After their third tournament, the UFC was finding itself a nice rhythm as a company. They had begun to figure out what rules were important to a "no rules" fight and had finally found the right balance between alternates and tournament competitors. The first two events had yielded a few recurring faces that could be brought back for future iterations, and the product itself was proving popular enough to attract all sorts of new talent.
Thus we find UFC 4, which would introduce the MMA world to Dan Severn, Guy Mezger, Joe Charles, as well as the return of Royce Gracie, Kieth Hackney, and Kevin Rosier. For more information on returning fighters, be sure to check out the previous redux iterations, where you'll also find write ups of all previous UFC competitors.
There's plenty to see so let's get to the fighters of UFC 4:
Joe Charles - Known as "The Ghetto Man," Charles was, in fact, an accomplished high-school wrestler and judoka. A forklift accident suffered in 1982 robbed him of the opportunity to try out for the Los Angeles Olympics. Following the accident, and fearing that he would never be able to walk again, Charles embarked on a heavy regimen of exercise, claiming to have done 1,000 situps a day just to keep himself motivated. By 1986, he was back to competitive martial arts.
He would not enter MMA professionally until 1994, and his career, although relatively long, would be marked more by his toughness than by his ability to win fights. When he finally retired in 2000, his record was 6-13, but in that span, he had competed across the globe against the likes of Dan Severn, Murilo Bustamante, Oleg Taktarov, and Vitor Belfort.
Currently, he is a fitness instructor working in Manhattan Beach, California. He owns his own business, GI Joe Bootcamp, and has a radio show as well.
Kevin Rosier - My initial overview on Kevin Rosier was brief. As a fighter, he largely dropped off the map after his MMA career ended in 2000. While some athletes are able to move on into new ventures and directions when their fighting days end, others are not so fortunate.
Rosier earned his black belt in Karate from Sensei William James Gallant at the Boys Club in East Aurora, New York. In the late 80's he had a reasonable career as a journeyman kickboxer. However, earlier in his life, he also served in the military, and it is perhaps the combination of these distinct martial careers that have brought his story to where it is today. Mostly by word of mouth, reports have surfaced that Rosier is living in near homelessness in Buffalo, New York. Out of concerns his family raised over his medical privacy, I can't go into detail, other than to say that reports from friends and associates talked of him dealing with the mental and physical strain of a lifetime spent in combat.
There have been several efforts in the past year to locate Rosier by concerned fans looking to make donations or help him get back on his feet. He is reportedly staying with family and while down, he is certainly not out.
Marcus Bossett - Marcus Bossett entered the UFC as a 3rd degree black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate. His martial arts career began in military school, where he found himself following the death of his father in a botch robbery attempt by a disgruntled former employee. An English teacher whose class Bossett was failing gave him an option, enroll in his Karate class and get a D or re-take English. It would be the spark of his lifelong love of traditional martial arts.
Prior to entering the UFC he tried, and failed, to create a martial arts magazine-style TV show. He claims the idea, as well as his prep work, was taken out from under him by the studio he was producing it for. With that idea gone he opened his own karate school and entered into a series of kickboxing competitions, and it was this interest in finding new and better expressions of martial arts competition that lead him to the UFC.
Unlike many of the more cookie cutter black belts in early UFC competition, Bossett's martial arts background was deeply rooted in Japanese tradition and culture. His style in the octagon was powerful, flashy, and high risk. He claims to have received his initial Karate black belt while training in Japan, and like many traditional martial artists of his era (and despite holding a black belt in Shorinji-Ryu Jujitsu), he was largely lost in the ground elements of fighting.
After his short MMA career, he would go on to train under Gokor Chivichyan and gain many of the ground skills he lacked as an active competitor. But the real love of his martial arts life would come in the form of Kyudo, the ancient art of samurai archery. Currently Bossett is a property manager, and holds a 5th dan rank in Kyudo. He also runs his own instructional school, the University of Archery in California.
Bossett talked about entering the UFC 4 tournament and getting the chance to fight Dan Severn, as well as his claims to have given Art Davie the idea for the UFC belt (which premiered at UFC 5).
"That’s the reason I got to fight [Dan] Severn," Bossett says. "Jennum jacked his hand up. I’d sat there ringside and saw Severn suplex [Anthony Macias] four times in a row. I’m thinking, ‘He’s going to break his neck.’ I’m evaluating everybody. From my years of fighting, I can look at someone and evaluate what they do and determine how to get in on them. I looked at Severn, and if you let him get a hand on you, you’re done. I absolutely, positively did that until I did my signature move -- the spinning back kick. In tournaments, Professional Karate League, my spinning back kick was my signature move. I’ve taken people’s heads off with it."
“The reason these brothers are getting belts now, I brought that design to [the UFC’s original owner] Art Davies. So I gave him some belt designs. Nobody at UFC 4 had a belt. You got a check. Then at [UFC] 5 [there] was a belt. At [UFC] 4, when the fight was over, you had to find your own way back to the hotel.” (via Sherdog)
Xavier Eldo Dias - Born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and nicknamed "Iron Hand," he was the first, and arguably only, Capoeira purist to ever enter the UFC. Xavier Eldo Dias was also the UFC's first Brazilian competitor not named Royce Gracie.
Guy Mezger - Mezger's introduction to the UFC was largely unheralded. A prelim fighter in UFC 4, he won his first bout, but failed to make his way into the tournament itself. A collegiate wrestler and black belt karateka, he was the 1995 WKC world heavyweight kickboxing champion. He was also a 1993 & '94 full contact karate champion. His MMA training was based almost entirely with the Lions Den and Ken Shamrock for his career, with his kickboxing training coming under Billy Jackson.
Mezger was one of the prize students of the catch wrestling focused Lions Den gym. He was molded very much in the style of Ken Shamrock and was one of the few Lions Den students to find success all the way through the 90s. Given his striking background and heavy catch wrestling training Mezger was one of the first fighters to demonstrate a high functioning transition game in MMA. He took his final fight in 2003, retiring with a record of 30-14-2. He had been scheduled to take on Tito Ortiz in 2005, but was forced to announce his official retirement after suffering "stroke like symptoms."
He finished his career with victories over Tito Ortiz, Minoru Suzuki, Masakatsu Funaki, Semmy Schilt, and Yuki Kondo. After retiring from MMA, he dabbled in commentary, working with Dream in Japan and more recently started his own nutritional supplement company, Evolv Health. He is also the owner of his own gym, Guy Mezger's Combat Sports Club.
Jason Fairn - UFC 4 would not be Fairn's first MMA fight, and it wouldn't be his last, but it would be his only showing at the highest level of the sport. He competed as recently as 2010, and was one of the fighters on the second Maximum Fighting Championship card in 2001. He was a black belt in Aiki Jitsu under his father, David Fairn, and claimed black belts in Karate and Tae Kwon Do as well. In his hometown of Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada, Fairn had a reputation as an underground club fighter, reportedly having won 33 bare knuckle matches.
That reputation brought him to California, where he worked as a celebrity bodyguard and occasional stunt man. Much like Alberto Cerro Leon before him, this led him to the Gracie Jiujitsu school which was notorious in California for its Gracie challenges. It was through this avenue that Fairn found himself an alternate for UFC 4.
He lost his single UFC fight to Guy Mezger. Today he is rumored to still be involved in body guard work both in Vancouver and in California.
Royce Gracie - In 2007, following a victory over Kazushi Sakuraba at Dynamite!! USA, Royce Gracie tested positive for steroids. The levels of nandrolone found in his system were 25 times higher than the normal limits. Along with the standard denials of abuse, there is some evidence that prolonged cardio exertion, coupled with heavy protein intake could result in a false spike in nandrolone, as could eating large amounts of tainted meat.
However, the MMA community at large, and more importantly the athletic commission were unimpressed by Gracie's attempts to pass off his test as a clinical error. The California State Athletic Commission levied a $2,500 fine (the maximum available to them at the time) and would have stripped him of the win, were such a process available to them. In fact, it was Royce's failed test that led to the state changing its athletic commission regulations to allow them to change fights to no contests when one of the participants failed a post-fight drug test.
One of the chief criticisms levied at the time was that Royce appeared physically much larger than in his Matt Hughes fight a year previous. He was reported to be around 13 pounds heavier than in his UFC return. Royce took to video to refute these allegations.
Ron van Clief - Ron van Clief was perhaps the most style-over-substance fighter in UFC history. A martial arts B-movie star in the 70s, he was a former Marine with a background in Goju-Ryu Karate. He trained under Peter Urban, Frank Ruiz, Moses Powell and Wing Tsun master Leung Ting. At the time of his UFC debut, he claimed a 10th dan in Goju-Ryu as well as black belts in Karate, Ju-Jitsu, Aiki-Jitsu, Kung-Fu, Arnis de Mano and Zen Jutsu.
In reality, van Clief continued the trend of giving Royce Gracie an opening round feature fight. UFC 1 was Art Jimmerson, UFC 2 was Minoki Ichihara, UFC 3 was Kimo Leopoldo (although it's hard to say what Kimo featured at the time, other than his cross). While van Clief earns the distinction of being the oldest fighter to ever enter the octagon, his performance was perhaps the least competitive of the four fighters. Clief would later blame the poor performance on a broken ankle suffered only a week before the fight.
While his MMA career may not have been kind to him, it would appear that Hollywood, and martial arts in general, largely were. He currently lives in the Virgin Islands where he teaches martial arts, and as of 2009, was attempting to start his own MMA promotion.
Keith Hackney - Nicknamed "The Giant Killer" for his victory over Emmanuel Yarborough, the real high point of Hackney's fighting career came at UFC 4, against Joe Son. After the introduction of Kimo and his false Tae Kwon Do credentials, Joe Son and his Josondo was one of the more remarkable UFC oddities. Son rushed Hackney early, took him down and tried to rain down blows. Hackney was able to escape to his feet and after getting pushed against the cage hit a trip into side control. From there a series of powerful groin shots quickly changed the complexion of the fight. Joe Son would submit to a c-clamp choke at 2:44 of the first round.
Here's what Hackney had to say about his career defining moment:
Yeah that was actually Joe Son, but I mean those were the rules. The only rules that you couldn't do were, you couldn't bite and you couldn't eye gouge. But you could do that. I mean you could still do that in the fight, but you'd get fined $1000 if you eye gouged somebody or you bit somebody. Those were the two rules they didn't want you to do, but you were still able to do it. That's why they called it no holds barred. You could do anything you wanted, that's why the fighting changed from no holds barred to mixed martial arts. Which was a mixture of all the fighting arts that worked in that situation with all the rules. With no holds barred there were no rules. Some people liked it, some people didn't like it, as far as the way the rules went. The fight was done according to the rules. Actually Joe Son went to prison for 90 years or something.
What did he end up going to jail for?
Kidnapping, rape, all kinds of stuff from what I understand. They actually traced him through his DNA for something, and they had a news special on Fox, in the area, saying he got what he deserved. Then they showed me punching him in the groin.
He was actually with Kimo, Kimo was a good guy and he was supposedly Kimo's trainer. He was always packing the bible stuff, but I suppose that came back to haunt him. (via In the Zone Sports Show)
Joe Son - Joseph Hyungmin Son was born in Korea in 1970 and raised in California. By his early 20s, he was part of an extremist Christian group, working in the Huntington Beach area. He had little, if any, martial arts background, but through a mixture of lies and what must have been a hell of a sales pitch, he and Kimo Leopoldo were able to convince Art Davies to let them fight in the UFC. They advertised Leopoldo with a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Joe Son would not get such a generous title, billed instead as a Josondo expert.
While such a curious circus sideshow type background would be enough to make Joe Son a memorable figure, that would not be the end of his public life. After MMA, he would have a limited pro wrestling career and would be fortuitously cast in the role of "Random Task" in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. All of this is rather beside the point, however.
In 1990, he, and another associate (Santiago Gaitan) kidnapped, held at gunpoint, beat, and raped a woman on Christmas eve. It was a crime that would go unsolved for nearly two decades, until a 2008 felony vandalism charge saw Joe Son placed on probation. As a condition of his probationary status he was required to give a DNA sample. It would be this evidence that connected him to his past crimes. He is now serving a life sentence at Wasco State Prison, where he has compounded his crimes with the murder of his cellmate in October of 2011.
Steve Jennum - Jennum would never replicate his success of winning UFC 3. While he did defeat the hard punching pro-boxer Melton Bowen at UFC 4, a hand injury suffered from punching Bowen in the head kept him from moving on in the tournament.
He would make one more octagon appearance, losing to Tank Abbott at the Ultimate Ultimate 1995, before leaving the UFC. He fought Marco Ruas at the first World Vale Tudo Championships in 1996 and Jason Godsey in 1997 before finally retiring from active MMA competition.
Melton Bowen - Much in the mold of Art Jimmerson before him, Melton Bowen was a reasonably talented journeyman boxer who made a one time foray into MMA. A Jamaican born fighter, he lived and trained in Miami, reportedly working with Robert Daniels and Jose Ribalta. He started his pro career in 1987 and was 32-6 by the time he set foot in the UFC opposite Steve Jennum. Bowen was known as something of an early Mike Tyson clone, a hard-punching KO artist, which would lead him to a chance at the 1993 WBF heavyweight title. In MMA history, however, Bowen has a very different distinction.
He was the first fighter ever to wear MMA gloves in the UFC. It would be another 10 events and three years before the gloves became standard MMA apparel, but their first appearance was here and now on the hands of Melton Bowen.
After his fighting career, which only included a single MMA appearance, Bowen would have one last strange moment in the media spotlight. Following the infamous "Miami Cannibal" case in 2012, Bowen stepped forward to reveal that he knew the man in question and had actually knocked him out when the man attacked him after a dispute over music. Bowen was quoted as saying "He wasn't violent. If you got to know him, he was pretty cool. He was all right."
Dan Severn - UFC 4 is our first introduction to Dan Severn as mixed martial arts fans. The multiple time D1 All American and NCAA tournament finalist was the UFC's first truly world class wrestler (to coin a Mike Riordan term). At his peak he was among the best freestyle wrestlers in the world (winning a 1986 World Cup gold medal) , but a 1988 ACL injury effectively ended his Olympic aspirations. While he wasn't the first All American in the UFC (that distinction goes to Emmanuel Yarborough), he was the first fighter to dominate his competition with a wrestling heavy attack.
Apart from his competitive wrestling career Severn was a coach at Arizona State University and Michigan State University. He entered the UFC on only 4 days of mixed martial arts training, but would advance all the way to the tournament finals. His bout against Anthony Macias was, and still is, one of the finest displays of pure wrestling in open combat, transitioning between single and double leg takedowns and hitting a beautiful sequence of suplexes.
As an MMA fighter, Severn has been, in many ways without parallel. A multi-time UFC tournament champion and UFC superfight champion Severn had an amazingly short run at the top of the sport. Despite only 3 losses in his early career he was largely removed from the highest levels of MMA competition by 1997. Severn was thought to have a boring style by UFC brass at the time. He had been brought in to give the promotion an air of legitimacy, due to his wrestling accolades, but they had little interest in billing him long term.
Many early stars failed to keep up with the changing pace of the sport, but for Severn, this shift appears to be more self-inflicted and maintained rather than any real changing of the guard. He had been set to return to the UFC at Ultimate Japan, but took a fight with Pride instead, effectively blacklisting him from the American promotion. Over the next 15 years, Severn would go 81-16-5, often competing five to 10 times a year (12 times in 2004). Among his post UFC victories are Forrest Griffin, Ebenezer Fontes Braga, Wes Sims, and Justin Eilers.
Concurrent to his MMA career, Dan Severn has also had a long career in pro-wrestling in Japan and America. After "winning" the NWA heavyweight title in 1995, he became the first fighter ever to hold a pro wrestling title and an MMA title at the same time. He retired in 2013 with a record of 101-19-7.
Anthony Macias - Macias was a Muay Thai fighter out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Although he never managed to make a splash at the highest levels of MMA, he is somewhat notable for his losses. He has fought and lost to Dan Severn, Oleg Taktarov (in what many suspect to be the UFC's first and perhaps only fixed fight), Vladimir Matyushenko, Kazushi Sakuraba, Eiji Mitsuoka, Joe Doerkson, Josh Neer, and Daniel Roberts.
Currently Macias is the head trainer and owner of Maddog Macias MMA in Oklahoma City.
That wraps up the fighters of UFC 4. It's been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but I'm looking forward to UFC 5: Superfights!, where I'll talk about Oleg Taktarov, Dave Beneteau, and the first superfight.