Thursday, June 15, 2017

Revisiting UFC 1: The Beginning - The First MMA PPV! (1993)

Who'd thunk a bunch of Street Fighter II wannabes punching each other in the nuts in Colorado would've spawned a multi-billion dollar a year mainstream industry?

By: Jimbo X

I'm pretty sure I've said this a million billion times by now, but mixed martial arts remains my favorite sport. Yes, I do love football, hockey, boxing and hardcore Japanese death match 'rasslin, but unlike any of those sports, I was actually around to watch the first MMA event in history. Nobody alive today can say they witnessed the first Major League Baseball game live as it happened, but I can lay claim to literally watching the birth of mixed martial arts as a mainstream sports competition.

Granted, this kinda' thing is inherently up to debate. Some folks say the first real MMA event was the premiere Shooto event in 1989. Others say the first real MMA event took place in Pennsylvania in 1980 under the "Tough Guy Competition" banner. And there were boxer vs. wrestler clustefucks being booked as early as the late 1800s, so I suppose calling UFC 1 the "first" MMA event naturally invites controversy. Still, the very first UFC show in 1993 was most certainly the highest profile MMA event up to that point on U.S. soil, and unless somebody out there has some well-hidden information I don't, it was obviously the first MMA Pay-Per-View event. Between the extensive previews in Black Belt magazine and the constant barrage of "ORDER IT NOW!" commercials on the Prevue Channel in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 12 spectacle, it was pretty much impossible to ignore the inaugural UFC card, and as a hardcore, pro wrestling and boxing loving second grader, I was absolutely pumped for the PPV mega-event. 

Of course, us being the cheap-ass no cable TV-having motherfuckers we were, I couldn't actually watch the PPV - instead, I had to set the tube to the static, snowflake channel and listen to the warbled play-by-play from the show like it was a radio program. Still, I clung onto every word, even though the commentary left (as you will soon see) quite a lot to be desired. So when the show finally got the full VHS treatment a couple of months later, you better believe I was there day one at the video store to see that sumbitch with all my rods and cones and shit.

It's pretty hard to believe that what started that evening in Denver would eventually morph into a billion-dollar industry with a huge national network TV deal and in-depth coverage on ESPN. At the time, the UFC was being vilified by EVERYBODY from John McCain to Mad Magazine as little more than human cockfighting, so the idea that such a thing could EVER become accepted in the mainstream still throws me for a loop. Needless to say, the sport has grown by leaps and bounds over the last quarter century, and what we saw at the original UFC event doesn't look anything close to the Ultimate Fighting Championship product of today. Back then, there were no rounds, no judges and to be totally honest, hardly any rules (while it was technically "illegal" to punch an opponent in the balls or claw his eyes, that resulted in purse fines and not instant disqualifications.) While today's UFC fighters are multi-disciplined, highly skilled technicians and world-class athletes, back in the day Ultimate Fighters were barely a step above any old drunk fat guy in a bar with a beer belly and a sawed off pool cue. They didn't box as much as they sloppily swung awkward haymakers and rabbit punched the fuck out of each other; as far as "technique" goes, about the most advanced thing anybody did was a kick to the head of a downed opponent - so primitive this UFC, when Royce Gracie broke out a basic-as-basic gets rear naked choke, nobody in the crowd knew what the fuck he was doing

In many ways, I can see why the current stewards of the UFC brand tend to shy away from the sport's less than savory roots. I can't recall the last time I saw footage of any UFC show from before the first season of The Ultimate Fighter hit the airwaves on TV, and even in historical retrospective pieces the modern incarnation of the UFC tends to suspiciously sidestep what the "old" promotion was about. While the UFC may not be 100 percent embarrassed of its origins, it's pretty clear they're doing what they can to avoid equating the modern product with the "no holds barred" product of yore; which - naturally - is all the more reason for us to revisit the sport as it USED to be. 

And - of course - there's no better place to start than the very FIRST UFC show, is there? Gather 'round, folks - it's time to pop in this old, old Vidmark VHS cassette and relive the magic of the good old vale tudo days all over again.

Following a trailer for an undoubtedly shitty no-budget thriller titled An Occasional Hell, we get a graphic displaying the Sephamore Entertainment Group logo. The show opens with some super cheesy 1980s rock and roll guitar music and the UFC: The Beginning logo ... complete with a bald dude jumping on the globe and beating the shit out of it.

Sagat, seen here kicking E. Honda right in the fucking face, hard.

Announcer Bill Wallace - who is actually a pretty famous kickboxer, for those of you not in the know - says there is a snow storm expected in Denver tonight, but that ain't on anybody's minds. LIVE from the McNichols Sports Arena, we're going to see eight of the "deadliest fighters" in the world competing in brawls with no rules, no judges and no time limits. We then run down our participants: 

  • We've got Brazilian jiu-jitsu motherfucker Royce Gracie punching air in a windbreaker. 
  • There's Taekwondo expert Patrick Smith, looking so much like Alistair Overeem it's scary.
  • Here's "North American cruiser boxing champion" Art Jimmerson, who screams at the camera like a retard.
  • It's savate champion Gerard Gordeau, a lanky guy who looks like Dan Henderson crossbred with Alexander Volkov.
  • Also in the mix is Kempo karate champion Zane Frazier, who looks like Arsenio Hall. 
  • Pancrase shoot fighter Ken Shamrock is, appropriately enough, introduced twisting the shit out of some dude's leg.
  • There's big old fat ass sumo wrestler Teila Tuli, who even at 400 something pounds is probably underweight compared to most Samoans.
  • And rounding out the cast, it's Kevin Rosier, who has to be the single fattest kickboxer who has ever lived.

Say kids, does that cast of wild and woolly characters sound familiar? Well, it should, because it's pretty much a carbon copy of the cast of Street Fighter II. Royce Gracie is a technical fighter clad in a gi just like Ryu, and because Ken Shamrock is literally the only other person on the show who knows what submissions are, I suppose that makes him SFII's Ken by default. Teila Tuli is pretty much E. Honda in real life, while tubby ass Kevin Rosier - who's prone to scratching during bouts - is our Blanka analogue. The towering Gerard Gordeau actually does bare a pretty striking resemblance to Sagat, while Art Jimmerson is a clone of Balrog, right down to the stupid haircut. The bulky Patrick Smith could probably pass for Dee Jay if he had dreadlocks and Zane Frazier is basically the black version of Fei Long. Granted, it's all probably a great big coincidence, but when you hear announcer Wallace describe them as "street tough warriors," man, does it make one start to ponder. 

Speaking of fuck-ups, Wallace starts off the show proper by erroneously referring to the event as "the Ultimate Fighting Challenge." His co-announcer is NFL legend Jim Brown, who mean mugs the camera like a motherfucker. He talks about being around the toughest boxers and football players in the world and how they are all pussies compared to tonight's UFC competitors. Rounding out the three-person booth is kickboxer Kathy Long, who literally has three seconds of screen time before Wallace starts mansplaining to her how fighting works. 

Rod Machado is in the cage. He says if he was fighting tonight, his strategy would be to get out of the ring as fast as he can. He also predicts most of these fights are going to end on the ground and he thinks the grapplers are going to have the best chance of victory. Wallace then throws it to Brian Kilmeade, who talks about the Octagon itself. He slaps the padding and talks about it being soft. He even hops on it like a trampoline a few times.

Wallace calls Tuli "Taylor" and refers to Gordeau as "a savate player." He then commits the ultimate MMA sin by pronouncing his name as ROY-ce Gracie. Not unlike the great Sega game Virtua Fighter, this thing is really being pimped as "discipline vs. discipline" affair. Tuli comes out wearing a gold and black kimono with a tribal pattern. He's also rocking a toboggan on his head that looks like a potato sack. He's 410 pounds and 6'2 and days the strongest part of his body is his "heart." Gordeau is out next. "He looks pretty mean," Long says. And as soon as he gets in the ring, he does four "Heil Hitler" salutes in a row and I'm not even joking (even weirder, Gordeau himself is technically Jewish.) He's 216 pounds, 6'5 and hails from the Netherlands. And yes, he sounds just like Bas Rutten. Our in-ring announcer is a guy named Rich Goins and by golly, he sounds just like Paul Heyman. 

Tuli's man-titties are just majestic. The ref checks Gordeau's nails. Wallace says it's a no-holds-barred affair, except for groin shots and eye gouging. Tuli immediately rushes Gordeau and he falls down. Gordeau roundhouse kicks Tuli RIGHT in the face and his teeth go flying out of his skull. If it were a field goal, it would've been good from about 50 yards out. We have a lengthy medical stoppage and the fans boo. On the replay, it looks like Gordeau got some good head shots in before the kick of death. "The mistake there was not getting up," Brown declares. The official time is just 26 seconds.

Kevin Rosier is 6'4 and 265 pounds. And damn, this dude can't cut a promo worth a shit. Long says she detects some nervousness in his face. Well, that, and fat. Zane Frazier is 6'6 and 230 pounds. He does Ed Parker's Kempo Karate and believes God is going to give him the "power to do the right thing at the right time."

Kevin with some huge overhand shots to begin. Zane momentarily hits the mat. Both men are back up. We have a collar and elbow tie-up against the cage. Zane with a clear groin shot and a ton of knees. Zane with a huge knee to the stomach. Zane is holding his foe's hair and just firing off big shots one after another. Clumps of Kevin's hair fall to the mat. Zane lands some more power shots but Rosier survives. Zane with another big uppercut and a straight right hand. Rosier defends with some pillow soft punches, then Zane retaliates with an actual punch and another hard knee to the stomach. Rosier with a fat overhand chop to the back. Rosier puts Zane in a headlock, but Zane gets out and falls on top of him. Zane with a knee to the face, but Rosier is right back up. He kicks Zane's knees. Rosier whiffs on a haymaker. Wallace asks Jim if ever got this tired on the football field as the two fighters struggle to stay upright. Rosier misses on a kick to the face. There's actually a timer on-screen counting down until the end of the fight, so hooray for self-spoiling! Rosier finally manages to land some punches and Zane falls down. Rosier lands a million punches to the back of Zane's head, stomps him a couple of times and since he's too tired to defend himself, the corner throws in the towel. Well, I guess that's the first comeback in UFC history, so I reckon it does have some kind of historical significance. In the post fight, the announcer asks Rosier what he was thinking while Zane was kicking his ass. "Why did I come out of retirement?" Kevin responds. He says his strategy was to just let Frazier punch him until he tired himself out, which is pretty much the exact strategy Homer Simpson used in the fight against Drederick Tatum.

The official time is 4:20. Replays are shown of Rosier's clubbing blows to the back of Frazier's skull. Damn, those stomps are nasty. "If I was in great shape," Brown comments, "I wouldn't fear anybody." Ahead of the semi-finals contest, Wallace predicts that Gordeau is going to try and kick Rosier's legs out from underneath him.

And up next, it's Balrog vs. Ryu!

Enter Royce Gracie, the smallest man in the tournament, as he chugs along on the Gracie train. He's 6'1 and 180 pounds and even without knowing more than five English words, he still gives a better promo than anybody else on the show. "You know, Jim," Wallace remarks, "I think we have half of Brazil here tonight."

Like everybody else, Art Jimmerson comes out to some really, really shitty WCW sounding music. Actually, there are just two audio tracks that are alternated between fighters, so it's even more ghetto than it sounds. Wallace says that at the time, Jimmerson was ranked eighth in the WBC light heavyweight rankings, which yeah, sounds like some bullshit right there. He's 6'1 and 196 pounds and wants everybody at home to know "you can't hit what you can't see." 

Wallace says Art's nickname is "King Arthur." And yes, he does enter the cage wearing one boxing glove, and he shadow boxes in the corner while he's introduced. Royce is described as a "jujitsu  master" and there are huge cheers from the crowd, complete with a blaring lucha horn. Wallace wonders why he's wearing a gi and everybody has to explain to him how its used for clinching and grappling.

Royce with some side kicks early. Nobody has said anything about Art wearing only one glove. The crowd is already booing. Royce gets the takedown. He's on top and head butts Art in the face. He wraps his ankles around Royce. A pro-Gracie chant breaks out. Art starts scooching all over the mat. Since he's wearing a fucking boxing glove, he can't grab Royce. Gracie locks Art up and he taps but nobody even knows what it means to tap out yet. On the replay, nobody really knows why Art submitted. Royce didn't have him in an actual choke or joint submission, so maybe he just tapped out because he was tired or couldn't breathe or Royce told him he was going to send the KKK after him or something. So, your winner, by - uh, something - Royce Gracie!

If you are wondering, the official UFC account is Gracie winning at 2:18 by, and I quote, "mount." Machado - perhaps desperate to say something during a doldrum - notes that one police department report found that 95 percent of all fights end up on the ground. Where he got that information or how a fucking police department would even be able to know that, however, remains a mystery.

Shamrock out first. Wallace says he is the strongest combatant in the ring tonight. He's 6'0 and 220 pounds. He talks about Pancrase while lifting weights. "I think I'm going to win this fight because I am well adapted and have many tools to use," he says. Patrick Smith is 6'2 and 217 pounds and gets a huge cheer because he's fighting out of Aurora, Colo. Per Wallace, "he's the most strongest, powerfulest and craziest of the group, I think." He also says he's "resistant to pain," which makes me wonder how in the fuck an announcer would be able to know that about a fighter, let alone one whose name he keeps getting wrong. 

The ring announcer pronounces it like PAN-CREASE and we all have a hearty chuckle. He also pronounces "savate" like "souvlaki" and we all get a chance to laugh even harder.

You have to dig Ken's bright red undies. Smith, the hometown boy, gets deafening cheers. Ken and Pat clinch. Ken with a spinning takedown. Smith is on top. Ken wraps his legs around Pat. Pat with some defensive headbutts. And there is the patented Shamrock ankle lock. Smith elbows Ken in the knees and tries to smack him in the face with his free foot. Ken is still working the ankle lock. And he's got it. Patrick taps and grimaces in pain. After the fight, Smith gets in Ken's face and the crowd cheers. One of the announcers says it must be humiliating to lose by, and I quote, "foot lock." Shamrock says this was easier than it is in Japan because his opponent didn't know how to use submissions. The fans chant "bullshit" and Ken replies "I aint' afraid of the man across from me." Ken is booed like a motherfucker as he makes his way to the back. Machado says grappling fighting isn't as exciting to watch and Wallace responds by saying it's because people can't see the submissions and mounting like they can. Then Machado literally calls him "horse Gracie" and I'm still laughing about it weeks later. For those of you wondering, the official time of that last bout was 1:49. 

Ready for the semi-finals? Well, too bad, because they're starting anyway.

"The crowd is absolutely alive," Brown says, which is the most Gorilla Monsoon-sounding shit I've ever heard that Gorilla Monsoon (probably) never said during a live TV broadcast. Rosier is rocking a gray hoodie and looks just like the fat jock bad dude in every 1980s sex comedy ever. The doctors say Gordeau's right hand is broken. "That's the promise of not wearing gloves or taping your hands," Wallace notes.

You know, that ring announcer kinda looks like Joe Buck a little. Rosier swallows a squirt of water in the corner. He's got a million pounds of Vaseline under his left eye. Dude looks like the Toxic Avenger at this point. 

Gordeau with some mean leg kicks. Kevin's hurt already. Gordeau with a nice head shot. Rosier goes down, Gordeau kicks the shit out of him and hits him with several strikes to the back of the head. Kevin is turtling up, Bob Sapp-style. Gordeau with more elbows and stomps to the ribs and this fight is all over. "I can feel the concussion all the way from here," Wallace remarks. Yep - you definitely won't be hearing THAT coming out of the announce booth these days. 

The official time is just 59 seconds. "I thought the fights would be a little longer," Wallace says. "I thought strategy would come into play."

In the post-fight interviews, Rosier said he wants to fight the super heavyweight kickboxing champ, whoever the fuck that was back then. He says he didn't know anything about his opponent's broken hand and blames his poor performance on the altitude. He also claims to have lost 45 pounds in three weeks to prepare for the tournament. Still, he says he wants to compete in the next UFC event (fun fact: he didn't) and hopes Gordeau wins the whole kit and caboodle later in the evening. 

Time for the Shamrock/Gracie build-up. Wallace refers to the "Gracie Train" as a "Brazilian train," which, yeah, I guess is close enough. Ken comes out in a jacket with a towel draped over his head. Bill predicts this will be the best fight of the night. "Even if it's short," Brown immediately responds.

Because it's a good idea we know how to properly spell it for the inevitable police report.

Shamrock gets Vaselined in the corner. Kathy asks if BJJ has weight divisions. "They probably have just one big weight division, which is none," Bill replies. 

Ken is booed like a motherfucker. One of the announcers reminds us that this isn't Royce's first time taking on a shoot fighter.

Gracie immediately shoots for a takedown and there is a mad scramble on the mat. Shamrock takes Gracie down and Royce kicks the shit out of Ken's liver from the bottom. Royce takes the full mount and starts working for a side choke and Ken TAPS. Hilariously, Royce doesn't let go and just keeps talking shit to Ken for another ten seconds. The announcers have no idea what happened and Machada has to explain to them what a "back choke" is. Wallace says that in Japan it's called a "hajime," which is bullshit because "hajime" actually translates into "beginning" in Japanese.

"I was thinking too much about getting a leg and didn't protect my neck," Ken says in the post-fight interview. He says it was his first time fighting a BJJ guy. If he fought him again, Ken said he would have taken the initiative and pressed his foe from the get-go ... which is exactly what he did at UFC 5. He says he's the third best fighter in the competition but doesn't tell us who he thinks the best two are. The ring interviewer tells him John Milius (the guy who directed the original and good Red Dawn) is in the audience and might want to cast him in a movie. That actually happened, on the fifth of never, nineteen-ninety-nope.

The official time was 57 seconds. On the fight replay Wallace refers to Shamrock as "Kim." But at least he stops himself before calling him ROY-CE Gracie again.

Before the main event, Rorion Gracie - who, with that Pablo Escobar mustache, looks just like a Brazilian Magnum P.I. - gives daddy Helio Gracie a lifetime achievement award. He looks like a weird hybrid of James Cromwell and Clint Eastwood. And hey, shouldn't his name be spelled RELIO Gracie? His translator says he's very happy to be here in Denver, and that attending this event is his prize for doing Gracie jujitsu for 65 years.

And it is TIME ... for the finals of the tourney. Gordeau is out first, then we see the Gracie train for the third time this evening. Wallace says Gracie is so successful because everybody is too worried about being punched in the face or kicked in the knees to guard against his grappling.

Both fighters get pretty much the same reaction. Believe it or not, Gordeau STILL had two of Tula's teeth embedded in his foot - the doctors just left the incisors in there and wrapped the tape around them to prevent an infection. Wallace makes a remark about the mouth being the nastiest part of the human anatomy, which again, is total and complete bullshit because the navel has the most per capita bacteria

Gracie shoots for a takedown. He plows Gordeau across the cage and tries to leg trip him. Gordeau doing a good job clinching and defending the takedown. Royce finally brings him down. Gracie is in the full mount. Gord tries to grab Gracie's head, but Royce flattens him out. "These Gracies are anacondas," Wallace comments. Royce working for a choke. He has the rear naked locked in and Gordeau submits. 

The tap comes at 1:44. Gordeau and Gracie jaw in the post-fight. Royce says "thanks to my brothers, thanks to my family for teaching me and preparing me to go through this." He says there was no pressure for him to win, which has to be bullshit since his family pretty much created the event as an elaborate infomercial for GJJ. He says his strategy was to not give them a chance to hit him. "I want to win without getting hit," Royce says. Additionally, he said he wore the gi because all the boxers had a lot of Vaseline on them and the jacket prevents 'em from slipping away. Of course, he says he's going to use the $50,000 cash prize to go to Disney Land before backtracking and saying "I'm not here for the money, I'm here for the owner and the family." Which, again, is the same damn thing.

And cue Jim Brown's all-time classic concluding line - "what we've learned tonight is that fighting isn't what we thought it was." 

Gracie gets a giant oversized check and an iron cross medallion and one of the announcers makes a joke about becoming a thumb wrestling champion and the credits, they doth roll.

And in 25 years, this was resold for $4.2 billion. Let that sink in, folks.

Well, who'd thought that would eventually become an international, mainstream sports sensation valued at $4.2 billion? In hindsight, UFC 1 hardly resembles the sport we know today, but really, that's what makes it so brutally appealing. Today's MMA product may be about things like skill and technique and speed, but back then it was about sheer blunt force trauma and hardly anything else. In the end, it's not really surprising that the only guy in the tournament with anything even remotely resembling ground skills won the whole enchilada - in fact, considering the format, structure and rules of the tourney, it almost seemed set up to benefit mat-based grapplers like Royce. Hey, did I mention that his folks were the ones who came up with the whole idea for the UFC? Well, they did, and it's TOTALLY not suspicious at all that Gracie wound up winning three out of the first four tournaments. Not one smidge. 

Considering we've had more than 200 UFC shows since this one (and that's not even counting all the Fight Nights, Fox shows and The Ultimate Fighter finales), I guess it goes without saying the sport found its cultural niche. Really, it would take an entire book to explain how the UFC went from a hyper-violent made-for-PPV spectacle that politicians railed against as "human cockfighting" to one of the biggest entertainment brands on the planet, but let's just say it entailed a lot of structural changes (including the addition of stupid things like "weight classes," "judges" and "regulations against punching people in the testicles repeatedly,") ACTUAL athletes getting on board with the product instead of overweight, one-dimensional brawlers, and - of course - a lot of masterful marketing by Zuffa and the guys behind Pride FC.

While the UFC did hold on to the one-night-tourney shtick for the next three or so years (and Pride did their part to keep the concept alive with their grand prix competitions) the whole "MMA tournament" thing has become a thing of the past, a'la leather football helmets and those old ass Jason Voorhees NHL goalie masks. While I can understand why the "tourney" concept is no longer viable in MMA (hint: it rhymes with "concussion risks"), it's also hard to dispute the hideous beauty of such grueling spectacles. In fact, the very next UFC card upped the ante by increasing the field of competitors to 16, so the ultimate victor had to win four fights in one night instead of three. There's just such an intrinsic appeal to that archaic format; no matter who wins, since they had to make their way through at least three people over the the course of three hours - surviving blows to the head, kicks to their cojones and numerous attempts to yank their bones out of their bodies - you invariably walked away with some kind of respect for the champion. As UFC 1 demonstrates, this ain't exactly the prettiest pageant in the world of sports, but at the same time, it's impossible to not be enthralled and captivated by the low-culture carnage at hand - despite (or in spite of) all the blood, teeth and swollen eye sockets. 

Interestingly enough, the old Vidmark VHS didn't include what is technically the first fight in UFC history - an "exhibition" match between Jason DeLucia and Trent Jenkins (which DeLucia won via rear naked choke, in case you were keen on the trivia.) As such, I think they nonetheless deserve a spot on the official The Internet Is In America "Where Are They Now?" special ... 

Jason DeLucia got his ass kicked by Royce Gracie at UFC 2 then he fought in Pancrase for the next eight years and got his ass kicked by Bas Rutten, Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki, among other notables. He did a one off appearance at UFC 23, where he got shellacked by Joe Slick, which has to be the obscurest fighter in UFC history to ever get your ass kicked by. His last fight was in 2006 - a TKO loss to some guy named Lance Everson at something called the Calloway Cup in Massachusetts. Trent Jenkins actually returned to the UFC two years later, only to get armlocked by Mark Hall. He had two more pro fights, all of them losses, for an 0-4 career MMA record. 

Despite his decent showing, Gerard Gordeau only had one more pro MMA fight in his career - a 1995 loss to Yuki Nakai in Vale Tudo Japan, in which Gordeau literally clawed Nakai's eyeball out. He then dicked around in Japanese pro 'rasslin in the late 1990s and early 2000s and if you're really good at finding stupid shit on YouTube, you should be able to pull up clips of him 'rassling dudes like Samoa Joe and Masato Tanaka rather easily. Unsurprisingly, Teila Tuli never had another MMA fight, but according to Wikipedia, he's probably making good money playing fat Hawaiian dudes on MacGyver and Hawaii 5-0

Kevin Rosier made good on his promise to return to the Octagon when he took on Joe Charles at UFC 4 - a bout Rosier lost by armbar in only 14 seconds. He had five more bouts on the indie circuit throughout the 1990s, notably dropping two consecutive bouts to Dan Severn just three months apart in two different promotions. Zane Frazier returned to the cage at UFC 9, but got ground and pounded by Cal Worsham. Believe it or not, he kept fighting on and off until 2008, even making a one and done appearance in that WEC in 2002.

Patrick Smith made it all the way to the finals of UFC 2, but unfortunately, that was the pinnacle of his MMA career. Despite getting a win over Rudyard Moncayo at UFC 6, Smith never returned to the Octagon, opting to monkey around in the indies until his retirement in 2009. He also holds the honor of being the first fighter in MMA history to ever loss a bout by "fan interference," so yeah, there's that. Ken Shamrock, of course, is probably the most prolific fighter to have participated in the inaugural UFC event, as he fought on 12 more UFC cards, including a couple of PPV-headliners, as late as 2006. In between, he did some tomfoolery in Pride FC and the WWF, and is currently a meth addict who literally lives in a  van down by the river.

While Art Jimmerson never had another MMA bout, he did continue boxing until 2002, along the way getting his ass handed to him by guys with names like "King Arthur" Williams, Adolpho Washington and Orlin "The Juice" Norris. And Royce Gracie, of course, would go on to win UFC 2 and UFC 4 before getting flattened by Ken Shamrock in UFC 5 in the fight that pretty much made judges essential for the sport's survival. After that he had three fights in Pride FC, including the legendary 90 minute war against Kazushi Sakuraba at the 2000 GP Finals. After getting murder-death-killed by Matt Hughes at UFC 60, Gracie would exact revenge over Sakuraba in 2007 and against Shamrock in 2016. Of course, he was on steroids both times, but hey - vale tudo applies to what you put in your body as much as it does what you do with you body, don't it?

As for my concluding thoughts on UFC 1? Eh, since all the fights are so short and nobody really knew what the rules were, everything comes off as extremely ghetto (although the production values are actually way better than I recall.) The Rosier/Frazier scrap is the closet the show got to a truly competitive bout, but it is nonetheless fun watching Royce Gracie and Gerard Gordeau just plow through people like WCW jobbers circa 1992. As far as sports-entertainment goes, there ain't a whole hell of a lot of athletic ability on display, but as gruesome and unrefined the product may be, it's also impossible to deny that this shit is extremely entertaining. It may not be civil or sanitary, and in hindsight, it may indeed be ridiculous slap in the face to professional fighting as an industry and an art form, but - as much as you may hate yourself for enjoying it - you're still going to enjoy it

This might just be the most gloriously unrefined form of entertainment not called "porn" or "Bum Fights." And even if you're not an MMA fan for some stupid ass reason, you still need to watch it ... if only to prove, once and for all, that senseless violence - no matter how much or how little you try to church it up - is going to continue to put plenty of asses in plenty of seats, for a very, very long time to come.


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