Retro Review: UFC – Ultimate Ultimate 1995

UFC: Ultimate Ultimate 1995

Denver, Colorado

-Back to the early days then and this show, which was basically put together with the premise of making a tournament with all of the best guys from the first few (1-7) UFC tournaments. Not including Royce Gracie, which is frustrating, but I guess that’s the way things go.

-Opening highlight package gives us the rundown of the tournament, we’ve got four UFC champions (Dan Severn, Marco Ruas, Oleg Taktarov, Steve Jennum) and four of the best challengers (Tank Abbott, Keith Hackney, Pat Smith, Dave Beneteau). Sounds like fun to me.

-Your hosts are Bruce Beck, Jeff Blatnick and Don Wilson. They explain that there’s a $150,000 prize for the winner, and then show us the brackets, letting us know that Pat Smith’s out with some health problems, and Paul Varelans is replacing him.

-We’ve got three judges to score the bouts should they go the distance for the first time in UFC history, and I’m thinking that’s down to draws happening in two of the first three Superfights. Time limits are twelve minutes in the quarters, eighteen in the semis, and a twenty-seven minute opening period in the finals, with three minutes overtime if needed.

Quarter-Finals: Tank Abbott vs Steve Jennum

First up we’ve got Tank Abbott, UFC 6 runner-up, against Steve Jennum, UFC 3 champion. Big size difference here as Tank outweighs Jennum by like 80lbs.

Tank opens with a big right hand, and then follows with a takedown. Jennum immediately goes to half-guard, but Tank quickly scoots him into the fence. Jennum gets full guard as Tank tries to stand to drop some bombs, but can’t kick the bigger man away, and Tank goes back into the guard and ends up forcing Jennum’s head into the fence, bending his neck at a bad angle, and Jennum ends up tapping out there.

Pretty much a squash for Tank as Jennum couldn’t deal with his size and power.

Quarter-Finals: Dan Severn vs Paul Varelans

Next up is UFC 5 champion Dan Severn, coming off his loss to Ken Shamrock in the UFC 6 Superfight, against Paul Varelans, the runner-up at UFC 7 and the famous victim of Marco Ruas’s leg kicks.

Severn comes right out of the gate with a swift takedown to side mount, and ties Varelans up from the top using his own arms. Varelans just looks lost on his back, and Severn forces his forearm into the big man’s throat, and then locks on a head and arm choke, squeezing it down for the tapout.

These quarter-finals are going quickly, so far the first two fights have taken just under three minutes I think. Severn basically schooled Varelans, putting him on the mat quickly and wasting no time in finishing him off.

Quarter-Finals: Oleg Taktarov vs Dave Beneteau

Interesting one here as UFC 6 champion Taktarov is the sambo expert, while Beneteau from what I remember was quite a decent wrestling-based fighter. Beneteau, for those who don’t recall him, was the runner-up to Dan Severn at UFC 5.

Oleg clinches as they get underway, but Beneteau muscles him off and breaks. They go right back to the clinch though, and Taktarov blocks a takedown and then rolls for a leglock, nice move there. He grabs the leg and manages to pull Beneteau off-balance and down to the mat, looking for an ankle lock. Beneteau clubs him with his free leg, but Taktarov tightens up what looks like an Achilles hold (I’m not great with leglocks!) and Beneteau taps out there.

Another quick fight, with Taktarov showing some seriously nice skill to roll and get the ankle lock that easily.

Quarter-Finals: Marco Ruas vs Keith Hackney

The final match of the round then, and it’s pitting reigning UFC champion (from UFC 7) Marco Ruas, against the ‘Giant Killer’ from UFC 3 – and the guy who used groin strikes in UFC 4 – Keith Hackney. I love Ruas and Hackney is always fun from what I’ve seen so this ought to be good.

They circle tentatively to open, and Ruas lands a leg kick that Hackney quickly answers with one of his own. Ruas lands another as they continue to circle, neither one seemingly wanting to make the first big move. Finally Hackney misses a wild overhand right, and Ruas clinches and shoves him to the fence, before manoeuvring into a rear waistlock. Ruas pulls him down and gets both hooks in quickly, and then flattens him right out, landing some punches to the side of the head to soften him up, before hooking in the rear naked choke for the tapout.

Four quarter-finals, four submissions! Much more tentative fight than the previous three, but it was still quite entertaining, and Ruas just showed in the end that he was a more skilled guy overall and was able to finish Keith with little difficulty.

-Kimo joins Jeff Blatnick to plug his upcoming Superfight with Ken Shamrock at UFC 8, wearing shades and a white vest, and looking for all intents and purposes like a villain from a Van Damme movie. Doesn’t tell us much of note outside of he’s been training hard for the fight though.

Semi-Finals: Tank Abbott vs Dan Severn

Tank once compared this fight to “being raped by Freddie Mercury”, so we shall see whether his comparison is close I guess. No real size advantage for Tank here like in the first fight either, as Severn is a big guy himself.

They get underway, and Tank sprawls to avoid an early shot, following up with a couple of left hands and a knee to the head. Severn shoves him into the fence though, and then overpowers Tank and pulls him down, putting Tank on all fours. Severn keeps him down, landing some punches and then some nice elbows to the back of the head, and knees to the body from a side position. Severn moves into a front facelock and lands some knees from there, and then moves back out to the side again for some more elbows. Tank just looks trapped in the position as Severn moves to take his back, and continues to land elbows and knees, adding some slaps in for good measure. Severn continues to land, but can’t slap a choke on at all, as Tank is completely unable to escape. Things play out like this for a long period of the fight, with Severn continuing to land big knees and elbows to the back of the head, seemingly not hurting Tank too badly, but doing enough to keep him down in the same position. Finally with three minutes remaining of the eighteen, Tank manages to get to his feet, but Severn still has him in a rear waistlock, and he lands knees to the thighs until releasing a few seconds before the fight ends.

No points or anything like that, back here the judges just wrote the winner on a card, and sure enough it’s a unanimous decision for Dan Severn. Wasn’t really a major beatdown or anything, but Severn stifled Abbott from the very beginning and definitely stayed active throughout, continuously dropping big elbows to the back of the head, as well as knees to the body and legs. Tank was just unable to get out from underneath the ‘Beast’, and while it made for a slow fight in parts, it was a complete domination on the part of Severn.

Semi-Finals: Oleg Taktarov vs Marco Ruas

On paper this sounds like a strong fight, but the fact that I’ve never heard anyone mention it makes me think it’s not going to turn out so great. Pretty even going in I would say as neither guy appeared to expend that much energy in their quarter-final bout.

They circle tentatively to open ala Ruas’s earlier fight, before Taktarov shoots in and Ruas avoids the takedown. Ruas lands some of his leg kicks, before Oleg bulls him into the fence in a clinch. Ruas gives him some of his trademark foot stomps, but Taktarov rolls for a leglock again. Ruas avoids and lands some blows from the top, bloodying Taktarov up as the Russian gets a butterfly guard in. Ruas works the body, but Taktarov uses the fence nicely to stand, and they break off. Couple more leg kicks from Ruas land, and then he avoids a takedown, but Taktarov decides to strike himself now, catching Ruas off-guard with two left hooks. Ruas grabs him, but Taktarov jumps for a guillotine and pulls guard. The choke looks tight, but Ruas stays calm and never looks in much danger, and after a minute or so John McCarthy decides to stand them up and separate them. Doctor checks Oleg’s cuts, and then we restart with nine minutes remaining.

They circle around with very little happening, as Ruas continues to throw the odd leg kick, while Oleg looks to punch. Ruas avoids a takedown, but Taktarov continues to push the action albeit without doing that much, and goes to his back at one point only for Ruas to stand off. Ruas continues to back away as Oleg plays the aggressor, walking the Brazilian down as Ruas seems content to dance away and land the odd counter, and finally the fight comes to an end.

Announcers think it could go either way, but they’re leaning to Taktarov due to the aggression, and sure enough the judges go that way too. Ruas was apparently pissed off after this as he felt he should’ve won due to the damage he caused Taktarov with his strikes, but while I can see his point – Taktarov for all intents and purposes did no damage at all – he was very tentative while Oleg was the clear aggressor in both striking and grappling. Could’ve gone either way I guess, but it was a really slow fight regardless.

-Ken Shamrock joins Bruce Beck to discuss the upcoming Kimo fight, and he puts Kimo over as a tough guy. Ken explains that he likes the Superfight format, and he’s all for the advent of judges as he doesn’t like how a guy can defend throughout a fight and still come away with a draw. Ken sticks around to join us on commentary for the finals.

Finals: Dan Severn vs Oleg Taktarov

And just like that, with apparently just fifteen minutes of rest for Taktarov, it’s time for the finals. I’d probably give Taktarov the advantage in terms of how much gas these two have used so far, but Severn’s clearly got the advantage in that he’s sustained no damage whatsoever thus far while Oleg took a few good shots from Ruas. This is, of course, a rematch from their fight at UFC 5 that saw Severn cut up Oleg’s face so badly that McCarthy called a stoppage due to blood loss. Fight is twenty-seven minutes with a three-minute overtime period if necessary.

They begin, and Severn opens by throwing some slapping combinations, I’m guessing to avoid breaking his hands at all. Oleg swings for him, but slips, and Severn grabs him, only for Oleg to roll through to a kneebar. It looks fully extended for a moment, but Severn manages to turn into it, so Taktarov goes for an Achilles lock instead. Severn rolls with the pressure again, and they roll all the way towards the fence, where Severn ends up on top in half-guard. He immediately opens up Taktarov’s cuts from the Ruas fight, using short strikes, and then goes to the headbutts, looking to cut up Oleg further. Severn avoids another leglock attempt to get into side mount momentarily, but Taktarov works back to half-guard, only to take some more headbutts. Severn gets back into side mount for more of the same, and then moves himself back into Taktarov’s guard, where the action slows down now. Oleg gets a reversal from the bottom and stands, but Severn pulls him right back down, and Oleg goes into the turtle position where he takes some knees. Oleg works back to his feet though, and Severn backs off and releases him, and McCarthy calls time to have the doctors check Oleg’s bloodied face.

They clean him up and okay him to go again, and with fifteen minutes to go they restart. Taktarov looks to punch, as Severn slaps him again, and then Oleg drops for a kneebar once more. Severn blocks and ends up in the half-guard again, where he appears to try a head-and-arm choke unsuccessfully. This goes on for a few minutes before McCarthy calls the restart standing. Taktarov presses forward as Severn throws some punches, and then gets a takedown to guard, but the action slows up a lot now as both men look exhausted. Some headbutts land from Severn, and then the first period comes to an end.

After a minute’s rest we go into overtime, and Oleg presses forward as they exchange some crude punches, with neither guy landing anything of note. Oleg drops to his back for some reason, but Severn stands off and catches him with a clean right, and then waits for him to come back up. Severn lands some more punches and begins to dance around like a boxer, avoiding one last attempt from Taktarov to drop for a leg, and then finally we come to an end.

All three judges score the bout for Severn, unsurprisingly as he pretty much dominated outside of the very early leglock attempt. Your typical Severn-vs-good fighter match really, as Severn controlled and did damage with his ground and pound, but couldn’t find a way to finish things off outside of hoping for a doctor stoppage due to the cuts. Taktarov showed heart to stay in there for the full thirty minutes, but this was all Severn really. By winning this tournament and becoming the *Ultimate* Ultimate Fighting Champion, Severn not only won the $150,000 prize money, but also earned a shot at Ken Shamrock for UFC 9, and the less we talk about that fight the better.

-And we end on that note, very abruptly as per usual with some of these older shows.

The Inside Pulse
: Ultimate Ultimate 95 is quite interesting for what it is, in that it was the first time a UFC tournament was filled with fighters who had proven themselves inside the Octagon for the most part, and weren’t bringing in any obscure martial art or new fighting form or anything. On that note, it’s especially interesting that all four of the opening round fights were finished by submission. In terms of the actual fights though, there’s not that much good stuff here – obviously the skill level in all of them is a lot higher than some early UFC stuff, say, Anderson vs. Hess or something, but in a way that makes them less exciting because they’re more technical. Taktarov-Ruas, especially, is a slow-paced fight that gets dull pretty quickly. The show is probably worth a recommendation purely because it’s the first UFC with nothing but solid – great fighters, but don’t expect any barnburners from the fights.

Coming Soon….

Pride: Total Elimination 2005, Critical Countdown 2005, Final Conflict 2005, and 30.
UFC: Ultimate Ultimate ’96, Ultimate Japan, Ultimate Brazil, 68, 69, and 70.
WEC: 10 and 11.
WFA: 1, 2 and 3.
Strike Force: Shamrock vs. Gracie.
Rumble On The Rock 7.
Gladiator Challenge: Summer Slam.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.
Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.

Until next time,

Scott Newman: