Thanks to the snow day to end all snow days, I'm able to take a look at the fourth Ultimate Fighting Championship event today. I'd like to note that I would be absolutely thrilled if I never had to shovel again for the rest of my life. I've spent the better part of the five hours today shoveling my entire driveway and it absolutely sucked. Hopefully everyone has kept safe over the last 24 hours.
Moving on - a mere two months after the events of UFC 4, we're treated to another eight-man, single night tournament. Only two men, Royce Gracie and Steve Jennum, have been tournament champions thus far and both men will vie for the UFC 4 title. Familiar faces like Keith Hackney and Joe Son (who you'll remember as Kimo's hype-man) will be participating, along with a newcomer to the UFC - Dan "The Beast" Severn.
There are some very interesting fights in store for us at this event, but only one man can come out victorious!
UFC 4: Revenge of the Warriors - December 16, 1994
UFC 4 comes to us from the MMA hotbed of Tulsa, Oklahoma. And hey, no Brian Kilmeade and Ben Perry! My goodness, it's like Christmas has come early! We're introduced to Bruce Beck, who immediately seems slightly less obnoxious than his predecessors. Jim Brown is still with us, and rounding out the team is Olympic gold medalist wrestler Jeff Blatnick. He doesn't seem obnoxious, either! I'm very pleased thus far.
We're told that two alternate fights took place, with Joe "The Ghetto Man" Charles defeating UFC 1 fighter Kevin Rosier and Marcus Bossett defeating Eldo Dias Xavier. I've been unable to find any footage of these fights so I'll be unable to rank the fights. I will, however, rank the fighters based on the results. I cannot confirm nor deny if the "Ghetto Man" nickname at all impacts my rankings (it does.)
A third fight takes place between Guy Mezger and Jason Fairn, which isn't included in the home video footage. This is apparently for a spot in the UFC 5 tournament. I'm very excited for the UFC debut of Guy Mezger and I'm anxious to see how he'll fare in this fight. There is apparently a gentlemen's agreement to not pull hair. I learned everything I know about gentlemen's agreements from the Shawn Michaels/Rick Martel match at WWF SummerSlam 1992, so I can't say I trust either of these alleged gentlemen.
Fairn backs Mezger against the cage with punches, but Mezger manages to get control and hold Fairn against the cage. The gentlemen land groin shots against one another. Fairn drops Mezger with a quick punch and attempts a guillotine choke. Fairn throws some knees to the downed Mezger, who is able to get to his feet and take Fairn down. Mezger takes full mount and withstands Fairn's efforts to buck him off. Mezger throws begins to throw some serious punches from mount, forcing Fairn's corner to throw in the towel. Mezger wins a spot in UFC 5, where he will somehow end up being an alternate. Well that sucks.
Back to the home video portion of this review. We're presented with the tournament bracket for this event:
It looks like they're trying to set up a potential Steve Jennum/Royce Gracie finals match, which is probably smart. No Harold Howard makes me very sad, but what can you do?
The first bout of the tournament will be 51 year old Ron Van Clief against Royce Gracie. I must say, Van Clief looks every bit of 51. Looking to curry the favor of the Tulsa audience, Van Clief comes out doing his best impression of Apollo Creed from Rocky IV. His corner men carry out American flags, while Van Clief actually dons American flag shorts. It's to no avail, as Royce Gracie is still very much a fan favorite.
I'm very sad to say that Rich Goins has returned to the UFC, and worse, he's grown a mustache. If you're already obnoxious, why would you grow a mustache and become infinitely more obnoxious? He's probably not very self aware. After all, he asks people to call him the "G-Man". This is a guy who just has no clue. Where's Bruce Buffer when you need him?
The fight starts quickly and Royce lands a take down. He holds Van Clief in side control and looks like he wants to advance position. Knees by Van Clief do little against Gracie, who ends up taking full mount. Gracie throws some punches, palm strikes, and elbows, but he can do little since Van Clief is holding on for dear life. Gracie postures and throws some punches, which prompts Van Clief to turn to his stomach. Gracie almost immediately locks in a rear naked choke, forcing Van Clief to choke. Royce had little trouble with his elder opponent and moves on to the semifinals.
The next quarterfinal bout pits Illinois' own Keith Hackney against Joe Son. Joe Son is shown in prefight videos wearing a suit and reading the Bible with Kimo. Joe Son apparently practices his own martial art known as "Joesondo". Joe Son declares that, "You guys will see the spirit of the Lord of Jesus Christ tonight". Kimo was nice enough to let Joe Son borrow his massive cross from the previous UFC event. Joe Son appears to have a lot of trouble carrying said cross. Oh, and he looks ridiculous.
Someone needs a singlet in the worst way. Joe Son stands compactly at 5'4" and 236 lbs. Keith Hackney goes from fighting the gigantic Emmanuel Yarborough to fighting a significantly smaller opponent, so this should be a pleasant change of pace for Hackney.
The fight begins and Joe Son appears to be taunting Keith Hackney with some kind of odd stance. Hackney moves in but gets taken down by Joe Son. Bruce Beck tells us that now is the time for Joesondo, which apparently consists of holding your opponent in a front face lock. Son tries a guillotine choke, but never gets a firm grasp on Hackney. Joe Son insists on holding the weak guillotine, so Hackney responds by punching Joe Son in the testicles. Repeatedly.
Now Keith Hackney is no bum street fighter - he's a legitimate martial artist. But the opening was there to punch Joe Son in the nuts, so he took it. I don't really mind this move, since Joe Son seems a little smug. That's not to say that a guy deserves to have his junk turned into paste, but he does kinda have it coming.
Anyway, Joe Son unsurprisingly frees his grasp on Hackney. Hackney appears to be throttling Joe Son with a single hand across the throat and that can't feel good. Joe Son confirms this by tapping out to the choke. Joe Son pie-faces Hackney in good humor, but I'd use that as an excuse to hit Joe Son in the jewels one more time. Nonetheless, Keith Hackney will move on to fight Royce Gracie.
I guess that Jesus Christ wasn't really behind Joe Son for this fight, which must be disappointing. Joe Son's lack of support from Jesus might have something to do with this. Joe Son may not be much of a fighter when it comes to MMA (0-4 in his career), but he certainly has a pretty easy time with defenseless women. Joe Son is certainly a cowardly, pathetic man. If there is a God, then Joe Son is the last person He would look out for.
Melton Bowen will take on reigning UFC Champion Steve Jennum in the next quarterfinal fight. Melton Bowen, a boxer, looks like he's in great shape. Jennum does not threaten to "bust" any fighters tonight, but he vows to defend his UFC crown. It sounds like this Oklahoma crowd boos Jennum when he's announced from Nebraska, which I'm guessing is due to college football allegiances. Nebraska was in the Big Eight (now the Big 12) with Oklahoma and Oklahoma state at the time and people in Oklahoma take their college football very, very seriously.
The fight starts with little action. Bowen looks ready to counter any strike thrown by Jennum. It's too bad that not many strikes are thrown in the first minute. Jennum attempts a takedown, but ends up pinning Bowen against the cage. Bowen stops defending and starts to punch Jennum in the head, but gets taken down. Jennum pulls mount and starts throwing punches at his opponent. Jennum has his left hand grabbing the fence while hitting Bowen with his right.
Jennum appears to gas fairly quickly and the flurries stop. Bowen eventually works back to his feet, only for Jennum to hit a nice judo throw. Jennum once again attacks Bowen from mount, whose only defense appears to be holding up his hands and moving his head back and forth. It's enough to keep the fight going, so I guess he's got that going for him. Bowen weakly attacks Jennum from the bottom, doing very little damage. Jennum mostly utilizes the mount as an opportunity to catch his breath. Jennum sees an opportunity to take Bowen's arm and lock in an armbar for the win. Jennum did a good job controlling this fight, but his cardo was very troubling.
Anthony Macias will take on Dan Severn in the final first round fight. Macias, an Oklahoma native, has a very tough draw in the first round. Between Patrick Smith, Roland Payne, and now Macias, the hometown fighters at these early UFC shows aren't done a lot of favors. Severn is show lifting weights with his t-shirt tucked into his shorts, which is a great look. He's grateful for the fence in the octagon, since he tells the camera this his opponents will badly want to escape.
Blatnick, a great wrestler in his own right, discusses the credentials of Severn. "The Beast" was apparently a 1984 Olympics finalist, which is something I hadn't known. Severn is a really great wrestler and I'm very excited to see what he'll do to Macias.
Macias throws some early kicks before Severn goes for a takedown. Macias tries to attack Severn, but the man is absolutely relentless with his takedowns. Severn grabs Macias from behind and lands a nasty back suplex. Macias works to his feet and Severn hits what looks like a German suplex! That seems to stop Macias in his tracks. Severn takes Macias' back and sinks in a half nelson, but does little with it. He flattens Macias out and tries working a few different chokes. Severn eventually locks in the rear naked choke for a very impressive win. That was a very dominating performance - Macias never had a chance.
About halfway through, I want to say how pleased I am with the broadcasting. This has been, by far, the easiest UFC show to listen to. All of the announcers have kept it short and sweet. Beck has maintained a very simple play-by-play style, while Jeff Blatnick has provided great analysis. Jim Brown is Jim Brown, so you don't expect a ton from him, but he really keeps his interjections to a minimum and it works for him.
Beck reveals that Steve Jennum is forced to pull out of the tournament and that Marcus Bossett will take his place in the next fight. It has to be due to Jennum being absolutely winded, since he barely took any damage against Melton Bowen. Very disappointing for the reigning champion, but if I didn't have to fight Dan Severn, I'd probably be pleased with that.
The semifinals will begin with a fight between Keith Hackney and Royce Gracie. This should be a very good bout, though I worry for Keith Hackney's safety. Hackney is a good fighter, but Royce is from another planet. Royce keeps Hackney at a distance with some weak strike attempts, but Hackney gets in a few clean shots as Gracie attempts a takedown. Hackney is taking his time and choosing his shots, but it doesn't help that Gracie is throwing some occasional kicks.
Gracie goes in for a takedown, but Hackney sprawls and avoids the ground completely. Both men are working some strikes that do very little - it looks like they're just trying to stay active. Royce eventually presses Hackney against the cage but can't score an immediate takedown. Royce throws some knees, but Hackney answers back with a few good punches to Gracie's face. Gracie wants no part of this exchange and pulls himself close against his opponent. Hackney is really putting up a great fight against Royce.
Gracie lands some painful looking knees to Hackney's head, but still can't score the takedown. Hackney's doing a good job staying on his feet, but Gracie continues to throw knees. Gracie goes to pull Hackney into his guard, but Hackney's attempt to stand out of it backfires. Royce gets a hold of Hackney's arm and head, but Hackney manages to escape and throws some punches to the head of his downed opponent. Gracie continues to work for some kind of submission.
Hackney tries to stand out of this and throws some more punches. Royce is trying to control Hackney and he throws an elbow that looks to hurt Hackney, who falls to the mat. Gracie takes the opportunity to throw more elbows and Hackney looks hurt. Gracie grabs tightly onto Hackney's arm and sinks in an armbar for the win. That Gracie is advancing to the finals isn't surprising, but Keith Hackney really did a nice job in this fight. He was generally tentative, but found some spots to throw punches that appeared to hurt Gracie. Aside from the fight with Kimo at UFC 3, this has been Gracie's biggest test to date.
As noted earlier, Dan Severn will take on Marcus Bossett, who is fighting in place of Steve Jennum. Frankly, I'm disappointed the "The Ghetto Man" wasn't chosen as the alternate. Why would you not choose the alternate who beat his opponent in 14 seconds and is named "The Ghetto Man"? That seems like a no brainer to me. I guess the difference is that Bossett won a coin toss, but I think that sucks.
I'm sure Bossett will be a tough competitor, but he has a really unfortunate draw in Dan Severn. Bossett lands a really crisp body kick that appears to hurt Severn a bit. Bossett wildly attempts a high kick, but gets taken down. Bossett fights wildly, but Severn easily moves to full mount. Severn quickly locks in an arm triangle and forces Bossett to tap. Wow, that was impressive. Severn moves on to fight Gracie in what should be a classic final match.
This should be an interesting fight, since both fighters prefer to keep it on the mat. Gracie's BJJ is top notch, but so is Severn's wrestling. Gracie would have an easier time finishing the fight, but is also significantly outweighed by Severn. Gracie also had a tougher road to the finals, since Keith Hackney put up a spirited fight. I'm very much looking forward to seeing this fight.
Severn is quickly becoming a very popular fighter. Could it be the wrestling? The quick takedowns? The mustache? I'm not sure we'll ever know. The fight begins, Severn in black trunks and Gracie in his traditional gi. Severn wants to score a takedown, but Gracie is using kicks to keep Severn at a distance. It's no matter, as Severn scores the takedown and is in Gracie's guard. Severn is controlling Gracie's head and is putting all of his weight on the BJJ-practitioner. Severn might be trying a choke, but it goes nowhere.
This crowd is firmly behind Severn with chants of "USA! USA!" Severn tries to pass Gracie's guard with no success. It looks like Gracie is getting a little bit uncomfortable with Severn, who is really utilizing his weight advantage. Severn's smartly using his hips to keep Royce from trying to advance positions. He keeps a strong, wide base that keeps Gracie from moving to a more advantageous spot.
Severn stands to throw a few quick punches, but moves back to Gracie's guard. Severn works his way to the fence, trying to leverage his downed opponent against the cage. Gracie has no interest in that and mostly avoids the cage, but Severn manages to throw some punches that do little damage. Gracie briefly utilizes the rubber guard, but Severn responds with punches. For fear of getting into trouble with the law, I avoid responding to things with punches.
Dan Severn's weight has really been an advantage all fight, since he's been able to use his extra 80 pounds, along with stellar wrestling, to keep Gracie grounded. Severn takes a few opportunities to punch at Gracie, but he's not out of control. Out of nowhere, Gracie attempts a triangle choke against Severn, but Severn presses Gracie against the cage and breaks the hold. Gracie wants to get hold of one of Severn's arms, but "The Beast" does not oblige. He continues to lay his weight on Gracie, trying to tire his opponent out.
Severn is throwing his punches so sparingly that they don't seem to be doing much to Gracie, though I'm sure he's not a fan of being punched. Severn has his forearm pressed against Gracie's throat and chin and Gracie is in an awkward spot. Gracie slowly works to a triangle choke, and this one appears to be tight. Severn is working to escape, but he's left with no choice but to tap out. Almost 16 minutes in, Gracie pulls of the submission victory and wins his third UFC tournament.
Severn is being consoled by his cornerman, who appears to be professional wrestler Al Snow. Severn did some of his professional wrestling training with Snow around this time, so I actually think that's him. No sign of Head being present at the event. Gracie is presented with the now familiar novelty check, this one totaling $64,000. Bruce Beck signs off and UFC 4 is in the books.
Royce Gracie had a couple of very tough challenges in Dan Severn and Keith Hackney, but he was able to come out on top once again. The Severn fight was remarkable, since Severn kept his weight on Gracie for the entirety of that very long fight. Gracie kept his wits about him to pull of the submission victory in the finals.
UFC 4, in my opinion, was the best UFC card to date. You can slowly begin to see better fighters getting into the octagon with each tournament. Dan Severn and Guy Mezger made successful debuts and will be returning at future UFC events. And now we're seeing that under the right circumstances, that Royce Gracie could potentially be defeated. In his fights with the bigger Kimo and Dan Severn, Gracie was vulnerable. Even against a smart fighter like Keith Hackney, Gracie had a bit of trouble.
UFC 5 will present new challenges to some of these fighters. And along with the eight man tournament, we'll see a first in the UFC: the Superfight. Two fighters will compete in a non-tournament contest at the next event, which should add a new level of intrigue to the UFC. Instead of hoping fighters will match up in the tournament, the UFC can simply book fighters in one-off matches. This is one in a series of many changes that will bring the UFC closer to the modern age of MMA.
Greatest Fights of UFC 4
- Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn
- Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney
- Guy Mezger vs. Jason Fairn
- Dan Severn vs. Anthony Macias
- Dan Severn vs. Marcus Bossett
- Steve Jennum vs. Melton Bowen
- Royce Gracie vs. Ron Van Clief
- Keith Hackney vs. Joe Son
Greatest Fighters of UFC 4
- Royce Gracie (3-0)
- Dan Severn (2-1)
- Keith Hackney (1-1)
- Guy Mezger (1-0)
- Steve Jennum (1-0)
- Joe Charles (1-0)
- Jason Fairn (0-1)
- Marcus Bossett (1-1)
- Eldo Dias Xavier (0-1)
- Joe Son (0-1)
- Melton Bowen (0-1)
- Ron Van Clief (0-1)
- Anthony Macias (0-1)
- Kevin Rosier (0-1)