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UFC ‘Lasts’

(The last time Big Daddy got paid on time and in full.)

By Cage Potato contributor Chris Colemon

Only 17 years removed from its inaugural bout, the UFC is just now exiting its awkward teen years and developing into a suave, sophisticated adult. After an extended bout of growing pains that at times threatened the sport’s very existence, MMA is finally coming into its own. Today’s fans witness seemingly daily achievements and milestones that speak to the sport’s rapid expansion. In 2010 alone, the UFC held its first events in Abu Dhabi and Australia, opened offices in China, set a new North American attendance record for an MMA event, crowned its first Mexican heavyweight champion, and launched their first attack in the Battle for New York.

But the UFC’s epic tale is not unlike any other in that each chapter begins where another one ends. For every historic first, there is an all but forgotten last.

Here is a short list of some of the UFC’s important lasts – the rules and regulations sacrificed in the fight for our sport’s survival.

Check them out after the jump.

Last bare knuckle fight – UFC 13: Ultimate Force (Randy Couture def. Steven Graham via TKO @ 3:31, R1)

 

The early days of MMA marketing were rife with hyperbole. The UFC was never truly “No Holds Barred”, nor was it ever “banned in 49 states”. One tough-sounding term aptly applied through UFC 13 however was “bare knuckle fighting”. While fighters did have the option to protect their hands, the use of open-fingered gloves was not mandatory until UFC 14. Couture opted for the 4-ouncers, while Graham kept it street. Lucky for his hands, the 290lb Extension fighter was promptly taken down 6 seconds into the bout and he only landed a single punch from his back. Couture dominated on the ground, running through an array of positions while launching a ground and pound assault featuring headbutts, elbows and punches to the back of the skull, and knees to his downed opponent’s head; basically, all of the classics. 

*Surprise bonus: Stay tuned for the post fight interview to see a young Joe Rogan in a sports coat!

**Not such a surprise bonus: The suit is solid black, so is the t-shirt he’s wearing underneath.

Last legal headbutt – UFC 14: Showdown
(Maurice Smith def. Mark Coleman via unanimous decision after 21 minutes)

 

Whereas bare knuckle punches faded away with a whimper, headbutts went out in a blaze of glory. Few fighters utilized the headbutt as effectively as “The Hammer”, but even the viscous nuances with which he smashed his cranium into another man’s weren’t enough to take out Smith. In what would become a hallmark of his later career, Coleman didn’t really have a Plan B when “stomp a hole in his ass” didn’t come to fruition in the opening minutes of the fight, and his suspect gas tank allowed the patient Smith to keep it standing and land pot shots at his leisure en route to a unanimous decision.
 

Last fight without a time limit – UFC 4: Revenge of the Warriors
(Royce Gracie def. Dan Severn via triangle choke at 15:49) 

It’s fitting that Royce Gracie, staunch defender of infinite bouts, would see them off into the sunset. While this match may not have set any records for being insanely long, it did set a record for pissed off pay-per-view customers. The tournament finale would begin just 12 scant minutes before the broadcast was scheduled to end; I think you can see where this is heading. Despite an emergency effort from UFC executives to have the broadcast time extended, countless customers lost their signal minutes before Royce unveiled the triangle choke to the masses. PPV providers were besieged with complaints and demands for refunds. Unable to risk losing their young fan base to another disaster, the UFC instituted time limits on all future bouts. But as they’d soon learn at UFC 7, there’s an important distinction between controlling the length of your fights and controlling the length of your event. An interesting footnote, the last match without a time limit, the UFC’s longest at the time, would end sooner than four of the five most recent championship matches.

 
Last fight without judges – UFC 7: Brawl in Buffalo
(Ken Shamrock & Oleg Taktarov fight to a draw after 33:00 minutes)
 


 (Save yourself the 33 minutes; the fans were declared the losers of this bout.)

You thought fighting to a draw with the champion retaining the belt was just the flavor of the month? Sorry, junior, but fighters have been getting down like that since ’95. Unlike today’s spoiled warriors, however, poor Ken and Oleg didn’t have the option of leaving the fight in the hands of the judges. No, back then Cecil Peoples was still playing first base in the minor leagues. A brief 3-minute overtime period proved insufficient for either fighter to put his foe away. This wasn’t the UFC’s first draw due to the lack of judges, but the backlash from fans ensured it would be their last. And everyone fought happily ever after, right? The biggest blow on this card wasn’t thrown by Shamrock or Taktarov- once again the PPV broadcast would run over its allotted time, though in this case it was a merciful ending.

 
Last legal groin shot – UFC 12: Judgment Day
(Kazuo “Yoshiki” Takahashi def. Wallid Ismail via decision in 15 minutes)


(Nut shots- the reason slow-mo replay was invented and why Bob Saget has a yacht.)

First things first: Fuck this match is painful to watch. Takahashi’s translator clearly didn’t bother taking the three minutes needed to go over the limited rules enforced at the time of this bout. To review: Big John McCarthy screams at him nothing short of 47 times to “let go of the fence” before repeatedly slapping his hands free of the cage; Takahashi stops fighting and notifies BJM when he knocks Ismail down, not realizing he’s able to continue the fight on the ground; he kicks a downed Ismail with prohibited shoes on; he attempts to call time out when he’s nearly been poked in the eye; he has no idea that there is an extra three minute round if the fight isn’t ended in the first. But you don’t want to read about rules being flaunted; you’re here to read about balls getting smashed. You’re in luck. No, these weren’t the vasectomising type of blows that Hackney unleashed on Joe Son, but they were equally disturbing. In an act of premeditated nut crushing, Takahashi removes Wallid’s cup manually (ed. note: Gross!!!) before delivering a crisp punch and knee to the unprotected coin purse. The sight of Ismail’s cup dangling from his Speedo is, in a word, unpleasant. Thankfully, today’s civilized man has seen the err of his ways and amended groin strikes from "legal" to "slightly frowned upon."
 
Last fighter to wear a gi – UFC 18: Road to the Heavyweight Title (Laverne Clark def. Frank Carraci via submission to strikes at 6:52) 
 
 

For all of the iconic images produced since 1993, none represent the sport’s early years more than a gi-clad Gracie. Royce’s gi seemed to impart him with powers well beyond the reach of his 186lb frame, and in it he looked as invincible as Superman in his cape. Fighters from various disciplines would don the gi inside the Octagon, but as time went on and knowledge of the ground game grew its presence became rare. At UFC 18, Frank Carraci became the last competitor to rock the gi in a UFC event. Its send off was not a triumphant one, as he would be dropped and pounded into submission by pro-boxer turned mixed martial artist Laverne Clark. Strict guidelines on wardrobe were set into stone when the Unified Rules were adopted by the New Jersey State Athletic Commission nearly two years later. Before those rules would take effect, Clark would also defeat Koji Oishi, who along with Yoji Anjo competed wearing an amateur wrestling singlet at UFC 25: Ultimate Japan 3.

 
Last legal knees to the head of a downed fighter – UFC 14: Showdown (Mark Kerr def. Moti Horenstein via TKO (punches) @ 2:22 R1)
 


YouTube – Mark Kerr vs Moti Horenstein

You’ve got to feel bad for poor Moti. After getting drubbed by Mark Coleman in his UFC debut, he returned at UFC 14 to find himself standing across the Octagon from Mark Kerr. This time Horenstein had picked up one of those gis that had proven so popular, but once again he was promptly dumped on his back and beaten into the canvas. Kerr begins the assault with several hard knees to the skull, followed by solid punches and yet another knee. From here “The Smashing Machine” patiently pounds Horenstein, choosing his shots until he unleashes hell and Big John can’t take it any more. While most of the practices covered in this article will never again see the light of day, knees to a downed opponent are seen by many fans as a necessary element of the fight game and are often mentioned in the discussion of how to improve our sport, even by D-Dub himself.


Last UFC event without weight classes – Ultimate Ultimate 96*

 ("The single greatest night of fighting ever.")

MMA Forums would be a barren wasteland if not for this pivotal rule change. Prior to UFC 12 fans didn’t ask, “Who is the best fighter pound for pound?”; they merely asked, “Who is the best fighter?” Debate over weight cutting, walk around weight, and cleaning out a division didn’t transpire. While UU96 did not feature the massive weight disparities so celebrated in earlier events, it did host the UFC’s last purely open weight fights before it evolved to the two weight class system introduced at UFC 12. 

* UFCJ (UFC Japan) events were less stringent on weight restrictions

 
Last one-night tournament – UFC 23: Ultimate Japan 2
(Kenichi Yamamoto def. Katsuhisa Fujii via kneebar @ 4:15 of Rd. 2)

(PART 2)

It’s no secret that the UFC had many obstacles to throwing events stateside in its formative years. Japan was far more enlightened and accepting of human cockfighting at the time, making the Land of the Rising Sun an ideal market for growth, Yakuza be damned. By this point tournaments were pared to half the size of the eight-man tournaments that formed the backbone of the early franchise. While the fights lack flash and excitement, the four competitors display a skill set well beyond their 3-7-1 combined record. Any review of this tournament would be remiss without mentioning the curious behavior of Takase, who gave up 30lbs in his match against Yamamato. In addition to taking a brief nap in the Octagon during the fighter introductions, Daiju opted to leave his t-shirt on for the fight. It’s not as weird as it sounds, though; he did tuck it into his shorts.

Last fighter to legally wear shoes in a fight – UFC 30: Battle on the Boardwalk (Bobby Hoffman def. Mark Robinson via KO at 3:27 of R1*)

There were always tells from the announcers in the early days of the UFC, small phrases that tipped their hand and let you know if a new fighter sucked. Alarm bells sounded whenever they touted the physical strength of an inexperienced competitor. In a bit of cringe-worthy foreboding, commentator Frank Shamrock says of Robinson, “pure power IS his style”; you really know he’s screwed when his credentials are flashed on the screen and “Incredibly Strong” sits atop the list. While only in his second fight, the 285lb “White Rhino” did show a bit of savvy: spotting a barefoot Hoffman backstage, Robinson laced up his wrestling shoes, hoping to enhance his performance with additional traction. But Hoffman, the cagy vet, had been enhancing his performance for months by lacing his blood with illegal steroids. Advantage, Hoffman. Robinson’s strategy was clear from the opening bell: push Hoffman to the fence and smoosh him through it like a 253-pound lump of Play-Doh. Hoffman was pinned to the cage and restricted to rabbit punches for the majority of the bout, but when he created any space at all he landed with big punches or knees. At 3:27 of R1, he scored a big elbow to the temple that put Robinson out for good. 

 
*After Hoffman’s urine sample came back positive for steroids, the result was overturned and ruled a ‘No Contest.’

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Lysol- January 22, 2011 at 2:18 pm
Excellent work!

However...

knucklesamitch Says:
Fri, 01/21/2011 - 11:25
holy shit, a reader contributed article that was fun to read. Too bad they aren't all like this.

_________________________

I look forward to reading your article, since you can obviously do so much better.
cecils_pupils- January 22, 2011 at 9:44 am
I was too busy at work to catch this one yesterday, glad I got caught up today since this was a GREAT PIECE.

Bravo, sir... well done.
haterade- January 22, 2011 at 6:40 am
excellent read, the nation needs to keep these (the ones that mock real news, not make up fake ones) contributor pieces coming...i missed my Ben vs Rex for edgar/maynard!
stopdrinkingpee- January 22, 2011 at 12:47 am
Quality.
StinkFacer- January 22, 2011 at 12:33 am
+1 cp
ZiggysDick- January 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm
Great read.
DARKHORSE06- January 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm
That was awesome. Great compilation. How do you guys know Hoffman was on roids though?
Waldizzle- January 21, 2011 at 2:41 pm
Good stuff!
Dan The Viking- January 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm
@Ruinsmyday13, wish I could say the same for you.
MediocreThreat- January 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm
Awesome.
CAP10- January 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm
Any article detailing nut shots is a worthy read. Keep it coming, CP.
ReX13- January 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm
Nice job, CrushCo.  We're interested to see what you have for a follow-up...
jimbonics- January 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm
Nice article, good shit.
CrushCo- January 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm
Thanks, L Gwapo.
El Guapo- January 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm
Good piece. I especially liked The Predator's stache and Tank's goattee..

Sexy Rexy is still my favorite contributor, tho. He's actually part of the Nation, nawmsayin. No offense, but I wouldn't know a Cris Coleman from a Gary Coleman. That whole "Silence of the Lambs" dungeon scene helps, too. But mostly it's cause the guy's got more rhythm than a hundred black dudes.
El Guapo- January 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm
Krushco!! I'll never, ever forget that name.... Until tomorrow.

Kidding. I did like your thread, however. As did many of the regular sumbitches here, which is all that matters. Crushco FTW
Smitty- January 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm
Now that's what I'm talkin bout CP. Nice! Great list of shit that we care about. Royce vs Severn...........epic!!!!
CrushCo- January 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm
El Guapo, the only offense taken is that you managed to misspell both my first and last name. I post here, but very rarely. I'll probably start doing so more often now. Thanks everyone for the reviews.
Username- January 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm
phenomenal article!! keep it up!
TehBeej- January 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm
Fun article
El Famous Burrito- January 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm
Props where props are due. This was a good article.

Watching people get hit in the nuts never gets old. Never.
RSparrow- January 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm
^
Agreed. We all got woken up with a swift kick in the nuts. And not the good kind.
Jugger- January 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm
@Cocky,

You should really climb outta bed a little earlier, bud. This article just single-handedly quelled a coup.

It's been a rough morning here in the Potato Nation. Be glad you slept through it.
Cocky- January 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm
I'm stuck at work and didn't make time for the GSP article. I am ashamed. Please forgive me.

hooligun- January 21, 2011 at 11:58 am
Great job, thanks.
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