Competitors came and went in the early UFC, especially in the events that the OSMMA Review has covered so far. There were many repeat offenders who came back to fight again, and some of them even became legends in the sport and had great careers. Others disappeared completely, never returning to the cage again (often because they did not belong there in the first place). Somewhere in between that, you had the warriors that left an impact on fans enough that they were clear prospects in the UFC, but faded out in spite of their skills or popularity. These are the men we offer a golden Andy Anderson award to today.
Here are the nominees for Best Forgotten Fighter:
Mark Hall - While we often joke about Hall due to his appearance looking like a soccer dad picking up his kids from practice in a blue mini-van, Hall was no joke in the cage. "The Cobra" made his first appearance at UFC 7, and made it to the semi-finals, only to lose to Paul Varelans. Hall returned at UFC 9 where he knocked out a fighter that was double his size, Koji Kitao. Hall would fight three more times in the octagon, with two of those against Don Frye (one of which was a fixed fight), and enjoyed a brief career in IVC after he was done with the UFC. Hall was scrappy and quick, and always gave a solid performance against everyone he faced - unless it was a rematch with Don Frye.
Cal Worsham - Worsham debuted at UFC 6, a former Marine with a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Faced against a huge opponent like Paul Varelans, Worsham brought the fight to "The Polar Bear" and gave a very exciting performance despite him being on the losing end of that match. He came back at UFC 9 to TKO Zane Frazier, and once more at the Ultimate Ultimate 1996, where he brawled with Tank Abbott. If you had Worsham in the octagon, there was never a dull moment.
While Worsham only fought three times in the UFC, he had a very successful career outside of it that lasted until 2012. With an overall record of 13-10 that included three reigns as the Gladiator Challenge heavyweight champion (a company he promoted and booked), Worsham was definitely a missed opportunity for the UFC. Not only could he fight, he was also a very savvy business man.
Brian Johnston - Johnston is a special case in this award show, since he qualifed in this category despite his last fight being UFC 14, which we have not covered yet. A Golden Gloves boxer and judoka, Johnston was one of the most physically fit specimens to enter the cage who had the fighting skills to back up his look (as well as one of the first products of Javier Mendez and his AKA gym). He made his first appearance at UFC 10, and while his record is 2-4 in the octagon, he fought competitive losing battles against Don Frye, Ken Shamrock, and Mark Coleman.
His overall MMA record was 5-6, but he was booked against top fighters all the time since he was one of the few men in that era who could hang with them. After his time in MMA, he joined New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he enjoyed great success as a tag-team wrestler. Sadly, a stroke in 2001 ended his athletic career, but he has fought hard to recover and proves that hard work in the face of real adversity pays off.
Remco Pardoel - Debuting at UFC 2, the Dutch judoka submitted his first opponent in the prelims (breaking his arm in the process) before knocking out his next victim in the quarter-finals with a series of vicious downward elbows. Pardoel met Royce Gracie in the semi-finals, a losing effort for Remco, but it would not be the last time he entered the octagon. Remco returned at UFC 7, winning an alternate fight and earning a chance to fight Marco Ruas. In his entire UFC career, Remco only lost to the fighters that won the tournaments, and according to MMA math, that makes him pretty darn good.
Outside of the UFC, Remco continued fighting and amassed an overall record of 9-6. He learned BJJ after his bout against Gracie, and has gone on to coach fighters such as Melvin Manhoef, Stefan Struve, and even Fedor Emelianenko. Not bad for a guy that got into the UFC by picking up a magazine and telling Art Davie he wanted to fight.
Mark Schultz - Schultz is hardly a forgotten name in combat sports history, but in the annals of UFC history, he is a bit more obscure. Schultz's story is currently being told in the film "Foxcatcher," where he is portrayed by Channing Tatum, and it's a truly tragic tale.
Schultz was an Olympic and 2-time World champion freestyle wrestler, and came to the UFC eight years after he retired from competition, and four months after the death of his brother, Dave Schultz. Originally a coach for Dave Beneteau, Dave got injured and was unable to compete, so on extremely short notice (as in practically day of the fight), Schultz took the fight against UFC 8 finalist Gary Goodridge. Schultz manhandled Goodridge for 12 minutes, earning the win when Big John McCarthy stopped the bout due to cuts. While he never competed again, Schultz was one of the all time greatest and most-decorated athletes to ever fight in the octagon.
Thanks to June M. Williams for our Awards graphics.
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"The OSMMA Review Awards, Volume 1" only represents UFC 1 through Ultimate Ultimate 1996, so remember that when placing your vote, as anything other than what was listed in the categories will be ignored, and the voter shall be promptly flogged. Stay constantly vigilant as more categories become announced, or take a peek at the stream to make sure you placed your vote in all twelve categories!