UFC 2 was a monstrous event in terms of MMA history. A 16-man, one-night tournament featuring several standout fighters from UFC 1 as well as a host of traditional martial arts experts from around the world. The grand prize was raised from $50,000 to $60,000 and the alternate bouts were removed. Once again fights could only be stopped by knockout, submission, or by corner stoppage.
Despite featuring one notorious last minute replacement, and a number of unheralded fighters (several of whom would never compete in MMA again), UFC 2 was an impressive event, both for it’s size and for the talent it represented at the time. It is important to recognize that the focus of these early UFC events was to feature expert martial artists from around the world, who would display a wide variety of disciplines. Under that ideal, UFC 2 held what may have been the most varied field in MMA history. Unfortunately it also featured Jim Brown picking fighter matchups via names in a punchbowl. But that’s a rant for a later day.
Now on to the fighters of UFC 2:
Minoki Ichihara – Ichihara is an almost legendary figure in MMA history. Hard to believe for a man with one recorded professional fight, which he lost. Born in 1968, in the Shimane Prefecture in Japan, Ichihara was one of the rising stars of Japanese Karate. He was trained under Takashi Azuma, founder of the Daido Juku Karate organization in 1981. Daido Juku was a hybrid split-off of Kyokushin Karate incorporating Judo techniques (as well as headbutting, notably). T.P. Grant went into more detail about it and Azuma in his MMA Origins piece.
He was the 1990, 91, and 92 Hokutoki (Daido Juku event) heavyweight tournament champion, as well as the 1990 and 1993 openweight tournament champion. Despite entering UFC 2 without any official MMA bouts he had fought several times in alternate rules events pitting Daido Juku fighters against martial artists from other promotions and disciplines. Here he fights an unnamed Russian fighter in a K-1 rules bout. It’s hard to grasp what sort of figure he was in Japan. The best I can say is that he was a well covered star in Japanese Karate, and was regularly featured in Japanese Karate Magazines in the years prior to UFC 2. When he made the trip to the US it was with a large press contingent, set upon recording what was expected to be an historic victory.
His bout against Royce Gracie was neither particularly short, nor brutal, ending at 5:08 of the first round. However after the loss he would compete in only one more Daido Juku tournament that same year, after which he retired from competition and martial arts entirely. After retiring he dropped out of the public eye. He spoke to Gong Martial Arts magazine, with Kazushi Sakuraba, some years later about why he ended his fighting career, saying that he quit because he felt it was time, and had no regrets about retiring. It is rumored that he has lost much of his muscular physique and now runs a creperie.
Scott Morris – Morris was advertised as a Ninjutsu expert, which was close enough to the truth for advertising. He was a black belt under Mike Bussey as part of Robert Bussey’s Warrior International fight system. It’s a splinter art of ninjutsu, meant to functionalize the traditional martial art for modern hand to hand combat.
Morris fought only three times in his career, but is still loosely affiliated with Robert Bussey’s “The Gym” in Arlington. In 2009 XKO (Bussey’s regional pro-wrestling/MMA promotion) presented him with an award for his contribution to MMA.
Ben Perry, announcer for UFC 2, famously said of Scott Morris:
“We don’t know much about him, because he is a ninja.”
Sean Daugherty – Sean Daugherty is the youngest fighter to have ever competed in the UFC at 18 years, 4 months. At the time he was an amateur kickboxer and the 1991 Indiana and West Viriginia state kickboxing champion. His MMA career would be shortlived and unsuccessful going 0-2 in his one UFC outing and a fight against Minoru Suzuki in Pancrase. However post UFC (and in between his two bouts) he would go on to advance his martial arts training and eventually his non-competitive career.
After his UFC debut he entered the miliatry and became a trainer in hand-to-hand combat techniques. In 1997 he began training with former national Judo Champion John Saylor in Saylor’s newly created martial art Shingitai Jujitsu. Currently he is a 4th dan in Shingitai and head instructor at SJA Headquarters.
Patrick Smith – I’ve already discussed Pat Smith at some length here. After his quick exit at UFC 1 Smith set to work on his grappling, to good effect as he submitted Ray Wizard in his first fight of the tournament with a guillotine choke. Along with Jason DeLucia it was one of the first examples of a striker focusing heavily on grappling in order to succeed in MMA. For Smith this tournament would represent the absolute high point of his MMA career.
Several years later, and following a number of poor showings he would be arrested for sexual assault on a minor. It was this incident that lead to his arrest prior to YAMMA. He is a registered sex offender stemming from those 1998 charges of “Lewd Or Indecent Proposals/Acts To Child,” and his failure to register in Oklahoma after moving there lead to the warrant and police chase in 2009.
Ray Wizard – Prior to UFC 2 Ray Wizard had a long career on the Karate point fighting circuit. He was a Kenpo Karate black belt under Steve Muhammad’s Black Karate Federation. Wizard was one of several prominent champions of the competition focused school, however his loss at UFC 2 would be his only entrance into full contact competition.
Currently Wizard owns his own school, Ray Wizard’s Martial Arts Studio, in Inglewood California.
David Levicki – The biggest moment of David Levicki’s MMA career would not come at UFC 2, but rather at Vale Tudo Japan 1994. There, as a part of their one night 8-man tournament, he would defeat Kazuhiro Kusayanagi and go on to face Rickson Gracie (to predictable results).
Levicki had a background in Wing Chun Kung Fu and was a former Army Ranger. His last professional fight was against Herman Renting at Rings Holland in 1995.
Johnny Rhodes – Rhodes is most notable for the man he beat rather than the man he was. At the time of UFC 2 he was a 39 year old Karateka and kickboxer. A black belt in Shorinji-Ryu Karate as well as a Nevada state kickboxing champion.
Despite winning his first two fights of the tournament UFC 2 would be Rhodes only entry into MMA competition.
Fred Ettish (who I’ll talk about later) said of Johnny Rhodes:
One person who has never gotten enough credit, IMHO, in all this is Johnny Rhodes. Few people realize that before he proceeded to beat me like a rented mule, he fought something like 15 – 18 minutes (not exactly sure, but it was the longest fight to that point in UFC History) and beat David Levicki, who was something like 260 – 270 pounds. Johnny weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 215 (Old skinny Fred was about 175). He fought Pat Smith after he was done tenderizing my face, and lost, but I am sure he was exhausted from all the energy he expended using me as his heavy bag. He was a good fighter, hit hard, and a real decent person on top of it. He will always have my respect.
Freek Hamaker – Also known as Frank Hamaker, Freek was billed as a Dutch Sambo expert and Greco-Roman Champion. In reality Hamaker was a adult cinema theater owner from the Netherlands.
He was, however, also a student under Chris Dolman, so his grappling credentials are not without some backbone. Prior to his UFC debut he had experience in several unsanctioned MMA events known as “Fighting in Paradisio” out of Amsterdam. He recounted a particular incident fighting Charly Liefeld where he was on the receiving end of several illegal elbows.
“I did not know what came over me. It was agreed that this was not allowed, I had my or neck may break! I first wanted to stop and was furious at promoter Johan Vos. Then I thought to myself, I just break his arm or his leg. (from The Hardening of Match Fighting)
Hamaker would win his first fight over Thaddeus Luster, however a hand injury sustained in the bout kept him from moving on in the tournament. It would be his only official entry into MMA competition.
That’s the first half of UFC 2. Watch out for the second half, where I talk about Fred Ettish, rehash a bit on Royce Gracie, and delve into the rest of the UFC 2 competitors.
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