UFC #1 – The Beginning (November 1993)
– Response to my review of UFC 4 was pretty good, so I figured I might as well go all the way to the beginning and start from there.
– No Rules! No Judges’ Scores! No Time Limits! How times change.
– So we’re live from Denver and it’s hosted by Bill Wallace and Jim Brown. The “analysis” and introductions are all strictly amateur-hour stuff compared to what they would turn into under Zuffa later on. Wallace can barely pronounce the names of the fighters, in fact.
Open Weight tournament quarter-finals:
Gerard Gordeau (Savate) v. Teila Tuli (Sumo)
So here you go, the first UFC fight ever. Right away this is an example of the freakshow mentality, as Gordeau is a wiry martial artist and Tuli is a 400 pound monster. Although there are no rules, Wallace explains that there’s no groin strikes, biting or eye gouges. That sounds like RULES to me. Gordeau knocks the shit out of Tuli right away with some strikes, and then when he goes down just KILLS him with a straight kick RIGHT IN THE FUCKING FACE. There you go, the fallacy of size equaling fighting skill shot down right away. Tuli is done and they stop the match.
Kevin Rosier (Kickboxing) v. Zane Frazier (Kenpo Karate)
Kickboxers at least had a good shot of adapting to the new hybrid fighting style. This looks like Meatloaf against Carl Weathers. This one seems to be the first one to live up to the expectation, as they trade some sloppy stand-up but don’t seem to know how to go to the ground. Frazier definitely gets the better shots in, but both guys seem gassed pretty quickly. Rozier traps Frazier in the corner and unloads with shots to the back of the head until Zane’s corner throws in the towel at 4:48. That’s really scary and dangerous because he got about 10 unopposed strikes in there before it was stopped.
Royce Gracie (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) v. Art Jimmerson (Boxing)
So this whole tournament was basically a 90 minute infomercial for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and here’s our first look at Royce. Jimmerson is wearing one boxing glove, WTF? Jimmerson obviously has no idea what he’s getting into here. Art does some lame headfakes, and Royce takes him down like he’s nothing and wraps him up in full mount position. Jimmerson panics and taps out at 1:30. PUSSY. Gracie didn’t even throw a PUNCH.
Ken Shamrock (Shootfighting) v. Patrick Smith (Tae Kwon Do)
Ken takes it to the ground, which gives the color man a chance to explain the concept of the guard to Bill Wallace and the fans at home. Shamrock quickly escapes and finishes him with the anklelock at 1:48. Well at least you know Shamrock is gonna give a better post-match promo than the other guys. Fast fight, but there was some interesting stuff going on while it lasted.
Open Weight tournament semi-finals:
Gerard Gordeau v. Kevin Rosier
Gordeau is fighting with a broken hand, but he still fucks up Rozier and mercilessly beats him into cowering submission at 1:00. Always impressive to get beaten while covering up and begging for mercy. Ladies really go for that, I hear. Rozier has a MUCH better post-match promo, sounding relaxed and funny.
Ken Shamrock v. Royce Gracie
The first meeting of many. Shamrock takes it to the ground, but Gracie calmly wraps him up with a wacky choke at 1:00. PWNED. Thus begins Shamrock’s UFC career of epic choking. Not sure how this made the Top 100 list on Spike if you’re talking quality.
Open Weight tournament final: Gerard Gordeau v. Royce Gracie
Well this is gonna be quite the anti-climactic finish to the tournament. Even the announcers are pretty sure that Gracie is gonna finish this thing quickly. They clinch on the fence, but inevitably Royce takes him down and wraps him up, and Gordeau gives up his neck and it’s all over at 1:38. Gordeau had nothing to be ashamed of here, he had a great tournament and was just completely out of his league against Gracie.
This is pretty fascinating stuff from a historical perspective, as I think fans (and even the commentators) were pretty shocked how ugly fighting could be when freed from the confines of rigid rules and regulations. Don’t expect to be entertained by this, though, because it’s a pretty steep learning curve for the fledging MMA fighters for the first few shows. It’s really not until the Severn / Frye era that it becomes more about technique than the “human cockfighting” stereotype that politicians painted it with.
Skip it unless you’re curious about where the sport began.
Tags: Ken Shamrock, Mixed Martial Arts, Royce Gracie, UFC