“On This Day in MMA History” pays tribute to some of the more bizarre and infamous moments from MMA’s past. Twenty years ago today (!), on March 11th, 1994, the UFC held the only 16-man, one-night tournament in promotional history at UFC 2. It was…epic to say the least.
No weight classes, no time limits, no judges, and up to four fights in one night. Yes, the early nineties truly were a time when men were men. That was at least according to the rules of UFC 2: No Way Out, which somehow managed to up the ante from the promotion’s first event the previous November.
Taking place on the evening of March 11th, 1994, UFC 2 pitted previous tournament contestants Patrick Smith, Jason Delucia, and UFC 1 winner Royce Gracie against a gaggle of unknowns in what would become the promotion’s first and last ever sixteen-man, one-night tournament.
As expected, the tournament served as little more than an informercial for the superiority of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu once again. In just over 9 minutes of total fight time, Gracie dominated Minoki Ichihara, Delucia, Remco Pardoel, and Morris to claim his second straight tournament victory. Being that the UFC has long since abandoned theone-night tournament format due to safety concerns, Royce’s four victories at UFC 2 stands as a record that will likely never be broken in the UFC.
But aside from providing us with the biggest tournament in promotional history, we also have UFC 2 to thank for:
With a perfect record of 10-0 (eight via TKO), the hard-hitting Kaufman is one of the world’s best female fighters, and has been gaining recognition in Strikeforce thanks to the dominant decision victories she scored over Miesha Tate and Shayna Baszler in 2009. Takayo Hashi (12-1; 4 wins by submission, 8 by unanimous decision) has competed primarily in Japan, where she was one of the standouts of the SmackGirl promotion. Hashi most recently choked out Chisa Yonezawa at a GCM Valkyrie event last April, and avenged her only loss to Hitomi Akano in 2007. She’s known primarily as a grappler, while Kaufman is known primarily for beating the crap out of grapplers.
#10: Kaitlin Young @ HOOKnSHOOT 2007 Women’s Grand Prix (11/24/07)
Defeated: Suzi Smith (KO, 0:22 of R1); Miesha Tate (KO, 0:30 of R1, shown above); Patti Lee (KO, 0:53 of R1)
Though HOOKnSHOOT has been putting on high-caliber women’s MMA bouts since 2001, the organization’s most infamous moment was the eight-woman tournament it held last year, where an unknown Minnesotan named Kaitlin axe-murdered her way through three opponents in less than two minutes of combined fight time. Young would go on to face Gina Carano in the first women’s MMA match to be broadcast on network TV, at EliteXC: Primetime in May of this year. Even if she never wraps her wrists again, Young’s MMA legacy is secured.
Defeated: Melvin Manhoef (sub. due to triangle choke, 1:28 of R1, shown above); Ronaldo Souza (KO, 2:15 of R1)
Unless you caught him in his PRIDE Bushido appearances in 2006, you probably had no idea who Gegard Mousasi was when he entered DREAM’s middleweight tournament earlier this year. But after choking out the highly-regarded Denis Kang in the opening round in April, and beating Dong Sik Yoon to a decision in June, he proved that he had a right to be there. And after the finals in September, he proved that he was one of the most talented middleweights in the world.
The event was almost anti-climactic in the way that it played out. These were not epic battles — this was Gegard Mousasi simply outclassing Melvin Manhoef (who had famously massacred Kazushi Sakuraba in the quarterfinals), then upkicking the daylights out of “Jacare” (who had torn through Zelg Galesic and Jason Miller in the tourney’s previous rounds). When the dust settled, Mousasi had picked up his 10th and 11th straight victories as well as a DREAM championship belt — a perfect ending to a breakout year.
#8: Don Frye @ UFC Ultimate Ultimate 1996 (12/7/96)
Defeated: Gary Goodride (sub. due to fatigue, 11:19); Mark Hall (sub. due to achilles hold, 0:20); Tank Abbott (sub. due to rear-naked choke, 1:23, shown above)
You have to remember — beating Gary Goodridge and Tank Abbott used to mean something. Both men were responsible for some of the most gruesome finishes in the UFC’s early history, from Goodridge’s crucifix/elbow-smashing of Paul Herrera to Tank’s starching/mocking of Jon Matua. The Ultimate Ultimate ’96 was just about the toughest eight-man field that the UFC could throw together in those days — it also included Ken Shamrock, Kimo Leopoldo, and Paul Varelans — and Don Frye notched his second UFC tournament win by cruising through it.
Frye pushed Goodridge past the breaking point in the quarterfinals (back before there were those cushy one-minute breaks between rounds that our spoiled fighters have today). After eleven-and-a-half minutes of back-and-forth brawling, Big Daddy found himself underneath Big Mustache and decided to tap before he suffered permanent damage. Frye’s semi-final match was a breeze — he’d already defeated tournament alternate Mark Hall twice in his career, and the third time was no different — but the Frye/Abbott final was a true superfight. Tank had just finished nelmarking Steve Nelmark in the semis, and his intimidation quotient was at an all-time high. Though the Predator got clocked with some big punches early, he was able to capitalize on a Tank Abbott slip, quickly sinking in a rear-naked choke. Don Frye — the toughest S.O.B. alive — collected his big-ass check and strolled out, never to fight in the UFC again.