It’s a sadly misused term these days, thrown around mainly by youngsters who try to lend to themselves and their opinions the legitimacy of history.
“I do it old school, brah,” and so on.
Well, brah, no you don’t, but I digress.
When it comes to the topic of MMA, old school is a relative term. But for those who really are of the old guard, no one will argue against the term being directly associated with the IVC and WVC.
What are the IVC and the WVC, you ask?
It’s the International Vale-Tudo Championships and the World Vale-Tudo Championships, brah. It’s bare-knuckle MMA in a ring with a net at the bottom so fighters couldn’t roll out onto the floor. It’s all the normal attacks in MMA, plus head-butts and knees and kicks to the head of a downed opponent.
It’s old school, brah, in the land where “anything goes” really means something: Brazil.
Here are six bouts (plus one grappling match) with some big names you might recognize, doing it old school and keeping it real.
What more needs to be said about Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva?
This was one of the first real tests for Wanderlei—going against the very tough, athletic wrestler Mike van Arsdale, who at the time was making a lot of noise.
Back in the days of the IVC, Wanderlei was really in his element, and it is still a treat to get to see him coming into his own. The rules seemed tailor-made for him, or was it the other way around?
You be the judge.
For those of you who don’t know Dan Severn, he won the UFC 5 tournament, the first Ultimate Ultimate tournament, and the UFC Superfight title at UFC 9. He is also the first true “old man” of the sport, and he is still fighting today in his mid-50s.
What is great about Severn is that he is a true renaissance man of the sport.
He has fought almost everywhere, never content to sit around and gather dust like many of his younger contemporaries fighting in the UFC and Strikeforce.
Ebenezer Fontes Braga is your typical Brazilian fighter, plus more, meaning he brings a well-rounded package of grit, jiu-jitsu and striking into the ring, not concerned about the weight he was giving away.
Not the best fight out there, but worthy of mention all the same.
Viewer Warning: Not for the squeamish, to be sure.
This was one of those fights that not only remains as a “gut check” for the fighters, but the fans as well.
Very rarely do we see the groin attacked intentionally, but in this fight, you do: with a vengeance.
Although we saw it in the early days of the UFC, with Keith Hackney against the now imprisoned Joe-Son, all are secondary to this.
Especially when you consider the power both men possess.
You might recognize Gary Goodridge. He is famous for one of the most brutal KOs in UFC history, at UFC 8, against Paul Herrera. He also has fought legends in Pride and is generally regarded as one of the baddest men of the sport during his day.
Some things have to be seen to be believed, and this fight is proof positive that you could see it all in the IVC.
This fight came early in the career of “The Ice Man,” and he got thrown into the fire early, fighting one of the best Brazilian fighters around, Jose Landi-Jons.
It was striker vs. striker, jiu-jitsu expert vs. excellent wrestler. It was also man against man, and it really was an excellent fight.
Fights like this happen once every so often, and the fact that there is still existing video footage makes this a must watch.
This was the second of three fights Mark Kerr would have on a hot night in Brazil.
Kerr would continue to mow through the competition on that night, and in looking back, it was one of the true quintessential performances of an up-and-coming prodigy.
Make no mistake about it: Kerr, at this time, was every bit as dangerous, awe-inspiring and breath-taking as Jon Jones or Ronda Rousey is today, and more so.
Based on the strength of his performances on this night, and two other nights (UFC 14 and UFC 15), the public at large was declaring that no one could touch this man, and more, they were reaching high and deep into their hero bag, grasping for the only man they thought could stand a chance against him: Rickson Gracie.
Kerr was not only a great wrestler with strength to burn, but he had an exceptional intellect, and based upon that, he began to grow into a great mixed martial artist; a wrestler learning how to strike while mastering the art of submissions.
People laugh at Kerr now, because history has given them the distance of hindsight.
But at that time, you’d have been thought a fool and an idiot to debate the relevance and dominance attached to his name.
NOTE: This video may be labeled incorrectly.
Two legends of the sport gave us two great fights.
The first was when they met at The Ultimate Ultimate tournament in 1995. Taktarov walked away with a decision that night, but it was a fight that could have really gone either way.
The second time around, Taktarov made the trip to Brazil, and this was the result.
After Royce Gracie left the UFC, his legions of fans waited for him to return to active combative status, in any way possible.
They got a “sport jiu-jitsu” match against Carlson Gracie-trained Wallid Ismail. It appeared their wish had been granted.
In this highly anticipated bout, fans of Royce Gracie got to see him do what he does best, grapple, against a savvy opponent.
It isn’t long, but it ends thanks to a somewhat obscured “clock choke.”
Watch and enjoy.