Don Frye – one of the all-time greats. When you watched a Don Frye fight, you could count on just that; it was going to be a fight! With his rough and rugged style of always pressing the action, how could it end up being anything less? That’s why I figured he is well suited to be the first in my series of “Legendary Fighter Profiles”.
The Hall Of Famer has said that he got into the business of fighting because, as a wrestler, after college, unless you can make a National team or the Olympic team, your career is over. He figured he could never make any teams like that but, like a lot of people at the time, Frye was enjoying watching the early UFCs. While the “mustachioed one” was watching UFC 4, he saw his former college wrestling coach, Dan Severn competing in the tournament. Frye immediately got in touch with Severn and asked him if he could get him a spot in the UFC. Frye said Severn told him, “Yeah, we’ll get you a few fights across the country and see what you’re made of”. When asked about the weirdest or craziest moment in his career, Frye recalled one of these early fights…
He was set to fight in Atlanta. This was still the “stone age” so, the fights were held in more unconventional settings than they are now. Frye said Severn explained to him that he would be fighting for some “rich people” as some sort of private entertainment, I guess. Frye said they gave him a room at the Hyatt, paid for all of his food and treated him well but while in the limousine on the way to the location of the fight, Frye said he was told, “We can’t pay you. Do you still want to fight?”. The Predator figured that he’d traveled all that way and was trying to get experience so, why not? When he got to the location, which was apparently an abandoned warehouse, Frye met his opponent, a former Navy Seal. Apparently, his opponent made the comment, “I don’t know about you but I’m not getting paid for this”. Frye acknowledged that he wasn’t being paid either so his opponent offered, “I won’t hit you if you don’t hit me”. Frye said that sounded like a decent idea to him.
The Predator made his UFC debut at UFC 8, burning through the competition. He even ended up demolishing a game yet extremely overmatched, Mark Hall, three times in short order. Frye didn’t suffer his first loss until he ran into Mark Coleman at UFC 10. A loss that still haunts him to this day. Don said that attended UFC 11 and was backstage but was apparently banned from competing for some reason. He said Art Davie approached him when no one else was available to fight Mark Coleman in the finals and asked if he wanted to fight. Frye said he gave a smart-ass answer to the question by saying, “Aren’t I banned?”. Art Davie just walked away, taking with him Frye’s chance at a rematch. When speaking about the atmosphere of the early UFCs, Frye recalled, “You always had to keep an eye out for Tank Abbott and his goofball friends. You never knew when you might get punched in the back of the head”.
After his exciting UFC tenure, Frye furthered his career by traveling to “the land of the rising sun” and competing in PRIDE FC. Here is where he had his most epic fights. Legendary wars of attrition with the likes of Ken Shamrock, Yoshihiro Takayama, James Thompson, and Gary Goodridge. He also finally got his rematch with Coleman while in PRIDE but suffered another hard-fought defeat. Eventually, and sadly, Frye had to go the way of all the “old timers” and retire. If it’s any consolation to him, I personally think he left behind the most exciting “fight library” of any fighter, all-time. Truly a legend.
*Adam Zimmerman (a/k/a The Grappling Gamer) is also a staff writer and contributor to Canadian Bulldog�s World. www.canadianbulldogsworld.com *