In continuation of the “5 Pride Fights You Must Watch” series, I decided to take a look at 5 early UFC fights worth taking note of. For reference, when I speak of “early UFC”, I’m referring to anything that occurred before the year 2000. As always, the fights are listed in no particular order…
1) Tank Abbott vs Paul Varelans:-
UFC 6 – After witnessing exciting KOs from both of these Octagon rookies in the opening round of the tournament, the audience couldn’t wait to see what was in store when Tank and “The Polar Bear” took on each other in the semi-finals. What was in store was Tank taking down Varelans with relative ease and then attempting to mash The Polar Bear’s face through the Octagon’s chain link fence with his knee.
Tank gripped the fence, pressing it against Varelans’ face and attempted to literally crush his skull by pressing his knee on Valrelans’ head and pulling on the fence as hard as he could, all while smiling and looking like he was particularly enjoying himself. Gotta love Tank. Not many fighters legitimately enjoy hurting people as much as him.
2) Zane Frazier vs Kevin Rosier: –
UFC 1 – This was the very first UFC fight that featured two strikers. Two guys who not only were willing to exchange on their feet; that was all they knew how to do, regardless. It made for an exciting fight, I can assure you. Rosier was a former ISKA North American super heavyweight champ and Frazier was a 4th-degree black belt under Ed Parker, specializing in American Kenpo karate.
It’s rumored that Frazier possibly got his spot by impressing someone in the UFC when he beat up Frank Dux at a martial arts convention months prior. This fight ends up being an epic (well, it only lasts around 4 minutes but, I assure you, that was pretty epic back then) back and forth war that ends when one fighter’s corner throws in the towel because that particular fighter’s head is repeatedly being stomped into the mat.
3) Pete Williams vs Mark Coleman: –
UFC 17 – Coleman came into this fight looking to come back from his title loss to Maurice Smith. Williams came in as a last minute replacement for Randy Couture. During the pre-fight interview, Coleman sounded a little nervous about the change of opponents because, coming from the Lion’s Den, it was assumed that Williams’ submission skills were of a higher quality than Couture’s. Little did Coleman know at the time; being submitted was not what he was going to have to worry about. These two men battled it out all the way into the overtime round until the fight ended with what was truly one of the greatest KOs of the era.
4) Vitor Belfort vs Wanderlei Silva: –
UFC Ultimate Brazil – When the Octagon made it’s first trip to Brazil, this was the most exciting match-up on the card for hardcore fans. Silva may have been an unknown to a lot of UFC fans but fans “in the know” knew he was a force to be reckoned with that was equal to Belfort when it came to his intensity and being a dangerous striker. What happened when “The Phenom” met “The Axe Murder”? Probably the most exciting 44 seconds of the “early era”.
5) Tito Ortiz vs Guy Mezger: –
UFC 13 – This fight is the seminal moment that sparked the first big feud in the UFC – Tito Ortiz vs Ken Shamrock. Guy Mezger was the “top gun” of the Lion’s Den coming into the finals of the UFC 13 tournament, looking to get a win and cement the Lion’s Den’s position as the top team in MMA at the time. Ortiz was a cocky alternate who got into the finals when Enson Inoue pulled out of the tournament. Even in the pre-fight interview, young Tito (who was competing for free, by the way) was already taking shots at the other fighters.
Ortiz said he expected to get into the tournament finals because, “who is it, Mezger and Lenniger? I see them fighting and it just being a “girl fight”. I see one of them not wanting to fight (in the finals)”. The fight was fairly one-sided with Ortiz dominating with his wrestling skill. Surprisingly, what first appeared to be a pounding, ended in a flash with a quick submission. After this fight, Tito Ortiz held a grudge against Ken Shamrock, and the Lion’s Den in general, for years to come.
*Adam Zimmerman (a/k/a The Grappling Gamer) is also a staff writer and contributor to Canadian Bulldog’s World. http://www.canadianbulldogsworld.com*