This Day in MMA: UFC's last tournament, Hendo/Shogun, Fitch fired

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

A look at the many MMA events that have happened on November 19th in years past.

November 19th has seen many strange and crazy MMA events in years past. While some calendar days have zero history in this young sport, this particular day has been a magnet for action. From tournaments to guys falling like trees to some of the better fights in MMA history, we've had it all on November 19th. So let's go on a little trip down memory lane, shall we?

1999 - The UFC goes to Japan again, trying to capitalize on the market that Pride was starting to build. The event was UFC 23 and featured the last official tournament the promotion ever put on. The tournament was a Japanese-only thing, designed to help build a Japanese arm of the UFC to be run separately. Obviously that didn't work out. The man that won the tournament was Kenichi Yamamoto, who went on to challenge Pat Miletich for the UFC welterweight title at UFC 29 but came up short. That was the high-water mark for his MMA career, as he has gone 1-8-2 since that fight. His last fight was less than a year ago.

In the main event, Kevin Randleman won the vacant heavyweight title by taking a decision over Pete Williams. The title had been vacated by Bas Rutten, who had defeated Randleman by contentious split decision at UFC 20. Bas was hoping to fight Frank Shamrock after, but never got the chance and went into retirement. He had one more fight in 2006.

The event was the start of the "dark ages" of the UFC, as the event was never released on home video and was barely aired on PPV.

2005 - The first Ultimate Fighter contestant to get a title shot was the allure of UFC 56, where Nate Quarry met Rich Franklin in the main event. Karo Parisyan was supposed to fight Matt Hughes for the welterweight title but was forced out with an injury, leaving 23-year-old Joe Riggs to take his place. Riggs missed weight so the bout was non-title, and Hughes retained with an early submission. In the main event, Franklin hit Quarry so hard that he went stiff and fell like a tree, a scene replayed thousands of times over the years.

Earlier on the main card, future champions met when Georges St-Pierre defeated Sean Sherk by TKO. The card also featured the UFC debut of future title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga, who KO'd Kevin Jordan late in the third round.

2008 - The UFC wanted all their fighters to sign away their ancillary rights in perpetuity. This was something that was viewed by most as extremely excessive and didn't make much business sense for the fighters. Nonetheless, the organization held a lot of sway over their careers so most signed off on a video game agreement without a fight. Except for one group, out of American Kickboxing Academy in California. DeWayne Zinkin and Bob Cook advised their fighters not to agree to it, and it led to one of the more tumultuous days in UFC history.

Because Jon Fitch (who had just challenged for the UFC welterweight title two months earlier) and Christian Wellisch wouldn't sign, they were released immediately. Other stars from the camp like Cain Velasquez (who was just 2-0 in the organization at the time) were in hot water as well. Dana White claimed that he only member of the gym that went against his teammates was TUF 1 fighter Mike Swick, who had no problem with it. Fitch responded, saying that Swick already had a separate ancillary agreement from TUF and wasn't asked to sign it anyway. He said, he said.

Dana's quote about the whole thing was...interesting.

"We’re looking for guys who want to work with us and not against us, and frankly I’m just so f**king sick of this sh*t it’s not even funny. Affliction is still out there trying to build its company. Let him] go work with them. Let him see what he thinks of those f**ks. F**k him. These guys aren’t partners with us. F**k them. All of them, every last f**king one of them."

Just one day later, Fitch talked to Lorenzo Fertitta, signed the video game agreement, and returned to the company. He went 6-2-1 over the next four and a half years and was released in early 2013. Wellisch was brought back too, albeit briefly. He lost a split decision to Jake O'Brien a couple of months later and was released again.

2010 - Strikeforce ran a minor Challengers show in Jackson, MS. The main event saw current Bellator fighter Justin Wilcox defeat Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro by unanimous decision in the main event. Waachim Spiritwolf and Marius Zaromskis went a whole seven seconds before an eyepoke led to a no contest. Current UFC fighters Ovince St. Preux and Liz Carmouche also picked up wins on the main card.

2011 - Fans in San Jose were expecting to see the first matchup between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos as the main event of UFC 139. Instead, that bout was moved to the first Fox show and the event featured a light heavyweight battle between former Pride stars Mauricio Rua and Dan Henderson. The bout was expected to be entertaining, and it surely did not disappoint in Hendo's return to the UFC.

The two men brawled all over the cage for 25 minutes, dropping each other multiple times with both coming close to finishing the fight more than once. It was one of the best wars in MMA history, despite the two men being completely out of gas at the end of the fight. Hendo won a contentious unanimous decision, something fans still debate to this day. It was undoubtedly the best fight of 2011 and is the favorite fight of many in MMA including Lorenzo Fertitta.

The co-main event was good as well, with Wanderlei Silva stopping Cung Le late in the second round. The card also featured the last UFC wins for Stephan Bonnar and Miguel Torres, along with stoppage wins for Urijah Faber, Michael McDonald, and current UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. Another interesting note is that UFC 139 saw Matt Brown and Rafael dos Anjos both lose their respective bouts. Neither man has lost since, with Brown winning six in a row and RDA taking five in a row.

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