Thursday, May 25, 2006

UFC - Shocking Results!

Just kidding. I realized that I had never actually seen UFC 1 in its entirety, so per my bud Brian's suggestion, I rented it. What a flashback to the past (thanks to for the stats. It just showed how much the sport has developed and evolved! The purpose of this post is to give my perspective on what happened at the beginning of this sport in the US, and compare it to what I see now. Keep in mind that I am a striker (Muay Thai/Boxing) and have no MMA experience, other than in my training so far with my partners/students.

One thing I thought was interesting was that Bill Wallace and Kathy Long were doing the color commentary and ringside with NFL great Jim Brown. It was odd, but it worked. I think that, at the time, Long was an active champion in full-contact, with training in San Shou or something, and Wallace had retired a few years before with an exemplary record, plus freestyle wrestling and Judo experience. Wallace could've provided the most expertise in commentary, followed by Long, but I'm not sure what Jim Brown was doing there. He may have had some free time that day, and really seemed to enjoy it!

Briefly (for those as out-of-the-loop as I), UFC 1 featured the following matchups:

Bout 1 - Gerard Gordeau (Savate) vs. 400+ pound Teila Tuli (Sumo) - This was actually pretty interesting. It featured someone who looked the least imposing (Gordeau), versus one who you'd think would be a powerhouse. Keep in mind that this style versus style-type matchup hadn't been done before. No one really knew for sure what would happen with a sumo versus a striker. Result: It was over quick (26 seconds), with Tuli shooting in for what looked like a single or double-leg takedown. Gordeau backpedaled fast, then sidestepped, and Tuli went down against the octagon fence, then Gerard threw a really nice looking round kick to the face of Tuli. It looked like Tuli's face was smashed - some teeth came out, and he looked like the orbit of his eye was broken, and he had a smashed up nose. Blood everywhere, and they stopped it, though Tuli looked like he could have continued. I think there was a lot of confusion in the rules on whether a fight should be stopped on cuts. Anyway, it was over quick, and Gordeau showed some impressive ring savvy. I was surprised, because he looked like a pushover, based on his physique.

Bout 2 - Kevin Rosier was touted as a champion kickboxer, though I'm not sure how much that was fudged (I will research and correct this post) versus American Kempo stylist Zane Frazier was pretty good. What you had was a very large, and out of shape Rosier fighting a taller, but lighter and more mobile Frazier, who was also in horrible shape for this. Both are strikers and were clearly out of their element on the ground, but, even though Rosier was pursuing Frazier around the ring, Frazier was decisively winning. In the clinch, he'd knee and uppercut very effectively, and Rozier was absorbing a lot of punishment. I was amazed that, after winning the fight up to that point, Frazier just ran out of gas and collapsed and his corner threw in the towel. Was a pretty good streetfight, but not impressive by today's standards. Incidentally, according to the Sherdog stats, Frazier has 14 MMA bouts to his credit, (4-10-0), and fought as recently as November.

Bout 3 - Royce Gracie (BJJ) faced Art Jimmerson, a light-heavyweight boxer. I think he was ranked in the top ten of one of the alphabet boxing organizations, and this one went as you’d expect. Royce did his signature stamping kick to keep the boxer away, and Jimmerson, never landed anything that I remember. What was interesting was that Gracie had his gi and unwrapped hands, while Jimmerson had a boxing glove on his left and nothing on his right, as if he were going to grapple. He’d probably have been better off with gloves on both hands, as shortly after the first round began, and a short feeling-out process of circling, Royce shot in, took Jimmerson down, then began to apply pressure from the top. I can’t remember whether he even started to get anything from the top, but Jimmerson tapped real quickly. He had no chance. I wonder how he’d have done by moving laterally and jabbing. Probably the same, but with a minute or so longer to his credit.

Bout 4Ken Shamrock (shootfighting) faced Patrick Smith, a big TKD stylist with an announced record of 250-0! I’m surprised Bill Wallace could actually say that without laughing. Anyway, without almost any standup or TKD kicking occurring, there was quickly some clinching and standup grappling occurring. To his credit, Smith actually held his own for much of this bout, but the results were almost inevitable – Shamrock took him down and won shortly with one of his favorite techniques from those early days, a heel hook. Smith was game though, and wasn’t a pushover. Smith actually came back in UFC 2, winning three bouts in a row (2 by submissions!), before being submitted by Royce. He’s compiled a 9-11-0 record, according to, last fighting in 2003.

Bout 5 – Gerard Gordeau quickly TKO’d Kevin Rosier in less than a minute. If Rosier was actually a kickboxer, he didn’t show it. He was beaten down and stomped before his corner threw the towel. Gordeau used leg kicks to great effect, though they didn’t look like Savate, as far as I could tell, but Muay Thai. This was a good matchup for Gordeau because Rosier couldn’t grapple, and was too out of shape and bloodied from his previous match to put up much resistance.

Bout 6 – Royce Gracie submitted Ken Shamrock with a nice rear naked choke. Ken was actually pretty gracious in defeat, and gave credit to Gracie for the move, though he cited his inexperience versus BJJ as the reason, and that he was concentrating on going for the legs too much as the reason. It was interesting that Gracie had such a killer instinct, as after he tapped, Royce let go, but the ref didn’t see the tap, so Gracie jumped back on and started choking again, then Shamrock tapped again, and the ref called it.

Bout 7 – In the final, Royce faced Gordeau, and it went as expected. Royce took him down and submitted with the rear naked choke in just over a minute. I respected Gordeau a lot after seeing how he handled this tournament.


First of all, none of the fighters was well known, at least to me, at the time. In addition no one was really prepared for this type of competition, except Gracie. The competition was seriously lacking in training for the ground (except Gracie and Shamrock), and they actually didn’t look competent in stand-up, with the exception of Gordeau. I ask now, the same thing I asked back then, “Who are these guys?” In other words, where were the “big name” fighters, or those willing to represent their systems?

Technique-wise, there wasn’t much, except for Gracie, Shamrock, and Gordeau (for that matter, where was the Savate?). I understand that was the story for the next couple of UFCs, then it started getting better in a hurry. What I was looking for, however, was a TKD stylist using TKD, Kenpo fighters using their system, etc.

Why did Gracie do so well? I can’t say that it was because of the competition, because he fought the best fighters on the card, and came out on top. I still think that it’s because their (the Gracie) system is superior on the ground, and the surface (the octagon) was conducive to takedowns and being on the bottom. You also notice that Gracie was the only one to use the open hand striking well, whereas Rosier’s (and all the pure strikers) hands were bloodied within a few seconds. The only reason the boxer’s hand weren’t broken was that Royce never gave him anything to hit, then he was on the ground and his punches were ineffectual from the bottom.

Watching this really showed me how far the sport has come, and why there is a widespread belief that MMA will surpass boxing as a sport (if it hasn’t already). FYI, Sherdog has a bout 7 in its listing that makes no sense, and doesn't apear on the DVD, a Jason Delucia versus Trent Jenkins. No idea where that came from!

I’d recommend a look if you haven’t seen it!

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