As we head into 2012, the UFC stands alone at the top of the heap as far as MMA companies are concerned, however over the years they have had some competition. Forget about the business end, some of these competitors have had incredible bouts of historical importance and have changed the sport. Looking back at the early history of MMA, one of these competitors was Battlecade: Extreme Fighting, where the matchmaker was Jon Perreti. Looking back at the show with all it’s flaws, the fights definitely served to advance the sport. Battlecade: Extreme Fighting held four PPV events from November of 1995 to March of 1997, and every show is worthy of a look for historical purposes.
The first major innovation of BATTLECADE was the weight classes, which they used since their inaugural show. The weight classes definitely changed the shape of the competition, and it was the first place to see smaller athletes like Jon Lewis, Ralph Gracie, Carlos Newton and several other athletes of note.
Perreti would turn up as the UFC’s matchmaker for a run in the pre-Zuffa UFC, and he was responsible for bringing a lot of innovation there as well. But Perreti would always be a controversial figure, and this showed in Battlecade, as Perreti also doubled as the commentator on the PPV broadcasts (with Dave Bontempo, who went on to become a well known Boxing analyst and broadcaster). His commentary was widely criticized as arrogant and overbearing, but the guy deserves credit for being a pioneer in the sport and the bottom line is that when it comes to fights Perreti did know what he was talking about.
I have been blogging about the lineage of the UFC Heavyweight Championship, and Maurice Smith‘s earthshaking, MMA defining KO of Mark Coleman for that title was noted for it’s place in history. Smith had captured the Battlecade Heavyweight title with a similar KO of BJJ stylist Marcus ‘Conan’ Silveira earlier in his career.
On the third Battlecade event, Smith and Silva would battle into the third round with Smith conserving energy fighting as a counterpuncher, while Silveira was tiring. Smith would seal the deal less than two minutes into the third round, with a kick to the head that toppled “Conan’. The referee stopped the match as Smith closed for the finish.
Once a true Hall of Fame is enshrined for the sport of MMA, and not one that is just the UFC, I believe Maurice Smith deserves to go in, despite a losing career record. His destruction of a BJJ artist and a wrestler to capture the two biggest belts at the time firmly carve his place in history. The same goes for Perreti, he is certainly a true first ballot Hall of Famer. I hear he is experiencing a physical decline as we head into 2012, I do wish him well.
Certainly deserving a place in the Hall of Fame is the short lived, 4 event run of shows that was Battlecade. For any real fan of MMA who is looking to see a real window into the development of the sport, the Battlecade: Extreme Challenge is required viewing.