UFC 7 Review: Ken Shamrock vs. Oleg Taktarov

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UFC 7 Review: Ken Shamrock vs. Oleg Taktarov

Another UFC, another tournament, and another potentially sleep-inducing superfight. I hate this show already!

This one is called The Brawl in Buffalo. I misheard it initially and got really excited about seeing a brawling buffalo, but alas.

There are 14 different disciples being represented tonight, despite there only being 10 fighters. Some disciples are here in spirit.

Our superfight is The Rock vs. The Russian Bear, which sadly is not Dwayne Johnson vs. a wild Siberian animal, but Ken Shamrock v Oleg Taktarov. I’m sure it’ll be just as good. Technically, this is also the first title defence in the UFC.

Blatnick opens the show right on the verge of delivering an effective and dramatic promo about the intensity of the Octagon, until he starts stuttering and screws it all up. So close! We have four returning UFC vets: Paul "The Polar Bear" Varelans (UFC 6); Harold Howard (UFC 3); Remco Pardoel (UFC 2); and ‘Thunderfoot’ Larry Cureton (UFC 4)

Blatnick quotes Harold Howard: "It's a great rush, eh? It makes your sphincter get real tight!" In his mind, it gives the phrase "pucker up" real meaning. Now I have a mental image of Jeff Blatnick kissing Harold Howard's anus. Thanks, Jeff.

Beck wonders how to make a transition from that. You can't, Bruce. Nobody can. Just call off the whole damn event.

Championship kickboxer "The Dragon" Don Wilson replaces the increasingly grumpy Jim Brown as the newest member of the announce team. Wilson doesn't really look like a fighter, more like an accountant or a serial killer. Wilson says his discipline inside the Octagon would be defendo. Mine would be snookerballinasocko.

Leon Tabbs is the "fabled" cutman. The same cutman from Megaman? Returning is Ron Van Clief. He's not the dragon. He's the BLACK dragon. Yes Bruce, you put him in his place.

Quarter Final: Gerry Harris v Paul Varelans

The opener must be one of the biggest in history, with the 6'8", 260 lbs Harris vs. 6'8", 300 lbs Varelans. Harris gives up his back after a takedown, but Varelans doesn't opt for the obvious choke. I guess this blog is achieving its aim when I can spot obvious submission moves after watching six events.

Varelans tries his utmost to break his hands over Harris's head, and then lands some nasty elbows for the tapout. Varelans celebrates with (what else) a bear roll. This guy reminds me of Kuma from Tekken.

Quarter Final: Mark Hall v Harold Howard 

The mouthwatering battle of the H's. Howard, the giant chicken, gets the takedown, but Hall rolls over and manages to mount the 50lbs heavier Howard,  landing some meaty strikes to the face. Howard is failing miserably at controlling Hall's head, as his face turns the colour of cabernet sauvignon.

Hall, out of desperation, grabs hold of Howard's terrible mullety hair and gives it a good yank. Howard's face is messed up badly, and he submits before his good looks are damaged any further. The replay shows Howard making an X with his hands several times, before Hall gives him another smack anyway. I guess Howard's either straight-edge or a DX fan.

Quarter Final: Remco Pardoel v Ryan Parker 

Pardoel was last seen at UFC 2, elbowing the snot out of someone's head before getting "gi-choked" by Royce Gracie in the semi finals. What a golden era, when choking a man with their own clothes was a legitimate way to win a fight.

Pardoel's introduction sees Michael Buffer mention "Jiu-Jitsu champion" five times. But is he any good at Jiu-Jitsu? He also has an advert on his gi, which I think is the first instance of clothing advertising in the UFC.

They go into the clinch and Pardoel takes down Parker with a hiptoss before getting in a side headlock. Pardoel lands some shots to the head as his knuckles turn bright pink. Blatnick astutely points out that Parker is falling into the wrestling response of trying to fight off his back when he doesn't really have to.

Pardoel mounts Parker, not a lot going on, and the crowd starts booing. Pardoel sinks in a front choke for the sub.

Quarter Final: Marco Ruas v Larry Cureton 

Ruas is apparently pronounced "Who-ass." He looks the part—tanned, athletic, muscular, with tiny tiny underpants—the prototype modern day UFC fighter. He really stands out amongst a lot of the out-of-shape competitors he is facing.

The tale of the tape alleges that Ruas’s age is "unknown." Come on guys, he’s not a superhuman Tekken boss. Cureton seems to have bikini tanlines, and Ruas is hyped so much that I am expecting no less than a hadouken and dragon punch straight off the bat.

Cureton locks in an early guillotine but is lifted up and slammed by the much lighter Ruas. As Cureton is taken down, the pundits emphasize his lack of ground experience. That's not really much of an excuse anymore. Every man and his dog could see from UFC 1 that having knowledge of ground grappling was important, so I don't buy this "no ground knowledge" copout.

That all turns out to be bollocks anyway as Cureton adeptly reverses Ruas' guard. Ruas eventually wins with a nasty-looking heel hook.

Varelans, Hall, Pardoel and Ruas make up the final four, and I'm gonna stick my neck out now and say that Ruas is the clear favourite with his grappling superiority, and also he's Brazilian. I am now viewing Blanka's early exit from Street Fighter II as a huge upset.

Semi Final: Paul Varelans v Mark Hall

Varelans outweighs Hall by 110 lbs, and Hall appears to make some kind of Nazi salute to the crowd.

This fight doesn't last long, as Varelans overcomes a jumping punch to the face by taking Hall down locking him in a side headlock. Blatnick claims Varelans could literally rip Hall's head off, but the merciful Varelans decides not to. Instead, he mounts, and cinches in a textbook keylock for the win.

Semi Final: Remco Pardoel v Marco Ruas

The forgotten art of the leg kick

The first few minutes see both fighters up against the fence in a clinch, which Blatnick points out is the longest time we've seen such action. Pardoel has a semi-guillotine locked in, but Ruas has the relaxed air of a fighter who knows exactly what he's doing.

Blatnick maniacally urges both fighters to stamp on each other's toes, and then squeals with delight when Ruas eventually does so. Both fighters go down and Ruas escapes the hold to a huge crowd pop.

We are told that if the fight ends in a 20-minute draw, both fighters will be eliminated and the alternate will make it through to the final, which sounds pretty stupid to me.

After 12 minutes, Ruas manages to mount Pardoel, who immediately taps. Very strange finish. Pardoel either tapped due to exhaustion, his disadvantageous position, or having Ruas' sweaty crotch pressed up against his face.

Tank Abbott is being interviewed ringside, citing altitude as the main reason he lost at UFC 6. There have been ongoing chants of "we want Tank" from the crowd. Hell, I want Tank.

Superfight: Ken Shamrock v Oleg Taktarov.

What I know: a) these guys are training buddies who didn't really want to fight each other, b) these guys are accomplished grapplers, c) these guys are patient and take their time out-manoeuvring their opponents. Oh dear.

The King of the Streets v The Polar Bear

Just a hunch, but this might be shit.

And so it turns out to be, with the fight immediately hitting the mat followed by absolutely nothing.

Shamrock on top, Taktarov defending, and that’s pretty much it. It takes 15 goddamn minutes before Big John stands them up. 33 minutes later and another superfight ends in another draw, and the crowd rightly shits all over it.

Awful, awful fight.

Final: Paul Varelans v Marco Ruas 

The Polar Bear is much taller and heavier than Ruas, but this turns out to be an excellent strategic fight on Ruas’s part.

The analogy of chopping down a Redwood tree bit by bit is particularly apt, as Ruas expertly hacks down the giant Varelans with some precise, powerful kicks to the leg. There are huge welts appearing on Varelans' legs.

Eventually he starts raising his leg to defend himself, but it's too little too late and the damage is already done. One final kick from Ruas and Varelans is down. Ruas pounces on the fallen beast and rains down with hammer fists for the referee stoppage and the win.

Overall, a fascinating fight which was vastly different from anything we've seen so far. There was no mat grappling, which made for a fresh and interesting fight. Ruas put on a tactical masterclass in chopping down Varelans, who for his part, put up a great fight and looked hugely impressive.

In summary, UFC 7 presented a compelling and fascinating tournament which was marred by another terrible "superfight" between two defensive grapplers.

If it were up to me, I'd throw out Shamrock and Taktarov and put on a super fight between Jon Hess and Keith Hackney. You know it makes sense.

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