I found these highlights from the Pancrase show held in November of 1996. It is a bout between Bas Rutten and Masa Funaki, and there is a lot of history in this one match alone.
First, check out the video -
Pancrase as an organization ran its first show in September of 1993, 2 months before the UFC debuted on PPV.
The company used MMA rules basically, but as you can see on the video, they do not allow closed fisted punching to the head, so it is all open hand strikes to the head. All kicks and knees are legal standing, on the ground there is limited striking. Pancrase was looking at the sport aspect of MMA from the beginning, though accusations of worked fights and a general feeling that it was ‘light’ when people saw UFC and the more rugged ‘Vale Tudo’ from Brazil and Russia prevented them from exploding.
Now, in the United States, Bas Rutten is best known for his commentating, and his HDNET gig. He only fought twice in the UFC and never again after 1999. Despite the fact he retired UFC heavyweight champion, you really have to go back to his days with Pancrase to appreciate the athlete that Bas was. He was a vicious striker. His kicks and knees were very strong and precise. His open hand strikes had KO power, he throws them from short distances, with a lot power behind them.
Funaki was one of Pancrase’s biggest stars. He is probably best remembered as the man who last fought Rickson Gracie. He also competed in the early tournaments held by DREAM, however he is another athlete you have to go back to his Pancrase days to see in his prime.
Pancrase featured many fighters that would go on to compete in the UFC. The company has a library of video that includes Ken and Frank Shamrock, Vernon White, Jason Delucia, Evan Tanner, Chris Lytle, Semmy Shilt, Guy Mezger and too many more to mention.
A lot of people may not like this type of fighting, but consider that in the early to mid nineties MMA was not known at all, and many were watching true groundfighting for the first time.
The video is dedicated to anyone who thinks you can F^*% a guy up with just an open hand!