100 UFC's Ago: When Tito Ortiz Ruled and Zuffa Was New

Tito Ortiz slammed Evan Tanner into unconsciousness 30 seconds into their UFC 30 title bout. Photo via Susumu's gallery

As we gear up for UFC 130 this Saturday, Jonathan Snowden of SBNation thought it would be fun to look back at where we were 100 UFC's ago at UFC 30 in February 2001. This was the first UFC under the current ownership, Zuffa LLC. Dana White and the Fertitta Brothers were in charge but were only beginning to make their presence felt. 

This was the second UFC held in New Jersey -- the original owners had managed to get MMA regulated by the nation's second most important athletic commission before selling out. This was the last UFC to feature the match-making of John Peretti.  Joe Silva had come on board and would start booking the fights with UFC 31. 

Here's Snowden on UFC 30:

The most memorable fight of the night featured Josh Barnett slugging it out with kickboxer Pedro Rizzo. Barnett was primarily a grappler, but on this night decided to test his striking with one of the sport's best. Barnett charged recklessly forward throughout, playing right into the counter punching Brazilian's hands. Rizzo, a disciple of UFC legend Marco Ruas knew he had been in a fight afterwards, but managed to knock Barnett out in the second round.

Josh Barnett:

Watching him stop (former UFC champion Mark) Coleman and TK (Tsuyoshi Kohsaka) really got in my head a little bit about trying to grapple or shoot in on him. I was having so much success on my feet I decided to stick with it. And against a very experienced and heavy handed striker like Pedro I got caught. He was able to get one shot in and was able to come out on top.

I try never to be in a boring fight. In an exciting fight, win or lose, if people like what they see you're going to have a fanbase. People are going to want to watch you fight. I think some of these promoters get that all mixed up and get too caught up on who's won what. That certainly does matter. But does this guy bring what I want to see? Or is he just somebody who happens to win?

In the main event the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz solidified his status as one of the best fighters in all of MMA. Former Pancrase stalwart Evan Tanner stood no chance as Ortiz locked onto his body and slammed him to the mat. Tanner was knocked unconscious and Ortiz secured his second defense of the UFC middleweight (now called light heavyweight) title. Tanner would recover to win UFC gold himself, but with this highlight reel slam, Ortiz continued his reign as the UFC's top star.

For me personally, it was a bittersweet UFC. Thanks to making the acquaintance of a dude with a satellite dish I was able to watch a UFC live on TV for the first time since UFC 22. But Tito Ortiz' crushing victory of my home town hero Evan Tanner really took the wind out of my sails. 

Coming into the bout Tanner was 23-2 and I thought he was going to be UFC champ. Alas, Ortiz showed everyone what a difference sheer size and power make as he slammed Tanner right out of what was then the Middleweight (200lb) division. 

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