Olde Timey #11 (UFC)
It's Phoebus Apollo again, here with a very special Olde Timey Tape Review. Today I rented the first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament. Yes, the first, the finals of the tournament that started the UFC movement. I was going to just watch it for myself, but then I thought that it'd be a little selfish not to share a glimpse of the birth of the UFC with others, so I decided to review this tape like I had others before it, a tape from the time when shootfighting wasn't all it took to win. It was a time when a crazy look in your eye or a tooth in your foot could get someone killed. It was a time when fighting was real, in a tournament with real fans, a time when the obligatory sumo wrestler didn't advance beyond the first round.
It was a better time. (Or so they tell me.)
Now, today's tape was broadcast in 1993, so it's hard to say it's "Olde Timey". However, this is, as the description on the box tells me, the first UFC tourney. In fact, my understanding is that this tape was originally not released until well after UFC on home video became popular. "Ultimate Fighting Champioship I: The Beginning" is the official title of the flick, if you like the review, go pick it up, or pick up other UFC tapes for all sorts of action. Remember folks, UFC is real fighting, setting it apart from it's cousin, professional wrestling. However, since it's still the genre of "sports entertainment", I figure a review of it fits nicely here in the Oratory.
My disclaimer is a little different then normal. Normally I do play-by-play commentary, live action calls, trying to keep the actual first-moment impressions intact so you can see it the same way I do while I'm watching it. However, being this was a longer tape, with no commercial breaks unlike a normal tv broadcast, and the fact that I had the VCR remote not more than a foot away, I couldn't resist to do a non-live commentary piece this time.
So, here is the play-by-play, this time with a little rewinding, a little fast forwarding, and a lot of pausing.
Without further ado, let's get on with the "action"...
Before we get into the tape itself, there are tons of previews and informercials. Hey, when I review a tape, I review the whole tape. So, be damned, this next section is just a little bit of fun. Go ahead and skip this if you'd rather get straight to the action.
(obligatory copyright statement)
"Do you love the excitement and the fun?"
"Thousands have asked for it, and now you can buy your own official ultimate fighting championship merchandise by calling 1-800-576-2787!" so says "Michelle", in an unethusiastic and droning tone.
"Remember, this merchandise is not available in retail stores."
I will remember this, Michelle, I will.
Hey, as the psychotropic blunt voice of Michelle reminds me, call now, and you can get the full featured catalogue to browse UFC goods. Get your merchandise today!
"See you at the next fight!"
Hmm? Coming attractions? Let's see...
Trimark home pictures presents...
"they gave up their families... their LOVE..."
"they gave up their friends... their TRUST..."
"they gave up their country... their SOULS..."
(insert random scenes of Irish violence and bad voice acting)
Ian Hart, best supporting actor - Venice film festival.
In... "NOTHING PERSONAL"
Coming soon to home video near you.
"Life is a funny thing, sometimes it needs a good wack on the side of the head."
To get to the truth... you need a little help from your friends.
Johny (Denis Leary)
Frank (Joe Mantegna)
Dr. Leah (some female actor)
Ned (some other actor)
Todd (yet another actor who nobody is bound to remember)
"Mr. Makes People Happy, that's me" - Denis Leary.
Oh, and even Traci Lords!
Coming to home video near you.
One more... Trimark presents...
When Joe Talbun saw her, he had no way of knowing. His life would never be the same. From beyond the boundaries of our dimension... they have come to reclaim an object... that has unimagionable powers.
"You wanna play Joseph? Alright, let's play."
(dramatic music, random screenshots and sound bites)
3 nobody actors star in, "CROSSWORLDS".
Coming to home video near you.
Trimark pictures presents...
(Burt Reynolds) "You know, you got dream, you gotta stick with it. You go for it, with everything you got."
A young boy, enchanted by mummies, vampires and werewolves fullfills his dreams, when he finds Frankenstein's body and attempts to bring it back to life. He sets out on an adventure where fiction collides with facts, fantasy collides with reality, dreams come alive, and young scientists bring a legend to life. Burt Reynolds and Louis Fletcher star in this thrilling family adventure, "Frankenstein ("It's alive!")... And Me".
Coming to home video near you.
Oh, don't think we're done yet, one more...
Somewhere in space, he is waiting.
Somewhere on this ship, he is watching.
He is powerful.
He is evil.
And he's ready to party...
(I'll let you guess who the mystery character is)
(mystery character) "Good evening!"
(mystery character firing space weapon) "Hot stuff comin' up!"
(space combat shots)
(mystery character bursting out of a man's crouch facing an obligatory female) "Let that always be a lesson to ya lass, always wear a prophylactic!"
(mystery character shooting another space weapon) "Take a bite out of this!"
(obligatory female shooting space gun blowing up mystery character) "Eat this!"
(obligatory male looking up at ominous shadow) "What did you shoot him with, steriods?"
... Leprechaun 4: In Space
"This barbecue has just begun!"
Coming to home video near you.
Okay, that's enough of the "Coming Attraction/Informercial" coverage. I fast forwarded through yet another coming attraction clip, it wasn't funny enough to review. I just figure, hey, if I have to suffer through it, so do you!
Now for our feature presentation...
Ultimate Fighting Championship I: The Beginning
Let's start off with the announcer... "We're live from the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado. McNichols sports arena, the site of tonight's landmark martial arts event. 8 of the most deadly fighters in the world meet in a no-holds barred combat to determine who is the world's Ultimate Fighting Champion. There are no rules. No judge's scores. No time limits."
Now, for a rundown of the competitors.
Brazilian and World Light Heavyweight Jiu-Jitsu Champion.
1993 Savaki (?) Challenge Heavyweight Champion in Tae Kwon Do.
IBF North American Cruiser Boxing Champion.
World Heavyweight Savate Champion.
The WKF Superheavyweight Kempo Champion (Karate).
The #1 Ranked Shoot-Fighter in Japan.
3 years Pro-Sumo Champion of Japanesse Professional Circuit.
WKA and ISKA Super-Heavyweight Kickboxing Champion.
Here we go, the action begins.
Bill Wallace is announcing with Jim Brown (NFL Hall of Famer). Jim Brown puts over the UFC fighters above every sports-related invidual he knows saying that they'd never last in the Octagon. He may sound like a shill stating that, but it's the truth, as many UFC fans probably already know.
Cathy Long, 5 time world kickboxing champ also joins the UFC announce table. Rod Machado, roving color commentator offers some commentary and insight on the fight as we prepare for the event. Brian Kilmeade shows us the ring, the Octagon, the "Pit".
Let's take a brief look at the card now that we've seen everything else...
Fight #1 - Gerard Gordeau vs. Teila Tuli (Savate vs. Sumo)
Fight #2 - Kevin Rosier vs. Zane Frazier (Kickboxing vs. Karate)
Fight #3 - Royce Gracie vs. Art Jimmerson (Jiu-Jitsu vs. Boxing)
Fight #4 - Ken Shamrock vs. Patrick Smith (Shootfighting vs. Tae Kwon Do)
The winners of fights #1 and #2 face each other, the winners of fights #3 and #4 face each other, then the winners of those matches face off for the UFC title.
Great overview, great looking event, the mood is somber but ready for the fight. Personally, I'm rooting for Ken Shamrock, as all we in the wrestling business know, comes from a tough breed (his brother, Frank Shamrock, is one of the toughest guys on earth and also a accomplished UFC star), and has a devestating finishing manuever (the anklelock submission hold).
So, let's start right out the gate. Savate vs. Sumo, Gerard vs. Teila.
Here comes Teila Tuli down the ramp with a oriental entrance theme and a samoan gown, along with his training crew. This guy isn't that big for a Sumo, but maybe that's because I've yet to see him sized up with his opponent. Here we get a brief overview of this fighter, a short dosier on their sizes and a short pre-fight taped interview asking them for pre-fight insight. Teila is 6'2" 410, Honolulu, Hawaii. The strongest part of his body is his "heart".
Gerard Gourdeau, Savate champion. He's white and tall, bald headed, not very muscular, but don't let that mislead you, I bet he's tough. He comes in the Pit and salutes the crowd. 6'5" 216, Amsterdam, Netherlands. He hopes to win, even though he is 200 pounds lighter.
Rich Goins is the in-ring announcer for the night, and introduces the contenders. Tuli is ready to go. They fighters are checked briefly, they are prepared for the match by the refs. No groin shots, no biting, no high gouges. Everything else is okay.
Let's go! Clap, ring, in they go. Tuli looks pscyhed. They square off, Tuli rushes up, Gerard moves and gets a wicked kick to Tuli's face, and he's already bleeding. Sheesh! Tuli is still rearin' to go although the ref looks concerned and is holding up the match to make double-sure he's still ready. Is the match already over? He's trying to get the match stopped. The kick hit right in the teeth, knocking some out. Tuli wants to stay in, he really wants it, but the match has been called out. One kick. Replay, Tuli rushes, Gerard backs off as Tuli oncomes, leads him a little off balance into the screen, and one clean shot Gerard gets one swift kick in. Out flys a tooth of Tuli. Tuli is visibly disappointed by the ruling, he was ready to go, but the ref's word is final. I can understand the concern of the ref, but that fight should've continued. Gerard advances.
Kickboxing vs. Karate, Kevin Rosier vs. Zane Frazier. After that match, we need something to get us prepared for a evening of entertainment. I'm surprised how somber and docile this UFC event is. You envision screaming bloodlust fans, but really, there is a air of respect around this event, the tone of the fight thus far is not violent at all, even though it's violence they all came to see. Gives you a clue as to why the UFC is as it is today. Out comes Kevin Rosier, under hooded jacket, with his crew. 6'4", 265 pounds, Cheektowaga, New York. He explains in his short dosier that his best technique is a a overhand right. He's here to win, or so he says. Let's see how he does.
Now enters Zane Frazier, a big guy, 6'6", 230 pounds. 4th degree black belt. He's one of those holy fighters who believes god gives him the strength to fight. It seems like every actual fighting contest I see has at least one guy like this. Is there something about religion that makes people violent that I don't get?
The announcer announces the match. 66 wins 8 losses for Rosier? Impressive, all 66 wins where by knockout? If I was Zane, I'd be getting ready, because that's a record you can't ignore. The usual pre-fight prep goes on, and I notice that Kevin isn't the most fit guy on earth, but neither was Gerard and he one in one blow. Goes to show that you don't need to be a Scott Steiner muscle monster to compete with the best.
They quickly meet up in the middle of the ring, touch extended fists in pre-fight friendship, the bell rings, and the friendship quickly turns into rivalry. Rosier approaches Frazier who is backing away, clearly showing Rosier as the aggressor. Zane backs into the wall to get enough space for Kevin's overhand right, a kick to Zane's gut, and a few mauling rights bring Zane to the mat. Elbow to the back, Zane gets up, a kick to the gut, Zane drives Kevin up to the rail, kicks him in the groin (the only illegal move!), and batters him up along the padded octagon railing with some swift knees whild holding him up by pulling the hair. He holds Rosier back, gets a good punch, they grip in the ring, Zane holds steady against the rail, gets in a kick, and he's too close for Kevin to get his kicks in. Zane gets leaning way up on the railing, and continues to hold him back.
A few punches are exchanged, a great inside uppercut by Zane. He backs away and gets another great punch despite a swift kick by Kevin. They meet back up and Kevin gets in a knee to the gut, but Zane holds Kevin back against the rail again. Rosier tries to move Zane back, Zane won't have it. Some slugs are exchanged, some fatigue is setting in, Zane throws some nice punches but they're just a little too short as he backed away quickly from Rosier to get them in, and they don't really connect. They square off, and it's a matter of strategy now - who will get in the next blow? A kick by Zane, but no real connection. Rosier is still held back against that rail, and they are both getting a little worn out by simply griping each other. Rosier gets Zane's head in a headlock and gets him down towards the mat, tries to take Zane over, but Zane lifts up out of the hold and gets on top of Rosier who fell on all fours on the mat. Zane tries to choke Rosier, gets up for a knee to the face but doesn't follow through with impact, both fighters look worn out after all this grappling and slight slugging. Zane still has the leverage on Rosier, tries to choke him, Rosier gets up, Zane nearly gets in a good knee but again lacks the follow-through, both fighters seem intimidated by the other to some extent. With this level of strategy playing out, it's hard for either to dedicate a line of attack.
Both back away so they can get some good space to fight. Roiser kicks Zane, lightly, Zane backs up, a slug to the back of the head of Zane, and they still get up for a face-off. Zane is finding himself walking back to accomodate Rosier's approach, that might not be a good idea. Rosier tries a big right hand, but it misses it's mark. Zane ad Rosier still go, Zane gets in a quick punch, and Rosier tries a kick, neither really impact.
Uh-oh, Zane backs up and lets Rosier get several lumbering punches, which are finally connecting well, and Zane grabs the back of his head and goes down to the mat as Rosier lays a few more down, now that Rosier has this opportunity, can he take it? Some more punches some really good punches, 7-8 straight blows by Rosier, and now Zane is on the mat as Rosier proceeds to kick him. The towel is thrown in by Zane's crew! Rosier gets the victory. This was a fight, but something tells me that they where saving their energy the whole time. Of course, after watching RAW and Nitro for the past few years, maybe I'm just not used to seeing real full-on physical batterings. Either way, Kevin Rosier advances, but he's worn out from the match length. The interviewer tries to get some post fight thoughts, but Kevin is too consumed in the post-fight wearyness to give any useful comments, and says he's "not a great interviewer", he does note however that his strategy was more or less to take Zane's punishment and then take him out when he's worn down. He's congratulated on his victory and gets his much needed break in preparation for the next semi-finals, where he will face Gerard Gordeau.
Next up, Jiu-Jitsu vs. Boxing, Royce Gracie vs. Art Jimmerson. Royce is the lightest fighter here, as the announcer notes, just as Royce makes his entrance. Royce's crew comes out in a human chain, holding each other's shoulders. Must be a Brazilian thing. 6'1", 180 pounds, reigning from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He thinks his family-honed technique is going to take it, but doesn't say much in his pre-fight taped introduction.
Jimmerson comes out to the ring in traditional boxing garb, one boxing glove on one hand (trendy, trendy). Let's size this guy up: 6'1", 196 pounds from St. Louis, Missouri. These guys are both light compared to the previous fighters. He says he punches hard, he's fast, and as a fighter you can't give them a chance. Royce is my pick for this fight.
We announce both parties, and the pre-fight prep is underway, and we're ready to get this show on the road. That is, after the one annoying fan with the foghorn is taken out of the arena and beat to a pulp. They both start at opposite ends of the corner, Jimmerson is leading up ready to strike but Royce gets up a kick near the midsection of Jimmerson. Jimmerson backs away, and he comes up ready to strike again. Royce has his foot poised like a viper, and now it's both guys just looking for a place to land their blow. Royce gets the foot up to make Jimmerson flinch, that flinch lands the nimble Royce a opportunity to take Jimmerson down by grabbing both knees and pulling him over.
Royce pins him to the mat, headbutt, Rocye has his legs up on the inside, underneath Jimmerson's knees as he lays on top of him, keeping Jimmerson from standing back up. Royce has Jimmerson down but Jimmerson works his way out. Royce holds his hands and feet on the floor tryint to keep Jimmerson down so he can't get any blows in. Jimmerson just tapped out, he couldn't get Royce off of him and was really just psyched out by the pin Royce had laying on top of him, just couldn't cope with the lock Royce had, and the control, and the lack of space to breath, just a smothering and overwhelming presence with Royce's ability to keep himself locked and held tight hovering above Jimmerson. I don't blame him one bit, as a boxer he's just not ready to deal with that situation on the mat, and couldn't mentally take the smothering control Royce had. Great psychology that Royce fought off Jimmerson with. Great fight, even though it had no significant blows. Royce advances to the semi-finals.
Shootfighting vs. Tae Kwon Do, Ken Shamrock vs. Patrick Smith. The announcer notes that this may very well be the best match of the evening. They are looking forwards to this match, and I am too. First, Ken Shamrock makes a bold entrance, he's ready, you can tell it by the look on ihs face. He's got that look on his face that few people can get that essentially says "I've already won". Some info on the shootfighter: 6' foot 220 pounds, Lockeford, California. "I'm well adapted", he says in the pre-fight introduction tape, "I think this is my chance to win". No doubt, no doubt.
Now, onto the competition. Patrick Smith makes his entrance. His crew is leading him up, clapping to get the crowd going, andhe's in the back, getting riled up by a slow jog on his way to the ring, he's prepped and ready. 6'2" 217 pounds, hailing from Denver, Colorado, Patrick thinks he's going to win this fight because "I'm the most strongest, powerfulest, craziest guy out of all the groups". I couldn't have said it better.
These guys are both squaring each other up, getting hyped, and the crowd cheers for Patrick. Ken Shamrock has those crazy eyes that he's known for. It's time, let's see what these guys can do. The pre-fight prep. Shamrock and Smith stare each other down, and they're ready to go. Shamrock goes up, grabs Smith and attempts to drag and pull him over, Smith holds his grounds but Shamrock holds tight, and with a twist of his body he takes over Smith. On his back, Smith gets his lets up around Shamrock's midsection, and kicks the back of his legs. He's also holding Shamrock's head down. Shamrock has both legs firmly up in a stance putting more leverage on Smith, and Shamrock gets in a few good punches. They are tangling, Shamrock holding up on top as Smith keeps himself postured with those legs around the midsection of Shamrock, and Smith opens his legs in a wide gate and brings them back in on Shamrock slamming his gut, Shamrock holds on to the right leg as it comes in and falls backwards from the blow. Holding the leg was a good idea for Shamrock as he gets Smith's legs tangled on the mat. Shamrock's got the left ankle of Smith held with his left hand, both his legs wrapped around with the feet over Smith's midsection, and Smith's right leg under his right shoulder. Ouch! Smith gets the left leg free, raises it up and drops it down swiftly on Shamrock, it didn't phase him but it did weaken Shamrock's hold. Now Smith is reading up and battering Shamrock's shin with his elbow, but Shamrock holds on to the hold after he gets both feet in check. He can't keep it up though, he has the right leg down but the left leg got free again and another wide swift drop of the leg barely misses Shamrock. Now Patrick is using the left leg as leverage against Shamrock's right side, and is trying to get out of the hold by pushing him down. Shamrock holds on to Smith's right leg though, despite Smith grabbing Shamrock's stray right ankle and attempting to twist it. Smith is obviously going for something that will attempt to force Shamrock to give up the tangled legs, but Shamrock holds steady. A few elbows by Patrick and Shamrock locks in a real leglock here, heavy pressure on Smith's knee and ankle! Smith falls back and quickly taps out before any permanent damage occurs.
Smith is worked over pretty good by the pressure of Shamrock's last firm grip, combined with the constant pressure Shamrock applied during the, it was too much. It seems they didn't end on a very sportsman-like note, as Patrick nearly goes after Shamrock after the match. Ken Shamrock advances to take on Royce Gracie in the second semi-final match. When asked in the post-fight interview if this match was easier or harder than previous fights in the Japan shootfighting circuits Shamrock snaps quickly back, "easier, because he does not know any submission". It shows a replay of the finishing maneuvers, showing just how much pressure Shamrock put on the ankle before that final grip. I didn't notice just how much Shamrock concentrated on that ankle, shows real professionalism.
The first semi-final match, the winner advances to the finals. Gerard Gordeau vs. Kevin Rosier. Savate vs. Kickboxing. Gerard had a incredibly first match, and Rosier is worn out, so I favor Gerard. The ring entrances occur, it's time to get up, and get fighting. One note is that Rosier still looks a little fatigued, got a injury near his left eye from the first match.
Kevin leads off with some kicks, Gerard comes after Kevin's legs with a kick. Gerard leads a coupl punches, and gets two kicks right on Kevin's knee join. Gerard takes out the knees and Kevin falls back against the railing and Gerard pounds him with several poweful elbows to the head, taking advantage of all the openings Rosier is giving him while Rosier sits on the mat waiting for an opening to get up, a opening that is not coming. After around 6-7 blows the ref splits them and the towel flys in the ring. It's over, quick, meaning Gerard got another win, quickly, and better yet, he's fresh. Kevin gives some post-fight thoughts as he goes home, he's still smiling despite the loss, and wishes Gerard the best for the good fight. Gerard Gordeau advances to the final round.
The second semi-final match, Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock, Jiu-Jitsu vs. Shootfighting. This, quite possibly, will be better than Ken's last match, and I'm thinking it's not unrealistic to see Royce take this one. I know Ken has won several of these UFC events, but I don't know if he won this first one. Here comes the human train with Royce Gracie in the center, Royce looks determined, and is still fresh after his first match. Here comes out Shamrock, and he has his gaze ready but his demeanor looks a little less firm than his last fight. He's getting some boos from the crowd as he walks around the Octagon to the gate. Shamrock's got his "crazy eyes" going again, only one of those eyes is black from a kick he got in his last match.
Let's get the pleasantries out of the way and get the fight going! Ken Shamrock is bouncing around and here they meet in the center for the final briefing by the ref, and the bell rings... Royce goes for a immediate takedown but Shamrock is prepared and stands taller than him, catching his takedown attempt and throwing him down to the mat. Big mistake on the part of Royce, who should be going for strategy. Ken's trying to keep him down, but Royce gets up... no, Ken grabs Royce and hoists him back down to the mat. Royce is kicking Shamrock in the back with a free leg, he takes Shamrock over and chops him a couple times in the head while holding a dominant pin. Royce is holding on to Ken, gets him in a choke and Ken Shamrock taps, losing the bought. Royce advances to the finals. They get together, Royce shows his appreciation for Shamrock and takes his well deserved trip to the finals. Shamrock takes a interview and gets ready to go home, states that he did tap and that the ref didn't see it, but he made sure to let the ref know after the tap for the sake of good sportsmanship, showing himself to be better than his last opponent.
Great match, and short, so Royce goes without too much fatigue. Here we cut to a brief honoring of Helio Gracie, for his accomplishments as a fighter in his life, achievement of Grand Master status, the father of Royce Gracie, who himself may very well come home with similar honors if he wins this tournament. This broadcast, aparently, is dedicated to the legendary Gracie fighting ability his grandfather developed, so it's only fitting that Royce Gracie makes it to the finals.
Gerard Gordeau vs. Royce Gracie, Savate vs. Jiu-Jitsu. Here we go, Gerard and his team come out, they're ready but Gerard looks a little worn. I favor Royce, he took out Shamrock quickly and has a incredible fighting technique. If Royce gets Gerard on the mat, he's likely going to win, and that doesn't seem like a challenge with the way Royce lunged at both of his first opponents. Oh, Gerard's foot is cut from the kick he delivered to Tuli's mouth earlier, and is bandaged. Both fighters shake hands showing respect, and this is for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Both fighters square off, and Royce rushes in with that swift lunge, doesn't take Gerard down but does get a firm grip on him.. Royce gets a instep on Gerard's leg to try to take him down, and they are both against the wall of the octagon, and they both try the same insteps in efforts to take the other down. They're tangled and Royce drove and took Gerard down. Gerard is on the mat, Royce is pushing hard down on Gerard. Gerard is in a lot of trouble, and Royce is holding him down, and Gerard simply taps out. Nothing to do when you're pinned to the floor. Royce Gracie, Ultimate Fighting Champion, with the style of Jiu-Jitsu. Royce thanks his family for the fighting technique and support that helped him win. His strategy? "Just don't give them a chance to hit me, that's the main thing." Simple, but hey, it's very effective. He did it for his family's honor, and the honor was kept.
Jim Brown says "what we learned here today is that fighting is not what we thought it was". He's very right. Royce is here being awarded with $50,000 and the medal designating him the Champion. That's it from the Ultimate Fight, the first taped Ultimate Fight PPV, Olde Timey indeed.
For more outstanding UFC fights, check your local video store, there are a ton of UFC tapes in circulation. Just check for the box with the little muscle guy pounding on an earth with "ULTIMATE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIP" on the front in big bold letters. You can't miss it!
I'll try to get Xavier to post the feedback from this commentary along with his normal mailbag post. I'm looking for some stories and whatnot from you people who attended these events so I can post some memories with the mailbag, so if you remember these days of yore, maybe you where the guy in the front row who got one of Tuli's teeth as a keepsake, speak on up!
See you next time for my usual weekly Olde Timey Tape Review, where I'll take a look at some old wrestling footage.