I find Top Ten lists to be subjective and a little stale. I’ve been reading SHERDOG’s recent top ten list of all time heavyweights and I could nitpick here and there, change the order, blah blah blah.
So I decided to have a little fun, and list five of those matches from the early days that really highlight the difference between what the sport was and what it has become. For the mountains of new fans who may have missed some of the history, here are five fights that are must see!
#5 JAMES WARRING versus ERIK PAULSON
Phew. Warring, a cruiserweight boxer did an MMA tournament called the World Combat Championship back in 1995, and he lost in the finals to Renzo Gracie.
But in the semi finals he faced a submission specialist named Erik Paulson. There were no gloves, and hair pulling was allowed back then. Incredibly, Paulson came into the fight with long hair. Do you want to see what 15 minutes of hair pulling looks like? This was the match that got hair pulling banned.
#4 ANDY ANDERSON versus JON HESS
This was a UFC classic! Let’s just say we are extremely unlikely to see an MMA match that features a double knee drop ever again! This was about 90 seconds of furious action between two of perhaps the least skilled guys ever in the octagon. This was also 1995, and it was UFC 5!
Two things to mention. UFC fighters Mikey Burnett and Jerry Bohlander, both from Ken Shamrock’s Lion’s Den, used to do an absolutely hilarious simulation of the double knee drop.
The second is the honorable mention of Jon Hess, since he was the debut fight for a guy named Vitor Belfort in Hawaii’s Superbrawl event. Little known fact, Belfort fought as Vitor Gracie back then. Check that one out too!
# 3 EMANUEL YARBOROUGH versus KEITH HACKNEY
Now we are at 1994′s UFC 3. Hackney became known as the ‘Giant Killer’ for this bout, where he took out the sumo Yarborough despite giving up more than a 400 lb weight difference. Yes, 400 pounds.
Hackney got the sumo off his feet and proceded to rain punches down on his head. With no gloves at the time, this is a perfect instructional on how to break your hand on another man’s head!
#2 GERARD GORDEAUX versus TEILA TULI
This was UFC 1, and the show had a preliminary fight or two before this, but this was the first fight of the PPV. It is an absolute piece of history that is must see viewing for the MMA fan.
Tuli, who was a sumo stylist, charges and Gordeaux sprawls and knocks the sumo down. Gordeaux, a karate fighter from Holland makes some distance and procedes to kick the downed Tuli in the face, and teeth are flying. The announcers, the referee, Tuli, Gordeaux, no one knows what to do! What follows is mass confusion until someone decides the fight should not continue. I think it was Tuli who didn’t want anymore.
#1 KEITH HACKNEY versus JOE SAN
Yes Keith makes the list again! This is the match that got nut shots banned! Just watch it and you will see why! Hackney grounded San, and just blasted his nether regions with punches. In an era when no cups were worn, every shot is enough to make any man cringe. San took more shots than most guys would, I’ll give him credit for that and awful technique. This was UFC 4!
So there you have it, five matches that changed the sport for the better. Because the sport has so many new fans there may be a lot of folks who havent seen them, but they are must see viewing. I’m sure I could think of 100 more, so be on the lookout for more recommendations.