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Oleg Taktarov on the UFC: The real championship ended in the 1990s

UFC 6 tournament winner Oleg Taktarov offers his thoughts on the UFC’s current format and why he believes the “real” UFC ended years ago.

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For Oleg Taktarov, much has changed in Mixed Martial Arts since 1995.

As someone who hails from a time when UFC events had no time limits and fighters fought up to three times in one night, Taktarov is not convinced the modern incarnation of the sport is a reasonable way to determine the best fighters on the planet.

"Those were completely different times," Taktarov told "The rules were still new, which means there weren't any (significant) rules. Ultimate Fighter means that you should be the best.

"Who is the more complete fighter? One who juices himself with steroids and comes in the cage to show the judges that he is better?"

The five-minute rounds are a particular sour point for Taktarov.

"Real fight can last a day, two days or a whole week. Rounds weren't limited with 5 minutes and could last for half an hour. Why? This is because after the 18th minute of the fight, an athlete can simply break. When there weren't time limitation, fighters were not aware of how long their fights would last.

"It was a matter of your will."

Taktarov spent a portion of his career under the UFC and PRIDE banners, where he holds notable victories over Marco Ruas, Tank Abbott, Mark Kerr, and Anthony Macias. On July 14, 1995, the "Russian Bear" defeated Dave Beneteau, Macias and Abbot in one night to become the tournament champion.

"To become UFC 6 Champion I had to (take part in) three fights in one evening. Just imagine that you have to win in 1st fight, then second, and save power to stand in the last one. And the weight difference could be incredible between fighters. I might come to the cage at 90kg and the opponent at 120kg. Recently, I read some "expert" who said that ‘Oleg Taktarov wasn't a real UFC Champion.'"

While Taktarov was indeed not a UFC champion, he did win the UFC 6 tournament, and believes that should be enough to be considered a champion at the time.

"What does the UFC mean? The Ultimate Fighting Championship; the winner of Championship is the champion. Later they started to hold "super-fights" and there would be super-fight champions. The real championships ended in 90s. One fight is just one fight now."

Transcription and translation provided by