History of the UFC 10.08.07: Ultimate Brazil
Posted by Matt McEwen on 10.08.2007
The Monday morning tradition returns as the UFC says goodbye to two of the stars of it's formative years, and hello both to a star of its (mostly) unwatched years and a future MMA legend that would make his mark outside of the Octagon. All this, and they're in Brazil!
Wow…..amazing how a three week vacation can go horribly wrong and you end up being away from home for six weeks and under medical quarantine for some of that. Anyhow, after far too long an absence, The History of the UFC returns as we take a look at the fall 1998 PPV, Ultimate Brazil.
10 months prior to this event – which took place on October 16th – the UFC had gone international for the first time with the first Ultimate Japan event. This time around, they head to the home of Vale Tudo and Lutte Livre, Brazil. While these international excursions add a bit of a “big event” feel to the shows – which by this time are presented almost entirely as sport rather than spectacle – they are presented as much by necessity as they are by opportunity.
By late 1998, the UFC was firmly entrenched as a very fringe event on the North American sporting landscape, relegated to freak show status and unavailable to most of the population. As such, crowds were beginning to shrink and, due to being banned in most states, so were the number of venues available for use. Instead a steady diet of smaller southern towns, the UFC brain trust instead decided to go international. So, with that as our political/business background, on with the show.
Goldberg and Blatnick welcome us to the show, and since they’re in the “birthplace” of MMA, they’re bringing us some top level fights. Well, that’s awfully nice of them.
Among these top level fights, there will be two title fights. Middleweight champion Frank Shamrock continues his “defending my championship against guys in their UFC debut” tour as he takes on Jon Lober. Lober apparently beat Shamrock in the latter’s MMA debut in Hawaii 21 months prior to this event. Nice back-story, but if you’re an exclusive UFC fan – or watching things 10 years after the fact – you wouldn’t know about it until they tell you. Oh well.
We will also be seeing a fight to crown the first ever Lightweight champion. At this point, this is the 170lbs and under division, or essentially what we now know as the Welterweight division. In this fight, living legend Pat Militech takes on future TUF: The Comeback cast member Mikey Burnett. This should have been the finals of the first lightweight tournament, but Burnett broke his hand and withdrew.
Also tonight, we get two “superfights” featuring two debuting Brazilian fighters. In the heavyweight division, Tank Abbott returns to take on newcomer Pedro Rizzo. Longtime fans will know that Rizzo entering the Octagon is a pretty significant event. In the middleweight division, Vitor Belfort moves down a weight class and will look to reclaim some of his lost promise against…..Wanderlei Silva! This should be fun, to say the least.
Before we get to the fights, there is a bit of business to take care of. Bas Rutten debuts as the third man in the commentary booth, and it is announced that Randy Couture has “elected not to defend” the heavyweight title (read: contract dispute), so the road to the title starts tonight, and will eventually go through Mr. Rutten. Interesting development, that.
Ebenezer Braga (0-0) vs Jeremy Horn (0-1)
They introduce Braga as an all around competitor, who can grapple and strike. They say he has a record of 16-3, and looks to be coming into the fight in good shape.
Horn will be familiar to longtime fans, and is making his second trip into the Octagon here. He took Frank Shamrock to the limit before being submitted in his debut. That fight was not shown live, but rather was taped for later broadcast on a “best of” PPV. Horn is all of 23 years old here, and looks physically quite different than he would later as he became a more accomplished fighter. They make passing mention that he has been training a bit with Pat Militech, a relationship that would benefit a lot more people over the next decade.
As the fight begins, Braga initiates the clinch and pushes Horn up against the fence. Most of the offense from this position consists of weak knees form both for the next two minutes or so. At about the 3 minute mark or so, Braga scores a takedown with a trip, but Horn scrambles and is able to try for a double leg of his own on a sprawling Braga. Horn makes a mistake by leaving his head and neck exposed and Braga locks in a guillotine for the tap out victory at 3:28. Wow…..didn’t think Horn would look that bad as he goes to 0-2 in the UFC.
Heavyweight Elimination Fight
Pete Williams (1-0) vs Tsuyoshi Kosaka (1-0)
We have a Lion’s Den vs Alliance fight as the road to crown a new heavyweight champ begins here.
Maurice Smith leads TK out, and he looks to be in great shape. You can tell he has been taking his training seriously.
Williams, on the other hand, looks lanky and soft. Both guys are about the same size (Williams is 6’3 and 230lbs while TK is 6’1 and 224lbs) but are startlingly visually different.
The fight is not that great really. On their feet, Williams is working kicks, while TK answers well enough with jabs to keep his opponent off balance. Once they are on the ground, TK spends the entire fight working for a kimura which he can never quite sink in fully.
At one point, Williams is able to gain full mount, but can’t do anything with it as neither guys seems too eager to strike from the top. The most exciting part of the fight occurred right before the end of the OT period, as Williams hit a high kick that stunned TK, but time ran out before he could capitalize.
TK wins a unanimous decision in a lackluster fight.
Lightweight Title fight
Mikey Burnett (1-0) vs Pat Militech (2-0)
If the last fight was lackluster, than I don’t have words to describe this fight. Burnett makes an effort to press the action, but Militech has a fool proof defensive plan – The Wedgie.
Yup, this fight goes the full 21 minute time limit, and I would say Militech spends 2/3 of the time pulling on Burnett’s tights. Burnett is able to score a few takedowns, but Militech has possibly the best defensive guard I have ever seen. That’s the only good thing you can say about this fight.
Somehow, despite not doing anything other than pulling Burnett’s tights, Militech wins a split decision to become the first Lightweight champion in possibly the worst fight in UFC history.
Post fight, SEG president Bob Meyorwitz presents Militech with the title belt and says how great a fight that was. I think that might be a clue as to why he was unable to make the UFC a success.
Heavyweight Elimination Fight
Tank Abbott (8-6) vs Pedro Rizzo(0-0)
Tank comes out first, and looks big. They list him at 268lbs, which would 18lbs more than when he last fought, and I would say it’s all in the belly.
Rizzo is essentially an unknown protégé of Marco Ruas at this point.
Tank shockingly rushes forward to start the fight, but Rizzo is able to avoid most of the haymakers and actually drops Tank with a backpedaling right hand. To his credit, Tank gets up pretty quick and they end up clinched against the fence.
Out of the clinch and Tank starts chasing Rizzo around the Octagon. Just for reference, if you’re nearly 300lbs and your only hope of winning a fight is landing a big punch – DON’T CHASE PEOPLE. It sounds simple, and if Tank had ever figured that out – and actually trained – he could have been a dominant fighter. Instead, Tank exhausts himself, though he is able to score a takedown. Of course, Rizzo is able to easily scramble and grab full guard.
His guard is effective enough that Tank doesn’t land anything for the 3 and ½ minutes they are on the ground until McCarthy restarts them. Once they’re back up, Rizzo starts in with a brutal series of leg kicks. He uses the kicks to set up a big right hand which drops Tank. He gets back up again, only to get caught with another leg kick, which Rizzo uses to set up a beautiful 1-2 combo that puts Tank’s lights out for good. As a matter of fact, he hit Tank so hard he went into pro wrestling and wouldn’t return to the Octagon for almost 5 years.
As for Rizzo, that was a great, strategic yet aggressive debut that puts him on the map of the heavyweight division.
Vitor Belfort (4-1) vs Wanderlei Silva (0-0)
Future MMA legend Silva steps into the Octagon for the first time, less than two years after his pro debut and coming off an impressive victory over UFC veteran Mike Van Arsdale earlier in 1998. He might not have the “Axe Murderer” moniker or reputation yet, but he does have the stare.
Belfort comes out slim and trim looking, as he drops down from heavyweight for the first time here.
The fight starts slowly as neither looks to eager to initiate contact. It is Silva who gets aggressive first at about the 35 second mark. 9 seconds and 10 punches by Belfort later the fight is over by KO. Brutal, highlight reel destruction by Belfort. He really was THAT good for a while.
Post fight, Silva is upset that it was stopped. I’m guessing he didn’t even remember that the fight had started.
With the move down to middleweight, it would be logical for Belfort to go up against Shamrock for the title at some point, but this would be Belfort’s last appearance in the Octagon until 2002. Bloody financial constraints.
Middleweight Title Fight
Frank Shamrock (3-0) vs John Lober (0-0)
I get that Lober beat Shamrock outside of the UFC a few years previous to this, but what was the deal with feeding Shamrock three straight guys making their UFC debuts to start his title reign?
Lober feels that his striking ability will lead him to victory tonight, coming across as quite confident after the aforementioned previous victory.
Shamrock comes out stalking his opponent to start the fight, and throws some leg kicks as the first strikes of the fight. Lober catches one of those and tries to pull a single leg takedown, but isn’t very aggressive about it and lets Shamrock clinch and avoid the takedown. Shamrock ends up in good position for a standing guillotine, which is tight enough that Lober uses the cage to climb with his legs to relieve pressure, which in turn allows Shamrock to slam him hard to the mat.
On the ground, they do a fair bit of scrambling, with Shamrock using his control of Lober’s head to avoid damage but is unable to do much of his own. After a few minutes of this, Shamrock wants it back on their feet.
He starts with the leg kicks again, and they are starting to hurt Lober as he winces and almost goes down on almost every one now. He tries to answer with a leg kick of his own, but gets dropped by a big right hand. Shamrock doesn’t pounce though as he apparently wants to finish Lober on their feet.
They clinch quickly, and Lober eats two big knees that cut him and drop him again. This time Shamrock follows him down and starts the ground and pound out of the guard. Lober taps out of nowhere to give Shamrock the victory. On replay, you can see that Lober’s head was up against the fence and he tapped to the head crank. Don’t see that one too much anymore.
The 411: Definitley an interesting show from a historical standpoint. We say goodbye to both Tank and Vitor for about 5 years or so, but in return we get to watch the development of Pedro Rizzo. He got off to a hot start here....we'll see if he keeps it up in the coming weeks. It was also fun to see a young Wanderlei in there, even if he did suffer the worst ass kicking of his career. On the bad side - TK vs Williams was slow and plodding and Militech vs Burnett didn't even reach that point. Definitley a mixed bag entertainment wise.