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Top 10 UFC Fights Before Decisions Were An Option

Though the announcement was made way back on March 27th that the Fertittas had purchased PRIDE Fighting Championships, that wasn't exactly true. Yes, the purchase was obviously going to go through or they wouldn't have announced it, but the actual nuts and bolts of the transfer wasn't made official until just a couple of days ago.

Interestingly, with this recent changing of the guard White promised that the UFC was going to get all of the PRIDE fighters. Such statements have many wondering whether or not the PRIDE organization will actually run as a separate entity from the UFC--as was originally stated by those involved in the purchase--or not.

Thus, we could truly be looking at the end of PRIDE in both name and organization.
And with that, special rules fights (Gracie- Yoshida) and open weight tournaments are likely history. Further, the chance that there will ever be another high level mixed martial arts battle where decisions aren't handed out is probably also gone, as if that was ever going to be done again it likely would've happened in PRIDE (Japanese rules regarding such things are much looser than America's).

Thus, now would seem to be a good time to remember what was regarding those early UFC days. Yes, MMA is a much more marketable venue these days. That said, the whole two men enter and one leaves philosophy sure had its allure to, no?

The Top 10 UFC Fights before decisions and rounds were an option

Here are the two criteria in order of importance

1. The fight itself (the best fights are usually those that encompass some back and forth action). That said, the meaning of the fight will be weighed nearly as heavily as many of the early fights were important because of what they may have taught us regarding fighting and/ or their impact on the sport. Thus, some fights will make this list not because they were actually competitive, but rather because they meant something to the sport in general.

2. The length of the fight weighed in at times and not rounds, no time limit bouts are now and forever a thing of the past.

10. Royce Gracie vs. Minoki Ichihara

Event: UFC 2: No Way Out on 3/11/94

Result: Gracie wins via Lapel Choke in 5:08.

The Fight: Not a great fight. Heck, not even a good one. But this fight had great meaning. You see, after the first UFC many still believed that the problem had been that the world's best stand up fighters simply hadn't shown up. Thus, when Ichihara showed up with his vast Karate resume, people thought things were about to take a different path.

Not so. Royce took Ichihara down easily and then slowly worked his way to a submission victory.

9. David "Tank" Abbott vs. John Matua

Event: UFC 6: Clash of the Titans on 7/14/95

Result: Abbott wins via KO in 20 seconds.

The Fight: As one sided as it gets. That said, with this fight the world got to see a different type of martial artist (Tank might even say that he isn't a martial artist at all). Simply put, Abbott was a powerfully built athlete that really wanted to hurt people (he just didn't care about all of that respect stuff that the other fighters were preaching).

And oh boy was that ever obvious during and after this fight.

8. Royce Gracie vs. Gerard Gordeau

Event: UFC 1: The Beginning on 11/12/93

Result: Gracie wins via rear naked choke in 1:44.

The Fight: Another one of those striker versus grappler match ups. In other words, Gracie took Gordeau down and submitted him rather easily. That said, it was the first UFC Championship.

So it has to make the list.

7. Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn

Event: UFC 6: Clash of the Titans on 7/14/95

Result: Shamrock wins via guillotine choke

The Fight: A fast one. That said, all of those people that were saying submission fighting had merely gotten lucky when Gracie defeated Severn were shown different by Shamrock. "The World's Most Dangerous Man," caught Severn while attempting a takedown and did what he did best back then.
He forced him to tap.

6. Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie

Event: UFC 1: The Beginning on 11/12/93

Result: Gracie wins via rear naked choke in 57 seconds.

The Fight: Gracie looked very small next to Shamrock. Further, Shamrock was the only other person in the tournament that truly knew submissions. A recipe for disaster, right?

Wrong. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu came out victorious quite quickly when Gracie snaked around Shamrock's back and made him tap.

5. Pat Smith vs. Ken Shamrock

Event: UFC 1: The Beginning on 11/12/93

Result: Shamrock wins via heel hook in 1:49.

The Fight: Smith was a big- bad kickboxer with an amazing level of confidence (in other words, he liked to talk junk). Further, he was all about throwing punches and kicks with bad intentions (just ask Ninjitsu practitioner Scott Morris about it). Shamrock, on the other hand, was a guy that had fought over in Japan and apparently knew something about this thing called submissions.

One minute and forty nine seconds later, people were introduced to what happens when a heel hook is delivered by a man that knows how. With Smith screaming on the canvas, Shamrock's hand was raised.

Welcome to the world of submission fighting.

4. Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney

Event: UFC 4: Revenge of the Warriors on 12/16/94

Result: Gracie wins via armlock in 5:32.

The Fight: Here's what made this fight a good one. For perhaps the first time since Kimo Leopoldo (that fight is coming) Gracie had to work for a takedown. Though Hackney didn't necessarily do much in the line of damage to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner while on his feet, he did make him work. Which, by the way, made what Gracie did later at UFC 5 in the championship bout that much more special.

3. Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo

Event: UFC 3: The American Dream on 9/9/94

Result: Gracie wins via armlock in 4:40.

The Fight: What a war! This was the first time that Royce Gracie was truly challenged in the UFC Octagon as the much bigger and stronger Kimo really went to work swinging away and throwing him around. That said, there's this thing called hair pulling that was legal in the sport back then, and Gracie used it to a tee to control the bigger Leopoldo.

And after 4:40 of work, Gracie recovered from Kimo's initial onslaught enough to submit him. However, he was worse for the wear and was unable to continue.
Thus, this war prevented Gracie from winning his third straight UFC tournament.

2. Oleg Taktarov vs. David "Tank" Abbott

Event: UFC 6: Clash of the Titans on 7/14/95

Result: Taktarov wins by rear naked choke in 17:45.

The Fight: These two battled fiercely. That said, most of this fight involved Abbott lying on top of Taktarov and trying to bloody him. But in the end, Abbott learned something that all MMA fighters should know (particularly if you're going to engage in a roundless sudden death tournament).

Cardio is everything. And because Taktarov's was slightly better than Tank's, the Russian fighter took advantage and won via submission (though in reality he won via exhaustion).

1. Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn

Event: UFC 4: Revenge of the Warriors on 12/16/94

Result: Gracie wins via triangle in 15:49.

The Fight: Sure Gracie and this BJJ thing was good against lesser athletes, but how about against an Olympic caliber Greco-Roman wrestler that outweighed him by 80 pounds? Along those lines, for most of the 15 plus minutes of this fight, Severn dominated his opponent, taking him down and drilling him with strikes.

But then Severn started to get tired. Soon after, Gracie did something that up until that point few knew was possible.

He choked him out by using his own legs and opponent's arm. And something called the triangle choke became a little better known.

Honorable Mention

Emmanuelle Yarborough vs. Keith Hackney

Event: UFC 3: The American Dream on 9/9/94

Result: Hackney wins via TKO in 1:59.

The Fight: Though we already knew by the time this fight went off that the bigger man didn't always win, Sumo wrestling was an entirely different thing. Thus, when Sumo wrestler Emmanuelle Yarborough (all 600 pounds of him) walked into the Octagon to take on Hackney (200 pounds) the world watched with bated breath.

And what they saw was an open handed punch that helped floor Yarborough for good. Technique over size won once again (besides, you've got to put a Sumo wrestler somewhere in here).

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