My recent blog on Jeremy Horn set off a chain reaction of memories, of the way things were in this sport of MMA back in the early days. Let’s look at August 1998′s HOOKnSHOOT Quest.
Jeremy was about 3 months removed from his real, first breakthru performance, when he fought in UFC and took then golden boy Frank Shamrock to the wall before succumbing to a kneebar. Now he wasn’t just some kid who did fights, the whole MMA scene knew he could fight.
If I remember correctly, HnS Quest was a 2 day event, and on the first day Horn did a 30 minute grappling match against Brazilian Mario Roberto. Because of the grappling rules, it doesn’t appear on Horn’s official resume. The next day, Jeremy agreed to stay and help the small midwest show by refereeing the MMA fights.
The highlight of the show was a 4 man tournament, with no weight classes featuring 185 lb wrestler Ken Parr, 155 lb BJJ specialist Henry Matamoros, 190 lb fighter Dan Connor and 205 lb submission stylist Nick Starks.
The draw for the tournament was set, and Matamoros made short work of Parr with an armbar. Then something happened that we thankfully don’t really see in the sport anymore.
Nick Starks has been introduced, he is bouncing up and down in the ring. Horn approaches the promoter with a pair of gloves in hand and says ‘these are Dan Connor’s, he is gone’. The promoter, stressed by the rigors of running a small show almost singlehandedly, retorts ‘what do you mean gone?’
Horn explains he has been looking for Connor to glove him up, and that he wasn’t in the building. He let’s the promotion know that he asked around and Connor had been seen leaving in his car, and that Connor had bailed on the fight.
Connor, who was from somewhere in Ohio, had a reputation for ditching fights in his home state, but the HnS promoters hadn’t heard that yet.
At that point, Horn, still holding the gloves said ‘If you need me to, I’ll do the fight’.
He didn’t say for a thousand bucks, or even for a few hundred bucks. He said he would do the fight, and it is because he was trying to help the promoters out of a bind, and because he loves this sport.
In the end, Horn didn’t fight. Starks was given a bye and he fought Matamoros in a war for the finals. For afficionados, this is a fight worth looking up if you can find it, it is a genuinely fascinating view of the early days in the sport, with a 50 lb weight difference between competitors.
Nowadays, as they should, fighters get credit for taking a fight on short notice, a week or a few days. What about a guy like Horn, who was willing to fight with about 10 minutes notice? Well that is how you become a legend, my friends.