After winning his first pro MMA bout — a decision over Noe Hernandez at UFC 17 in May 1998 — Chuck Liddell was somehow convinced to take a vale tudo match in Brazil against Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons at IVC 6 (8/23/98), with no gloves and a single 30-minute round. Pele (13-2 at the time, with all wins by stoppage) was already a minor star on the vale tudo circuit, and the unknown American challenger wasn’t supposed to be anything but an opponent for him.
The Brazilian controlled the first five minutes of the fight, at one point flooring Liddell with a head kick. But he seemed to gas early, and the Iceman took advantage. A punch flurry that begins at the video’s 6:17 mark leads to a beating that forces Pele to jump through the ropes to escape. The rest of the fight is marked by Liddell’s takedowns and top control, a long stalemate with Chuck kicking Pele from above (you can pretty much skip past 11:40-15:00), Liddell throwing headbutts and knees to the head on the ground, and a final sequence where a helpless Landi-Jons eats a few dozen punches to the face. It’s a brutal look at the early days of a legend, so if you have the time, check it out.
(Props: SKARHEAD on the UG)