Okay, I lied in the title.
After a hugely entertaining show in UFC 8, the Octagon heads to the Motor City for, uh, the most memorable UFC thus far.
Beck introduces the UFC as “the ultimate finishing school”, which is slightly misleading, as the competitors are not taught etiquette or how to walk properly.
Tonight, we have the clash of the titans in the rematch between Ken Shamrock v Dan Severn, the first bout won by Shamrock at UFC 6 at 2:14 by submission. Would Severn get his revenge, and would UFC 9 live up to its predecessor?
Reigning champion Don Frye returns to face Brazilian Amaury Bitetti, and it occurs to me at this point that UFC are just rolling out Brazilians almost at random, in blind hope that they might be the next Royce Gracie.
UFC 7 veteran Mark Hall returns to face Japanese Sumo champion Koji Kitao, and Gary “Big Daddy” Goodridge faces “Dangerous” Dave Beneteau in a battle of the Canadian heavyweights.
As you can tell by now, UFC have done away with the tournament format in favour of six individual fights, which is a wise move considering the number of withdrawals due to injury caused by the need to compete more than once in an evening.
Bruce Beck is once again our host, and immediately informs us that the information given a matter of seconds ago is now obsolete, as Dave Beneteau has broken his right hand in “training” and will be replaced by Mark Schultz.
I’m really watching these shows with an open mind, but with schoolboy errors within the first minute, it’s hard not to face-palm at the sheer ineptitude at times.
Beck also tells us Frye was originally scheduled to face Marco Ruas, which is a shame as Frye v Ruas would’ve been a fine contest. Which begs the question, if they edited Ruas out of the opening promo, why couldn’t they have done the same with Beneteau? I’m not saying that Dangerous Dave was a dealbreaker, but still.
Ruas allegedly withdrew due to annoyance at his Ultimate Ultimate 1995 decision defeat to Oleg Taktarov.
UFC 9 was also taking place amidst a backdrop of political controversy, under fire from a campaign spearheaded by Senator John McCain. Where was Barack Obama when you needed him?
The upshot of all this being that closed fist strikes to the face were outlawed, which is never mentioned during the broadcast. Instead, we get John McCarthy inexplicably shouting “open hands!” about 500 times without explanation.
Jeff Blatnick is backstage with Dan Severn, speaking about the Shamrock v Severn I, as The Beast states that “nothing really clicked that evening”. He claims he will be more patient and not try to force an opening.
Say what you like about Dan Severn, but he is definitely not the sort of fighter to force anyone’s openings. His complete lack of ground offence in previous fights make me utterly terrified when combined with his promise tonight to fight a slower, more methodical match.
I am not looking forward to this superfight.
And to compound my misery, Don “The Dragon” Wilson is back with his unique brand of hollow punditry, a bit like being given an empty pie.
He is interviewing Ken Shamrock, who predicts the superfight will be “a good chess match”. Oh God.
Shamrock adds that “whoever gets their opponent into a submission position is going to win the fight”. Right now, Shamrock and Wilson are having their own superfight to see who can make the most stupid analysis.
Wilson retorts by mentioning that Shamrock said he would “mentally dominate Severn on his feet”. Shamrock says he will try to confuse Severn during the fight. If he can confuse Severn half as much as he’s confused me, then he’s onto a winner.
Please don’t ever let those two men speak to each other again.
No big changes this year, except one of our judges is an expert on rape prevention. Now, a lot of unsavoury things might occur in MMA fights, but I can confidently say that rape is not one of them.
Beck refers to IFC Commissioner Arthur Davie’s credentials as seeing his first MMA competition in a Bangkok nightclub between an Indian wrestler and a Thai boxer. Lurking in seedy Bangkok nightclubs watching unsanctioned street fights is maybe something you ought to keep quiet.
Zane Frazier (0-1) v Cal Worsham (0-1)
Worsham’s only previous match was a first round defeat to Paul Varelans at UFC 6, and Frazier fought at the very first UFC, losing to Kevin Rosier due to an asthma attack (!) Frazier is an exponent of American Kenpo and has a seven inch . . . height advantage, whilst Worsham is flying the flag for Tae Kwon Do, so we have two strikers.
From what I recall, both these guys are a bit rubbish.
We get some more pre match awkward promos, which are enjoyable and cringeworthy in equal measure. Worsham claims he will take out any animal, be it polar bear, beast or predator. He’s either talking about hunting, or calling out Varelans, Severn and Frye simultaneously, which is most amusing for a fighter with a record of 0-1.
Rich “The G-Man” Goins inexplicably gets a huge pop, despite being terrible at his job. We also get a shot of a pair of really rough looking ring girls.
Both guys feeling each other out, a few kicks thrown, before Worsham gets a single leg takedown. He lands some elbows, headbutts and left hands. Frazier eventually taps.
Worsham’s team come charging into the Octagon, celebrating as if they’d just won the heavyweight title, which doesn’t even exist yet.
Wilson explains Worsham’s exuberant celebrations by mentioning “adrenaline and who knows what other chemicals flowing through your body that you’re high . . . naturally”. Nice save, Don.
After this short, boring fight, Worsham calls out the winner of the superfight. Ha.
Rafael Carino (0-0) v Matt Andersen (0-0)
The 6’8”, 245 lbs Carino is the obligatory Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist following the disappointing Joe Moreira at UFC 8. Andersen practices “Warrior Training”, which puts me in mind of something from Highlander.
Carino’s nickname is “the Earthquake”, and when Blatnick makes reference to pro-wrestlers with the same moniker, I fondly remember John Tenta wearing a singlet. RIP.
Carino likes to shoot immediately and Andersen can’t fight on the ground. This whole match feels like a setup.
And lo, Carino gets the takedown and falls into Andersen’s guard. A great deal of huffing and puffing, with Carino eventually managing to mount and land some heavy punches for the stoppage.
Mark Schultz (0-0) v Gary Goodridge (2-1)
Schultz is Dave Beneteau’s partner and replacement, and a 1984 Olympic freestyle wrestling gold medalist. He has a five inch and 40 lbs disadvantage against big scary Gary Goodridge. In his favour, Schultz looks a bit like the love child of Vin Diesel and Georges St-Pierre.
Goodridge is the UFC 8 runner-up, and has some serious knockout power in his big scary elbows. In his promo, he angrily asserts “I am not no loser!” So does that mean he is a loser? He is weak on the ground, so Schultz has his gameplan sorted.
Beck twice states that Goodridge is a “delightful” man, which leads me to believe that he is probably as scared of him as I am. Please Gary, don’t reach through my TV and hurt me.
I’ve said it once already, but I’ll say it again: the ring girls tonight are vile.
Schultz unsurprisingly goes for a takedown and is successful. Goodridge attempts a guillotine but Schultz escapes into full guard.
Beck asks about positioning, and Blatnick unabashedly declares “I’d rather be on top, of course.” Whatever floats your boat, Jeff.
Schultz gets side control, but with very little action, Big John stands them up. Schultz shoots and scores another takedown, straight back into Big Daddy’s guard. Ugh. Schultz lands a few punches and opens up a cut just beside Goodridge’s right eye, so Big John stops the fight to get Goodridge checked out.
The fight restarts. Guess what happens next? Yes. Takedown, and this time Schultz is clearly targeting the cut with his punches. Goodridge’s lack of takedown defence is being seriously exposed here, and is now starting to bleed like a stuck pig.
With one minute remaining, Schultz mounts and rains down punches but fails to land any direct hits as the time limit expires. There is some confusion over the possibility of overtime, but the match is ended due to a doctor stoppage to hand the upset victory to Schultz.
In the post-match interview, Schultz is asked about a possible return, and replies that it depends how much money they offer him. Obviously not enough, because this would turn out to be his only appearance. Schultz is probably one of the best pure wrestlers to ever fight thus far.
Big Daddy manages to score a pair of sunglasses before the post-match interview to stay beautiful.
Mark Hall (2-1) v Koji Kitao (0-0)
The 190 lbs Hall has yet again been put up against someone twice his size after previous taking on the likes of Harold Howard and Paul Varelans at UFC 7. This time, his sumo opponent is seven inches taller and 200 lbs heavier.
Kitao is announced as the UFC’s first sumo wrestler, with UFC 1’s Teila Tuli and UFC 3’s Emmanuel Yarborough conveniently swept under a (massive) carpet. His profile is an exercise in stating the bleedin’ obvious, with such nuggets of wisdom as “power over technique”, “mobility a question”, and “vulnerable when mounted”.
Why not just put “likes to eat” aswell?
Hall is literally running around the Octagon, and lands a nasty right hand to Kitao’s nose before being pressed into the clinch against the fence. Hall is slammed to the floor, but the fight is immediately stopped as Kitao’s nose is clearly broken and is pissing blood. Hall is handed the victory.
Rich Goins shows some shameless jingoistic opportunism by declaring “the winner, from the United States of America, Mark Hall”.
Hall, post-fight, proposes to his girlfriend. What more romantic way of declaring your undying love for your partner than by doing so after breaking the nose of an obese Japanese sumo wrestler?
Kitao, as an interesting aside, teamed with Tenryu to defeat Demolition at WrestleMania VII in 1990.
Don Wilson states that he is currently in negotiations to enter the UFC with Jeff Blatnick in his corner, which was sadly never happened. I got quite excited at the thought of seeing Don get his head caved in.
Don Frye (3-0) v Amaury Bitteti (0-0)
Frye, grandmaster champion of moustache-fu, returns off the back of a hugely impressive UFC 8 debut victory which demonstrated his exceptional wrestling and striking ability, as he punched the bejesus out of anyone foolish enough to stand in his intensely masculine path.
His opponent is a late replacement for Marco Ruas, who is from Brazil, and can probably therefore do all the BJJ shit etc. etc.
As Bitteti and his team make their way to the Octagon, Beck confidently announces: “The Predator! Don Frye!” before hastily correcting himself as the camera zooms in on a distinctly moustacheless fighter.
Frye’s pre-match promo is even better than last year’s, as he fixes his icy glare upon the camera and delivers a chilling warning to the other fighters: “I’m returning tonight to retain my title.” He then seems to notice something off-camera, possibly a script, before adding: “There can be only one.” One what, Don?? ONE WHAT!???
I think I love Don Frye.
Beck quips: “Call him Magnum UFC!”
They lock up against the fence in an aggressive start, trading punches and knees with some back and forth grappling. Frye eventually begins to dominate after some frantic exchanges, landing some brutal punches and knees from the clinch.
Frye takes it to the mat, gaining side control and hitting some vicious elbows to the head of the bleeding Bitteti. The Predator ends up in the Brazilian’s guard as the action finally begins to slow down. McCarthy stops the fight to check out BItteti’s cut.
He’s good to continue, so the fight restarts with Frye once again taking down Bitteti, this time cracking the Brazilian in the back of the skull with a horrible elbow that makes me grateful that kinda stuff is a no-no these days.
Frye continues to smash his elbows and forearms into the bloodied face of Bitteti, and soon both fighters look totally gassed. Big John stands them up again to check out Bitteti, who is again cleared to continue despite looking as though he has no idea where he is.
BItteti goes for a takedown which is stuffed expertly by Frye, who socks the Brazilian with some more knees for his audacity. Frye again shows his expertise with currently illegal moves by elbowing Bitteti right at the base of his spine and driving his knee into Bitteti’s skull.
Mercifully, Big John stops the fight.
The moral of the story here is you do not mess around with Don Frye. Just let him punch you in the face, otherwise you’re leaving in a wheelchair.
Goins makes a grandiose claim that it was the greatest match in UFC history. Not quite, but certainly one of the most brutal.
Frye says his ego got in the way, and he underestimated his opponent. If that’s how he underestimates them, God help anyone he overestimates.
He requests a fight with a Gracie. Gracies – don’t do it.
Superfight: Ken Shamrock v Dan Severn
0-10 minutes: The two fighting champions circle each other, throwing the occasional slap.
3 minutes: A “bullshit” chant erupts from the crowd.
10 minutes: John McCarthy restarts the fight due to boredom.
12 minutes: Somebody throws something into the Octagon. The crowd cheers.
10-16 minutes: They resume circling. A “boring” chant begins.
16 minutes: Shamrock shoots for a takedown. Severn gets back up.
18- 23 minutes: Severn goes for a single leg, Shamrock sweeps and ends up on top. Shamrock lies on top of Severn.
23 minutes: Severn mounts and throws a few elbows, busting Shamrock open. The crowd goes insane. We go into overtime.
24-27 minutes: They start f**king circling again. Severn throws a cold stare at Shamrock. Shamrock retaliates by blasting Severn with a stern gaze.
28-30 minutes: ZZZZZzzzzzzz
Severn is awarded a split decision victory for having an awesome moustache.
The crowd start throwing rubbish into the Octagon.
This is, without a doubt, the worst fight in MMA history.
Don’t watch UFC 9.
Event rating: 1 out of 5
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