We have talked about a lot of stinky fights and lame finishes in our other polls. Now it is time to discuss the best of the best, and I do not mean that 1989 movie about the Tae Kwon Do fighters (although that is worth watching, too).
This was a tough category to put together, since we had to determine criteria for what made it a "best fight". For us, it was having a back-and-forth contest that was not just a brawl, and definitely not a one-sided affair. We wanted technique, excitement, entertainment, and most of all, heart.
Here are the nominees for Best Fight:
Jerry Bohlander VS Scott Ferrozzo -The David VS Goliath tournament saw many great matches, but the one that impressed us the most was the gutsy performance from Lions Den fighter Jerry Bohlander, who made his octagon debut against a fighter twice his size in Scott Ferrozzo.
I don't think anyone expected Ferrozzo to be much other than a big guy who would gas out after a minute. Instead, Ferrozzo had a full gas-tank that kept the pressure on Bohlander and used slick wrestling to outmaneuver his smaller opponent. Bohlander became so desperate in the match that he tried using Ferrozzo's singlet to choke Ferrozzo. After a grueling nine minutes, Ferrozzo eventually succumbed to a guillotine that Bohlander secured while being shoved against the fence, and won a dramatic fight that lived up to the name of this event.
Don Frye VS Brian Johnston - Johnston is a fighter whose career was cut short due to circumstances out of his hands, but the times we saw him in the cage were great. He was a fighter that could have been a champion, and was the total package when it came to overall MMA abilities. When Johnston met Frye in the semi-finals of UFC 10, the crowd knew they were in for a treat. Both men had fast and powerful hands, strong judo & wrestling, and understood the ground game. Frye proved to be the better man on this night once the fight hit the mats, battering Johnston from the rear mount and eventually side mount, ending the fight with brutal elbows that caused Big John McCarthy to end the fight in favor of Frye. This match gets bonus points for having Tank Abbott as guest commentator, making it exciting to watch, and hilarious to listen to.
Don Frye VS Gary Goodridge 2 -The first of three entrants from the second Ultimate Ultimate event, this fight gave us a rematch between rivals Don Frye and Gary Goodridge, who met at the finals of UFC 8 in Puerto Rico. This time, both fighters were in better shape and had much more experience inside the cage. Most importantly, this fight was in the first round of the tournament, so both fighters were fresh unlike their first bout. Lasting over 11 minutes, this fight was one for the fans and is one worth watching to see, and could have only been made better if Goodridge's stamina was as good as his guts were.
Kimo VS Paul Varelans - You might be as surprised as we were to include this on the list, but if you go back and actually watch this fight from the Ultimate Ultimate 1996, you will see why we chose it. Who would ever expect Kimo Leopoldo and "The Polar Bear" to have a contest that involved strategy and technique instead of wildly swinging at each others heads? Kimo came into this fight in great shape, and with Joe Moreira at his side teaching him BJJ, this was a new day for Kimo who was working from the guard and fighting one of the best matches of his career. To his credit, Varelans did not back down either and was aggressive against Kimo, but eventually succumbed to punches and was forced to give up in a very exciting match that shattered all expectations of both fighters.
Don Frye VS Tank Abbott -The finals of the Ultimate Ultimate 1996 could not have been any more dramatic if they tried. Frye was beat up from his fight against Goodridge, and was still catching his breath after his short "fight" against Mark Hall, while Abbott had a slug-fest with Cal Worsham and near-decapitation of Steve Nelmark en route to the finals. Abbott had been in the first Ultimate Ultimate, losing to the man that would win the show later that night, and had yet to win any tournament despite being a huge fan-favorite.
Frye had won the UFC 8 tourney and was practically the star of the company in this era, so this fight was big. In pro wrestling terms, it was the equivalent of The Rock VS Stone Cold Steve Austin, the good guy vs the bad guy. While this fight lasted under 90 seconds, it was an insane bout that saw Abbott nearly toss Frye over the cage fence. Both men had nothing left but their hearts after this grueling tournament, and in the end, Frye walked away the winner by locking in a rear-naked choke on an extremely disappointed Tank. It was the perfect finale to one of the best UFC events of all time.
Thanks to June M. Williams for our Awards graphics.
Place your vote by writing in the comments, and let us know why you made your decision. Best answers will get read during our OSMMA Review Award Show episode!
"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!