**This is the tenth post in a lengthy series taken 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 ten UFC events.**
It's the spring of 1996 and we've reached the tenth UFC event. And this UFC 9 pay-per-view will be very different. For the first time ever, a UFC event will not feature the tournament format. Instead, we're going to be treated to a single Superfight between Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn along with a number of other predetermined fights.
The UFC is also facing severe political pressure as this show approaches. Arizona Senator John McCain was pushing hard for the UFC to be eliminated completely with this event in doubt up until the day it was supposed to take place (spoilers in the link.) In the end, this event took place with a restriction on fighters striking with closed fists.
Before even watching a minute of this event, I know it's going to be...different. The rules changes and elimination of the tournament are both straying from early UFC norms, though we've got a highly anticipated rematch in the Superfight. Don Frye and Gary Goodridge will also be in action so let's get these fights started!
UFC 9: Motor City Madness - May 17, 1996
Aside from the Superfight, we're told that Don Frye will fight Brazilian Amaury Bitetti, Mark Hall will fight sumo and professional wrestler Koji Kitao, and Gary Goodridge will fight Dave Beneteau. I definitely like these fights, though I anticipate Hall and Kitao being more of a freak show than anything else.
As is clear from the title of the event, this event is taking place in Detroit, Michigan. Bruce Beck greets us and we're immediately told of some changes to announced fights. Dave Beneteau, who suffered a broken hand, will be replaced by MARK SCHULTZ. That is, THE Mark Schultz. As in the 1984 Olympic wrestling champion and three time NCAA wrestling champion. Well now I'm immediately more interested in this show.
Marco Ruas has also been forced to pull out of this show and it sounds like his opponent would have been Don Frye. As previously mentioned, Amaury Bitetti will be fighting Frye.
Beck throws to Jeff Blatnick who is interviewing Dan Severn. Severn promises a more patient, methodical approach in this rematch with Ken Shamrock. Shamrock, meanwhile, is interviewed by Don Wilson. Shamrock greets the challenge of fighting Severn in front of his home crowd and thinks this fight will be a "chess match on the feet." I'm pretty sure that Severn and Shamrock just said this fight will be boring, only in two different ways.
Two other matches that have yet to be mentioned are Cal Worsham vs. Zane Frasier and Rafael Carino vs. Matt Andersen. There is also an unaired preliminary fight between Steve Nelmark and Tai Bowden, which was won by Steve Nelmark due to a cut at 7:23. I know there is a video floating around of that fight, but unfortunately, I can't locate the footage. If I do find it, I'll amend this post as needed - not that it really matters.
The UFC continues working with CompuServe, but also provides its web address. For those who are curious, SEG.com no longer routes to the UFC webpage but appears to be a parked site offering advertising. I'm sure they're glad for the one extra hit today. Bruce Beck also reminds fans to vote in an online poll asking whether or not women should fight in the UFC. Somewhere in 1996, a young Dana White frantically votes "NO" on this poll.
It's interesting that there's been no mention of the modified rules, which also allegedly bar headbutts. Maybe SEG hopes that the fans won't notice? Yeah, right. After taking forever to introduce the judges, doctors, and administration, we finally get to the first fight. Zane Frasier and Cal Worsham both make their UFC returns in this opening bout for UFC 9.
Beck touts Frasier's basketball background at the University of Idaho and calls Frasier a UFC pioneer. I don't want to live in a world where that might be true. Frasier confirms that he's here to take care of some "serious business" tonight, which is a relief. I thought he came back just to play grab ass with Cal Worsham.
Cal Worsham likes to hunt and is a Marine. He is also wearing a pretty nice looking UFC skull cap which I would like to get my hands on. Worsham throws out a pretty good pun in his prefight video, offering to take on a polar bear, beast, or predator. Instead he gets to fight Zane Frasier, who needs some kind of animal nickname to complete this reference.
Is the UFC trying to make their fighters more relatable? I don't know why else we would know about Frasier's basketball skills and Worsham's hunting. Perhaps the UFC is worried about losing viewers due to political backlash so they're desperately trying to somehow make these events more popular. Or maybe these guys aren't very good fighters and Bruce Beck has little to talk about. Either way, bring on the random fighter trivia!
Son of a bitch.
Moving on, this fight begins with both men circling while looking for openings. Little happens until Frasier is taken down by Worsham, who liberally throws some headbutts. Worsham is in half-guard and is eventually warned by "Big" John McCarthy about throwing headbutts - I guess they really have been barred even though Big John isn't taking action. Worsham holds position and throws some strikes here and there until Frasier taps out, though it it's not clear whether it is due to strikes or position.
Jeff Blatnick interviews Worsham who wants a shot at the Superfight. He cites Kimo as his precedent, saying that if the 0-1 Kimo deserves a Superfight, then why not him. You see what you've done early UFC? You've given hope that guys like Cal Worsham can actually compete in Superfights. Worsham then dedicates his fight to "grandpa." Aww.
Beck throws to a feature called "The Boys from Brazil", which basically consists of Royce Gracie and Marco Ruas highlights. I think they're using this to hype the pair of Brazilian fighters competing in UFC 9, though I'm sure videos of both fighters training on the beach would have been far more effective.
The next bout will pit Rafael Carino and Matt Andersen. Carino is a very huge 6'8" and appears to tower over "Big" John McCarthy. He also goes by the nickname "Earthquake." Meanwhile, Andersen's discipline is something called "warrior training." I hope that he sprints into the octagon wearing face paint and tassels (he doesn't).
I've seen fights between Earthquake and the Warrior and I know exactly how this is going to end: Earthquake will take control until the Warrior gains some momentum and no-sells the Earthquake's offense. The Warrior will hit the body slam and big splash for the victory, unless the Undertaker manages to lock the Warrior in a casket.
Early in the fight, Carino scores a takedown and ends up in Andersen's guard. Andersen is trying very hard to control Carino, but the Brazilian still manages to throw a handful of decent punches. Carino advances to half-guard, but very little is happening. Carino is making an effort to be active, but Matt Andersen is absolutely desperate to hold onto Carino.
Carino pulls full mount, but again, Anderson is doing his best to neutralize his opponent by holding onto his head. After maybe 45 seconds, Carino breaks free and lands some palm strikes, but Andersen grabs hold of Carino's neck and head yet again. Andersen gets cut above his left eye and can barely defend himself, prompting Big John to stop the fight in Carino's favor.
It certainly wasn't the most exciting fight, but Carino's ground work was not bad for MMA in 1996. Carino would never fight in the UFC again, but he actually would end up being one of Antonio "Big Foot" Silva's first MMA opponents at Cage Rage 12. For those too lazy or uninterested to click the link, Silva won the fight by corner stoppage.
Beck reminds us that we're in Detroit and mentions that the night before, the Red Wings defeated the Blues in double overtime. As a Red Wings fan, I'm glad to be reminded of such an awesome win, even though the Stanley Cup didn't come for another year. On another note, I miss Gary Thorne and Bill Clement calling NHL games together. Gary Thorne has to be one of the greatest hockey play-by-play men of all time.
Back to the fights, this is the one I want to see: Mark Schultz vs. Gary Goodridge. Dave Beneteau getting injured might be the best thing to ever happen because I'm super excited to see Mark Schultz in the UFC. Of course, his opponent will be UFC 8 finalist "Big Daddy" Gary Goodridge. In his prefight interview, Goodridge laments on his loss to Don Frye and declares that he's "not no loser." Nor is he much with the English language, despite Jeff Blatnick reassuring us that Goodridge is "very articulate."
Goodridge and Schultz both get nice hands from the crowd, but Goodridge is the clear fan favorite. I'm sure his fighting style is also more fan friendly than Mark Schultz's wrestling. The fight begins and Schultz almost immediately takes Goodridge to the mat. Goodridge has a hold of Schultz's head, trying his best to keep Schultz from doing any damage. We saw Goodridge have some trouble with Jerry Bohlander at UFC 8, so an Olympic gold medalist like Mark Schultz might cause some real problems.
Schultz does his best to be active by throwing some body shots from a dominant position, but you can see Goodridge using the ever-popular "hug" defense. Goodridge also has Schultz's right leg grapevined so he's unable to advance position. Goodridge appears to be bleeding pretty badly from what is speculated to be his left ear.
After about six minutes, Big John stands both fighters up for a restart. As expected, Schultz lands another quick takedown and is in the guard of "Big Daddy." It's more of the same with Schultz being minimally active while being held down by Goodridge. Big John stands the fighters up again, this time to have the doctor look at Goodridge's cut. It's actually to the side of his right eye and doesn't appear to be too bad, but the blood is likely disproportionate to the severity of the cut.
The fight continues and I'm guessing that Goodridge is exhausted. Schultz actually takes a swing at Goodridge before landing a big takedown. A wrestler himself, Jeff Blatnick is reduced to giggling by the force and technique Schultz's utilizes when taking down his opponent.
Schultz works to advance his position, but Goodridge does a pretty good job defending against the Olympian. Schultz works hard to get to full mount and postures up, throwing some punches to the face of his downed opponent. Big John implores Schultz to throw open hands per the last minute rule change, but Schultz continues with punches to no repercussions from McCarthy.
We reach the twelve minute mark of this fight and the fight is stopped with the announcers saying that we'll be going to an overtime period. But before the overtime can begin, Big John waves off the fight on the advice of the ringside physician. It's determined that Goodridge can't continue, even though his cut doesn't look too bad. Goodridge doesn't seem to disappointed with the decision since the overtime would have likely consisted of being held down.
Blatnick gushes as he interviews Mark Schultz after the fight, praising the Olympian for taking the fight on such short notice. When asked if he'll participate in the UFC again, Schultz says he'll "have to see what kind of money [the UFC] can come up with." Schultz never fought in the UFC again, so I think we know the answer to that question. Goodridge gives his own ridiculous post fight interview, saying the issue was that he forgot to strength train for this fight. I thought the issue was being taken down at will by an Olympic wrestler, but what do I know?
Bruce Beck plugs the next event, which will be UFC 10 in Providence, Rhode Island. The Superfight Title will be defended at this event and the tournament format will be making a return, so I'm glad for both of those announcements. Beck also plugs the awful-looking Secrets of the UFC tape series. I'd like to remind you that each tape is $60, which is a completely insane price. I guess you could charge whatever you wanted before the advent of bit torrents. This must be the plug section of the show as Beck tells us to order the June 14 Pancrase pay-per-view.
We move onto the next fight pitting Mark Hall against Koji Kitao. Kitao is a professional wrestling and sumo veteran which doesn't inspire a lot of hope. I'm not sure that either background is very important in mixed martial arts aside from being very heavy as a sumo wrestler. Kitao is greeted to a chorus of boos from the crowd at Cobo Hall. The xenophobia in Detroit is so thick that you can cut it with a knife.
Hall attempts some strikes early in the fight, but Kitao uses his weight to back Hall against the octagon wall. Kitao takes Hall down, but out of nowhere, Big John stops the action. As Kitao stands, we can see that his nose has been severely bloodied. McCarthy and the doctor inspect Kitao's nose, which is most definitely broken. The fight is called with Mark Hall named the winner due to doctor's stoppage.
I have to pause and discuss the rankings for this fight. Mark Hall was the winner and managed to break Kitao's nose, so I think I have to rank Hall ahead of Kitao for the event. Hall looked unimpressive in victory, while Kitao didn't lose in a decisive fashion. I was almost tempted to put Kitao ahead of Hall, but you've got to give the man credit for landing such a clean shot.
Hall gives an interesting post fight interview, giving a shout out to his three kids and then proposing to his girlfriend Laura. Boy, that Laura is a very lucky girl. Nothing like having your boyfriend propose to you on pay-per-view - she wasn't even at the fights! And what's the deal with the three kids and the girlfriend? Are they all Laura's kids? I'm guessing that there are some baby's mothers floating around out there, but regardless, I'm sure that Laura is feeling very special right now. Unfortunately, I can't find any details about how successful this proposal was.
In what appears to be an attempt to waste time, the entire Ken Shamrock/Pat Smith fight from UFC 1 is shown as a "UFC Moment." I would have thought that the Shamrock/Severn Superfight would have been a more appropriate highlight for this event.
This is perhaps the most unusual and awesome fringe celebrity sighting in UFC history. Warrington Hudlin was a producer for movies like House Party, Boomerang, and Bebe's Kids. Somehow, this man was famous enough to call out by name during a mixed martial arts event in 1996. In 2011, Ice T and Coco can't even get singled out at UFC 128, so how on earth does Warrington Hudlin get mentioned at UFC 9? I guess that any kind of celebrity at a UFC event was almost unheard of at the time.
Back to the poll from the start of the broadcast, Beck reveals that 92% of voters think that women should fight in the UFC. Don Wilson also reveals that he's negotiating to make an appearance in the octagon. Wilson never did compete in mixed martial arts, but did participate in three more kickboxing fights in 1999 and 2002. It would have been interesting to see "The Dragon" fight in the UFC, though I'm not sure it would have been a very fruitful endeavor at that point in his career. I'm guessing that's likely why this never came to fruition.
The last fight prior to the Superfight will be Don Frye against Amaury Bitetti. I'm still disappointed that Marco Ruas had to pull out of this fight, but I'm still glad to see Frye in action. Bitetti is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner, but Beck says that Bitetti isn't afraid to throw strikes. Frye gets a very nice hand from the Detroit crowd and I anticipate the "USA!" chants will be out in full force.
Prior to the fight, Frye tells us that he will be successful and closes his interview by saying, "There can be only one." Well, somebody has seen Highlander.
Frye tries for a quick takedown, but Bitetti defends and gains control with Frye against the cage. Bitetti is very aggressive from the start, doing his best to take Frye down. Frye has very good balance and won't go down, but that doesn't stop Bitetti, who attempts some throws from the clinch. Frye lands a nice punch and thinks about a takedown, but Bitetti defends the attempt and tries one of his own. After a successful sprawl, Frye ends up on top of his opponent.
As predicted, we're treated to some "USA!" chants from the crowd as Bitetti works back to his feet and clinches with Frye. Bitetti and Frye trade some big shots with Frye getting the best of the action. Frye lands some huge knees to Bitetti's head and backs his opponent against the cage. Frye brings the action to the mat and ends up in Bitetti's half guard. Frye pummels Bitetti with some big elbows to the head, but Bitetti defends and actually forces Frye back into the full guard.
Bitetti appears to be slightly bloodied by Frye's strikes. Frye uses this position to land some heavy body shots while resting a lot of his weight against the head and throat of Bitetti. Big John stands both fighters up and has the ringside physicians examine the worsening cuts of Amaury Bitetti. The cuts are bad, but not bad enough to stop this fight.
After the stoppage, Bitetti attempts a quick takedown but is thrown aside by Frye, who ends up in guard once again. It doesn't take long for Frye to move back to half-guard. Frye is really utilizing the elbows in this fight, throwing them at the back of Bitetti's head and his face. These elbows are not being defended by Bitetti and they look and sound very strong. Bitetti looks miserable right now and he must be regretting his decision to allow Don Frye to severely damage his head.
Big John is being very liberal with these stoppages, asking the doctors to look at Bitetti yet again. One of the doctors asks what Bitetti is saying, leading me to worry that some kind of miscommunication will result in Amaury Bitetti having severe brain damage. Nonetheless, this fight will continue.
Bitetti thinks that attempting a takedown is a good idea, but Don Frye responds by throwing knees to the head after sprawling. Bitetti is using a classic heel maneuver, grabbing onto Frye's trunks. Frye begins throwing the point of his elbow into Bitetti's spine while continuing knees from the sprawl position. This exchange prompts McCarthy to end this fight and for good reason. Amaury Bitetti was being destroyed by Don Frye and prolonging that fight would have resulted in a potentially serious injury.
Beyond Bitetti's quick outburst at the start of this fight, this was an extremely one-sided contest. I very much enjoyed this fight, mostly because it consisted of Don Frye using some brutal offense to force Big John to stop this fight. This is easily the best fight of the card thus far, but I'm not sure where this should be ranked in the comprehensive fight rankings. This might be a bit too lopsided to be a top-ten fight all time, but it will be close.
Believe it or not, Don Frye wasn't very happy with his performance. He claims to have underestimated Bitetti despite the impressive victory. Frye thought he would win this fight in under one minute, so it seems that this fight didn't go exactly to plan. Frye gives a shout out to his brother Craig, who is seen above on the right side of the picture. Frye says that his brother used to beat up on him, but makes no mention of having violently retaliated now that he's one of the baddest men on the planet.
Bruce Beck spends some time shilling UFC merchandise before they cut to highlights of the fighters in tonight's main event: Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock. Severn gets a huge hand from the crowd and is led out by a man flying the Michigan state flag. As Shamrock enters the cage, it's very obvious that he's the most hated man in Detroit right now. Instead of coming out to generic gladiator music, he enters to generic rock music - how edgy.
In what is my favorite moment of the night, someone decides to cut Rich Goins off toward the end of his fighter introductions. Don't be fooled by the lack of attention paid to Goins; I still hate this guy and look forward to a time when he's no longer the UFC announcer.
Now, I generally like to do a full fight synopsis for the events, the previous exception being the very boring and very uneventful Royce Gracie/Ken Shamrock Superfight. Well if you thought that was bad, you haven't seen Severn/Shamrock II. One word describes this fight: circling. There is a whole lot of circling and very little action. I'm going to give a very abbreviated description, as there's so little to describe.
Both fighters appear to be wearing wrestling shoes, so no kicks are thrown. Severn knows that he can't strike with Shamrock and he doesn't want to get submitted, so he basically just avoids impact. And Shamrock's strategy is likely to counter anything that Severn does, but Severn doesn't do much of anything. Basically, we have a stalemate. A long, crappy, boring stalemate.
This crowd is absolutely beside itself, constantly booing and throwing out chants of "bullshit." Severn lands some punches that bloody Shamrock, but there's certainly nothing that threatens to end the fight. At one point, Big John stops the fight while both men are standing and sends Shamrock and Severn back to their corners. He implores both Shamrock and Severn to get busy, hoping that this will stir up some action in this fight.
After the restart, punches are occasionally thrown by both men with little consequence. Maybe 20 minutes into the fight, Severn tries for a single leg takedown and is almost successful, but Shamrock is able to pull away and work back to his feet. The fight continues with more circling, causing the crowd to break out into a "lets go Red Wings" chant. Lets go Red Wings, indeed.
Severn tries for another takedown which is promptly countered by Shamrock, who ends up in full mount. Severn is defending by holding Shamrock close while working to buck him out of mount. Shamrock throws some palm strikes and elbows that don't seem to do any damage.
This is where we are for a few minutes until Severn manages to reverse positions! "The Beast" gives Shamrock his back, but Shamrock gets too high and is taken to the mat by Severn. From guard, Severn throws some elbows and punches of his own and manages to bust Shamrock open. Where Shamrock spent most of his time in mount inactive, Severn is absolutely making the most of his time on top. We learned at the Ultimate Ultimate that Dan Severn is very active and dangerous from dominant positions. This is no different from what we saw from Severn against Oleg Taktarov and Tank Abbott as Severn is busting up Shamrock's face.
The crowd calls for a knee, but Severn stands up in guard and is shoved away by Shamrock. It seems that the regulation period of the fight has expired and we're going to overtime. Since this event has not utilized on screen fight clocks, the viewing audience is left in the dark about how much time remains. It's inconvenient, especially with Beck and Blatnick being fairly clueless most of the time.
The overtime period ends up being very exciting! Circling, circling, circling, circling, circling, Shamrock fails to take Severn down, overtime complete. Rich Goins monotonously announces, "Fight is over. Fight is over." Don Wilson claims to have been hit by somebody's cigar butt. What an appropriate ending to such a terrible fight. The only real action in this fight was when Severn was on top of Shamrock and that was maybe 1-2 minutes of a 30 minute fight.
There is little reason for Severn to have won this fight, while there's absolutely no reason for Shamrock to have won, and therefore, I choose Severn. The crowd has made their choice and have opted to throw garbage into the octagon.
The first judge scores the fight for Shamrock, while the second and third judges give the fight to Dan Severn - the NEW UFC Superfight Champion! I can't say I disagree with this decision and the Michigan crowd seems to be very pleased, but we've all lost 30 minutes of our lives that we'll never get back.
Severn apparently challenges Royce Gracie. Oh please, don't let that fight happen. I know that their first fight was pretty entertaining, but if Severn fights anything like he did tonight, we're in for a whole lot of nothing.
In his post fight interview, Shamrock says that he and Severn had similarly tentative strategies. He gives credit to Severn for capitalizing on the reversal and thinks that Severn landed the cleaner shots in this fight which I happen to agree with.
Severn spends time celebrating his victory with the Michigan crowd prior to his interview. He also does his trademark wiping armpits with t-shirt move which is super classy. Severn thinks he surprised Shamrock with some more powerful striking, but says he took punishment when Shamrock was in the full mount. Nonetheless, Severn was able to do just enough to take the split decision victory and the Superfight Title.
Bruce Beck spends the rest of the show hyping UFC merchandise and upcoming events before a very short recap video is shown. I must say that I've never been more glad for a UFC event to be complete (aside from maybe UFC 119, but we're still many, many events away from having to recap that awful event).
This was an absolutely brutal show with only one really good fight. I really enjoyed Frye/Bitetti and it was really cool to see Mark Schultz in the octagon, but wow this show was awful. There was no more appropriate way to end this terrible event than with a terrible fight. I had trouble choosing which was worse: he 47 second fight where a sumo wrestler had his nose broken, or a fight where two men jog sideways for 30 minutes. In the end, I think it would be hard to top how bad that main event was.
There's so much up in the air with the UFC following this lackluster event. Mounting political and public pressure is forcing changes in the UFC, though the impact of such changes weren't abundantly clear in this event. UFC 10 will mark the return of the tournament, but will public outcry force any further changes in the UFC? Will we see the Severn/Gracie Superfight? Who will participate when the tournament format returns? And can a state as small as Rhode Island handle as big a show as the eleventh UFC event? We'll get answers to these questions and only these questions at UFC 10!
Greatest Fights of UFC 9
- Don Frye vs. Amaury Bitetti
- Mark Schultz vs. Gary Goodridge
- Rafael Carino vs. Matt Andersen
- Cal Worsham vs. Zane Frasier
- Mark Hall vs. Koji Kitao
- Dan Severn vs. Ken Shamrock
Top Ten Fights Through UFC 9
- Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo – UFC 3
- Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn – UFC 4
- Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney – UFC 4
- Oleg Taktarov vs. Tank Abbott – UFC 6
- Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock – UFC 1
- Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn – UFC 6
- Marco Ruas vs. Paul Varelans – UFC 7
- Ken Shamrock vs. Christophe Leininger – UFC 3
- Ken Shamrock vs. Patrick Smith – UFC 1
- Dan Severn vs. Oleg Taktarov – UFC 5
Greatest Fighters of UFC 9
- Don Frye (1-0)
- Mark Schultz (1-0)
- Rafael Carino (1-0)
- Cal Worsham (1-0)
- Steve Nelmark (1-0)
- Dan Severn (1-0)
- Mark Hall (1-0)
- Ken Shamrock (0-1)
- Amaury Bitetti (0-1)
- Koji Kitao (0-1)
- Gary Goodridge (0-1)
- Tai Bowden (0-1)
- Zane Frasier (0-1)
- Matt Andersen (0-1)
Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 9
- Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
- Dan Severn (9-2)
- Ken Shamrock (5-2-2)
- Oleg Taktarov (6-2-1)
- Don Frye (4-0)
- Marco Ruas (4-1)
- Patrick Smith (4-2)
- Tank Abbott (3-2)
- Gerard Gordeau (2-1)
- Gary Goodridge (2-2)