While most fighters talk with their fists, many of them trying actually using their voices every now and then. Back in the good ole' days of no-holds-barred cage fighting, the internet was just beginning to be a thing. Like all fighting promotions, be it boxing or pro-wrestling, the UFC knew that they had to have their fighters grab a mic and talk in front of a camera to show their personalities beyond the octagon and let them know who they were supposed to cheer and boo.
While some of these old school UFC interviews and promos were solid, a good portion were more than cringe-worthy. As part of our OSMMA Review Awards, it's time to determine which of these were the best and left you wanting more (whether it was genuinely good, or it was just so bad you needed to hear it again).
Without further ado, here are the nominees for Best Promo/Interview:
Gary Goodridge has a "Superior Mind" - Gary Goodridge had an amazing entrance into the world of MMA at UFC 8, decimating Paul Herrera with one of the most brutal knockouts ever seen in the sport to this day. A beast inside the cage (albeit one with a limited gas tank), he was smooth and thoughtful when he spoke before and after his fights. Taking a page out of pro-wrestling, Gary cut a cool promo that wold become his trademark at future shows, citing that he would win because he had a "superior attitude, superior mind, and superior strength". This would also be part of his post-fight interview when he lost, because he was still superior even in defeat.
Dan Severn's UFC 5 promos -Dan "The Beast" Severn was the runner-up at UFC 4 when he debuted, but audiences still loved this athletic mustached wrestler. The UFC cashed in on this affection by bringing him back for UFC 5, and basically focusing the entire show on him, right down to calling the event "The Return of the Beast". While his interviews were nothing special at UFC 4, his personality changed into his pro-wrestling one for this tournament, which was convenient since he was the NWA Heavyweight Champion at this time, too. Nearly all of Dan's interviews involved him saying "It was time to unleash the beast", and things like it, but none of them felt too convincing since they were all done in his monotone voice. Good fighter, good pro wrestler, not so good at cutting promos.
Don Frye says "Lock up your wives & daughters" - Don Frye was not too charismatic at his first UFC (the same one that Goodridge debuted at), and came off as an extremely friendly guy that looked like he should be a firefighter or soccer dad. It did not take long for Frye to change his look, as once he joined forces with Dan Severn, he began doing pro-wrestling style promos and interviews with the most generic and cliched catchphrases you could think of.
Scott Ferrozzo: Ric Flair style promo -Going one step further with the pro-wrestling antic, Scott Ferrozzo elevated the UFC promo to a new level. When "The Pitbull" debuted at UFC 8 (are you seeing a trend here?), he was a mean-looking, and surprisingly athletic big man who stood down for any challenge. That challenge was typically threatening Tank Abbott to a fight, which he eventually got at UFC 11 and had a tremendous bout against that he came out of as the winner. At the following event, the Ultimate Ultimate 1996, Ferrozzo was not booked to fight, but he was in attendance to speak with Bruce Beck.
UFC 12 was going to mark a new direction for the promotion, and part of this was building new stars. Scott Ferrozzo was going to be one of them, so he came out dressed in his finest custom-made suit and "expensive" sunglasses, and challenged everyone to fight while saying that he was the best-dressed and best-looking fighter in the UFC. This promo ended with a shot of the UFC ring card girls all sitting in a row chanting his name, because even they wanted a piece of this 330 lb. fighter. It was a bizarre way to repackage Ferrozzo, and in the long run, was probably a bad idea since he only fought once more in the UFC after this.
Tank Abbott: Any time - Let's face it. Anything that Tank Abbott says is pure gold. Ever. After his first UFC tournament, he said, "After a match, my opponent goes to the hospital and gets an IV, and I have a martini." While watching a replay of his KO win over John Matua, he said ""I'm starting to get sexually aroused right now, you better get that off." While discussing his loss to Dan Severn, he said "I dreamed that I was being raped by Freddy Mercury." Abbott was the original bad boy of MMA, with his beer-swilling and homophobic quotes that remain gems to this day.
Joe Son and the power of Christ - Before I babble about this nominee, I want to make it clear that I am not belittling anyone that is religious. What I am belittling is Joe Son and his misuse of religion during his early UFC promos. Aside from entering the cage with an enormous wooden crucifix on his back and hand-written religious signs with misspellings on them, Joe Son used his time in the UFC to testify and "bring glory to Christ" and things like that. There are a lot of other fighters that I believe bring said glory to their beliefs much better, like Jon Jones or Emmanuel Newton, but Joe Son came off as preachy in the worst way possible - completely disingenuous and exploitative. Plus, he sucked as a fighter, but that's not really the point this time.
Harold Howard admits he loves his family - Harold Howard made an impact at UFC 3, making it all the way to the finals only to lose to alternate Steve Jennum. The Canadian Karate fighter took some time off and returned at UFC 7 to face Mark Hall in a losing effort. Afterwards, Jeff Blatnick interviewed Howard, who "admitted that he loved his family" and would return home to spend time with them. In a sad twist of fate, Howard attacked his family in 2009 with his rampage ending when he crashed his truck into a casino. Howard was charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault with a weapon, attempted break and enter, fail to remain, flight from police, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, mischief and two counts of breach of recognizance. So much for that quote...
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!