During our first season of the Old School MMA Review, we made it through the first thirteen events of the SEG UFC era. We had some duds, and we had some great ones. Today, we honor those events that were not only watchable, but highly enjoyable and worth watching again and again.
Here are the nominees for Best Event Ever:
UFC 2 – The first and only sixteen man tournament in the history of the UFC, this enormous event doubled the number of fighters from their debut show, and doubled the overall fun. Royce Gracie really showed his skills at this show more than he did in the first event, with armbar victories over Minoki Ichihara and Jason Delucia, while Pat Smith came back as a man on fire, looking for redemption after his loss to Ken Shamrock at the innaugral UFC event.
We also saw great finishes from Remco Pardoel’s scarf-hold into elbows combo over Orlando Wiet, and the ever memorable squash match that was Fred Ettish taking on Johnny Rhodes. The longest fight on the main card only went a little over three minutes in this exciting early event that showcased Royce Gracie and made him a bigger star than the first show through his dominant performances over a variety of styles.
UFC 6 – Casper, Wyoming was the home for the sixth UFC show, “Clash of the Titans”. Headlined by a superfight between Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn, the eight-man tournament was no slouch either. This was the start of the “tough guy” era, that saw the promotion bring in big boys who did not necessarily have a ton of skill but were not afraid to trade leather.
This event brought us the debut of Tank Abbott, as well as the return of Oleg Taktarov who showed his submission skills against some tough men, including Paul Varelans. The finals between Tank and Oleg were an interesting match to see, but it was hard to outdo Shamrock’s dominant victory over Severn via guillotine choke (which we will come back to in a bit).
Ultimate Ultimate 1995 – The best of the best were called back to action, along with the other fighters they could get to return when the best of the best were busy, in the first Ultimate Ultimate event! The show featured previous tournament winners like Oleg Taktarov, Steve Jennum, Marco Ruas, and Dan Severn, alongside challengers like “The Giant Killer” Keith Hackney, the tough as nails Paul Varelans and Dave Beneteau, and the original bad boy of MMA, Tank Abbott.
Aside from the awfulness that was Oleg Taktarov VS Marco Ruas, every match lived up to the hype and delivered a classic showdown between Severn and Abbott, a match that was surprisingly better than the final fight between Oleg and Severn. The first invitational tournament in the UFC was a rousing success, and disappointed no one.
UFC 8 – The David VS Goliath tournament emanated from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, with promises of every match having a substantial weight difference. The opening round alone gave us two great knockouts, the first being Gary Goodridge’s demolition of Paul Herrera, and the other being Don Frye’s jab of death (both of which were nominated for best KO). We also saw Jerry Bohlander debut against Scott Ferrozzo in a tremendous match of size vs skill.
The show also gave us a great super fight, as defending Superfight Champion Ken Shamrock took on Kimo Leopoldo, defeating him with a textbook kneebar that helped cement Ken’s status as one of the top draws in the UFC at the time. With the exception of Joe Moreira’s pathetic performance against Paul Varelans, the entire card was a riveting event with finishes or competitive matches that went the distance.
UFC 9 -The first UFC event to do away with the tournament format and feature single matches, “Motor City Madness” featured seven fights that put viewers on the edge of their seats. From Cal Worsham and Zane Frazier having a brawl, Don Frye and Amaury Bitetti having a back and forth technical fight, Mark Hall making Koji Kitao’s nose explode, and especially Mark Schultz tooling Gary Goodridge, the show was a solid attempt at booking an event that modern fans are more used to seeing. Unfortunately, this event is marred by the Severn VS Shamrock 2 debacle, but if you ignore that, it’s actually a pretty good show. Seriously, though, ignore Severn VS Shamrock 2. Always.
Ultimate Ultimate 1996 – If you want to talk about a stacked show, look no further than this one. The final UFC event of 1996, the field of eight saw the return of Ken Shamrock, Tank Abbott, Don Frye, Gary Goodridge, alongside Paul Varelans, Cal Worsham, Kimo Leopoldo, and Brian Johnston. The only stinker here was Don Frye defeating Mark Hall in what has been regarded as being a fixed fight, but besides that there were no boring fights on this show. When your slowest fight is the competitive Varelans VS Kimo fight, you know you have a good show.
This event brought us the horrific KO of Steve Nelmark at the hands of Tank Abbott, a crazy brawl between Tank and Worsham, the sequel fight between Don Frye and Gary Goodridge, and an exciting final fight between Tank and Frye. This event had it all, and delivered the goods from top to bottom.
Thanks to June M. Williams for our Awards graphics.
Place your vote by writing in the comments, and let us know why you made your decision. Best answers will get read during our OSMMA Review Award Show episode!
“The OSMMA Review Awards, Volume 1” only represents UFC 1 through Ultimate Ultimate 1996, so remember that when placing your vote, as anything other than what was listed in the categories will be ignored, and the voter shall be promptly flogged. Stay constantly vigilant as more categories become announced, or take a peek at the stream to make sure you placed your vote in all twelve categories!
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