Art Jimmerson is arguably the most derided fighter in the history of MMA. This is understandable. The dude went into UFC 1 thinking he was going to collect some easy money by knocking out strip mall McDojo masters.
As we know, the reality was that Jimmerson was out of his depth in a no holds barred competition. And, of course, he fought Royce Gracie wearing only one glove, instantly guaranteeing himself a place in MMA’s hall of shame.
UFC co-creator Campbell McClaren recently dished on the one-glove issue on Darce Side Radio. It turns out “Big” John McCarthy had an exchange with Jimmerson before the fight. He explained what Royce Gracie would do to Jimmerson, as well as the horrifying fact that the referee wouldn’t separate the fighters in the case of a clinch. This was a fight, not a boxing match.
MMA Mania summed up McClaren’s story:
“Big John said, ‘you know what he’s going to do to you right?’” McLaren said, re-telling the story he only recently became privy to. “Jimmerson said, ‘what’s he going to do?’ and he was dancing around and doing boxing moves. Big John said, ‘You ever get in a clinch in a boxing match?’ Jimmerson said, ‘yeah, the ref breaks it up.’ Big John goes,” In this they’re not going to break it up when he grabs you. He’s going to have his arms on you. They’re not going to break that up. The ref doesn’t break that up in this fight.’ Jimmerson goes, ‘what?’ Big John said, “He’s going to shoot in. He’s going to grab you. You are going to get one chance to hit him, and if you miss, he’s going to be all over you.’ Jimmerson said, ‘He’s going to break my arm isn’t he?’ Big John said, ‘Yeah, he’s going to break your arm.’
“That’s when he decided to wear the one glove,” McLaren revealed. “To make sure we could see him tapping with the other hand. Walking with him to the Octagon, he said, ‘If I tap with my glove hand, is it a still a tap?’ That’s when I knew it wasn’t going to work out.”
This story, in conjunction with Art Davie revealing Jimmerson neglected to bring his shorts, gloves, and boxing shoes to the fight, make Jimmerson out to be a comic relief jobber. And to an extent, he was–at least in the UFC. He was a punching bag (or grappling dummy, in this case) for Royce Gracie. However, Jimmerson was also a professional fighter. We’ve been re-watching a lot of the old classics on UFC Fight Pass. As a result, we’ve developed a sense of protective nostalgia toward some fighters. We’re not going into full “LEAVE JIMMERSON ALONE” mode or anything like that. We’re just saying that Jimmerson wasn’t an entire sport’s joke once. Let’s just remember that.