UFC 1 History
UFC 1, later dubbed UFC 1: The Beginning, was an eight man martial arts tournament held in Denver, Colorado. The show was a promotion put on by the Gracie family to promote their style of martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as the best and most practical for most combat situations. There was much debate over which Gracie would represent them, but finally the task was placed on the shoulders of Royce. Royce was specifically chosen because of his size and unassuming stature, kind of like Frodo.
Initial plans for the cage included an alligator moat and there were no rules. Kind of. You couldn't bite or eye gouge your opponent, but otherwise it was no holds barred. The only ways billed to win were via knockout, submission, or death, so basically the event was set up to be a simulation of what it's like to party with Roman Polanski. Rorian Gracie, who had secured the help of Semaphore Entertainment Group to put on the pay-per-view, picked the competitors to the event. Note that there are no accomplished wrestlers on this card and process that for a moment. On November 12, 1993, the sport was know as MMA was launched.
Gerard Gordeau vs Teila Tuli
The very first fight of the UFC was a great indicator of some of the crazy shit to come. It featured 8 year Dutch Kyokushin Karate champion Gerard Gordeau pitted against Teila Tuli, a ranked makushita sumo wrestler better known for the roles he later played as the huge Hawaiian guy from Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the huge Hawaiian guy from the 2010 version of Hawaii Five-O.
Tuli opened the fight by charging forward and half hundred hand slapped half grabbed at Gordeau's body. He fell against the cage. By the time he rotated his head pitifully to bask in the majesty of this new god before him, Gordeau adjusted his stance, measured the distance, and unloaded with a picture perfect kick to the face. A tooth flew into the crowd and whizzed past the ear of the wife of future UFC ref Big Jon McCarthy. She immediately left the arena because gross.
Tuli took one more punch and was done. Though he never fought in the UFC again, a small piece of him made it to the finals. Two more of Tuli's teeth were still lodged in Gordeau's foot after the fight ended. Doctors avoided removing them until the end of the event because the resulting blood loss likely would removed him from the tournament.
Zane Frazier vs Kevin Rosier
One day, a UFC promoter received a picture of a rippled, pale giant name Kevin Rosier. Somewhere in his application, he claimed to be a 265 lb. former boxer and kickboxer with a kickboxing record of 66 wins and 8 losses, all 66 wins coming by knockout. He came sloshing into the Octagon looking something like the Incredible Hulk that got a desk job and just stopped giving a fuck.
His opponent was Zane Frazier, a 4th degree Kenpo karate fighter. Kenpo is a fighting style that has protected our nation's purses from back alley snatchers since the 50's. Frazier used it to amass an amazing 4-11 record with only 1 of his 15 professional fights coming to a decision.
The fight was probably the most back and forth of the card. Rosier dropped Frazier early and followed him to the ground. Frazier survived a couple of punches and worked his way back up. He landed a nasty right that broke Rosier's jaw. As the two clinched against the cage, both men began to wilt. The fight slowed as Rosier slowly chased Frazier around the ring lazily throwing kicks until he finally caught him against the cage.
Rosier began clubbing Frazier like he planned to make perfume out of his soupy innards. As Frazier fell, Rosier stomped on his head until the towel of sweet mercy entered the ring.
Art Jimmerson vs. Royce Gracie
Art Jimmerson is perhaps the first professional boxer to openly question the validity of two men rolling around on the ground as a legitimate combat sport. He famously entered the Octagon for the first and only time wearing a single boxing glove over what I can only guess was his favorite punching hand. At the beginning of the broadcast, we were informed that the UFC was all about NO RULES. One of those NO RULES is that competitors were not allowed to wear gloves in their fight, yet Jimmerson was standing there one hand in and one hand out like it was the hokey pokey. One of the continuing controversies today involves the fact that rules like this were changed with little or no notice, and many changes skewed certain advantages to the Gracies. For example, Zane Frazier's strategy involved using taped fists to box and cut his opponents, yet he was not allowed this.
The fight was a great introduction to Gracie jiu-jitsu, the style that dominated the earliest days of the UFC, but Jimmerson was technically clueless when the fight inevitably went to the mat. Gracie used kicks to keep his opponent at a distance and quickly passed from side control to mount once he grabbed the takedown. Jimmerson floundered around beneath Gracie before tapping out before Gracie even went for a submission hold. It was the first time anyone in the Octagon quit out of sheer frustration.
Ken Shamrock vs. Patrick Smith
Ken Shamrock was considered the be the person most likely to defeat Royce Gracie, and he certainly possessed the most rounded skillset of all of the competitors. Shamrock changed the world in 1992 when he defeated kickboxing champion Don Nayaka Nielsen in an unscripted for really real match at an event held by professional wrestling organization Fujiwara Gumi.
The match was a success, and Shamrock, along with Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki, formed the Pancrase organization. Pancrase was similar to the UFC in that it incorporated a blend of stand up striking and grappling, but the events had far more rules and structure. Shamrock came into the UFC tournament having fought just three days prior.
Patrick Smith, on the other hand, claimed to be the man impervious to pain and the victor of something like a thousand fights. Oh and one of those was probably against a giant. Or maybe a cyclops. He threw about half a leg kick before being taken to the ground. Within a minute Smith was tapping out to a heel hook.
Gordeau vs. Rosier
Rosier entered the fight with a broken jaw and Gordeau with another man's teeth cheering him on from the pulsing wound in his foot. Gordeau landed some hard leg kicks that backed Rosier up against the cage and quickly finished him.
Shamrock vs. Gracie
Shamrock vs. Gracie was probably the best fight of the first tournament. Gracie went in for an early takedown and Shamrock blocked with a sprawl. He almost rolled Gracie over into a mount, and had he done this the outcome of UFC 1 may have been totally different. The two wrestled for position and Shamrock went in for the heel hook again. Gracie, having watched his opponent's previous fight, was ready, and used Shamrock's momentum to spring on top of his opponent. He slowly and methodically worked his way to Shamrock's back and used his gii secure a choke.
Gordeau vs. Gracie
Gordeau lacked the aggression of his earlier fights and this may have been his downfall. After some early circling, Gracie shot for the takedown. Though he didn't secure it immediately, he was able to work the kickboxer against the cage and dragged him opponent down. The inevitable choke soon followed.