**This is the fifth in a lengthy series lifted from my MMA blog. Be sure to check Fight Rankings for more in this series, which includes cumulative fight and fighter rankings from the first five UFC events.**
We’re about eighteen months removed from the first UFC and not a whole lot has changed. There are still tournament fights with some very limited fighters (with some exceptions) fighting under very limited rules. Some of the faces are different, but these events have stayed largely the same. As I mentioned in my UFC 4 write-up, this event will introduce us to the Superfight with the two biggest names in the UFC: Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie. The UFC has tried to make this match happen and they were close at UFC 3, but the match was derailed by injuries. Now, we’ll finally get to see these two men square off in the octagon.
After this event, we should have crowned the fifth UFC tournament champion and the first UFC Superfight Champion. Of course, you know what they say about the best laid plans…
UFC 5: Return of the Beast – April 7, 1995
The UFC returns to Charlotte for its fifth event and I’m already pumped up. The opening theme sounds very familiar, since that’s the music they currently use to introduce fights. All of these little things will slowly add up until we get to current era of the UFC, so I’ll take these familiar signs wherever I can find them.
Bruce Beck is back with us and I have no complaints about that. He’s not Bill Wallace or Brian Kilmeade, so he’s good in my book. He’s kind enough to warn us of the potential for broken bones and blood, just in case any parent accidentally let their child order a pay-per-view called the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Jeff Blatnick and Jim Brown round out the announce team and I’m pleased to say that my ears are healing from the aural nightmare of UFC events 1, 2, and 3.
Blatnick informs us that Dan Severn will be back and he introduces us to a new fighter: Oleg Taktarov. Blatnick touts Taktarov’s sambo skills and legitimizes the man as a threat to Dan Severn in this fifth tournament. Jim Brown is pleased to inform us that the “Ghetto Man” is back and he fights in a “ghetto way”. Well this is going to be a thrill. After much consternation at UFC 4, I’ll finally get a chance to see “Ghetto Man” Joe Charles in action – against Dan Severn, no less!
There is a slight change to the rules effective with UFC 5 which is a 20 minute time limit for quarterfinal and semifinal tournament matches and a 30 minute time limit for the finals and the Superfight between Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock. It will be interesting to see if the time limit impacts any fights. The brackets are as follows:
The UFC has done a very bad job stacking brackets through the first two events. Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock should have been in the finals of UFC 1, not the semifinals. Kimo and Gracie as a first round match was absurd, and now a potential Severn/Taktarov semifinals match upsets me. I’m sure it will be great, but it needs to be in the finals. It’s bad enough that the “Ghetto Man” is basically given no chance to win.
Two preliminary matches took place prior to the tournament: Guy Mezger defeated John Dowdy in a fight where I can’t find any footage. Both fighters will be ranked based on the results, however, their fight will be omitted from the rankings. Dave Beneteau took on Asbel Cancio and I did find video, which sounds like it was recorded underwater? It’s a short enough video to suffer through. Beneteau quickly lands a takedown, takes mount, and absolutely destroys Cancio with punches until the towel is thrown in 21 seconds into the fight. Well that was convincing.
I have to say, Cancio is an early contender for worst UFC fighter ever. Telia Tuli of UFC 1 is stiff competition, but Cancio did absolutely nothing. He was taken down and beaten mercilessly, which is something that anybody could have done. At least Tuli made an attempt at offense.
Ron Van Clief, a competitor from UFC 4, is back at this event as some kind of martial arts commissioner. He is in a tuxedo, and honestly, he looks better suited in this position than he did in the octagon. Onto the first tournament match, which is between Andy Anderson and Jon Hess. Andy Anderson looks like a mix between Sloth from The Goonies and former WCW Power Plant trainer Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker.
If Andy Anderson wins tonight, he’ll donate his winnings to one of three charities. Not to three different charities, but one of three – at least according to Bruce Beck. That seems like an odd way to put this, why not just choose one charity and stick with it? Oh, and Andy Anderson is apparently the owner of the Totally Nude Steakhouse in Texas. I’m sure that place is not gross. Jon Hess, meanwhile, says he’s here to break people. Jeff Blatnick clarifies that Hess has “respect for no one”. Jon Hess is also huge, standing 6’7″ versus Andy Anderson’s 5’9″. This fight will be great.
Hey, new ring announcer! Rich Goins is gone, thank goodness. If I had to hear any more of the “G-Man”, I was going to hunt this guy down and punish him for being so awful. Our new ring announcer is Ron Jeremy! No, not that Ron Jeremy, just some skinny dude named Ron Jeremy. He’s not great, but he’s not Rich Goins so I’ll take it.
Man, Jon Hess looks pissed off. I don’t know why, but he’s mad. I think he just generally has a bad attitude and that’s bad news for Jon Hess. The fight begins and Hess displays his martial arts skills by charging his opponent and flailing wildly. Hess pounds on his smaller opponent with punches to the head and back. Hess drops Anderson, who manages to reverse positions and pulls guard. Anderson passes, or perhaps stumbles into side control, but both men are back on their feet.
Hess’ offensive style is remarkable, as he throws any strike he can think of with no regard for his own safety. Hess wildly marches after his opponent with kicks and sloppy punches, almost goose stepping into Anderson’s face. Hess knocks Anderson down again and ends the fight with some ugly soccer kicks. Hess wins an absolutely ugly match between two absolutely ugly men and I could not be more thankful that this is done.
Todd Medina will fight Larry Cureton in the second quarterfinal match. Bruce Beck calls Medina a “friend” of Joe Son and Kimo, so that’s one count of character assassination by Beck. I think the last thing in the world I would want to be considered is a friend of either of those two scumbags, especially Joe Son. Larry Cureton, meanwhile, calls himself “Thunderfoot”. He’s no “Thunderlips” or “Thunder Thumbs“, but the nickname will do.
The fight begins and Medina scores a quick takedown. Cureton holds onto Medina’s head and might be attempting a guillotine, but it doesn’t appear to be working. Cureton pulls guard and throws a number of headbutts. Both men are relatively inactive, with Cureton throwing an occasional punch and Medina working the headbutt. Medina takes Cureton’s side, but Cureton grabs a hold of his head. Medina responds with some groin shots, showing once again that he comes from a very classy camp. Medina begins to choke Cureton with his forearm while throwing headbutts, which forces Cureton to tap out.
I’m excited to see that Oleg Taktarov will be taking on Ernie Verdecia in quarterfinal match number three. Oleg pleasantly informs us that this is his first time in America and he thanks us. He’s either a gentleman or he knows very little English – or maybe both! Ernie Verdecia, meanwhile, looks just like my father-in-law. If my wife’s dad was Hispanic, he would be Ernie Verdecia. This is remarkable and now I’m worried about this fight. I don’t want to see my Hispanic father-in-law get destroyed by Oleg Taktarov. It seems to be inevitable, but I guess we won’t know for sure until the fight begins.
Verdecia seems to be the aggressor early and manages to bring Taktarov to the ground. Oleg doesn’t seem super comfortable, but he’s relaxed enough. Verdecia, despite being in a dominant position, is holding onto Taktarov’s head for dear life. Taktarov attempts an armbar, but Verdecia escapes and throws some punches and a headbutt. Taktarov calmly turns Verdecia over, and in a matter of seconds, manages to choke Verdecia out. That was a remarkable win for the Russian.
The last quarterfinal match will pit Dan “The Beast” Severn and Joe “Ghetto Man” Charles. This is the quarterfinal match I’ve been waiting for, since I love Severn and am anxious to see what the “Ghetto Man” can bring to the UFC. Severn is led to the ring with his NWA wrestling title, which he had won earlier in 1995 and would not relinquish until 1999. I don’t think he defended the title very actively, though that title hasn’t meant anything in about 20 years.
Joe Charles, meanwhile, appears to wear some kind of traditional African garb. He claims to have been raised in the streets and enters the octagon to Ghetto Jam by Domino. Somehow, I feel like he and Dan Severn are very different people. Is it because one man is very white and one man is very black? Yes, absolutely.
The fight begins and Severn takes Charles down quickly. Severn works to improve position and throws some knees at his downed opponent. Severn pushes Charles against the cage wall, throwing punches to the body. Bruce Beck asks if Charles has the same ground skills as Royce Gracie, and I’ll answer that question with a “hell, no”. Charles tries to escape, but Severn quickly takes his back and chokes out the “Ghetto Man”. Severn displayed his strong wrestling and submission game once again, scoring a very fast win in this quarterfinal fight.
Bruce Beck regrets to inform us that Jon Hess, the angriest UFC fighter of all time, is injured and cannot continue. Dave Beneteau will have the opportunity to continue in Hess’ stead, so it will be Dave Beneteau vs. Todd Medina. I can only hope that Beneateau lives up to the standards of anger that Jon Hess has set. Beneteau’s highlight video consists solely of him punching a speed bag – how thrilling. Bruce Beck clarifies the relationship between Todd Medina, Joe Son, and Kimo, calling them “very good friends”. Yuck, count me out of this triumvirate of grossness. Nothing against Todd Medina, but come on – you must be judged for your friendships with fake Christians and rapists. That’s a fact.
The fight starts, and much like in his first fight, Beneteau scores a quick takedown. Beneteau takes side control as Medina does his best to defend, but Beneteau manages to land some clean shots. Beneteau takes mount and sinks both hooks in on Medina. Beneteau postures up and throws some more powerful punches, causing Medina’s corner to throw in the towel. Beneteau ends another fight relatively quickly and has looked very good thus far. He’ll face a tough opponent in the finals regardless of who wins the next match, but he should be fairly fresh.
The second semifinal match should be a good one, as Dan Severn will take on Oleg Taktarov. Given the concentration of bad fighters in the early UFC’s, there aren’t a lot of standout matches. That said, I think this will be one of the few early classics. Severn and Taktarov are both very good fighters and should put on a great fight. Severn is two inches taller and 55 pounds heavier than Taktarov, but Taktarov proved to be a skilled and very composed fighter in his first match.
Severn moves in and scores a very quick takedown, putting Taktarov on the defensive. Severn throws some shots that don’t seem to do a lot of damage and both men struggle a bit on the ground. Taktarov manages to grab a hold of Severn, but that doesn’t last long as Severn postures up and throws some more punches. Severn works to advance position but Taktarov does a good job preventing Severn from moving to a more advantageous spot. Severn stays active with punches, but again, they don’t seem to hurt Severn. Taktarov clearly tries to work for an armbar, but Severn responds with short palm and knee strikes.
One knee seems to open up a cut over Oleg’s left eye. Severn continues the offense with Taktarov pushed up against the cage. Oleg seems to be completely on defense, though he still is working to get a hold of Severn’s arm. Severn continues to push the action and “Big” John McCarthy stops the fight once he gets a glimpse of the cut on Taktarov. Oleg is bleeding badly and this seems like a smart decision to halt the fight. Dan Severn is your winner, moving onto the finals against Dave Beneteau.
Before the tournament finals, it’s time for the first ever Superfight. Ken Shamrock will be facing Royce Gracie in a long awaited rematch from the very first UFC event. Shamrock and his furrowed brow appear to be very ready for this fight, while Royce Gracie is led toward the octagon to a huge round of applause. Gracie is the clear fan favorite in this fight and he seems confident, vowing to beat Shamrock a second time.
I’m not going to give this fight the description that I normally give since it’s really long. It’s the longest fight in the history of the UFC, something that will never be surpassed. The fight goes thirty minutes with very, very little action. Shamrock spends pretty much all of this time in Gracie’s guard. Gracie and Shamrock slap at each other, but the strikes do very little damage. Gracie attempts some submissions, but is unable to lock anything in on Shamrock. Honestly, there is so little action and there’s really nothing for me to describe. Shamrock is in guard, Royce is defending, nothing happens.
The crowd is absolutely not enjoying this fight, and there’s not a lot of reason for them to like it. Shamrock is really only attempting to wear Royce out, but this thirty minute time limit is getting in his way. The time limit comes and goes with no stoppage of the fight. We’re informed that there’s a five minute overtime, prompting “Big” John to stand both men up. Shamrock throws a couple of punches that land on Gracie, but Gracie quickly grabs Shamrock and pulls him back into guard. The fight ends as it began: with Shamrock in Gracie’s guard. This fight is officially a draw. The crowd seems to be cheering Shamrock, but the crowd is certainly not pleased.
This fight was such a disappointment given the caliber of fighters involved. The UFC was expecting big things from these two competitors, but instead, 36 minutes come and go with little of anything having occurred. This fight was so bad that I have it ranked below Keith Hackney and Emmanuel Yarborough from UFC 3. That’s subjective, but come on: Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock shouldn’t have a fight that turns out like that. I feel dirty for ranking Shamrock and Gracie below Jon Hess and Todd Medina, but this was just a very bad fight.
Thankfully, we have the final match between Dave Beneteau and Dan Severn for the UFC 5 tournament crown. The audience is very deflated after the last fight, but they’re vaguely behind Dan Severn, who wipes down his armpits with his own T-shirt. Smooth move by “The Beast”.
Beneteau lunges in with a punch and Severn pushes him against the cage. Beneteau keeps trying to punch Severn, but nothing seems to be phasing him. Severn has Beneteau in the clinch along the fence and throws a knee. Severn looks to be trying for a takedown, but Beneteau grabs hold of the fence. Severn is really pressing Beneteau against the cage, which we’ve seen a lot of from Severn. He did this against Gracie in UFC 4 and was doing the same thing against the “Ghetto Man” earlier in the night.
Severn finally manages to bring Beneteau down and takes side control. Severn is really focusing on Beneteau’s right arm, and out of nowhere, pulls of the key lock for a submission victory. “Big” John stops the fight as Dan Severn is the champion of UFC 5. Severn has looked impressive since his UFC debut and this is a well-deserved win.
“The Beast” is swarmed by a mob of frightening looking individuals in celebration of his tournament victory. Severn is presented with the very first UFC title belt and celebrates with his UFC and NWA titles. Severn is the first UFC fighter to win professional wrestling and MMA titles, though he certainly won’t be the last. Severn is presented with everyone’s favorite novelty check, which leads me to wonder what he might buy with $50,000. I’m guessing more black trunks and gray T-shirts, since you really can’t have enough of those. By “you”, I solely mean Dan Severn. Everyone else is probably good on black trunks and gray T-shirts.
So while Dan Severn was impressive all night long, UFC 5 has failed to impress. The “Superfight” between Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie proved to be a failure. Ken Shamrock would later allege that the time limit hampered his strategy, which was to absolutely wear down Gracie and then try for the win when his opponent had nothing left. Who knows how long this fight would have gone if not for the time limit, but it certainly could have reached the 60 or 90 minute marks.
This will be Royce Gracie’s last fight in the octagon for more than a decade, as the Gracie families will cut ties with the UFC after this event. The rules put in place have changed the image that the Gracies had for the UFC and their departure from the company will definitely change the face of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Royce Gracie is the biggest star the UFC has been able to create through these first five events, though I’m sure this fight with Shamrock has damaged his reputation with the fans. The UFC will now count on a new group of fighters to become stars, including one pot-bellied street fighter from Huntington Beach, California who will make his debut at UFC 6. The face of the UFC might be changing, but a new influx of talent over the next events will keep the UFC fans interested as MMA continues to evolve.
Greatest Fights of UFC 5
- Dan Severn vs. Oleg Taktarov
- Dan Severn vs. Dave Beneteau
- Oleg Taktarov vs. Ernie Verdecia
- Dan Severn vs. Joe Charles
- Dave Beneteau vs. Todd Medina
- Todd Medina vs. Larry Cureton
- Dave Beneteau vs. Asbel Cancio
- Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie
- Jon Hess vs. Andy Anderson
Top Ten Fights Through UFC 5
- Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo – UFC 3
- Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn – UFC 4
- Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney – UFC 4
- Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock – UFC 1
- Ken Shamrock vs. Christophe Leininger – UFC 3
- Ken Shamrock vs. Patrick Smith – UFC 1
- Dan Severn vs. Oleg Taktarov – UFC 5
- Kevin Rosier vs. Zane Frasier – UFC 1
- Royce Gracie vs. Minoki Ichihara – UFC 2
- Royce Gracie vs. Gerard Gordeau – UFC 1
Greatest Fighters of UFC 5
- Dan Severn (3-0)
- Dave Beneteau (2-1)
- Oleg Taktarov (1-1)
- Guy Metzger (1-0)
- Jon Hess (1-0)
- Todd Medina (1-1)
- Ken Shamrock (0-0-1)
- Royce Gracie (0-0-1)
- Ernie Verdecia (0-1)
- Larry Cureton (0-1)
- Joe Charles (0-1)
- John Dowdy (0-1)
- Andy Anderson (0-1)
- Asbel Cancio (0-1)
Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 5
- Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
- Dan Severn (5-1)
- Ken Shamrock (3-1-1)
- Patrick Smith (3-2)
- Keith Hackney (2-1)
- Steve Jennum (2-0)
- Dave Beneteau (2-1)
- Gerard Gordeau (2-1)
- Oleg Taktarov (1-1)
- Remco Pardoel (2-1)