The spectacle of the early days of the UFC are a long way behind us, and there were certainly many ups and downs. The path was all new, and the learning curve was large for the people behind the scenes and the fighters in the cage as everyone learned what it took to make the sport a success.
Some memories make you cringe, and some make you laugh. Make no mistake there are vivid and fond memories from the first 10 events that were ever held by the UFC. Fighters such as Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Kimo Leopoldo, Oleg Taktarov and Tank Abbott are etched in our minds.
Here are The Best Moments From UFC 1 to 10.
At UFC 4, many people wanted to see Joe Son get beat to a pulp due to his loud-mouth style while managing his fighter Kimo Leopoldo at UFC 3. Keith Hackney was the first man to get a shot at Joe Son, and he made it count in many more ways then one.
Early on in the fight, Hackney got side position on Son while the latter tried to apply a choke. As Son lay beneath him wide open, Hackney rained down a series of consecutive punches to the groin. They were legal shots at the time, and it was the beginning of the end for Son as Hackney went on to submit him at 2:44 of the fight.
The referee of a fight really makes no difference to me nowadays in MMA, but in the early days, there was a favorite that I liked to watch.
UFC 2 was the first event that "Big" John worked on, and he introduced what would become his own very catchy and motivating tag line.
Before each fight he would look and point at each fighter and say, "Are you ready? Are you ready? Then let's get it on!" Then the fighters would head out to the middle of the octagon for battle.
There is a lot more to the fighter intros in the modern day UFC, but I will always remember the early days of McCarthy starting the fight.
Russian fighter Oleg Taktarov made his Ultimate Fighting debut at UFC 5, and a memorable debut it was. Taktarov won his first fight and faced Dan Severn in the second. Taktarov suffered a bad cut early in the fight, but he continued to fight on against the constant pressure from The Beast.
Taktarov eventually lost the fight via TKO at 4:21 when the referee and doctor stopped the fight due to the cut. It was one of the worst cases of bleeding in UFC history, and Taktarov was an instant fan favorite from then on.
The thrill about watching Tank Abbott fight was that whether you loved him or hated him, a knockout was going to happen at some point.
Abbott had the ability to attract a crowd, and at UFC 6 he debuted against John Matua. It only took Tank 20 seconds to cement his legend as he knocked Matua out cold with a crushing blow and then mocked him as he lay flat out with his arms out stretched in the air.
Abbott became a polarizing figure from that act on, and it was one of the best moments of the early spectacle.
At 6'8" and 280 pounds, Paul "The Polar Bear" Varelans was one of the biggest men in the early days of UFC competition. He used a mauling and heavy-bear style to take out guys smaller than he.
At UFC 7 from Buffalo, N.Y., Varelans made it all the way to the tournament finals where he faced Brazilian Vale Tudo expert Marco Ruas.
The size difference was immense going in, but Ruas proceeded to batter and bruise Varelans' legs through out the championship fight.
It turned out to be the beginning of the end for Varelans as he eventually succumbed to Ruas' barrage of strikes at 13:17 of the epic struggle. Even in a loss, it was Varelans' shining moment as he proved his toughness in defeat.
When the list of fighters came on the screen at UFC 1, it was clear to me who the two tournament finalists would be.
Royce Gracie, the brilliant submission jiu-jitsu artist, or the chiseled and dangerous Ken Shamrock out of the Shooto Organization in Japan. Both these men had reputations that preceded them and a fighting resume already known around the world.
As it turned out, due to bracket and circumstance, the two would first meet in the tournament semifinal in a clash that many saw as the winner-takes-all in the inaugural event.
The fighting started quickly as the two met in the middle of the octagon, and Shamrock was able to sprawl on a takedown attempt from Gracie and ended up in his open guard. In leaning back for a heel hook, Shamrock lost position on Gracie and ended up on the bottom where Royce maneuvered for the rear naked choke.
The referee failed to see the tap at first, and Gracie let go of the hold before the fight was actually called. He then yelled at Shamrock to concede the tap out, and Shamrock quickly obliged.
If manager Joe Son and Kimo Leopoldo wanted to shock audiences their entrance into the UFC at UFC 3, they certainly did a good job of it. Kimo came to the cage with a cross on his back.
They had been preaching that they were going to end Royce Gracie's reign, and they got their chance in the first-round match. Kimo came out strong and hard, and it took every ounce of energy and toughness Gracie had to secure the submission victory at 4:40 of the fight.
Leopoldo handed Gracie his toughest test to date and made a name for himself in the process. Gracie was so exhausted and damaged from the fight that his team had to throw in the towel before his semifinal match, knocking him out of the Ultimate Fighter tournament for the first time in his career.
Part of the excitement and memory of UFC 1 is that you really just had no idea what you were about to see next when you tuned into the show.
A perfect case in point was the arrival of highly ranked boxer Art Jimmerson.
Jimmerson had the misfortune of drawing Royce Gracie in his first ever UFC fight. You knew he had no chance as soon as he entered the walk down to the cage. Jimmerson and his team thought it would be to his advantage to arm him with one boxing glove for his battle with the Brazilian Gracie.
Not only did it look awkward and full of gimmick, it also hampered Jimmerson's ability to defend or strike in his bout with Gracie, and his end came at 2:18 of the fight.
There was a highlight from the early days of the UFC that always sticks out in my mind when I think of what separated it from any other combat sport we had ever known.
At UFC 8, Gary "Big Daddy" Goodridge took on veteran fighter Paul Herrera in the opening round of the tournament and quickly put Herrera in an early crucifix position down on the mat.
With Herrera's head perfectly exposed, Goodridge proceeded to throw vicious piston-like elbows to the open head of Herrera, knocking him out cold at 13 seconds of the fight.
It is an early, raw and real look at the unorthodox strikes that can do the ultimate damage in the cage.
The very first fight ever in the UFC was a clear sign of the toughness and courage that it takes to compete inside the octagon.
Karate champion Gerard Gordeau took on 430-pound Hawaiian sumo wrestler Teila Tuli to kick off the inaugural event. The fighters quickly hit a scramble that saw Tuli fall down to the ground in the process. Gordeau proceeded to deliver a head kick to the down big man, knocking his tooth clean out of his mouth.
Everyone in attendance knew from that point on that there was nothing fake about this brutal competition. It marked the arrival of the sport and provided a vivid UFC highlight and moment for many years to come.