UFC The Early Years: What You May Have Missed Part 2 (UFC 3-5)

Friday, December 31st, 2010 by Tony Reid


*The first event held away from Denver in Charlotte, NC.

*According to the intro we now have 2 disciplines or styles “Punchers” and “Grapplers”

*Epic early UFC fight between Keith Hackney and Emmanuel Yarbrough. The classic David vs. Goliath matchup. Yarbrough is a 6’8” 616lb Sumo and Hackney is a 5’11” 200lb Kempo Karate guy. Hackney lands a big palm strike that stuns and drops Yarbrough. At one point Hackney ends up underneath Yarbrough but manages not to get crushed and gets back to his feet. They run into the gate, which opens and send both guys out toward the crowd. Yarbrough later gets dropped/falls over and lands like a beached whale.  Hackney pounces on his downed opponent and lands 36 unanswered right hands before Yarbrough call it quits.

*Next we were introduced to Harold Howard. He cut some of the most entertaining promos ever. He’s in the gym hitting a heavy bag that he breaks with a punch as sand flies everywhere, he interviews with his Terminator-esque sunglasses and we can’t forget the goatee and mullet! He fights like he just stepped out of the bad guy role in a Karate Kid movie. He won his first fight against Roland Payne due to strikes.

*Another man made his debut and quickly became a household name in the fighting world. Kimo, the layman minister, who spread the word of the Lord by kicking ass Amen! He had a very memorable entrance as he carried a huge wooden cross on his back as he walked to the cage. He was shrouded in mystery not answering many questions or even giving his last name (Leopoldo). He was accompanied by his very annoying sidekick Joe Son. Kimo made his time in the Octagon count when he fought Gracie in his first fight. It took Gracie 2 minutes to get the fight to the floor, and unheard of amount of time back then. Kimo actually had Royce’s back, Kimo powers out of many of Gracie’s sub attempts and eventually has his ponytail ripped out of his head for his efforts. After taking Royce farther than any other competitor had to this point, Gracie pulls off an armbar right in front of Helio to end the fight.

*Felix Lee Mitchell found out ten minutes before the fight that he was replacing an injured Keith Hackney (who broke his hand on Yarbrough’s big dome earlier) and stepping in to fight Ken Shamrock who won his first fight earlier in the night. 10 minutes notice to fight Ken Shamrock!  Guys complain today about a few weeks notice. Ken won rather quickly via rear naked choke.

*Gracie was then scheduled to take on Harold Howard in the tourney. The entire time the fighters were being introduced Gracie’s head was buried in the padding on the Octagon fence. There was a long delay and something was obviously wrong. All of a sudden the towel is thrown in from Gracie’s corner! He cannot continue and forfeits the fight. Gracie later stated that he was suffering from severe dehydration and could not continue. He was pushed to the limit by Kimo earlier in the night. After the cage clears Kimo and his Joe Son run into the Octagon hands raised in celebration. Kimo has shocked the world and his legendary status in the sport is sealed. When asked by one of the other very pro-Gracie announcers, about Gracie being unbeatable, Jim Brown simply stated “That myth is gone.”

*Shamrock was poised to take on Harold Howard but nope…Shamrock is out due to injury!

*The first celebrity sighting in the crowd in UFC History is none other than Gary Busey. That seems pretty fitting.

*Alternate Steve Jennum steps right into the finals against Howard. Jennum weathers Howard’s early barrage and quickly gets mount, lands punches in bunches and pounds out Howard. Steve Jennum is your UFC 3 Tournament Champion!

*A few takeaways from UFC 3. The tournament format really screwed them over this time around. The injury bug bit…hard! Gracie, Shamrock, Hackney and others were unable to continue due to various injuries. This is the beginning of the end for the spectacle of the tournament…at least for some of the bigger named, established fighters.



*Held in Tulsa, OK.

*Introducing Jeff Blatnick as one of our new friends behind the mic.

*51 year old, Traditional Martial Arts legend Ron Van Clief faced Royce Gracie in the opening fight. OK, so now everybody is doing the Gracie Train on the way to the Octagon. The Black Dragon is quickly taken down, side controlled, to mount and gives up his back as Gracie ends the fight with another rear naked choke.

*Joe Son, Kimo’s sidekick, makes his fighting debut praising the Lord and being a complete douchebag at the same time.  He follows in Kimo’s footsteps carrying the cross on his back to the cage. But at 5’4” and 236lb it hangs a little closer to the ground and seems to be a real pain in the ass for him to carry. Joe Son practices the art of Joesondo; no I didn’t make that up. He takes on Keith Hackney, who is ready to kick some ass in a tank top and sweat pants. Two things of note from this fight: 1. Hackney has side control on Son and repeatedly punches, will full force, Joe’s uh, little San’s, if you will. That moment scarred me for life. 2. Hackney wins via choke. What kind of choke you ask? Well, basically he tried to rip Son’s Adam’s apple from his throat. War Hackney!

*We saw our first somewhat highly decorated boxer in WBF Champ Melton Bowen. The only noteworthy item is that he was the first competitor to wear gloves that are very similar to the ones worn in MMA today.

*The world was introduced to Daniel Severn. The Beast introduced himself to Anthony Macias by suplexing him repeatedly and ending the fight early with a choke of his own. The suplexes to Macias are some of the most iconic images from the early UFC days.

*Royce then fought Hackney in a fight where we first saw his robotic standup. He did implement a little Muay Thai. He took Hackney down after a bit of a struggle and ended the fight with an armbar.

*We also got our first glimpse of Dan Severn’s overly sweaty grey t-shirt and the odd order in which he wiped off. Armpits then face? No, it should be face then armpits!

*Severn met Gracie in the finals but first they needed a rest period so we got out first glimpse of a pre Lion’s Den, ponytailed, Guy Mezger. He won his qualifying match, assuring himself a spot at UFC 5.

*In what was an early fight for the ages, Severn quickly scored a takedown on Gracie and landed in guard. The first “USA” chant in UFC history can be heard here. Rorion (the promoter and Royce’s brother) can be seen in Royce’s corner shouting instructions. Conflict of interest anyone? Gracie attempts a number of submissions and after 15 minutes of lying in guard all of a sudden Severn gives three big taps to the mat! Its over! All is well in the UFC! Royce is champ again!

*A few takeaways from UFC 4. Royce shows first hand that his family’s style can do what they intended it to do…stop a bigger, stronger guy that appears to have all the advantages in a fight. The Gracie Severn final was at the time, the longest fight in UFC history.



*What Royce’s earlier opponent is now the IFC Commissioner? Ron Van Clief is cage side.

*Another interesting career record is Andy Anderson’s, who is 86-0 in bare knuckle fights with all wins by knockout!

*Anderson takes on Jon Hess in what might be one of if not the worst fight in UFC history. What can I say? This is a fight you could see at any time in any trailer park across this great country of ours.

*Todd Medina took on Larry Cureton and was the first competitor to make real use of the head butt. He won the fight against Cureton but in looking at his forehead after the fight you will see why the head might not be the best option to use to strike your opponent.

*We were then introduced the “The Russian Bear” Oleg Taktarov, who looks like he just rolled out of bed. He subbed his first opponent “The Fighting Paramedic” Ernie Verdecia. This would not be the only time we hear the name Taktarov.

*Dan Severn returned to take on Joe Charles, also known as the “Ghetto Man”. In The “Ghetto Man’s pre fight interview he was dressed like Aladdin, swinging a rock from side to side. Fittingly enough Charles walkout music was “Ghetto Jam” by rapper Domino. Severn was having none of it and ended the fight with a choke within the first few minutes. Severn came out noticeably more aggressive, landing more strikes and staying more active on the ground.

*Severn then faced Oleg Taktarov. Severn walks out to the cage with his corner men holding his NWA Heavyweight Title high above their heads. Severn again shows more aggression and lands a take down and begins to deliver huge knees to the head/ face of Taktarov, opening up a huge gash on Taktarov’s head. Blood was flowing all over Taktarov’s face and into his eyes. Severn landed a few more big knees and referee John McCarthy was forced to call a stop to the fight. Severn jumped to his feet and let out a yell and showed his iconic Beast Face.

*We have our first Super Fight! Ken Shamrock was looking for revenge against Royce Gracie. This was a fight all fans were excited to see. Well, it consisted of 31 minutes of Shamrock lying in Gracie’s guard. We then saw a 5 minute overtime period that started on the feet. Shamrock landed a big punch that had Gracie’s face swelling immediately. Well, that was about it as the rest of the overtime period went the way of the regulation with Shamrock lying in Gracie’s Guard. The fight ended as a draw but it was like Shamrock won, basically by not losing. Both men were brought to their feet and hands raised. There was a lot of booing and “Bullshit” chants. The fans were not happy. Many of the fighters from earlier in the evening came out to congratulate Ken, as if he had won.

Back to the tournament! Severn was taking on Dave Beneteau in the final. The Beast takes him down and subs him with a kimura. Severn’s entourage rushes the cage, yelling, clapping and throwing beverages on him. The classic picture of Severn holding two titles (his NWA HW Championship) and the UFC Championship. He became the first person to hold a pro wrestling title and the UFC title simultaneously.

*A few takeaways from UFC 5. You can now pick up official UFC merchandise such as t-shirts, hats, and…workout pants? In the first five events there were a lot of bare knuckles, Asics, gi tops and bottoms, some sweatpants and tank tops. The ground was still a mystery with Royce doing his best to educate the combat world. There were many times where the announcers had absolutely no idea what was going on. There were a few guys in the early shows wearing MET-Rx and other supplement companies shirt but I doubt most were official sponsors. The first guy to have his very own signature shirt was Anthony “Mad Dog” Macias who had a Mad Dog shirt that was reminiscent of the airbrushed shirts you can get at carnivals and fairs. And finally, Corner men weren’t actually in the corner so to speak. They literally were at the cage hands through the fencing and faces pressed within inches of the fighters and following them around the cage to wherever the action was! So that is a brief Cliff’s Notes version of UFC 1 through 5. Look for my rundown of 6-10 in the next issue!