To take my mind off the continuing steroid fallout, here's a fight from a more innocent age. Way back in the late 1990s, in my home town of Amarillo, Texas, a man named Steve Nelson started the Unified Shoot Wrestling Federation and brought proto-MMA to the Texas panhandle. They had Pancrase style rules that only allowed open hand strikes but otherwise it was full-on MMA. They ran events from 1996 to 2001. I know, I know, who cares? right? Wrong.
At least two major fighters got their start there. Both are current UFC contenders. Here's their first matchup from 1997, it's the Heath Herring's 2nd ever fight and the Evan Tanner's fourth.
From tiny, badly shot acorns, mighty oaks arise to almost KO Big Nog in the UFC or hold the UFC middleweight belt, albeit briefly.
Guys like Steve Nelson, Jeff Osbourne of HookNShoot in the midwest and numerous other early promoters are real heroes of our sport. They made it happen back when there was no money in it.
Update [2007-7-20 13:34:20 by Kid Nate]: I wanted to add a couple more videos. Tanner of course has become an MMA legend:
Herring has also become an MMA legend but is most famous for becoming a legend to homophobes everywhere: