History of the UFC: UFC IV - Revenge of the Warriors
Posted by Matt McEwen on 04.23.2007
Upsets are all the rave in the UFC right now, and they've been happening since the beginning. How would Royce Gracie respond to not winning for the first time? And how would he deal with a 270 pound wrestling "Beast"? Matt McEwen lets you know as we go back to 1994 to look at UFC IV:Revenge of the Warriors!
Upsets and surprises seem to be the flavor of the day in MMA right now, from Randy Couture pulling off the win over Tim Sylvia, all the way up to Gabriel Gonzaga's highlight reel destruction of Mirko Cro Cop this past Saturday. Fourteen years ago, the UFC was coming off the biggest upsets they had seen yet. Dana White and Joe Rogan are found of telling us that anyone can lose, but it is how they come back from defeat that tells us what kind of fighter they are. UFC IV: Revenge of the Warriors was the event that would show us what kind of fighter Royce Gracie reall was.
The now legendary Gracie was taken to the limit by the unknown upstart Kimo at UFC III, and forced to forfeit his semi final match against Harold Howard, thus ending his undefeated streak. Howard was upset by an alternate who did not fight at all until being placed in the finals, and the UFC was forced to deal with their first mess. The weakness of the eight man tournament was beginning to become clear, but it would still be in place here. There were a few changes though......
UFC IV: Revenge of the Warriors
It's roughly 13 months since UFC I, and we are on the move again, this time emanating from the luxurious confines of the Expo Square Pavilion in exotic Tulsa, Oklahoma. It might not be the most bustling metropolis in history, but they do have a near capacity crowd of about 6000 people here primarily to see Royce Gracie's comeback.
We have a two-thirds new announce crew, as Bruce Beck introduces himself as our new play by play man. As big an improvement that Kilmeade had been over Wallace, Beck is that much better again. He instantly makes the shows seem more professional with his announcing. Jim Brown is still hanging around the broadcast booth, and by this point was kind of a poor man's Joe Rogan - he was an enthusiastic fan that was learning a lot about the sport, but lacked Rogan's knowledge of the sport. Of course, you could say the same for just about anyone in 1994. Brown tells us that Royce is back, looking for revenge. Against whom, you ask? That would be against Joe Son, who was Kimo's manager last time. It is a bit of stretch to build a grudge out of that, but bless their hearts for trying. The third man in the booth tonight is the debuting Jeff Blatnick, the 1984 Super-heavyweight Olympic gold medalist in Greco Roman wrestling. He is standing in the Octagon, and tells us it is a 750 square foot zone which, tonight, looks to be a speedy surface with good grip. Also, after having 600lb Emmanuel Yarborough throw Keith Hackney through the gate last time, both entrances to the Octagon have been reinforced.
Before we get to the main draw, we are told about the big change happening for UFC IV. In order to be an alternate in the tournament, fighters now had to win a qualifying preliminary match. This was put in place as a way to avoid having a seemingly undeserving champion such as Steve Jennum. In those fights, Joe "Ghetto Man" Charles (0-0 in UFC competition) beat the returning Kevin Rosier (2-1), while Marcus "Grasshopper" Bossett (0-0) bested Eldo Xavier (0-0).
As we look at the bracket for tonight, we are told that only two of the eight fighters have been seeded. Two time former champion Gracie is the second seed, while defending champ Jennum is the top seed. Other than the qualifying fights for the alternates, there are no rule changes for this event. It is mentioned later on, though, that the referee does not have the ability to stop the fight this time. That was easily the smartest rule they had put in place over the three shows, and they take it away after only one show. We will see if get any ugly endings this time around. Onto the fights!
Ron Van Clief (0-0) vs Royce Gracie (8-1)
"The Black Dragon" is 51 years old at the time of this fight, making him the oldest competitor ever in the UFC. I wonder if Randy Couture will take a shot at that record? More importantly than being the oldest competitor, Van Clief was the first recognized "master" to compete in the UFC. In the martial arts world, this lent a fair bit of legitimacy to these competitions, the importance of which really can not be overstated. In his intro video - which are getting MUCH shorter this time around - Van Clief tells us he has been training longer than anyone else in the competition has been alive. It is funny because it is true. As he gets in the Octagon, it is also apparent that he is in great shape. He is going up against Royce Gracie though.
Royce tells us that he wants his title back, and to prove that his family's discipline is still the best in the world.
Rich Goins keeps his streak alive as the ring announcer, only this time he has the world's cheesiest mustache to go along with his awful nickname. He also announces Royce as being 51-8 in amateur fights. Remember that for later.
Van Clief throws a quick front kick to start the fight off, which Royce catches and gets the takedown. That is not good for Van Clief. He struggles very hard on the bottom, but Royce easily takes the mount and starts with rabbit punches to the ribs. He lands a couple of big elbows to the head, follows up with a few punches and Van Clief gives up his back. Royce slowly cinches in a rear naked choke, and Van Clief is forced to tap. Easy first round for Royce.
In interviews after the fight, Van Clief makes it clear that there was no shame in losing, and that he did not understand why other masters were not clamoring to enter the UFC. He also said he had some doubts about the legitimacy of the event, but once he competed he knew it was "as real as it gets." I wonder if he is to blame for the awful catch phrase popping up a decade later.
We get a nice wide angle shot of the arena before the next fight, and they have upgraded their entrance way. If anyone out there is an ROH fan, it actually looks about the same as what they use now. The only thing is that there is no aisle. Looks funny.
Joe Son (0-0) vs Keith Hackney (1-0)
Son is Kimo's 23 year old manager as well as the founder of - get this - "Joe Son-Do." Little known fact - I am the master of "Matt McEwen-Do." In addition to making stuff up, Son is also a very religious man, just like Kimo. Kimo actually leads Son to the Octagon, carrying a bible verse on a placard in front of Son, who is struggling to carry the cross that Kimo carried out in his entrance. Maybe that is because Kimo is 6'2, while Son is all of 5'4. He is also 236lbs though, making him easily the shortest heavyweight in UFC history.
His opponent is the returning Keith Hackney, who will be the bigger man tonight after winning his UFC debut over the MUCH larger Yarborough. He is known as the "Giant Killer" as a result. He also looks like he has been working out a bit, as he is a lot bigger in the upper body.
Slow start from both guys. Son eventually gets a take down, and gets side control. Hackney rolls to his back, and Son ends up in north/south control. He works a guillotine as Hackney stands up and looks to have it in fairly deep. Hackney's response? Uppercut to the family jewels. Ball Shot Count: 1. Hackney takes Son down with a back heel trip and pulls his head free. He ends up in side control himself. Full on punch to the groin by Hackney. Ball Shot Count: 2. Hackney starts raining them down now. Ball Shot Count: 3.....4....5...6.....7! You hear Big John yell "$2000! Right there," so I assume he is fining Hackney, but that has to be little consolation to Son, who will not be having any little Son's after this fight. Hackney is getting pretty roundly booed by the crowd......at least those who are not too busy grimacing. Hackney had his head in Son's chest at this point, with his left hand on Son's throat,and his right hand poised to add more to the ball shot counter. Son taps. I do not blame him. Beck comments that Hackney did not gain any fans with that performance, while Blatnick and Brown say if it is legal, then go for it. How any man can say that is beyond me. To his credit, Son actually congratulates Hackney and smiles at him after the fight. Myself - I'd be curled up in a ball crying like a little girl. Blatnick does show that he understands the UFC with his analysis that - beyond the ball shots - Son paid the price for not having enough skills to finish Hackney when he got the early takedown.
Son never did develop much of a ground game, and would later retire from competition with a 0-4 record. He moved on to acting, and actually appeared in an Austin Powers movie as Random Task.
Milton Bowen (0-0) vs Steve Jennum (1-0)
Bowen is the WBF Intercontinental Heavyweight champion with 24 KO's in his 37 pro fights. He is proclaimed as the first "real" boxer in the UFC. Now, I am not a boxing historian, but I do know that the WBF was not one of the major boxing organizations, and being the Intercontinental champion of any boxing organization does not mean too much. Bowen does some talking in his video, but I really can not tell you what he says. He is a big, ripped guy though, and is actually wearing grappling gloves, making him the first to actually fight with them.
Jennum - the policeman ninja - is back to defend. That is all he says in his interview. Great personality there. Even still, Brown thinks Jennum will win with his ground game. On his way out, Jennum is roundly booed by the crowd.
Jennum starts the fight looking to kick. Bowen holds back, not wanting to over commit and be taken down, and when he finally throws a punch is caught in the clinch. They end up against the cage as Bowen slowly teeters over. Jennum ends up in the mount and starts throwing punches. Bowen struggles hard, but every time he is about to roll out or reverse, Jennum grabs the cage for balance. Big John screams for Bowen's corner to "watch their fighter", which I think is code for "this fight would be over if I was allowed to stop it." Jennum lands a nasty head butt. Surprisingly, Bowen is still struggling from the bottom and actually manages to pull himself up with the help of the fence. He is not on his feet for long though, as Jennum throws him right back down and mounts again. Jennum throws some of the WEAKEST punches I ever seen in a fight, then tries for an Americana, but just does not have the strength to cinch it in. He gets a few decent punches in, then finally grabs an arm and extends it for the tap out victory. It was only five minutes long, but both guys are exhausted. It seems as if, other than maybe Royce and few other guys, no one knew what kind of conditioning was needed to fight for any length of time, and they paid the price for it.
Anthony Macias (0-0) vs Daniel Severn (0-0)
Macias is a pro Thai boxer with a record of 30-1 with 24 KO's. He is also the obligatory local boy, who won two Oklahoma state wrestling titles in high school.
Severn is, of course, a career wrestler and the first high level one to compete in the UFC. I say high level and not elite because, as good as he was, he was never in the upper echelon of the amateur wrestling world. I am not trying to downplay anything about his wrestling career, but he never made an Olympic team or won a NCAA championship. That being said, he is easily the best wrestler the UFC had seen to this point. Wrestling fans will notice Al Snow as he leads Severn to the ring. Blatnick knows Severn well, as they wrestled together and against each other over the years.
As the fight starts, Beck tells us that both fighters are in black trunks, mustache goes to Severn. At 6'2 and 260, he's also got four inches and seventy pounds on Macias as well. Macias begins the fight throwing leg kicks, but gets caught with a double leg attempt. Nice sprawl by Macias, and he starts throwing elbows to Severn's spine. He gets a few more in to the back of the head before Severn lifts him up and hits a big belly to back suplex. He picks Macias back up and hits another one, this time dropping Macias on his head. Severn seems content to just wrestle as he does not follow up with strikes. He does eventually work in rear naked choke, and gains the victory in under two minutes.
Brown's assessment of Severn: He is a big, strong wrestler who lacks the finishing technique of a Royce Gracie. That sums up Severn's career in one sentence.
Royce Gracie (9-1) vs Keith Hackney (2-0)
Before the fight, Beck tells us that Jennum has pulled out of the tournament due to exhaustion. Maybe he thought he would only have one fight this time too.
Blatnick believes that Hackney will be one of Royce's toughest fights due to Hackney's stand up being so good. Let's see.....
Slow start as neither wants to commit early, but Royce initiates with a shot which Hackney avoids, landing a good punch to Royce's face in the process. Royce answers with a high kick. He shoots again, but a good sprawl by Hackney and they are back to their feet. Royce's boxing is pretty ugly looking. They clinch up against the fence and Royce lands a knee to the groin. Karma is a bitch. Hackney answers with a short right to the jaw. That punch creates a bit of space and he is able to land a few more while holding Royce by the gi. Knees by Gracie, who then pulls Hackney down to the ground into his guard. Royce throws up a quick triangle attempt, which Hackney works out of and ends up standing over Royce throwing punches down. He falls into guard, but lands a big right in the process. Another triangle attempt by Royce, which he transitions into an arm bar attempt. Hackney is tired and Royce starts landing elbows to his head. This time he gets a good grip on the arm and straightens out to gain the tap out win. Really good fight, which I would say is easily the best in the UFC up to this point. Brown wonders how much energy Royce expended here, and if he will be able to continue onto the finals.
Marcus Bossett (1-0) vs Daniel Severn (1-0)
Quick video on Bossett, who considers himself a "traditional karate man." OH.....this is not going to go well for him. Blatnick and Brown think that he will have a chance if he can punch Severn. That is great, expert analysis right there.
Bossett circles to start and lands a beautiful front kick to the body which puts Severn off balance. He tries to follow up with a spin kick to the head, but Severn ducks under and takes Bossett down into side control. He quickly mounts and locks in a head and arm choke to make Bossett tap out quickly.
So it will be Severn and Gracie in the finals. Before we get there though, we get a non-tournament fight in which the winner will be entered into UFC V.
Guy Mezger (0-0) vs Jason Fairn (0-0)
Fairn is the night's youngest fighter at just 21, but is already 33-0 in bare knuckle challenge fights. He is from Canada, so I like him, but he is a white guy with a jerri-curl, so I do not like him. He is led to the Octagon by two time UFC veteran Pat Smith.
Guy Mezger is a kick boxer from Dallas. Later a key member of Ken Shamrock's Lion's Den - which has not been mentioned at all during UFC's yet - Mezger was a high school wrestler, so there might be a well rounded skill set even at this early stage of his career. He has bad fashion sense though, as he is wearing full length spandex pants.
Both guys have pony-tails, and have made a gentle-men's agreement not to pull hair in the fight, which angers Brown, who calls them pretty boys.
They clinch very quickly to start and both guys get knees to groin. It is like the running theme of the night. A big right hand from Fairn puts Mezger down and Fairn tries a guillotine when he tries to get back up. Mezger gets out of it and takes Farin down and mounts him. Big right hands as Fairn squirms, but Smith throws in the towel when a few more shots land. Brown is not impressed by either guy really. He also mentions about when one fighter has been mounted, he should really get back to a guard. The way he says it suggests it would be the easiest thing in the world to do.
As a result of this win, Mezger gets a birth in UFC V and Fairn disappears into nothingness as far as MMA goes.
Royce Gracie (10-1) vs Dan Severn (2-0)
Royce comes out first and is showing no signs of the fatigue that took him out of the last event. Severn also looks fairly fresh after his two quick victories. This is probably the most intriguing fight Royce has had so far, as he is going up against someone who wants to go the ground with him. He is also at a 70lb disadvantage as well, which could very well come into play in a grappling match.
Royce starts out throwing kicks. The announcers discuss Royce wearing the gi. Royce apparently finds that people want to grab the gi and hold him rather than punch him, so it gives him a good advantage. Severn grabs of a hold of it early on, and takes Royce down. Royce with heel kicks to Severn's liver before he closes the guard. Severn lays on top, and that description applies to almost the entire match. Ever wonder where the term "Lay and Pray" came from? Fights like this.
Severn very slowly tries to work in another head an arm choke but Royce avoids it. Blatnick is amazed that the best martial artists in the world can not avoid being taken down, showing that wrestling deserves respect it has never been given as a martial art. Good thing he is an impartial announcer!
Meanwhile, back on the ground, no strikes, head-butts or submission attempts by Severn. This fight would have been stood up ten times if this was to happen today, not to mention both fighters probably being admonished for not working hard enough. In 1994 though, they just let them lay there. With no action to call, the announce crew discusses Royce's fatigue factor, and how tiring it must be to be under Severn this long. Judging by his face though, Royce is pretty relaxed. As a matter of fact, he is so relaxed, he actually tries a reverse arm choke from the bottom. That says everything about this fight - Royce is so unconcerned about Severn's offense that he is barely defending himself on the bottom, instead tying up both his arms in a low percentage submission attempt. He also has enough control from the bottom to use his feet to steer his head away from getting caught up against the fence.
Severn finally throws some semi-hammer fists, but to little effect. The crowd is really starting to get restless, and for once I can not blame them. Blatnick, on the other hand, seems to be enjoying this as he believes there is no way Royce will be able to get out from under Severn. He does give Royce some credit though, as he believes Royce's knowledge of submissions is keeping Severn from getting one on him. Never mind the fact that Severn has not even tried a single submission beyond the weak head and arm try yet. We are ten minutes into the fight now. Oh god...I just remembered there are no time limits. Oh-oh.
Royce throws up a triangle attempt, and gets it in fairly deep. Blatnick tells us that there is no way that Severn can be choked out like that. Again, expert analysis. Royce lets the triangle go, and Severn raises up on his legs to throw punches and almost gets caught in an arm bar. Severn rises up again and Royce is really telegraphing the arm bar attempts here. Fifteen minutes in and the action is starting to pick up a tad.
Royce starts to roll a bit, and gets in position for either a triangle or arm bar. Severn tries to defend the armbar, and leaves himself open fir the triangle attempt and Royce cinches it in deep. Blatnick again says there is no way that Severn can be choked out this way, as Royce has no power in his legs to do it, and that he is actually just trying to scoot out the back door and get to his feet. As wrong as he is, his assessment must be a good view into the wrestler's mind as Severn tries to block the back door, but in the process allows Royce to tighten up the triangle to the point of no escape. While the announcers do not realize it is happening, Severn taps out at 15:49. Royce barely looks tired as he celebrates. Beck tells us he has kept the Gracie family undefeated streak alive with this victory. Now, they have been announcing Royce with an amateur record of 51-8 all night, and he actually lost - albeit without actually fighting - last time, so just give the undefeated thing a rest already.
Brown yells at Blatnick that he never wants to hear him say how great grapplers are again now that Royce has pulled out the win over Severn. Blatnick anwers with confused bluntness by pointing out that Royce is a grappler.
They play it up as Royce's hardest match yet, but really it showed the patience he had as he waited for Severn to make a mistake and capitalized on it. The Hackney match up was probably harder for him overall.
The 411: Top to bottom, this is the best card the UFC has put on yet. Three UFC veterans along with the debuting Severn gave the event the most "real sports" feeling yet. No one looked totally out of place in the Octagon, which is the first time that can be said honestly. Having only one substitution in the tournament gave the card a bit of stability, and we were treated to some classic moments.There were no rule changes either, again giving an air of stability to the event. Taking away the referee's ability to stop the fight was unfortunate, but luckily did not come into play here.
UFC IV is also important historically, as it gave us a couple of memorable moments and debuted two future champions.
Hackney giving Son an unwanted vasectomy was painful to watch, but is probably one of the most well known fights in UFC history, even if it just as "the one where the guy hits the other guy in the nuts 1000 times." I didn't say it was a good memory, but it is a memory.
Unfortunately for Hackney, that moment kind of hangs over his entire UFC career, including his great fight in the semis with Royce, which has got to be the forgotten classic of early events. Easily the best fight in the UFC up to this point.
Dan Severn debuting is fun to watch, but is also the most important event here. As the first wrestler to enter the event, Severn started a trend that continues to this day. Wrestlers began to see how successful they could be in the MMA world, and we are on the verge of an influx here.
So, the UFC has existed for over a year, put on four shows, weathered the early media storm against it and reached a certain level of success. Even by todays standards, the UFC was a PPV monster at this point, reaching into the hundreds of thousands of purchases. We all know that some hard times lay in the not to distant future, but at this point, things were going good.
Next time,we'll have a look at UFC V: Return of the Beast. Guess who comes back in that one. It also features the first ever SuperFight, as they get tired of crossing their fingers for the tournament to produce dream matches. The first real UFC dream match will occur as Ken Shamrock finally gets the rematch he has dreamed for...