Black Tiger MMA Review: UFC 3: The American Dream - 9.9.94
Posted by Mike Campbell on 02.15.2010
Gracie finally meets his match (sort of. . .)
UFC 3: THE AMERICAN DREAM
September 9, 1994
Watching these older UFC events, and seeing the stark contrast to today’s product can be a real treat. MMA wasn’t presented as a sport back then, but as a spectacle. The big selling point was the lack of rules, which created a buzz, but also attracted a lot of unwanted attention. The subtitle of “The American Dream” was obviously a play on the fact that Royce Gracie had run through the competition of the past two events, and, indeed, many people were wondering who exactly could knock him off his pedestal. I didn’t discover UFC until 1996, so I don’t know for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear that seeing who could finally dethrone Gracie was a big reason people bought these PPVs, just like people paid to see Houdini, just to see if he was going to survive.
KEITH HACKNEY vs. EMANUELYARBOROUGH
You might recognize Yarborough from the HBO Prison Series OZ. Hackney drops him to start with a punch to the head, he tries to charge in and finish him off quickly, but Manny gets to his feet and literally pushes Hackney out of the Octagon. Big John restarts them, and Hackney tries to stick and move, and winds up dropping him with another shot to the face. Hackney charges in and this time he’s able to keep Manny down and pelt him with fists and elbows until Manny gives it up. Speaking of seeing how the sport has evolved, watching Hackney land all those bare-knuckle shots was a bit unnerving, there’s a reason why modern MMA requires the fighters to wear gloves.
KEN SHAMROCK vs. CHRIS LENINGER
This goes right to the mat with Leninger having Shamrock in his guard, it’s actually a nice little chess match on the mat, and it’s a good showing of how much Shamrock improved since the loss to Gracie. Leninger tries for a triangle choke and Shamrock quickly backs away. Leninger also appears to try for an armbar, and Shamrock, again, quickly escapes from trouble. They wind up with Shamrock in a mount and throwing punches at Leninger, and he taps out.
HAROLD HOWARD vs. ROLAND PAYNE
Payne charges in, but Howard quickly throws him down. Payne gets to his feet and grabs Howard before Howard can take advantage. Payne tries to ground and pound, but Howard gets to his feet. They trade shots and Howard scores the KO after a punch. It was only forty-six seconds, but it was forty-six seconds of action.
ROYCE GRACIE vs. KIMO
One look at Kimo will sum up the discussion of the UFC’s early days of spectacle over sport. He’s covered in tats and carries the big cross on his back. That alone is enough to get him to standout among the UFC roster at this point, but the fact that he’s the most directly responsible for dethroning Royce Gracie sure didn’t hurt his standing in the eyes of the UFC fans. The fight itself isn’t very long, but, like the last fight, its action packed. Royce tries to take Kimo down, but his size and conditioning are able to keep him on his feet. Royce probably expends 60% of his energy just in taking him down. Once they get down, Gracie tries for a choke, but Kimo quickly escapes and gets Gracie’s back. Royce turns over and tries for a Triangle, and even grabs Kimo’s hair and starts punching him. Royce finally does get Kimo trapped with his legs and turns over into an armbar. No, Kimo didn’t slay the proverbial Dragon in the traditional way. The Dragon destroyed the knight, like countless before him, but Kimo wounded him enough that he hightailed it into the woods and let death take him.
KEN SHAMROCK vs. FELIX LEE MITCHELL
Here’s a shocker, Hackney broke his hand while he was clubbing the bejesus out of Yarborough, so we get an alternate. Not a whole lot of action here, Shamrock tries to get Mitchell’s back and choke him out, but Mitchell is able to hold him off. They stand in a clinch for what seems like forever, and Shamrock finally takes him down and gets the choke for the win.
ROYCE GRACIE vs. HAROLD HOWARD
No fight, because Royce is so tried out that he can’t even walk under his own power. No shortage of excitement though, Kimo runs in and lets everyone know exactly who it was that took out Gracie before Big John tells him to take a hike.
Now it gets interesting, because we’re told that Shamrock is also hurt and can’t compete. According to the book “Brawl” the only thing Shamrock cared about was getting a rematch with Gracie, and he flat out refused to fight when informed that Gracie was out. Nonetheless, here’s another example of how these shows were a bit of a work in progress. The finals are down to a fighter who’d only fought for about a minute, and an alternate who hadn’t even fought all during the night.
The real disappointment is that the fans were robbed of the Gracie/Shamrock rematch that they wanted to see. Had Shamrock gone out and won the tournament, there's little doubt in my mind (and most others) that he could have easily beaten Howard, then there would be that much more anticipation for the rematch. The build would have been very pro wrestling-esque, Shamrock may have won, but he didn't beat the champion.
HAROLD HOWARD vs. STEVE JENUM
Howard tries to get flashy with a flipping kick, but Jenum dodges it. They trade shots and Howard looks for a guillotine, but doesn’t sink it in all the way. Jenum escapes, gets the mount, and starts throwing punches and Howard’s corner throws in the towel.
The 411: There are several good fights, which I think are enough to warrant checking this out. The ending leaves a bad taste, but it was a necessary evil because it wound up showing the UFC the flaw in their system and it allowed them to fix it accordingly.