, and I’m not talking just two or three punches, either. After about seven straight low blows, Joe loosens his grip on Hackney’s head and Hackney immediately slaps on some bizarre submission; tired of having his nuts pummeled, Joe chooses the better part of valor and taps out.
Dan Severn vs. Anthony Macias: From UFC 4 in Oklahoma City, we get Severn’s debut in the octagon, and he outweighs hometown boy Macias by at least 50 pounds. Macias, a Muay Thai fighter, opens up with some nice leg kicks, but Severn shoots in and gets a double-leg takedown. Macias won’t stay down, so Severn grabs a rear waistlock and suplexes him to the mat, then hangs on and suplexes Macias again right onto the back of his head! Severn then takes the kid’s back and eventually gets a rear naked choke for the submission.
Dave Beneteau vs. Asbel Cancio: Beneteau rushes in, takes Cancio down, and immediately pounds him out. Next.
Jon Hess vs. Andy Anderson: Hess, much taller and much heavier, comes out landing haymakers and looks to knock Anderson out extremely early, but Anderson somehow manages to get Hess to the ground and lands a few choice shots of his own down there. Once the fight gets back to its feet, though, Hess finished what he started; with a wobbled Anderson down on all fours, Hess knees him in the head until Big John stops the fight.
John Matua vs. David “Tank” Abbott: In his UFC debut, Tank immediately walks out and starts smacking Matua around with wild hooks; as Matua tries to get back to his feet, Tank crushes him with four straight right hands, ending the fight.
Paul Varelans vs. Cal Worsham: Both men come out firing, with Worsham landing more accurately in the early going. In fact, Worsham is landing a ton of punches, but Varelans won’t go down; Worsham keeps bombing away on the bigger man, so Varelans grabs a front facelock and hangs on for dear life. Breaking the hold, Varelans throws some sharp overhand punches, then drives his elbow downwards into the top of Worsham’s head, knocking him completely unconscious.
Marco Ruas vs. Paul Varelans: We cut to the 11-minute mark in this match from UFC 7, and man, is Ruas in absolutely phenomenal shape here. Ruas does nothing but fire off leg kicks for the first three minutes that we watch, as we see him progressively chopping the much taller and larger Varelans down. Finally, Varelans absorbs one leg kick too many and falls to the mat; from there, Ruas tees off on him with punches and hammer fists until Big John stops the fight.
Gary Goodridge vs. Paul Herrara: On a somewhat unrelated note, it looks odd yet really cool to see “Big Daddy” in a gi here. Goodridge outweighs Herrara by almost 75 pounds, and unlike the Hackney/Yarborough fight, it’s not soft weight, so this could get very brutal very quickly. Herrara immediately shoots in for a takedown, but Goodridge stuffs it, takes Herrara’s back with a crucifix, and then rolls Herrara on top of him. At this point, Goodridge’s back is on the mat, and his legs are tying up Herrera’s right arm while his arms are binding Herrera’s left arm. Making sure that both arms are secure, Goodridge starts launching nasty elbows at Herrara’s completely unprotected head and lands about 12 unanswered shots before Big John stops the fight. An extremely short but awesomely brutal fight, and Goodridge goes appropriately berserk after the stoppage.
Mark Hall vs. Koji Kitao: Kitao, a 350-pound former professional wrestler, is matched up against the smallest man in the tournament, the 190-pound Hall. Hall tries to stick and move, hitting Kitao’s ample belly with a low kick and popping him with a right hand, but Kitao finally gets a hold of him, and all of a sudden, things look very bad for Hall. Kitao takes him down and climbs into his half-guard, but Big John suddenly separates the two fighters for no apparent reason. As Kitao turns around and the cameras catch up to him, we see blood gushing from his nose, and he decides not to continue. I’m not really sure why they added this here: the short fights thus far have been entertaining, but this fight didn’t even last long enough for that.
Don Frye vs. Amaury Bitetti: We join the fight in progress with six minutes left in the regulation round. Frye looks fantastic here: cut, trim, and not sporting the almost cartoonishly large physique that he had in his later days in PRIDE. Frye takes Bitetti down and eventually starts nailing him with elbows from his half-guard, opening a litany of small cuts all over Bitetti’s face. Finally, Big John stops the fight to check Bitetti’s cuts: given the choice to quit, Bitetti bravely (or stupidly) opts to continue, so we get a restart, from which Frye immediately grabs a front facelock and starts kneeing Bitetti in the head. After several nasty knees and no real response from Bitetti, Big John stops the fight and awards the decision to Frye.
Mark Coleman vs. Don Frye: Here’s another fight that we’re joining in progress, as Frye looks like he was trying to break bricks with his face. Both guys have almost no energy left, and we’re still only six and a half minutes into the fight. Both fighters circle for about a minute, then Coleman pops Frye with a jab and grabs a front facelock. Frye tries to take the massive Coleman down but doesn’t have the strength at this point, and Coleman very gradually grinds Frye down to all fours and takes his back. From there, Coleman starts landing punches and clamps on a couple of choke attempts, but Frye reverses to the top, so Coleman picks him up, throws him over his shoulder, and looks to drop him in an uncomfortable fashion. Frye manages to grab the cage to put a stop to that, so Coleman puts him down, tattoos him with hooks and uppercuts, and takes him down. In the center of the ring with no gas in the tank and Coleman on top of him, Frye is right f*cked, and Coleman fires away with right hands and hammer fists, then switches to side control and alternates knees, elbows, and headbutts to the face. After about fifteen seconds of this, Big John calls time to check Frye’s injuries, and then stops the fight, making Mark Coleman the UFC 10 heavyweight champion.
Brian Johnston vs. Reza Nazri: Nazri rushes in for a takedown, but Johnston stuffs it and knees him in the face for his troubles. Both men fight for a takedown, but Johnston gets it and immediately passes into side control, then passes right into full mount and starts headbutting Nazri. He sits up on Nazri’s chest and pistons five or six huge unopposed right hands down into his face, and Big John leaps in to stop the fight. While tackling Johnston, Big John inadvertently breaks his nose.
Tank Abbott vs. Scott Ferrozzo: By now, the UFC has adopted a five-minute overtime round in the event that no one gets knocked out or submits within 20 minutes; in addition, they’ve also brought in judges to make a decision if that extra round goes by without a clear winner. We start the fight at the beginning of the overtime period, and both men are pumped. Tank lands a bunch of wild punches to start, but can’t seem to knock Ferrozzo down. Ferrozzo throws a nice leg kick, so Tank counters that by punching him in the face with an overhand right. Tank grinds Ferrozzo up against the fence in the clinch, and Ferrozzo responds with a knee, some kidney punches, and the odd headbutt to try and break free. Tank hangs onto the fence, keeping Ferrozzo pinned against the cage, but Ferrozzo’s getting all of the shots in. Finally, Big John restarts them (hooray!), and Ferrozzo cuffs Tank with a left hook right away, which sends Tank into a frenzy. Both fighters swing wildly at each other until the final bell, so Ferrozo wins by decision and advances despite being choked out by Jerry Bohlander earlier in the day.
Cal Worsham vs. Tank Abbott: From the Ultimate Ultimate ’96, we get two of the early UFC’s favorite brawlers. Both men trade to start, then Tank picks Worsham up for a huge slam, but Worsham grabs the top of the fence to save himself, so Tank, being a rocket scientist, seems to contemplate actually throwing Worsham over the top of the fence. Tank finally slams Worsham to the mat, pushes him to the fence, and lands a couple of meaty right hands, then slides effortlessly into side control. Tank can’t get anything done there, and Worsham finally gets his legs up to protect himself, so Tank stands up, hovers for a moment, and then dives in again. Both men grapple on the ground, and Tank mashes him with a big right hand. Worsham taps out, and a second after he does, Tank blasts him in the face with another right hand, and as Big John is pulling him off, Tank tags him again with a left hand. Worsham gets up and is absolutely livid, and rightfully so, but it seems to me that a guy with that much energy should have used it for, you know, fighting back.
Tank Abbott vs. Steve Nelmark: This is also from Ultimate Ultimate ’96, and Nelmark’s a replacement for Ken Shamrock, who broke his hand on Brian Johnston’s face earlier in the competition. Tank cracks Nelmark in the face with a big overhand right, sending him crashing into the fence, then picks him up and slams him to the mat. Nelmark gets back to his feet, so Tank starts teeing off with left and right hooks; Nelmark stumbles across the ring to the fence, and Tank follows, looking to finish. Both men clinch, then Tank steps back and obliterates Nelmark with a right hook, knocking him instantly unconscious. It’s too bad that we never got a Tank/Shamrock fight, but it’s also amazing how popular Tank is at this point.
Don Frye vs. Tank Abbott: Here’s the finals from Ultimate Ultimate ’96, and I’m interested to see what Abbott can do against someone who can both stand up with him and grapple as well as he can. Tank knocks Frye down immediately with his first punch–a stiff left jab that sends the crowd into a frenzy. Frye gets back to his feet along the fence, but Abbott charges in and looks to finish early. Frye manages to circle away and jab a bit, but Tank follows, windmilling punches in from every angle, and busts Frye open with a right hook to the nose. Both men clinch, but Tank uses the clinch to hold Frye while drilling him with right hooks and right uppercuts. Tank is landing home run shot after home run shot, but slips and falls, and that opening allows Frye to get on top of him, take his back, and get his hooks in. Frye almost gets a rear naked choke, but Abbott escapes; Frye tries again, locks the choke in, and Tank almost instantly taps out. What a fun match: we get the opening, where Tank literally throws everything at Frye but can’t put him away, and that allows the better-conditioned (and rock-chinned) Frye to weather the storm, seize his one opportunity, and win the fight.
Vitor Belfort vs. Tra Telligman: Both men are making their debuts here at UFC 12, and this is the first time that we see Tra’s slightly bizarre appearance. For those of you who’ve never seen Tra (pronounced “Trey”) before, he had a cancerous growth in his right pectoral muscle, so doctors removed the muscle itself, giving his chest a very distinct appearance.
Vitor Belfort, on the other hand, was Georges St. Pierre before there was a Georges St. Pierre: young, powerful, almost impossibly quick for his size, and equally adept at striking, submissions, or ground-and-pound. Did I mention that Vitor and I are the same age? In 1996, I was mastering the keg stand, shaving once a week, trying not to fail my 9 o’clock calculus course, and figuring out how to get into Jamie McAfee’s pants. Meanwhile, Vitor was going up against some of the scariest motherf*ckers on Earth. Kinda puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?
In any case, both fighters circle to start, then Vitor snaps Tra’s head back with five or six short hooks; Tra’s seen enough of that, thank you very much, and ties up Vitor’s arms in a clinch. Both men wrestle for position, then Vitor gets free and buries Tra under another avalanche of punches, but Tra manages to keep his head screwed on and pulls Belfort into another clinch. Even clinching, Vitor keeps throwing short punches and drops Tra with a short left hook, so he then runs over, fires a few punches in through Tra’s guard, and then switches easily to side control. Vitor sits up in side control and starts dropping elbow after elbow onto the side of Tra’s head, opening a huge gash over his right eye that causes Big John to stop the fight.
Vitor Belfort vs. Scott Ferrozzo: We follow the logical progression here, as this match is the heavyweight final from UFC 12. Ferrozzo motions for Vitor to bring it on, and I think that he’s going to regret that before he gets much older. Vitor, fighting southpaw, zips Ferrozzo on the chin with a right jab and a nasty left cross, then knocks him down with a short, brutal overhand left. He briefly gets side control and unloads another pair of lefts onto Ferrozzo’s face, so Ferrozzo rolls over, which leads Vitor to take his back. From Ferrozzo’s back, Vitor whacks him with nasty right hooks until Big John steps in and stops it: the heavyweight final of UFC 12 lasts all of 45 seconds and ends about as decisively as you can imagine. Vitor’s striking is light-years ahead of all of the heavyweight competition at this point, as he’s just demolishing the other competitors with short, straight, lightning-fast combinations.
Guy Mezger vs. Tito Ortiz: Strangely enough, Tito is fighting as an amateur here: he’d beaten Wes Albritton in his first UFC fight, and now he’s making a major jump in competition to take on Mezger. Tito, of all people, comes out throwing big hooks and uppercuts, so Mezger tries to take him to the mat, but Tito sprawls. Mezger holds on to a leg as Tito, still sprawling, works his head and kidneys with punches. Tito holds onto his front facelock, rotates a little, and starts kneeing Mezger in the head. Tito grabs one of Guy’s legs, turning the front facelock into an inside cradle, and keeps kneeing him in the head; eventually, Big John calls time in order to check the healthy cut growing on the back of Mezger’s head. Tito is high-fiving his cornermen while Frank Shamrock gives Guy a little pep-talk in his corner, and on the restart, Guy leans in and tags Tito with a wide right hand. Both fighters trade punches and then Tito shoots in for a takedown, but as he does, Guy sinks in a guillotine choke and uses his left leg to pin Tito’s right arm to his ribs. Pinned down in the center of the octagon with his dominant hand essentially useless, Tito has no choice but to tap. Guy Mezger is the lightweight champion of UFC 13, and Tito is pissed, but the Lion’s Den guys rush the ring to celebrate.
Of course, their rematch at UFC 19 would become much more famous: Tito, now a full-time professional fighter but still smarting from that first loss, knocked out Guy in the first round. After the fight, he unveiled the infamous “Gay Mezger Is My Bitch” T-shirt that drove Ken Shamrock into a frenzy, touching off the massive Tito-Ken feud that eventually culminated in the highest-grossing pay-per-view card in MMA history and a free main event on Spike TV that drew a bigger audience among 18 to 34-year-olds than Game 1 of the 2006 World Series.
Vitor Belfort vs. Tank Abbott: Vitor takes Tank down against the fence, but Tank reverses and gets back to his feet, standing over a prone Vitor, who pops right back to his feet. Tank comes forward, but Vitor stops that with an overhand left, so Tank grabs a clinch and starts throwing nasty kidney shots, but Vitor breaks free of that with five or six short left and right hooks. Vitor chases Tank with three or four sharp left hooks, knocking him down, then climbs on top of him and takes his back. From there, Vitor pounds away with lefts until Big John steps in and stops the fight. Again, the big goons of that era’s heavyweight division had no idea how to fight anyone with Vitor’s combination of speed, power, and boxing skill; to accentuate that point, Vitor left a trail of bodies behind him in his early UFC career, knocking out his first three opponents in under 1:30. In fact, Vitor looked fairly unstoppable, but we’ll talk about that more a little later in the DVD.
Mark Coleman vs. Maurice Smith: Coleman, widely considered to be the innovator of ground-and-pound, goes up against the ultra-versatile Maurice Smith, and we join the fight at the beginning of its second overtime period. Both men are exhausted, but Coleman, the much bigger of the two, looks like he could fall over at any second. Smith starts out with a couple of leg kicks, but then whiffs on a head kick and slips; still, Coleman’s too tired to shoot in and capitalize. Coleman keeps bending over to catch his breath, but Smith’s still afraid to get too close and get taken down. We get a little break in the action to retape Smith’s gloves, and Coleman takes a much-needed breather. Smith stings Coleman with a couple of jabs and a leg kick, then dots him with another jab/leg kick combo as Big John admonishes Coleman for just standing there. Coleman tries weakly for a takedown, but Smith spins away and catches him with another leg kick and then a very sharp overhand left. Both fighters circle until the horn sounds, then embrace in a show of respect. Finally, Bruce Buffer makes his UFC debut and announces the NEW heavyweight champion by unanimous decision–Maurice Smith.
Mark Kerr vs. Greg Stott: Slowly but surely, the American wrestling community notices Coleman’s success, and we begin to see a huge influx of wrestlers into the heavyweight ranks, such as Mark Kerr and Randy Couture. For those of you who’ve never heard of Kerr, HBO funded a brilliant documentary about his fairly messed-up life called The Smashing Machine, which you should definitely rent if you get the opportunity. Kerr is built like the Terminator, while Stott is built like your high-school wrestling coach, and if you can imagine a fight between the Terminator and your high school wrestling coach, then this fight pretty much goes along the same lines. Kerr pulls Stott into a clinch, pushes his head down, and completely killifies him with a knee to the face. Stott flies backwards like he’s been shot out of a cannon, and Big John immediately stops the fight.
Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort: It’s hard to imagine a time when when anyone could consider Randy Couture to be unproven in the UFC, but this is it. Randy had forced Tony Halme (better known as WWF wrestler Ludvig Borga) to submit and had knocked out Steven Graham at UFC 13, but Vitor was the bigger star by far, having mauled his first four professional opponents by extremely fast knockouts. Randy was a spry 34 here, and obviously still developing from a world-class wrestler into a topnotch mixed martial artist.
Both fighters circle to start, and then Vitor throws a quick four-punch combination but only manages to sneak one through Randy’s hands. Randy pops Vitor with a little left jab, which Vitor responds to by rushing in and missing a wild left hook, so Randy sucks him into a clinch and grabs a front facelock. Vitor tries for a single-leg takedown, but Randy gets loose and pushes Vitor away. Both fighters go back to circling as the announcers express surprise at Randy’s willingness to stand up and trade with Vitor; Vitor throws another wild punch, and Randy ducks under it and pulls him into a clinch. As with the Abbott fight, Vitor starts landing short, explosive punches from the clinch, so Randy ties up his arms and starts kneeing him in the ribs. Vitor keeps trying to crack Randy on the jaw with an uppercut, so Randy keeps moving his head back in the clinch; finally, Vitor gets free and misses a huge left hook, and that gives Randy the opening that he needs to shoot in, take Vitor down, and immediately pass into side control.
After some ground work, Randy slaps a little headlock on Vitor and starts throwing lefts into Vitor’s exposed face, so Vitor rolls around, gets free, and puts Randy back into his full guard. Working through Vitor’s guard, Randy gets his left hand free and pops Vitor, then gets his right hand free and starts landing punches over the top. Just as I think that we’re going to have a stalemate, Randy gets free and starts dropping left hands, which causes Vitor to roll over and Randy to grab a front facelock. Vitor starts to stand up, so Randy stands with him and starts blasting his head with knees. Vitor pushes free, so Randy gets him in yet another clinch and clocks him with a right hook to the head and then two more to the ribs. These only seem to piss Vitor off, and he bangs three left hooks into the side of Randy’s head; this time, though, Randy grabs the back of Vitor’s head and starts pounding him with short right uppercuts and hooks. As he backs away, Vitor eats an overhand left from Randy, who obviously sees the kid flagging here and is trying like mad to put him away. He grabs the back of Vitor’s head again and unloads with seven straight uppercuts to Vitor’s jaw. Vitor collapses against the cage, so Randy starts dropping knees to his ribs and head and left hooks to his face. Vitor rolls over a bit, so Randy takes his back and keeps punching away for about 30 seconds until Big John stops the fight. The crowd goes apeshit, and Randy basks in the glow of what was considered a major upset at that time.
Frank Shamrock vs. Kevin Jackson: Mike Goldberg makes his UFC debut on play-by-play, but even he’s not the most important debutant tonight, as future UFC legend Frank Shamrock takes his first turn in the octagon against former Olympic gold medalist Kevin Jackson. Frank gets a couple of punches off to start, but Jackson rushes him and takes him down…right into a Frank armbar, that is. Frank rolls over, cranks away, and the fight is over after 15 seconds. Frank Shamrock is the UFC’s first light-heavyweight champion, and seriously, I don’t even think that he broke a sweat here.
Mikey Burnett vs. Eugenio Tadeu: At this time, Mikey was an up-and-comer with the Lion’s Den, while Tadeu had made a name for himself in Brazilian vale tudo fights. Here’s another fight joined in progress, as we pick it up about eight minutes in. Tadeu and Burnett clinch, as Goldberg related that Mikey just landed a flurry of big punches; Burnett, clearly in control, starts landing sharp knees to Tadeu’s ribs. Both fighters break the clinch and head back to the center of the octagon: Mikey clocks Tadeu with a big right hook, wobbles him with a huge uppercut, and then smashes him with another big right hook, but Tadeu won’t fall. Finally, Burnett lands about six more unanswered punches before the ref steps in to stop it, as Tadeu is clearly out on his feet.
Frank Shamrock vs. Igor Zinoviev: This is Frank’s first title defense, and he comes out kicking, landing a couple of decent leg kicks to start. Zinoviev rushes forward and throws a big overhand right, so Frank ducks under it, grabs both of Zinoviev’s legs, picks him up over his shoulders, and gets a Hughes-esque slam down to the canvas. On the way down, the back of Zinoviev’s head crashes into the mat, and he’s out.
The Inside Pulse
I’m a little torn on this DVD: on one hand, it’s a great history of the UFC, showing exactly how far the promotion has come since its beginnings; on the other hand, a lot of the fights aren’t particularly good.
Yes, there are certainly some famous fights, such as Randy-Vitor, Coleman-Frye, Gracie-Kimo, and a couple more, but most of the fights that have become synonymous with the UFC happened after the company’s sale to Zuffa. Even so, you can see the quality of the fights markedly improve by the end of the show, with the introduction of more skilled fighters, weight classes, and judges.
Still, it does have its freakshow appeal, and it’d be great to show a lot of the new fans a little bit more of the wackiness of the early days, particularly with the open-weight tournaments and the lack of any rules at all.
If you’re a fight connoisseur, this DVD may not be for you, but I definitely enjoyed the history behind it.
Tags: Mixed Martial Arts