Regional Qualifying Match #6

The late Summer air is pleasantly crisp as the Sun rises over the census-designated unincorporated community of Brownville, New Jersey. Like a stone-cold ninja, Hybrid Fighter Germany Reyes soundlessly parkours his way through the backyards of this still-sleeping community. The orange-gi garbed Jason DeLucia student draws each humid breath slowly, steaming up the inside of his American Flag plastic face shield as he slides across the dewy grass. All his years spent training black magic and Combat Aikido are finally going to pay off, he believes. The ecstasy of triumph waits for him just mere minutes away.

He had heard little about his opponent. All Reyes remembers about him is a little tidbit about who his favorite fighters in MMA are: George St. Pierre, Jon Fitch, Ben Askren… There seems to be something these men have in common, but the Hybrid Fighter can’t quite put his finger on it. Reyes ponders the matter as he leaps from backyard to backyard, careful not to disturb the slumbering elderly people inside their homes.

His trek stops abruptly in the shady backyard of some decrepit, long-vacant suburban shanty. As soon as he lands, Reyes’ eyes dart to-and-fro with apprehension. He sees neither his opponent nor the camera he was told would be present to film the fight. Beads of sweat and condensation form on his brow as he paces about the knee-high grass. He begins to wonder if he had landed at the wrong address, or if his opponent is trying to freeze him out. The mosquitos manage to find their way through his gi as the minutes tick by, agitating him further. Where could this clitsheath be?

Without warning, tremors. Reyes side-rolls to prevent himself from falling as the ground rumbles wildly and unnaturally. This is not like any earthquake he’s ever felt, not by a long shot. It feels as if the ground is just one giant, metal vibrator. Before he can even try to figure anything out, the Earth bursts open before him in a gaping pit. Reyes falls back now, his entire body quivering both from the shock and the ground still shaking beneath him. Before his very eyes, a massively muscled black man ascends from the bottomless hole in front of him, hoisted above the surface of the grass by an enormous mechanical platform. The man’s face beams as his feet meet the soil, carrying with him a camera and Fubu backpack in tow. As soon as he steps off of his fantastic, metallic stage, the platform recedes back down below and the Earth seals itself as it was before.

The vascular, beefy stranger sets the camera on a tripod while Germany Reyes continues to whimper in the dirt. The inside of his visor has steamed up so much that he can barely see the shaven headed man approach him from across the yard after he’s finished.

Germany Reyes: What’s going on? Who are you?

Delta Jackson: You have a PitFight scheduled for today, don’t you remember? I am Delta Jackson, MASTER OF LAY-AND-PRAY! I have risen from my subterranean lair to claim my rightful title of UGPF champion. Brace yourself, bitch, because you’re about to get whooped like you ain’t never been whooped before!

Reyes has a million questions in his head, but none can be uttered as the maniacal Delta Jackson hurls his body at him with the uncanny speed of a falcon. Before the Hybrid Fighter can even think to react, the sepia-skinned juggernaut has pinned his back to the ground hard enough to leave an impression in the soil.

Delta Jackson: Huzzah! The fight is won! The only thing left in your future is death, my friend!

Jackson lays motionless across the orange-sheathed torso of the neophyte fighter with no intention to strike or go for a submission. After several seconds pass, it finally registers in Reyes that he’s in a fight and must react to survive. Although it feels like the weight of an elephant is sitting on his chest, Reyes attempts to shrimp to guard. The Herculean Jackson chuckles softly as he prevents the Hybrid Fighter from advancing in position.

Delta Jackson: You’re already wearing yourself out? That’s good. Fools cook faster when they’re squirmin’ around. In the mean time, I’ll keep on kickin’ yo’ ass!

Jackson continues to just lay on Reyes like a dead weight, every fiber of his being dedicated to keeping the young fighter from moving. Reyes keeps trying to achieve the guard for several minutes until he finally realizes the futility of his efforts. He switches things up and attempts to bridge, but all this does is jam the back edge of his helmet painfully into his neck. Frustration quickly begins to mount as Jackson keeps laughing at the Hybrid Fighter’s ineffective efforts to escape.

Delta Jackson: That’s right, keep it up. The first stage is always denial. You don’t know it yet, but this is just the beginning of a long, painful journey.

Germany Reyes: Ah, fuck you! You ain’t even fightin’! How the Hell are you even supposed to win just by laying on me?

Delta Jackson: You’ll find out the answer to that question soon enough, bitch-boy. Soon enough…

By the way, you’re in the anger stage now.

Reyes goes back to shrimping again. He learned a few advanced side control sweeps from the Royce Gracie bottom techniques book he bought, but he can’t remember any of them at this point in time. His attempts at shrimping eventually turn to spazzing after several minutes and that’s what he does for the better part of an hour. Jackson, meanwhile, just continues to call him a “bitch-boy” and ridicule his desire for freedom. Once Reyes’ energy is spent, he feebly tries annoying Jackson with some padded short-punches from the bottom for a few minutes before eventually stopping to recoup his strength. The taunts from Jackson cease at this point, the only audible noise in this unmaintained yard now being Reyes’ muffled, wheezing gasps for air.

As the Hybrid Fighter rests underneath his absurdly masculine foe he ponders just what exactly Jackson is trying to accomplish. How is he supposed to win by just laying on him? What did he mean by this being the beginning of a “long, painful journey?” As Reyes’ body begins to relax, he notices once-again the mosquitoes are going to town on his grease-saturated skin. This agitates him beyond belief and makes him steam up his visor to the point where he can’t see outside at all. He tries to take the blasted thing off, but its tied so tight that he can’t remove it while his head is stuck to the ground. So distracted by this is he that he doesn’t even think to respond when Jackson suddenly transitions to mount and puts the grapevines in.

Delta Jackson: We’re goin’ Joe Moreira-style now, man. I think it’s about time for breakfast.

Although Reyes can’t see through his helmet, he hears Jackson fumbling around in the Fubu backpack he had around his shoulders. Reyes had forgotten he had been wearing that thing all this time. After several seconds of shuffling, he hears a wrapper being opened and the sound of Jackson taking a bite out of something chewy. Bits of crumbs and goo splatter on Reyes’ visor, which is beginning to clear enough for him to see his opponent munching on a Big Az burger and chugging spoonfuls of MET-Rx Pancake Mix.

Delta Jackson: Mmmmm… This is just the way to start a week of asskickin’.

Reyes violently spazzes out and tries to rip the food from Jackson’s hands, but the brawny grappler manages to pull back his burger and keep it from falling to the grass.

Delta Jackson: C’mon, man. You gotta at least let a brother eat.

Reyes doesn’t stop his impotent, infantile flailing. Hours and hours pass, with the Sun rising high in the sky. Still, Reyes refuses to stop. It takes until about mid-noon for his adrenaline to wear off and his body to go limp. Jackson had transitioned back to side control during this time and still abstained from doing anything other than blankly staring at the ground and occasionally eating. Once that big marathon of energy had been exhausted, Reyes crashes hard and passes out in a fit of delirium and hunger.

While unconscious, the Hybrid Fighter has a vivid dream about himself when he was living with his parents a few years back. It was a dark, foggy night and he was jogging shirtless around his neighborhood by himself. Suddenly, through the thick clouds, he spots a girl he used to know from back home. This little cutie would always wolf-whistle at him when he would run past, but he never had the guts to talk to her. This time she doesn’t whistle or click her teeth, she just sort of stands in his way and smiles. Her teeth glow like the moon as she waits for Reyes to come to a stop before her at the edge of the street. The two wordlessly lock eyes, as if communicating through some esoteric mental connection that they alone share.

In an instant, Reyes finds himself in this girl’s bedroom (Or at least what he imagined her bedroom to be like). Bathed in red light, the young but nubile girl splays herself nude across the silk sheets of her bed, waiting for Reyes to take her. Reyes complies, albeit with a strange and unexpected disentrancement. The Hybrid Fighter pulls out the jammy and kills the punani. The red lights of the room grow brighter with each thrust, warping the room into some kind of surreal netherreealm. It’s as if they’re on a podium in the middle of Hell, executing their act for the entertainment of an audience of incubi. Just as his radiant lover is about to climax, Reyes pulls out a Gurkha knife and slits her tender throat. The blood, barely distinguishable under the red lights, flows from her neck like a bubbling geyser.

The Hybrid Fighter abruptly wakes up in the middle of the night. His visor had steamed up so much that his breath is literally raining back down on him now. The damned mosquitoes have infiltrated his mask as well, and appear to be nestling inside of his facial orifices in between biting him. Icy sweat has completely soaked through his gi; it feels like he’s laying in a puddle now. Jackson, meanwhile, has switched up to a kesa-gatame on the other side of his body.

Delta Jackson: Sorry if I woke you. I just had to take a shit, you know.

Reyes suddenly notices the alien sensation of warmth on his hip. It barely even bothers him at this point. A sudden, ominous realization creeps into his mind as he continues to lay there, immobilized in the dirt.

Germany Reyes: Man… What are you even going to do with me?

Delta Jackson: Haven’t you realized by now? This is it.

His fears confirmed, Reyes throw up a little in his mouth before blacking out again.

Day 2

Reyes is awoken by the sound of idle chatter. Unseen to him, two women prattle on in muffled dialogue about some incomprehensible topic. With his visor now virtually opaque from steam and food droppings, and with tall grass surrounding him at every side, it’s completely impossible for him to even get a glimpse of the gibbering old women. They could be anywhere from the next yard to the trash-strewn patio on this very property. Reyes tries to gather as much breath as he can, but ends up choking on the dry vomit and mosquitos caked on the inside of his horribly-stung mouth. His subsequent call for help is as weak and flaccid as his attempts to escape from underneath Jackson were the day before.

Germany Reyes: *Cough* … Help… Me… Help…

The conversation continues.

Germany Reyes: … Help…

Delta Jackson: Ain’t nobody can hear you, bitch-boy.

Germany Reyes: … Help… Please…

The dialogue abruptly stops. Reyes’ hairs stiffen as he hears movement nearby. Spitting out as much crud from his mouth as he can, Reyes gathers his breath once again for another shout. He wants it to be really big this time. Just when he’s about to call out, however, he hears a door open next door and the two women enter the house, causing him to gargle and cough instead of scream.

Germany Reyes: *Cough*Cough*Cough*

Delta Jackson: I told you they couldn’t hear you, bitch-boy. Nobody can. Your destiny lies under me.

Tears begin forming in the Hybrid Fighter’s eyes.

Germany Reyes: *Cough* … Why? Why would you do this?

Delta Jackson: Quit your whinin’, bitch-boy.

Germany Reyes: I… I give up. All you wanted to do was win the fight, right? Please… Just let me go.

For a moment the mammoth lay-and-pray artist is silent. After a few seconds of pondering, a grin uncurls on his beefy face.

Delta Jackson: Oh, you submit? Well why didn’t you just say so yesterday? Sure, I’ll let you up.

A wave of relief unlike anything Reyes has experienced before washes over him as Jackson abruptly stands up. His stomach is practically convulsing from hunger and his ribs feel like they’ve been crushed by a concrete building foundation, but his excitement nonetheless fills his body with enough energy for him to spring to his feet. Immediately he rips off that heinous, germ-farm of a helmet that had encased his head and throws it to the ground. He looks down at the impression his body had made in the grass over the past thirty hours with weary but fascinated astonishment.

Delta Jackson: You put up a good fight. I guess the only thing left for us to do now is shake hands.

Jackson jovially extends his vice-like paw for Reyes to shake. The Hybrid Fighter, so overwhelmed by happiness, forgets the torturous excursion his opponent had put him through and clasps hands with his adversary. Like a flash of lightning, Jackson immediately hits Reyes with a monstrously powerful arm-drag takedown that leads into a head snap. Before the Hybrid Fighter is even aware of it, he’s being shoved face-first into the pile of shit Jackson had left on the ground over the past two days. Jackson assumes back control while continuing to push Reyes’ already infectious face into his own rancid, festering feces.

Delta Jackson: Oh yeah! How does it feel, bitch-boy? How does it feel?

Germany Reyes: *Gargle*Spit*Cough*

Delta Jackson: Without hope, there can be no despair. Let me tell you something about me, bitch-boy: Everything about Delta Jackson starts with the lay-and-pray. Everything about Delta Jackson ends with the lay-and-pray. I’m not going to quit what I started just because some pantywaist cum dumpster thinks he can just up and surrender in a goddamn PitFight. Your worthless life rests in my hands, fool, and your ordeal is still in its early stages. If you want out, then you better get busy dyin’. That’s your only path to freedom.

Jackson’s shit is beginning to moisten from the tears pouring out of Reyes’ eyes. He endures about a half-hour of this before his mind refuses to allow him to experience any more. Once again, the Hybrid Fighter passes out.

Day 4

Germany Reyes spent most of the last two days sleeping. His feelings of powerlessness and emasculation, more painful than any anxiety he’s ever experienced, are the emotions all martial artists fear the most. He refuses to endure this humiliation, but with no means to escape from underneath his opponent’s meat musculature he resigns himself to dreamland. The dreams are pleasant considering the circumstances, but they don’t last long enough to truly shield him from the horrors of Delta Jackson’s lay-and-pray. As long as he remains alive, even someone in a pitiful situation such as his has to wake-up at least sometimes.

Delta Jackson: Yeah, put me down for three-hundred on Champoux.

The Hybrid Fighter awakens, still face-down in his opponent’s shit. From his perspective, it appears that five pounds of insects have burrowed into his face and are weighing his head down even more into the festering excrement. The heinous, unmitigated depression and exhaustion he’s feeling right now is too strong for him to muster any more revulsion at his situation, however. With his opponent still as firmly rooted on his body as he was on day one, Reyes is more or less inclined to accept that this is his fate.

Delta Jackson: I don’t like him either, but I don’t see how Tank could ever beat him. That old stooge was washed up since the days when he was sellin’ coke to Michael Dokes.

Germany Reyes: Who… Who are you talking too?

Delta Jackson: I’m just calling up to bet on the next PitFight. You’re takin’ me too long, so I need to get this in if I’m ever going to make rent.

Jackson goes back to prattling on his phone. Reyes feels like he should just tune him out and cry himself to sleep again, but something inside him forces him to pipe up. He may be weary with hunger and throbbing all over, but for the first time in days he suddenly feels a fire inside of him that implores him to open his mouth. Perhaps it’s the reignited furnace that drives his ego, or maybe it’s a sudden burst of mania brought on by deprivation of food and water. In any case, he’s no longer too exhausted to muster up any feeling.

Germany Reyes: *Cough* Hey, bitch-boy, put me down for three hundred on Tank. I’m gonna clean you out, pussy.

Delta Jackson: Excuse me? What the Hell would you use the money for, your funeral?

Germany Reyes: I’ll use the money when I get into Hell. C’mon, put me down for three hundred, you simple-minded prick.

Delta Jackson: Just shut the fuck up, bitch-boy, I need this rent.

Germany Reyes: And I need you to get the fuck off of me, but apparently that’s not going to happen either.

Delta Jackson: Bitch-boy! You’re interruptin’ my mamma jammin’ call, goddammit!

Germany Reyes: Well then just put me down for three hundred already, bitch-boy.

Delta Jackson: You better watch that damn tongue of your’s!

Germany Reyes: Or what, bitch-boy? What are you going to do? You gonna hit me? You gonna choke me out? God, I wish you fuckin’ would. *Cough*Cough*Cough*

Goddammit, you fight like a turtle fucks. Are you really that afraid of taking chances and doing something that might actually finish the fight? How can you even call yourself a fighter when all you do is sit on people? Jesus, I can’t imagine this can be very entertaining for the audience. Hasn’t the camera run out of film yet?

Pfft, what does it matter? I doubt anybody would watch for this long anyway.

Delta Jackson: Listen, mutherfucka, it ain’t my fault that you can’t escape from the bottom!

A long silence ensues. After a few minutes, Jackson calls back to finish his bet and Reyes goes back to sleep.

Day 9

The days have been getting colder now. Jackson’s backpack is feeling pretty light, and he realizes that soon he may have to grit his teeth and outlast Reyes the old fashioned way. That orange-garbed husk of quivering flesh beneath him hasn’t said much for days now, but the brawny grind-artist can still feel a pulse emanating from somewhere deep within that pallid mangle of dirt and bone. Most of his victims in the past just gave up and died before starvation or thirst could even set in. It’s an interesting phenomenon, one that has been observed numerous times in POW camps. This Germany Reyes seems to be holding on pretty well, though. He still draws his breath, albeit feebly.

Jackson ponders his past. He remembers when he first discovered the will-sapping power of lay-and-pray, and the utter sense of despair it inflicts on its victims. Jackson understands the nature of the strategy very well, perhaps more so than any other turtle-fucker out there, because he was a victim of lay-and-pray himself when he was a child. A shiver runs down Jackson’s spine just thinking about his mother, a four-hundred pound Jamaican hooker who would pass out drunk on top of him while he was sleeping every night. The helplessness, the futility… Sometimes she wouldn’t get off of him for over half a day. This went on until he was sixteen, when he finally ran away from the opium den and vowed that he would never be dominated that way again. Better to be the big man on top, than the bitch-boy on bottom. That’s what he always thought.

Jackson scrounges around is backpack and finds only one 7-11 pizza slice and a near-empty bottle of insect repellant. It looks he will have to run through “the stretch,” as he calls it. The last few days of lying on a guy without nourishment are always brutal and fraught with anxiety. As he munches on his preservative-laden hunk of offal and cheese analogue, the same old worries are already beginning to creep their ugly heads inside of his mind. What if this dude underneath him actually outlasts him? Reyes has so much heart, he’s survived for so long. Without all his food and other luxuries, will Jackson just wilt like a pansy after a few days? What if the nights begin to cool down so much that they both catch their death? Jackson neglected to pack any sort of protection for the weather… He didn’t expect this excursion would last into a cold autumn.

Stupid, absolutely stupid. Jackson can’t believe how he could’ve made that blunder. It’s the end of fucking Summer, how could he not think to pack for the cold? In a haste, he attempts to formulate some type of plan to prepare for the worst. He reasons that maybe he could sneak off of Reyes in the middle of the night… Go down to the CVS half-a-mile a way and shoplift some clothes and food. If only he brought some money, goddammit. Does CVS even sell clothes? He knows they’ll at least have some white socks there for people who like to huff. Of course, this entire plan hinges on the assumption that Reyes won’t just leave while he’s gone. With all that in mind, Jackson begins to think he might as well just give up right-

Germany Reyes: Hey, Delta?

Jackson is stunned for a second, his train of thought completely derailed.

Germany Reyes: Delta?

Delta Jackson: Uh, yeah?

Germany Reyes: Do you really live in a subterranean lair?

Delta Jackson: … Yes, I live in the center of the Earth with the Mole Man. We split rent.

Germany Reyes: … Wow.

The Hybrid Fighters falls silent, still face first in Jackson’s shit.

Delta Jackson: Bitch-boy?


Delta Jackson: … Germany?

Still silence. Slowly and deliberately, Jackson presses his fingers into the side of Reyes’ neck in search of a pulse. A few seconds later and he’s slumped off of his opponent, staring up at the sky from the tall grass that reigns over this debris-ridden backyard. Several droplets of rain speckle the muscle-man’s face as he forces a heavy sigh. This arduous contest is over.

Stiffly, groggily, Jackson climbs to his feet. There is still one last thing to do. With a smile as soft and as broad as the clouds above him, Jackson takes the gnarled corpse of Germany Reyes into his arms. He looks down on his former enemy with a sort of fondness. Reyes’ shit-covered, insect scourged face is so bloated it’s beyond recognition. His ice-cold body smells like the inside of an orca’s cancerous bladder. Nevertheless, Jackson takes this abominable glob of carrion and carries him through the front gate to the street outside, breathing in deep the early morning air.

Despite the drizzle, it’s fairly pleasant out. A group of school children down the road stand in wait of their bus. Jackson nods to himself as he softly creeps up on the idling youths. Hoisting Reyes’ corpse high above his head in a military press, he hurls the body straight into the group and knocks several children down. The kids shriek as they frantically try to scurry out from underneath the disease-sodden cadaver.

Delta Jackson: HA HA HA HA HA!!!

The children’s screaming continues as the bus pulls up and the obese, female bus driver rushes from her seat to see what’s going on.

Delta Jackson: OH MY GOD!!! WHY?!?! WHY?!?!

Delta Jackson: HA HA HA HA HA!!!



Dealing With Anger While Sparring

As martial artists we might fancy to think ourselves as cool-headed as the Shaolin monks, but in reality we’re all just human under that veneer of honor and civility. Egos can unfortunately creep into training, and that can be particularly destructive to the dynamic of the gym and the relationships we have with our fellow students. Randori, when we’re actively working against a resisting partner, is the time when emotions really need to be kept in check. Frustration is not uncommon, especially when one is not executing techniques against an opponent effectively as he would like. If you find yourself succumbing to your own pride while rolling, here are a few steps to go through so you can cool off:

1. Take short, rapid breathes. The often-advised “deep breathing” strategy is actually counter-productive.

2. Eschew technique. Muscle everything.

3. If your frustration continues to mount, go out of your way to deliberately injure your partner.

4. Leave the mat mid-roll and begin pacing around the back of the gym. Mean-mug anybody who approaches you, and ignore your coach while he implores you to calm down.

5. Rush out to your car and pull the undersized Little League bat out of your trunk. Go back inside and attempt to menace your teammates.

6. Break down in a fit of tears and whine unintelligibly for the next half-hour.

7. Optional: Be forcibly extricated from the gym and beaten by your teammates in the parking lot. They’ll do just enough damage to keep you out of the hospital, and will leave you handcuffed naked in the snow to give you time to think about what you did.

8. Find your outburst posted on Youtube a week later and start the process all over again.

KOTC 10 Tournament Review

Just a little background: KOTC 10- Critical Mass took place in 2001 and featured a one-night, eight-man heavyweight tournament as well as several regular bouts (Most notably Duane Ludwig vs. Krazy Horse). The tournament utilized one seven-minute round per fight, allowed for grounded knees, and gave virtually no leeway in terms of inaction on the ground. Once you hit the floor, you had to follow the ABC rules: Always Be Coldcocking. If you weren’t ground-and-pounding or going for submissions, you would get stood up even if you had mount.

Here are the players:

Fred Floyd– A 380 lbs PKA kickboxer and “Budokan Kung-Fu” stylist. He was an oldschool NHB fighter who suffered a memorable beating at the hands of I.G.O.R. back in the day. He did have a notable victory against WCW jobber Jerry Flynn, however, and might’ve appeared on an old Seinfeld episode as a bouncer. He’s easily the fattest man in the tournament.

Wade Shipp– A young Lions Den fighter with a shaved head and goatee. He’s making his debut here.

Kauai Kupihea– This dude looks like Pedro Rizzo with the body of Cain Velasquez. He has a fair bit of experience, coming into the tournament on a loss dealt to him by Bobby Hoffman in a title fight at KOTC 9. He claims to be a Muay Thai/BJJ fighter, but it quickly becomes obvious his forte is wrestling. Sneaky bastard.

Josh Dempsey– Jack Dempsey’s grandson, a former professional boxer with a 19-4-0 record. He’s apparently a former state champion wrestler and trained with the likes of Mark Kerr, Rigan Machado, and the McCully brothers (Sean and Justin). The only credential he lacks is having cybernetic limbs. Despite this tournament being his debut, he’s one of the favorites.

Giant Ochiai– A flabby Japanese guy with an afro. He’s a Judoka and pro wrestler managed by Masaaki Satake. He previously fought in Pride 10 and lost to Ricco Rodriguez by smother.

Zane Frazier– A Kenpo stylist who almost died in UFC 1 and later almost killed a man in UFC 9. He once beat up Frank Dux in a hotel lobby, and claims that he’s banned from training BJJ by the Brazilians. He’s 38, asthmatic, and 1-8-0 coming in, but is VERY buff on this particular night.

Eric Kleper- At 6’7″, he’s the tallest man in the tourney. He claims a boxing/kickboxing background, and is the heavyweight champion for Mark Hall’s Cobra Fighting Federation (Remember Mark Hall? I do). His shorts have a smiley face on the crotch.

Mike Bourke– Normally a fatty who fights with his shirt on, but for this tournament he’s yolked himself up and looks like a powerlifter. His background is two seasons of highschool wrestling. Beyond that, he trains once a week in Judo with some guy named Mollen Kramer (Yeah… Only once a week). He’s a KOTC perennial, being their open weight champion, and also fought in Pride 11 where he was double-armbarred by Alexander Otsuka (Just to note: KOTC had pretty close ties with Pride back in the day and a lot of fighters express a desire to fight there). He has an unfinished Tasmanian Devil tattoo on his shoulder.

Keith Richardson– The alternate who fought in a dark match. He’s a pear-shaped dude who sports a matching black singlet and t-shirt. His style is “Vale Judo.”

Fight 1: Fred Floyd vs. Wade Shipp

After a brief stand-up exchange, Floyd makes a sort of awkward lunge and ends up on his back and mounted. Shipp lands a few big punches before submitting him with an armbar less than thirty seconds in. Floyd never fought again.

Fight 2: Kauai Kupihea vs. Josh Dempsey

A brutal and exhausting back-and-forth ground battle. The gist of the fight is that Kupihea would score a takedown and the two would then take turns being on top and pounding each other. It wasn’t a technical masterpiece, but it wasn’t a sloppy shitfest either. Kuiphea hit some nice switches and landed a few big grounded knees. Dempsey’s grappling training shone through and he had Kupihea turtled up at several points. After seven minutes, Kupihea would end up getting the split decision based mostly on his takedowns a grounded knees. Dempsey only had one other MMA fight, a victory over Cyrille Diabate.

Fight 3: Giant Ochiai vs. Zane Frazier

Right off the bat it becomes apparent that Frazier is substantially faster, more powerful, and more technical than his Japanese opponent. Despite having “Giant” in his name, he’s three inches shorter than Frazier and forty pounds lighter (As a matter of fact, he’s one of the smallest guys in the tourney). Ochiai can offer little in the way of offense for most of the fight, as Frazier effortlessly shrugs off his takedown attempts and picks him apart with strikes. The announcers compare the one-sided affair to Gary Goodridge vs. Osamu Kawahara (Where Goodridge uppercutted the shit out of him).

After a while, however, Frazier’s asthma, age, and heavily muscled physique conspire against him and he gases hard. He takes mount at one point but is too exhausted to do anything, an the two are stood up. With about a minute left, Ochiai hoists Frazier up in the air and drops him to the ground (The impact is mitigated by Frazier’s fence-holding). The rest of the fight would see Ochiai just wailing on his American opponent. If he had only managed to do that a little earlier, he could’ve gotten the stoppage. In the end, however, it went to decision and Frazier’s hand was raised.

Judging from this fight, it seems that Frazier’s record doesn’t do him justice. He had an impressive amount of talent and ability, but was hindered by a severe physical limitation. After pulling out of the tournament due to exhaustion he would go on to fight well into his forties, only scoring two more victories (To his credit, he at least won the title of some Z-level promotion). Ochiai would go on to rack up a string of three victories in Pride, but would tragically die in 2003 while training. In life, he looked like a chubby Weird Al Yankovic and was awesome.

Fight 4: Mike Bourke vs. Eric Kleper

Bourke’s primary mode of attack is charging forward face first with no clear idea of what to do after that. We’ll call this the Rhino Charge, being that his nickname is in fact “The Rhino.” Anyway, Bourke Rhino Charges Kleper into the fence, who responds by spazzing back with straight punches. Kleper attempts a flying guillotine, but Bourke pops out of it and goes ape-shit with ground-and-pound until Kleper taps out.
The two would meet again a few months later in Gladiator Challenge, both in substantially worse shape than in this tournament. Bourke KO’d him after four minutes of inaction.

Fight 5: Wade Shipp vs. Kauai Kupihea

I’m impressed Kupihea is even coming out after his tough fight in round one. Shipp comes out aggressive clonking him with some good strikes standing up. He’s sharper than Kupihea. Kupihea gets it to the ground at various points, but it’s still pretty close. Eventually, though, the larger Kupihea nails him with a barrage of grounded knees that open up a cut on Shipp’s head. From that point on, Kupihea mounts him and pounds him for the next several minutes. The ref really lets this go on for WAY too long. He even misses the towel thrown in at the six minute mark, so the timekeeper rings the bell prematurely to stop the fight.

Shipp would go on to have a respectable record of 10-5-0. He would even make it to UFC 47, but would lose to Jonathan Wiezorek. Wiezorek entered the fight with a broken back, but Shipp’s defeat is more of a testament to Wiezorek’s uncanny balls than Shipp’s ability. On the subject of broken backs… Well, we’ll get to that (Hint! Hint! Spinal injury coming up!)

Fight 6: Mike Bourke vs. Keith Richardson

This is easily the funniest fight of the night. Bourke looked like a frustrated father trying to give his son a whooping, but realizing that his boy has grown too big for him to kick his ass like he used to. After a Rhino Charge, Bourke attempted to throw Richardson to the ground using no semblance of technique, but this didn’t work because Richardson is 270 lbs. After a while, Bourke finally managed to hit a blast double, but gets caught in a sidemounted guillotine choke that makes him spit his mouthpiece out. Bourke eventually escapes but gets stood back up.

On their feet, Bourke clocks Richardson with a few wild right hands (The announcers say Bourke has a boxing trainer, which I doubt). Richardson immediately looks like he doesn’t want to be there, but Bourke refuses to follow it up either due to fatigue or lack of confidence. Most of the rest of the fight is spent in a clinch up against the fence, and would end with Bourke getting a very exhausted arm raised.

Fight 7: Mike Bourke vs. Kauai Kupihea

The climatic final fight advertised on the front cover of the DVD case! Bourke’s back gives out after getting taken down and he submits 40 seconds in. Kauai Kupihea is the tournament champion!

Bourke would eventually get into some real training, but his youth passed him by and he would still end up losing a lot of fights. He was once slated to fight Kimbo Slice, but was replace by Bo Cantrell (Who previously defeated him). Late in his career he lost to Tank Abbott but retired on a high note by beating Ken Shamrock. For his part, Kauai Kupihea would get knocked out by Eric Pele on the next card and would go on to have a 15-11-0 record. His most notable victory was against Travis Wiuff.

Summary: For an early 2000’s heavyweight tournament in a B-promotion, this is about as good as you can get. The stalling rules seemed to effectively increase action despite abating what would otherwise be called bullshit standups. My favorite fight of the night was Frazier vs. Ochiai, because it was a David vs. Goliath match and Ochiai’s near-comeback towards the end had me bonering. Over all, I’d give the show a 15 out of 10.

Reasons to watch:

– Ring girl’s ass

– Grounded knees


– Keith Richardson’s bulge

– Ludicrious ruleset made the fights pretty head punch-centric

Obscure MMA Facts

Here’s a list of every absurd, pointless, and downright retarded MMA fact you’ve ever wanted to know:

– Art Jimmerson has fought four known MMA fighters/kickboxers in his career: Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Royce Gracie, William Knorr, and Arthur Williams. Out of the group, he only managed to defeat Knorr.

– Not counting Oleg Taktarov’s worked nine second guillotine choke victory over Anthony Macias at UFC 6, the record for the fastest UFC submission is tied between Joe Charles (Armbar over Kevin Rosier at UFC 4) and Justin Martin (Ankle lock over Eric Martin at UFC 12) at fourteen seconds.

– At least two future sexual offenders were involved with UFC 1: Pat Smith (Sexual assault on a child in 1999) and John Nimock (Listed as the “Wrestling Consultant” in the credits. Apparently was a high school wrestling coach who was arrested in 2000 after exposing children to pornography and wrestling with them in their underwear).

– Jonathan Wiezorek entered his UFC 47 bout against Wade Shipp with a broken back and won. Because he had refused to tell the promoters of his situation in order to prevent the fight from being scrapped, however, he ended up not being invited back to fight again because they thought his performance was awful.

– Marcus Marriott Lee was a Pagua stylist and 2-2-0 boxer who was once slated to fight in the main draw of UFC 6. Had he competed that night, he would’ve been the first fighter in UFC history to come out of the UK. While bouncing at a nightclub in 2005, he killed an unruly patron with a single punch and was jailed for three years after being convicted of manslaughter.

– Ring announcer Rich Goins was forced to part ways with the UFC after contracting scabies from Dan Severn following sexual intercourse.

– Although pure boxers Art Jimmerson, Melton Bowen, and Sam Adkins went down relatively quickly in their UFC forays, 13-3-0 Latvian cruiser/heavyweight Yuri Vaulin managed to last the full fifteen minute round against 6th degree BJJ blackbelt and Marco Ruas student Joe Moreira. In boxing, Vaulin was most famous for giving Tommy Morrison a tough fight before succumbing to the future WBO champion’s body blows. At UFC 14, Moereira rested in the mount position for the entire duration of the fight and initiated zero offense.

The Brazilian won the decision but was somehow diagnosed with a concussion before his tournament finale with Olympic gold medalist wrestler Kevin Jackson. It’s unclear if Moreira had lied about his injury to avoid the next fight, if he had entered the tournament with a concussion in the first place, or if Vaulin had used telekinesis to pop a vein inside the Brazilian’s head. Either way, the intriguing clash between a world-class wrestler and BJJ player was scrapped and Jackson fought Tony Fryklund instead.

– Joel Sutton, a Praying Mantis kung-fu fighter, earned a 2-0-0 UFC record after defeating Aikidoka Jack McLaughlin in UFC 6 and pro-wrestler/Dan Severn sparring partner Geza Kalman in UFC 7. He was perhaps the last big hope for the traditional martial arts community to win an event, but never ended up fighting in the main draw of a tournament. In his next four fights outside of the UFC, he lost every time in less than two minutes. He finished his career with a draw in 1999.

– Geza Kalman was a Canadian professional wrestler who had initially contacted Dan Severn to learn some shootfighting holds to incorporate into his performance style. After becoming his sparring partner, however, he ended up taking an offer to fight as a UFC tournament alternate and accumulated a 1-1-0 record in the promotion. His last professional MMA fight was in 2008.

– Pressure point stylist Ryan Parker was perhaps the first MMA fighter to actively participate in internet discussions regarding himself. Prior to his UFC 7 loss to Remco Pardoel, he spent months and months discussing the intricacies of his style and how he could use Chi to win a fight. The application video he sent to the UFC promoters featured him enduring strikes to his groin and throat without exhibiting pain, much like the Combat Kiai people we see nowadays. Against the Dutchman, he put up very little fight and was choked out easily.

– The Lions Den fighter who had initially sent in an application for UFC 1 was Ken Shamrock’s student Scott Bessac. He eventually got into the UFC two years later after accumulating a 3-4-0 record in Pancrase.

– Nail trimming became standard pre-fight before every UFC event after Trent Jenkins cut Jason DeLucia’s face with his toenail in UFC 1. That’s the grand contribution to the sport from modern MMA’s most mysterious pioneer. Last I heard he was working for the Denver Nuggets. Somebody, please track him down.

Interesting to note that, despite never having won an MMA match, he did dominate KOTC veteran Tyson Johnson to a draw in a cage-boxing match at the Bas Rutten Invitational.

– Heavyweight TUF 2 veteran Brad Imes scored two consecutive Gogoplata victories a month apart back in 2007. His victims were Kimbo sacrifice Bo Cantrell and TUF 10’s Jason Thacker, Zak Jensen.

– Zak Jensen killed a man with his bare hands prior to TUF 10 and ejaculated on the shower floor during the course of the show. Wes Sims stepped in his semen. This is a truthful entry.

– Roger Moore beat up Lee Marvin during the filming of Shout at the Devil.

– Jose Canseco was once slated to fight Rodney King in a Celebrity Boxing match. Before he died, King accumulated a 2-0-0 Celebrity Boxing record, one victory of which came against a disgraced ex-police officer.

I’m talking about the black dude who got beat up, by the way, not the Crazy Monkey guy.

– Royce Gracie’s UFC 1 victory dinner was some Ritz crackers and apple juice he got from a 7-11.

– Relson Gracie was accused of repeatedly exposing himself to Royce’s opponents before walk-ins in order to disrupt their mental games.

– Mike Bernardo was, of course, a K-1 legend who had died in 2012. Another prominent martial artist from the 90’s, however, shared his name and caused quite a bit of confusion back in the day. Stunt man Michael Bernardo starred in Shootfighter: Fight to the Death alongside Bolo Yeung and played Turbo in WMAC Masters. Because their respective careers both took off sometime around 1995, people sometimes expected to see Turbo Bernardo fighting in K-1.

– Andy Anderson and Paul Herrera actually got into a bar fight in Japan, which Anderson won. Herrera was one of Tank Abbott’s cronies, but Abbott let his friend take his lumps without retribution because he had started it.

– Harold Howard almost knocked himself out walking into a piece of lighting equipment prior to his fight with Steve Jennum.

– Steve Jennum was supposed to fight Ken Shamrock in the semi-finals of UFC 3, but Felix Lee Mitchell got put in instead when the promoters couldn’t find Jennum in the crowd. Jennum thought he had fucked up his only opportunity, but the lucky bastard hit the jackpot twice that night.

– Felix Lee Mitchell’s was advertised in the UFC 3 trailers as “America’s Toughest Prison Warden.” His favorite tactic was reaching into his opponent’s cup and banging on his testicles. He did that to Ken Shamrock and also appeared to try it against Judoka Robert Lalonde. All he managed to achieve with Lalonde, however, was exposing his buttocks and prompting catcalls from female members of the IFC audience. This is a truthful entry.

– Muhammad Ali was once seriously slated to fight Wilt Chamberlain.

– Jim Brown once expressed interest in fighting Ali, but was deterred after the champion privately schooled him in a light sparring match at a park.

– Douglas Dedge, the victim of MMA’s first fatality, seemed to base his entire fighting strategy around strangling his opponents with his handwraps. He tried doing that to Sean Brockmole in his lone amateur fight and Yevegeni Zolotarev in his fateful last match.

– Big John McCarthy never got fight in UFC 1 like he wanted, but he did school Art Jimmerson in an impromptu sparring match before the event.

– One of the earliest fights between a prominent boxer and mixed martial artist occurred in 1987. Former contender and Muhammad Ali opponent Alfredo Evangelista defeated future Pancrase pioneer and Bas Rutten cornerman Andre van den Oetelaar by TKO in five rounds.

– Before Butterbean and Roy Nelson were the “People’s Champions,” overweight former salesman Claude “Humphrey” McBride found success as a fighter in heavyweight boxing’s golden era. Garbed in polka-dot trunks and sporting a shaved head, McBride accumulated a 36-8-0 record in the 1970’s with victories over former contenders Terry Daniels and Henry Hank.

– The Dog Brothers petitioned the UFC in the 90’s to host stick fights, but were deemed to extreme for the organization.

– Rudy Eugene, the Miami Cannibal, was once knocked out in a street fight by former heavyweight boxing fringe contender and UFC 4 veteran Melton Bowen. Bowen once held the title of World Boxing Federation Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion, a belt later won by former WBC titleist Oliver McCall.

– In addition to having 300+ recorded fights in MMA, Travis Fulton has also fought in over 50 boxing matches and at least 10 kickboxing bouts.

– The Zuffa Myth is the commonly-referenced misconception that Dana White and the Fertitta brothers were responsible for drafting the modern Unified Rules and changing MMA from an unregulated bloodbath into a legitimate sport. In reality, the vast majority of the rules utilized in the UFC were implemented by the franchise’s original owners, SEG. The Unified Rules were implemented during SEG’s tenure. Chuck Liddell actually propagated the myth in his own biography, despite the fact that he should’ve known better due to having fought in the UFC before the promotion was sold.

Before the Zuffa Myth, interestingly, there was the SEG Myth. Semaphore Entertainment Group president Bob Meyrowitz was not the one who came up with the idea for the UFC, but he sure took the credit for it after the event became a groundbreaking PPV smash. Even while Art Davie, the UFC’s real co-founder, was still under his employment, he still insisted on having dreamt up the idea for a style vs. style cage tournament. Funnily enough, this myth was propagated by Ken Shamrock in his biography.

Articles Black Belt Magazine printed after the first UFC:





Celebrity boxing/MMA fights that almost happened:

Joey Buttafuoco vs. John Wayne Bobbitt

Jose Canseco vs. Rodney King

Wesley Snipes vs. Joe Rogan

Elvis vs. Jerry Lawler

Pre-PRIDE Japanese MMA: Shootfighting vs. “Shoot-Style” Wrestling

The genesis of Japanese MMA began in professional wrestling. After “God of Wrestling” Karl Gotch introduced catch-as-catch-can to the country in the 1970’s, many Japanese performers began utilizing legitimate submission holds as well as other realistic martial arts techniques in their matches. The legendary Antonio Inoki, inspired by Gotch to create his own “strong style” of wrestling, even brought in actual fighters from karate, boxing, and judo to square off against him for the title of “World’s Top Martial Artist.” The series of worked (Fake) matches saw Inoki going up against the likes of famed fighters such as Leon Spinks, Willem Ruska, Don Frye, and Willie “Bear Killer” William. His most famous match, however, was a legitimate shoot fight against world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. The heavily hyped fight, completely bogged down by a set of bizarre and extremely restrictive rules, saw Inoki repeatedly slide into Ali’s knees like a baseball player for fifteen rounds while the champion clowned around and silently prayed his legs wouldn’t be fucked for the rest of his career.

The disappointing match didn’t quell the Japanese public’s desire for realistic wrestling. During the mid-80’s, promotions began emerging that pushed even further beyond Inoki’s “strong style” of wrestling in terms of reflecting actual combat. Organization’s such as the Universal Wrestling Federation, Fighting Network RINGS, and UWF International deemphasized the theatric elements of wrestling and attempted to make the sports entertainment spectacle appear more like a legitimate athletic contest. Unlike traditional wrestling, grapplers performing in this shoot-style format almost always abided by the rules and rarely put on a match without a definitive victor. There was even a point system implemented that could determine a winner based on knockdowns, rope escapes, and throws.

As the style of wrestling grew in popularity, many grapplers began questioning the age-old notion in the business that the public would never pay to see a real match. The wrestlers performing for these shoot-style promotions trained legitimate submission grappling and striking skills in practice, and sparred each other for real behind closed doors. They were essentially mixed martial artists who were paid to perform exhibitions of their talents rather than fight for real. The dissatisfaction felt by many of these wrestlers gave birth to Pancrase and Shooto, the first mixed martial arts promotions in the country.

Following the emergence of MMA in Japan and the subsequent debut of PRIDE, the popularity of shoot-style wrestling began to wane into more of a niche market. Fans who had previously thought the stiff, martial arts-based wrestling was actually real quickly realized that MMA was what they had been looking for all along. Twenty years after this revolution occurred, these old shoot-style matches and early MMA fights are now readily available for new fans to enjoy thanks to video sharing sites such as Youtube… And tragically, these uninitiated rubes can’t fucking tell difference between the two.

To be fair, I can’t say it’s entirely surprising that someone would confuse a worked fight for a real one (or vice versa). Early Pancrase events were extremely similar in presentation to the shoot-style promotions that preceded it. Not only did the fighters talk as if Pancrase was simply a new style of wrestling, but they also wore the same brightly colored speedo-centric costumes they had donned when they were performing works (Shooto fighters also frequently wore brightly colored get-ups, usually long spandex pants). Indeed, Hulk Hogan would not have seemed out of place in the Pancrase ring:

Beyond that, there are number of other factors that add to the confusion:

– The ruleset used in Pancrase’s early years was heavily based on shoot-style wrestling. Only palm strikes to the face were allowed, grabbing the rope forced the referee to break any submissions, weightclasses were non-existent, etc.

– There’s a widespread notion that many, if not most, early Pancrase fights were worked. That is a gross exaggeration, but there is some basis to the belief. Pancrase founders Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki, who were fighters as well, wanted to put a show on for the audience and gain attention for the fledging organization. Whenever they fought opponents of significantly less skill (Funaki and Suzuki were demons at submission grappling) they would often “carry” the fight to make it appear more competitive. Sometimes this backfired, as when Funaki allowed kung-fu stylist Jason DeLucia (Fresh off of his second defeat to Royce Gracie) to put him in a knee bar. Funaki miscalculated his distance from the ropes and was unable to grab for an escape, thus resulting in a submission defeat and an injured knee.

Along with this, several exhibition fights appear online without context and show up on fighters’ records. Ken Shamrock vs. Matt Hume, for example, features a number of obvious spots (Planned moves) and ends in a Northern Lights Suplex. Though the Japanese audience at the time knew it would just be a worked exhibition, an uninformed viewer watching it today might assume the whole promotion was blatantly rigged.

– Some promotions put on both pro wrestling and MMA bouts. RINGS is a particularly frustrating example of this because a lot of wrestling matches have ended up on Sherdog and other record databases. This includes Alexander Karelin’s match with Akira Maeda, which any sensible person knows immediately was a work because God is not generous enough to have let us watch Karelin fight in MMA.

– Although the shoot-style wrestlers had been training submission grappling even before the advent of MMA, their original jobs as entertainers still entailed that they put on a show for the audience. Thus, the techniques and holds that were the most crowd-pleasing were still emphasized more than others. Leglocks and armbars, for example, were utilized much more than chokes because they were considered more exciting. These habits carried over to when the wrestlers began fighting for real in Pancrase and other organizations, resulting in grappling matches that simply didn’t look like what a modern MMA fan would expect to see. The ground action really did feel more like pro wrestling than it did BJJ.

The glaring flaws in the grappling games of the early shootfighters were put on full display when Ken Shamrock fought Royce Gracie in UFC 1. When Shammy had Royce on his back, he immediately fell back for a heel hook. After that failed (partly because Royce wasn’t wearing giant shinguards that make it easier to execute), he promptly turtled up because he wasn’t used to having to defend chokes, and subsequently got strangled. After Masa Funaki duplicated these results against Ken back in Pancrase, everybody’s ground game progressively got more practical.

– Sometimes legitimate shootfights really did occur in wrestling promotions. Ken Shamrock’s match with Muay Thai champion Don Nakaya Nielsen in Pro-Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi, for example, was a real fight and apparently played a role in Pancrase launching the following year.

– A handful of assholes tried passing off their worked wrestling matches as real. Bart Vale, who wrestled for Pro-Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi, became a prominent figure in the early American MMA scene by claiming his victory over Ken Shamrock in the organization was a shoot. Black Belt Magazine, in their usual fashion, still promotes his victories as legitimate even to this day.

These befuddling factors might cause a person to just totally disregard the infant years of the Japanese MMA scene. In doing so, however, he would be ignoring some of the most phenomenal showdowns of the greatest warriors the sport has ever produced. Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Minoru Suzuki, Frank Shamrock, Masakatsu Funaki, Semmy Schilt, Guy Mezger, Maurice Smith, Oleg Taktarov, Erik Paulson, Yuki Nakai, Rumina Sato… Some of the best ever fought in that era. Organizations such as Pancrase and Shooto were offering its athletes prestige and a steady paycheck while the UFC was still struggling to keep its fighters from being arrested wherever they held an event. MMA was a REAL sport in Japan during a time when it was just a pay-per-view sideshow in America.

If you consider yourself an MMA nerd, you have to check out these old school wars. Much like the early, “There are No Rules!!!” UFC bloodbaths, there ain’t nothing quite like these early Japanese speedo duels. Distinguishing between a worked and shoot match isn’t difficult if you have a trained eye:

– If the promotion you’re watching is the Universal Wrestling Federation, Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi, BattleARTS, UWF International, or Kingdom (Which Kazushi Sakuraba performed for) the fight is almost certainly a WORK. Don’t be fooled by how hard these dudes hit each other or how technical and realistic the fighting seems. This style of wrestling isn’t like Lucha Libre or American “sports entertainment.”

– If the promotion you’re watching is Pancrase or Shooto, then the fight is almost certainly a SHOOT except in special case.

– If you’re not sure what the Hell you’re watching, keep an eye out for the usual pro wrestling fair: Suplexes, people feeding into submission holds, overreactions to strikes (They call this “selling” in the wrestling biz), fighters falling down deliberately, etc. Something to note is that in worked shoot-style promotions, it was surprisingly more common to see fighters wearing karate/Judo gis and other uniforms related to their background styles. Fighters in Pancrase and Shooto rarely wore anything more restrictive than a singlet.

– Keep in mind that a flashy move being used in a fight doesn’t automatically make it fake. Many early shootfighters were ex-wrestlers, after all, and were liable to dick around on occasion. In Manubu Yamada’s title fight with Ken Shamrock, for example, the Japanese fighter actually attempted to nail his opponent with a flying drop kick. The strike didn’t land and Yamada spent most of the fight being dominated on the ground.

– RINGS can be tough to analyze because the promotion was purely wrestling before 1995, and later began simultaneously hosting real MMA fights alongside worked shoot-style fights. Many of their prominent fighters did both, adding to the confusion. Although it’s safe to say Randy Couture and Fedor Emelianenko didn’t do any works, most RINGS fights need to be judged on an individual basis. Just remember to keep an eye out for the usual wrestling shit and don’t trust Sherdog!


On October 17, 1995, the World Combat Championship hosted its first and only MMA event in Charlotte, North Carolina. The promotion was essentially just an early UFC pay-per-view knockoff, but featured some great talent for the time. Among the fighters in the tournament were Renzo Gracie, Olympic Judo bronze medalist Ben Spijkers, Shooto champion Erik Paulson, and IBF cruiserweight boxing champion James Warring (Also making an appearance was mulleted shootfighting fraud Bart Vale). Little did anyone suspect, however, that the most dangerous man on the card that night was an unheralded alternate fighting in the first match of the preliminaries. His name was Jerry Bell, and he could’ve potentially contaminated every single competitor who fought in the cage that evening.

Hailing from Columbia, South Carolina, Bell got his start in combat sports fighting in Toughman contests all across his home state. The semi-professional Toughman competitions typically feature boxers with little or no training going up against other local brawlers in a debris-strewn ring while their beer swilling friends shout useless advice at them from the stands. Bell achieved some notable success in this circuit, becoming a three time champion of South Carolina and also fighting in the national Toughman tournament. He would go on to prepare for his legitimate professional boxing debut under the tutelage of local trainer Billy Stanick, who claimed the young heavyweight possessed tremendous athleticism and heart.

Before he was to turn pro, however, Bell decided to embark on a little side venture by competing in the bareknuckle, no-holds-barred World Combat Championship. As required, he received an HIV test before fighting but evaded his doctors calls following the examination. Bell, who by his own admission both was promiscuous and “didn’t believe in” contraceptives (douchebag), was nervous what the results would reveal. The repeated calls would not deter him from proceeding with his plans to step into the cage.

Like the UFC events of the same era, the World Combat Championship emphasized style vs. style contests, even going so far as dividing the tournament bracket into “Strikers” and “Grapplers” divisions (To add to the humor, Cecil Peoples was referee). Bell, being a preliminary fighter, would not be a part of the main draw and would instead face another combatant for a chance to be an alternate. His opponent, Phil Benedict, was a short but heavily muscled NCAA wrestler who could bench press 400 lbs. Despite the opposition and being a pure striker, Bell gave a relatively good account of himself, opening up a cut on Benedict’s nose with a straight right cross in the first few seconds of the fight. He wound up on top of his stocky opponent after Benedict failed with a throw, but would quickly be reversed and submitted with a choke just half a minute into the bout. Benedict would end up losing to Renzo Gracie in the semi-finals of the main draw later that night.

Bell would go on to make his professional boxing debut the following year, defeating his opponent by knockout in the first round. During this time, he would continue ignoring his doctor’s attempts to contact him and proceed with his daily training regimen as if everything was normal. Finally, TWO YEARS after receiving the test, Bell gave in and answered his doctor’s calls to have his worst fears confirmed: He was HIV positive. Shockingly, he kept this revelation hidden until 1998 while he progressed with his boxing career. When he finally decided to quit Bell had amassed a 9-0-0 record, knocking out every single one of his winless opponents in the first or second round.

Despite the fact that his MMA career lasted all but thirty-three seconds, Jerry Bell’s fight with Phil Benedict in the WCC is of profound historical significance to the sport. Bell’s bizarre and tragic personal saga, abetted by his own recklessly irresponsible decision making, is tough to stomach considering he did possess a decent amount of talent by most accounts. The most recent information available on him states he’s currently serving a fifteen year sentence for first-degree burglary. His story sheds some light on the dangers of poor oversight in combat sports, as he was allowed to compete both as a no-holds-barred fighter and a professional boxer despite carrying a lethal contagious disease. The notoriously inconsistent regulation of amateur MMA bears some serious scrutiny when you realize a guy like Jerry Bell could slip through the cracks.


Underrated Fights Showcase #1

You might want to think about giving these fights a second look.


6. Frank Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz

A while back the UFC broadcast a special of their “100 Greatest Fights” on Spike TV.  In typical fashion of the Zuffa regime, the historical significance of the SEG era fights was downplayed and fighters who had a disfavorable relationship with the promotion were either grossly misrepresented or not included at all.  Case in point: Tito Ortiz, who has the most Light Heavyweight title victories in UFC history, had four of losses featured on the list but no victories.  Frank Shamrock, perhaps the greatest MMA fighter of the 90’s, was not even acknowledged.

That was a shame.  Both champions have scored some stellar victories over the years, and in a non-biased list they would’ve been featured multiple times.  Undoubtedly, the best fight between the two was their clash at UFC 22 on September 24, 1999.  A Superfight in every sense of the term, the two warriors battled for the Light Heavyweight (Then Middleweight) crown.  For four rounds, both fighters challenged each other with a wide range of skills and pushed each other to their physical limit.  Ortiz controlled much of the action with his impressive power and wrestling ability, but the champion Shamrock would not let himself be taken out.  Utilizing superior finesse and conditioning, he eventually managed to wear down the challenger and get him to submit via a barrage of strikes.  A truly shining moment during the UFC’s early years.


5. Lennox Lewis vs. Frank Bruno

The People’s Champion of Britain did his best to put on a show for his ever-loving fans.  Not exactly one of Lewis’ best performances, but a significant moment in British boxing history.

4. Rashad Evans vs. Rampage Jackson

This is kind of considered the Phantom Menace of MMA fights.  There was a profound amount of build up, but in the end a lot of people were left disappointed.  In truth, the fight itself wasn’t bad.  People were just expecting Rock Em’ Sock Em’ Robots because of the heat between the two.  What everyone forgot is that fighters won’t always go out and fight full-retard even if they dislike their opponent. 

The fight had some good moments.  Both Rashad and Rampage landed some hard shots on each other, and Evans worked some decent ground-and-pound in round three.  I’ll admit the fight would’ve been better if Evans approached every round like he did the third, but over all I think both men put on a solid show.


3. Tiki Ghosn vs. Bob Cook

Tiki Ghosn is known for a few things in the MMA world: Being Rampage’s assistant coach on TUF, fucking Arianny Celeste, and never having a win inside the Octagon.  Despite that somewhat dubious resume, his career has produced at least a few awesome moments.  Case in point: His Octagon debut against one Bob Cook in UFC 24.

If this fight occured in the modern era of the UFC, it would possibly be heralded as a classic in a similar vein to Leonard Garcia vs. The Korean Zombie.  Unfortunately, it happened during the “dark ages” of the UFC, the period between events 22 and 30 when events were not available on home video.  Both fighters battled at a lightning pace with Cook eventually finishing his opponent off by RNC in the second round.  The AKA representative Cook promptly called it a career after this fight with an undefeated overall record of 5-0, with all wins coming by knockout or submission. 


2. Muhammad Ali vs. Karl Mildenberger

There are many Ali fights which are heralded as legendary.  His 1966 bout with Karl Mildenberger is not one of them.  Still, the south-paw German put on a gutsy enough show with the prime champion for the fight to warrant a watch.  Mildenberger, perhaps the second best heavyweight to ever come out of Germany behind Max Schmeling, used his jab and awkward style (He was the first left hander to ever fight for a world heavyweight title) to win at least a few round against the incomparable Ali. The champ battered the ever-stalking German’s eyes shut over the course of the fight and knocked him down several times, but Mildenberger never ceased to press the action.  Finally, in round twelve, Ali was able to finish off his gritty opponent with a barrage of looping uppercuts and a straight right lead to the head.

“Mildenberger gave me my toughest fight,” stated Ali after the bout.   

Following the fight, many journalists ranked Mildenberger as the second best heavyweight in the world and regarded him as the front-runner to win the vacant title after Ali had been stripped of the belt in 1967.  He ended up losing to Argentinean fight Oscar “Ringo” Bonavena in the first round of the elimination tournament, however, in a bout that was deemed “Upset of the Year” by Ring Magazine.  The German stud retired in 1968 with a record of 53-6-3 after losing his European heavyweight title to Britain’s Henry Cooper.

1. Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney       

When you think of Royce Gracie’s great early UFC fights, you think of his battles with Kimo, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, and his comedy fight with Art Jimmerson.  If you remember Keith Hackney, the fights that come to mind are his kickass David vs. Goliath match with Emmanuel Yarborough and mind-blowing testicle destruction of Joe Son.  The best fight between the two, however, is the one they had with each other.  Unfortunately, not many people seem to bring it up. 

Hackney represented a fighter rarely witnessed in the juvenile MMA scene: A striker who actually knew how to sprawl.  A state champion wrestler in high school, Hackney had enough grappling experience to repel the notorious “Gracie Tackle” and keep the fight standing longer than any of Royce’s previous opponents were able to.  It wasn’t a cake walk from there on out, though.  Despite smacking Royce with some hard rights, the karateka ended up getting clobbered with a few knee strikes to the head up against the fence.  It was evident that the young Gracie’s preparation, although not quite up to par with modern MMA training, was geared to fighting other styles and not just pure BJJ.

Still unable to take Hackney down, Royce was eventually forced to pull guard.  The zealous Hackney might’ve been able to get away, but he elected to keep the pressure on Royce and strike him several more times with his heavy right hand.  This left him open for Royce to apply an armbar and make him submit at the 5:32 mark.  A TRUE unsung classic that deserves to be recognized amongst Royce’s other old school battles, both for historical significance and action.

Year-by-Year: The Best MMA Fights of 1993

1993 ushered in the modern era of MMA with the debut of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in Denver, Colorado.  Being that only a single UFC event was held in 1993, you might think a list of the year’s best fights would only come from that first show.  That is not the case, however, as Japan’s Pancrase had also made its smashing debut around the same time (Shooto had been hosting professional events since 1989, but video footage of these fights is rare).  And so, without further ado, here is my list of the top five fights from modern MMA’s birth year:

5. Masakatsu Funaki vs. Ken Shamrock (Pancrase- Yes, We are Hybrid Wrestlers 1)

The headliner for the first Pancrase card was a bout between teacher and student.  It’s fascinating to see Shamrock, who always seemed so cool and confident in the UFC, come across as such a green and zealous fighter in his match with the Pancrase founder.  After a close fought technical battle, the future star Shamrock caught his coach in an arm triangle choke and forced him to submit at the 6:15 mark.  The beginning of two very excellent MMA careers.

4. Trent Jenkins vs. Jason DeLucia (UFC 1: The Beginning)

This alternate match, which occurred before the finals of the first Ultimate Fighting Championship, was aired in the initial pay-per-view broadcast but not featured on the subsequent VHS release of the event.  That’s a shame, because judging from the reaction of the show in the martial arts magazines of the time, it was the best received fight of the night.  Although I’ve never seen the full fight, there’s enough footage of the fifty second encounter shown in the second UFC for me to decide that it belongs on this list. 

The two traditional stylists squared off in the cage and exchanged the kind of flashy kicks viewers had expected to see when they purchased the pay-per-view.  According to Big Jon McCarthy, the Kempo disciple Jenkins cut DeLucia with his toe nail when he threw a high kick, an incident which lead to nail trimming being mandatory before fights from there on out.  DeLucia eventually managed to take Jenkins to the ground and used the grappling experience he had gleaned from the Gracie’s to choke his opponent out with an RNC (The first in UFC history).  DeLucia’s jiu-jitsu skills were at a white belt level at the time, but he might as well have been armed with brass knuckles in these early events.  If anybody owns the full fight, please, please, please send it to me!

3. Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie (UFC 1: The Beginning)

The fight that kicked off the UFC’s first major rivalry.  People who dismiss the early UFC events as being overly biased towards the Gracies really should take a second look at this stand-off.  A yoked-up submission grappling expert like Shamrock is not the kind of person you let into a no-holds-barred tournament if you want your fighter to have no chance at losing.  Going into the fight, most American viewers watching for the first time certainly must have expected the diminutive Brazilian to get crushed.  As you know, however, that was not what transpired.

Easily the most technical fight of the night, the minute-long battle saw both men scramble for grappling dominance.  After the shootfighter Shamrock failed with a heel hook, Gracie seized control of the fight and quickly choked out his mammoth opponent with his own gi sleeve.  The limitations of Shamrock’s grappling style had been exposed; although his training in Japan was applicable to real fighting, it was still used mostly in a performance context and left him exposed to chokes.  The loss would ignite a seething lust for revenge in Shamrock that would not be quelled until his second encounter with Gracie in UFC 5.

2. Vernon White vs. Katsuomi Inagaki (Pancrase- Yes, We are Hybrid Wrestlers 3)

Who says you have to be top tier to put on a good show?  These novice fighters went to fucking war!  Ex-bodybuilder Inagaki controlled much of the early action, using the kesa-gatame hold to execute offense and force White to give up several escape points.  Eventually, though, the Shamrock protégée and former Taekwondo instructor White managed to grind down his Japanese foe with merciless barrages of strikes (Many of which were blatantly illegal).  Despite enduring an abusive amount of punishment, the courageous Japanese refused to give up and only lost when the referee stopped the fight standing.  Inagaki never achieved much in his MMA career, but he would ALWAYS display the same level of bravery and determination that he did in this fight.

1. Ken Shamrock vs. Yoshiki Takahashi (Pancrase- Yes, We are Hybrid Wrestlers II)

Takahashi is a badass motherfucker.  Maybe a little too badass for his own good.  He obviously had talent, as we got to see in this very stellar match, but his refusal to quit even after suffering severe injury probably wore him out for the rest of his career.  Nevertheless, these early fights will still always be around for us to appreciate his heart and ability. 

The ex-amateur wrestler Takahashi scored some huge takedowns in the early goings of the fight, something we seldom witnessed against the seemingly invincible Shamrock back in the day.  The American’s power and skill would eventually enable him to take control of the match and batter his Japanese opponent for twelve minutes straight.  Over the course of the fight, Takahashi suffered a broken jaw from a palm strike and nearly had his leg broken from a heel hook attempt.  He was even choked unconscious at one point, but managed to grab the rope just before passing out (Shamrock was actually given a red card for holding on too long).  Despite this abuse, he continued to press forward and threaten the American with submission holds.  Finally, he was forced to tap when Shamrock applied a brutal heel hook.  The gallant warrior ended up having to be carried out of the ring.

Takahashi’s later fight with Bas Rutten, where he had his shin broken, probably fucked his body for life.  Still, he continued to fight on in a career that lasted seventeen years.  During that time, he would take on a myriad of world class opponents, including Masakatsu Funaki, Bas Rutten, Valentijn Overeem, Igor Vovchanchyn, Vitor Belfort, and Josh Barnett.  He would also achieve such notable feats as defeating jiu-jitsu legend Wallid Ismail in his lone UFC appearance and winning the inaugural Pancrase Heavyweight Championship.

Fighter of the year:

Masakatsu Funaki

This choice probably comes as a surprise to most of you.  After all, Ken Shamrock is in three of the five fights on this list and Royce Gracie won the first UFC tournament.  Either fighter would seem like a more logical choice.  In truth, however, the impact of Gracie’s victories could not fully resonate in the martial arts community around the time of the first UFC event as it was not made available on VHS until much later (The UFC II tape was actually released before it, for God knows what reason).  And despite Shamrock’s early achievements, I really can’t help but give this to Funaki.  His founding of Pancrase was both a significant point for Japanese MMA and the history of the sport as a whole.  Without his contribution, the world might’ve never known Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock, Bas Rutten, or Josh Barnett.  There might’ve never even been a Pride FC.  For that, I must honor him.

Can scientific wrestling make a comeback?

Ever since the debut of the Ultimate Fighting Championship on pay-per-view, grappling martial arts have received a major boon in popularity.  No longer does boxing and cinematic kung-fu dominate the American public’s perception of unarmed combat as they had for years.  When people think of fighting nowadays, takedowns and chokeholds are almost as likely to come to mind as punches and kicks.  Grappling has shoehorned itself into our combative consciousness.

And yet, despite the fact that more people are studying arts like BJJ than ever, grappling as a spectator sport does not look like it’s going to take off any time soon.  MMA is strictly the only venue where people will pay to see men apply armbars and heel hooks on one another.  The viewing audience for pure wrestling, sans punches and kicks, seems to be limited to what can fit in a high school gymnasium.  This is interesting considering that, traditionally, wrestling was amongst the most popular sports in both America and the world as a whole.  Many moons ago, the popularity of legitimate professional wrestling actually rivaled that of baseball.  Following the expansion of the theatrical style of worked wrestling matches, however, public interest in scientific wrestling tapered off and never really recovered.

Could legitimate grappling contests ever regain any kind of public recognition in this country?  People have tried to bring it back before.  Real Pro Wrestling, a Tennessee based promotion, was formed to bring amateur wrestling back into the public eye. For two seasons, it broadcast wrestling contests on ION Television before the company eventually folded in 2007.  It would seem, especially in this day and age where both MMA and theatrical wrestling dominate the airwaves, that scientific wrestling does not have much of a chance at making a comeback.

Nothing is impossible, however.  After examining the success of other combat sports, as well as theatrical pro wrestling, I’ve come up with a list of ideas that I believe would need to be implemented in order for pure scientific wrestling to have a shot at becoming popular again:

– To start off with, it must be stressed that grappling is, in fact, combat.  Heavy emphasis should be put on the fact that all grappling styles are martial arts, even American wrestling.  There are several ways to facilitate this.  First off, regardless of whatever rule set is ultimately used, the matches should take place inside of a ring.  People associate rings with fighting, as both boxing and professional wrestling takes place inside a ring.  Rings are also more glamorous than traditional wrestling mats, which have an amateurish feel to them  (To prevent grapplers from tumbling out, it would likely be a good idea to line the bottom rope with a net, as they did in Vale Tudo).

Secondly, more militarized and interesting terminology should be used to describe techniques.  For example, instead of rear naked choke, announcers could use the law enforcement term for the hold: Lateral vascular restraint.  If not that, then perhaps the widely known sleeper hold.  Not only will this make grappling seem less like a sport and more like fighting, but it will also pique the interest of new fans and make them want to know how the techniques work.

Finally, Human Weapon style self-defense instructionals could be included in the hypothetical grappling program along with competitive bouts.  It must be made known that grappling can be used as a means to protect oneself.     

– I think neither ordinary amateur wrestling nor submission grappling rules would be most effective at capturing the public’s interest.  The rule set should allow for the entire gamut of grappling styles to compete, from Sumo to BJJ.  Taking a cue from Catch Wresting and Judo, a grappler should be able to win by both submission and three-count pinfall.  The addition of pinfalls, I believe, would both help enable more crowd pleasing action and give grappler from non-submission styles a more even plane to compete on.

– Stylistic and cultural clashes should be encouraged.  A promoter of this hypothetical grappling promotion would find it in his best interest to emphasize the international scope of the sport.  Fighters from exotic and esoteric styles (Pehlwani, Glima) should be brought in to contrast with fighters who use more conventional styles.  Grapplers should also be allowed to wear the traditional attire of their style, even if the different uniforms change the dynamics of the match (Such as gis).  Taking a cue from pro wrestling and Pancrase, vibrant colors should be encouraged to catch the eyes of potential spectators.

– The point system should be simple as possible to insure the uninitiated have no trouble keeping track of what’s going on.  Catch wrestling utilizes a twelve-minute time limit with no scoring system, so the only possible outcomes of a match are pinfall, submission, or draw.  With a system like that, there wouldn’t be a risk of new fans being distracted by how fighters are supposed to earn points.  The trade off is that a lot of matches would have the potential of going the distance with no decisive winner being declared. 

A rope escape points system similar to Pancrase and pro wrestling might also be something to consider.  Fighters would have a set number of points in the beginning and would lose one each time they grab the rope to escape a submission or pin.  There’s a lot of bullshit that could come with this one, however: Accidental rope grabs, and fighters risking serious injury trying to grab the rope instead of tapping.               

– It’s ok to get creative with the competition format if it helps getting people to watch.  David vs. Goliath and tag team matches are two good possibilities.  Open weight brackets, after all, are a staple of grappling tournaments.  Hook N’Shoot also used to hold tag team submission grappling matches, so it’s not a completely novel idea.  

– Well known names from the MMA and pro wrestling world could be brought in to attract attention.  The primary focus, however, should be put on young up-and-coming grapplers.  For an organization in any combat sport to be successful, it needs homegrown stars that people would identify the promotion with. 

Now that I’ve laid out all these ideas, I take it you’ll probably want to ask me this: Is it even necessary for scientific wrestling to make a comeback?  What would be the point in this day and age when MMA training is so widely available?  Well, there are several reasons why I think wrestling’s resurgence would be a positive thing, both for the sport itself and the martial arts community as a whole.  Despite MMA’s booming popularity, wrestling programs are still being cut in high schools and colleges all across the country.  If more kids were interested in learning the art of wrestling, these programs would be able to stay afloat and keep offering young people competent martial arts training as well as scholarships for college.  Along with this, a professional venue for scientific wrestling would give martial artists who are solely interested in the art of grappling another means to make a living besides teaching.  Despite MMA’s success, boxing and kickboxing are still popular worldwide.  Why shouldn’t grappling also get that kind of recognition?