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A Trip Down Memory Lane: The First Three UFC Events

124 days ago

DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 12: Royce Gracie in action during the Ultimate Fighter Championships UFC 1 on November 12, 1993 at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Holly Stein/Getty Images)


As the UFC approaches a historical achievement of 300 PPV events with UFC 300 which should happen sometime early next year around March or April, I thought it would be informative to recap the first three UFC events to compare and see how far the sport has come.

1. UFC 1: The Beginning

Originally the first event was called The Ultimate Fighting Championship before being renamed UFC 1: The Beginning. The event was held at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado on November 12th, 1993. For perspective, this writer wasn’t even born until nearly three years later. MMA is a solidified sport with a good chunk of history behind it, in large part to the UFC. The event held an attendance of 7,800 and had a reported 86,000 PPV buys.

A lot of press and combat sports practitioners and martial artists neglected the event as it was very ‘new’ in the way it was presenting martial arts and combat. UFC 1 helped pioneer the different styles of matchups between combatants with different martial arts backgrounds, setting the groundwork for future events of that kind. The event was created by Jiu-Jitsu Legend- Rorion Gracie and Art Davie, they came up with an eight-man tournament format with the winner receiving $50,000.

Rules and Regulations:

  • No doping probes
  • No weight classes or limits
  • No biting
  • No eye-gouging
  • No mandatory gloves or uniforms
  • No judges
  • Unlimited five-minute round with a minute rest period in between each
  • A bout was only finished once there was a KO, Sub, or corner stoppage

Quarter-Finals Results

  • Gerard Gordeau (Savate, French Kickboxing) def. Teila Tuli (Sumo) via. TKO in 26 seconds
  • Kevin Rosier (Kickboxing) def. Zane Frazier (Kenpo) via. TKO in four minutes and 20 seconds
  • Royce Gracie (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) def. Art Jimmerson (Boxing) via. SUB in two minutes and 18 seconds
  • Ken Shamrock (Shootfighting) def. Patrick Smith (Taekwondo) via. SUB in one minute and 49 seconds

Semi-Finals Results

  • Gerard Gordeau def. Kevin Rosier via. TKO in 59 seconds
  • Royce Gracie def. Ken Shamrock via. SUB in 57 seconds

Final Results

  • Royce Gracie def. Gerard Gordeau via. SUB in one minute and 40 seconds

Gracie was the first UFC tournament winner, grappling and jiu-jitsu reigned over the other martial arts styles. Gracie’s victory helped bring BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) to the limelight and spread throughout not only the United States but the world. The event was considered a success and assured there would be more events in the future.

2. UFC 2: No Way Out

The second event was held nearly four months later on March 11th, 1994 at Mammoth Gardens in again, Denver, Colorado. The attendance was reported to be 2,000 and reportedly had somewhere around 300,000 PPV buys. UFC 2 featured the first and only sixteen-man tournament in UFC history, the winner was to receive $60,000. The same rules from UFC 1 applied to the second event except there was no time limit or rounds.

Opening Round Results

  • Scott Morris (Taijutsu) def. Sean Daugherty (Taekwondo) via. SUB in 20 seconds
  • Patrick Smith (Taekwondo) def. Ray Wizard (American Kenpo) via. SUB in 58 seconds
  • Johnny Rhodes (Karate) def. David Levicki (Wing Chun) via. SUB in 12 minutes and 13 seconds
  • Frank Hamaker (Sambo) def. Thaddeus Luster (San Soo) via. SUB in four minutes and 52 seconds
  • Orlando Wiet (Muay Thai) def. Robert Lucarelli (Kickboxing) via. TKO in two minutes and 50 seconds
  • Remco Pardoel (Jiu-Jitsu) def. Alberto Cerra Leon (Pencak Silet) via. SUB in nine minutes and 51 seconds
  • Jason DeLucia (Changquan) def. Scott Baker (Wing Chun) via. SUB in six minutes and 41 seconds
  • Royce Gracie (BJJ) def. Minorki Ichihara (Kudo) via. SUB in five minutes and eight seconds

Quarter-Finals Results

  • Patrick Smith def. Scott Morris via. KO in 30 seconds
  • Johnny Rhodes def. Frank Ettish (Hamaker withdrew due to injury) via. SUB in three minutes and seven seconds
  • Remco Pardoel def. Orlando Wiet via. KO in one minute and 29 seconds
  • Royce Gracie def Jason DeLucia via. SUB in one minute and seven seconds

Semi-Finals Results

  • Patrick Smith def. Johnny Rhodes via. SUB in one minute and seven seconds
  • Royce Gracie def. Remco Pardoel via. SUB in one minute and 31 seconds

Final Results

  • Royce Gracie def. Patrick Smith via. TKO in one minute and 17 seconds.

Gracie yet again prevailed and not only won the tournament but is still to this day the only person to win four fights on the same night in the UFC. It’s worth noting that this was notable referee- “Big” John McCarthy’s debut as a referee in the UFC.

3. UFC 3: The American Dream

The third event was held six months later on September 9th, 1994 at Grady Cole Center this time in Charlotte, North Carolina. The reported attendance was 3,000 with 90,000 PPV buys. All rules from UFC 2 returned with the addition of a finish by way of referee stoppage and the tournament returned to an eight-man format. McCarthy returned to referee the event again.

Quarter-Finals Results

  • Keith Hackney (Kenpo) def. Emanuel Yarborough (Sumo) via. TKO in one minute and 59 seconds
  • Ken Shamrock (Shootfighting) def. Christophe Leininger (Judo) via. SUB in four minutes and 49 seconds
  • Harold Howard (Goju-Ryu) def. Roland Payne (Muay Thai) via. KO in 46 seconds
  • Royce Gracie (BJJ) def. Kimo Leopoldo (Taekwondo) via. SUB in four minutes and 40 seconds

Semi-Finals Results

  • Ken Shamrock def. Felix Mitchell (Kung fu) via. SUB in four minutes and 34 seconds

Keith Hackney was forced to withdraw due to injury so Felix Mitchell replaced Hackney in his semi-finals bout against Shamrock. Royce Gracie also withdrew from the bout due to fatigue, therefore Harold Howard moved on to the finals.

Final Results

  • Steve Jennum (Ninjutsu) def. Harold Howard via. SUB in one minute and 27 seconds

Jennum replaced the injured- Ken Shamrock following his Semi-Finals bout. This marked the first time an alternate fighter had won the tournament and was the first tournament that had not been won by Royce Gracie. Following the event, the UFC added alternate qualifying bouts to balance out fatigue since the winner of the tournament- Jennum won the tournament in only one fight.

Do you miss the old days of the tournament format or do you prefer the way MMA is conducted now? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images


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