I am still having nightmares about UFC IX.
But like all good scribes, I am attempting to put the trauma of Shamrock v Severn II behind me to start afresh with UFC X (or 10 if you can't read Roman numerals and think I previously alluded to UFC 'icks').
Undefeated UFC 8 champion and undefeated moustache champion Don “The Predator” Frye returns, alongside the likes of Gary “Big Daddy” Goodridge, and the giant killer Mark Hall along with five newcomers to the Octagon.
As the title suggests, we’re back to the single elimination tournament format after a card of individual fights at UFC 9 which, for the most part, sucked.
We are live from Birmingham, Alabama, a place where Martin Luther King preached peace. King had a dream, and this is not it. This is not it.
The event was originally scheduled to be held in Rhode Island, but was moved to the deep south to escape ongoing pressure by John McCain and his anti-UFC moral crusade.
Bruce Beck and Jeff Blatnick are our presenters tonight, with Don Wilson away filming a movie. What an excellent start to the event!
Blatnick is backstage interviewing bookies favourite Don Frye, who likens his position to being an attack dog, whereby “you see somebody, you kill ‘em”. He’s not joking.
Asked whether he prefers the tournament or fight card format, Don replies: “I prefer ‘em both”. Touche.
Blatnick is not satisfied with this glib answer, and pressed Don for a serious response. Frye concedes that one match is much easier, as you only prepare for one opponent.
The interview then descends into farce as an annoyed Blatnick replies: “But you told me before because of your conditioning you like tournament style action.” That is top-drawer journalism right there, telling the guy you’re interviewing that he gave you the wrong answer.
Quarter Final: Mark Hall (3-1) v Don Frye (4-0)
Hall returns from UFC 9, fresh from breaking a sumo wrestler’s nose and then proposing to his girlfriend. All in a day’s work for a UFC fighter. He is a Moo Yea Do specialist (which sounds like something cows might practice) and is rocking the white underpants look tonight.
Hall stutters his way through the pre-match promo in a smart collared shirt, looking less like a UFC warrior and more like a man with learning difficulties.
Frye is the current golden boy of the UFC, and probably the best striker we’ve seen so far in the competition. In his pre-match promo, he tells us he is not here to say hi to anyone and that he is not at peace or at rest, which seem to be direct jibes at Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn respectively.
Frye also warns us that he has a bad attitude and we ought to lock up our women and children. Don Frye will eat your children.
Beck tells us that Frye likes to retain his anger and does not like to enter the Octagon happy. His dog was killed in an accident and he uses that to motivate himself. Probably an accident involving Don Frye’s fists.
I just jumped out of my seat with delight, because ring announcer Rich Goins is gone, replaced by none other than Bruce Buffer! Okay, he’s not quite up to the standards we’re used to today, but more importantly, he’s not Rich Goins. IT’S TIME!
Hall throws a spinning back kick which only seems to make Frye angry, who picks up Hall and slams him to the ground. Frye lands continuous body shots from the guard while Hall makes a valiant effort to punch off his back.
The color of Mark Hall’s ribs go from white, to pink, to red, to purple, to black as Frye mercilessly pounds away. This total dominance goes on for about ten minutes. I’m surprised Hall’s ribs haven’t caved in by now, Frye is laying into them like they’ve personally insulted him. Each time we hear a dull, ripe smack, like someone hitting a side of beef with a baseball bat.
Then we are treated to a priceless exchange between the two fighters as they are pressed up against the face, close enough to a mic for us to hear the following:
Frye: You need to quit.
Hall: I can’t.
Frye: You can. *SMACK*
We then clearly hear Frye say: “You need to stop the fight, John”, and McCarthy eventually steps in at around the eight minute mark to get Hall checked out by the docs. To his credit, Hall wants to continue but he looks utterly, utterly broken. The fight is ended and The Predator advances to the semis.
Quarter Final: Scotty Fiedler (0-0) v Brian Johnston (0-0)
Two newcomers, both kickboxers, both 6’4” with Fiedler holding a 13 lbs weight advantage. Fiedler is somewhat on the tubby side, and has all the hair shaved off the front and sides of his head, with one long braid at the back. He looks mildly retarded.
Johnston, on the other hand, looks in great shape, and is wearing the customary stars and stripes boxer shorts.
They lock up, and Johnston lands a textbook judo hip throw. Fiedler pops back up, so Johnston pulls off another throw. Johnston is looking for a kneebar but Fiedler manages to take his back, attempting a rear naked choke.
This fails to come off, so Fielder slugs Johnston in the face with a few right hands. Johnston manages to escape and mounts, raining down punches. Fiedler gives up his back and after a failed choke attempt, Johnston unleashes a flurry of punches for the ref stoppage and the win. Fielder is pissed, but no complaints from me.
Quarter Final: Mark Coleman (0-0) v Moti Horenstein (0-0)
Coleman is a two-time All-American wrestler, Israeli Horenstein is a Karate guy. They’re both big, Coleman at 245 lbs and Horenstein 230 lbs. As a world-class wrestler, Coleman might have the edge here, although Horenstein does look alot like Jean Claude Van Damme.
Horenstein gets shouted at by Big John for not facing him.
Coleman shoots but Horenstein sprawls well, before Coleman lands a takedown and mounts, dropping bombs on the Israeli. Horenstein tries to turn but Coleman gets side control, mounts again, and throws more punches. Horenstein’s laughable defence is to put his hands over his face. Big John steps in, game over.
So we have three matches, and three referee stoppages due to strikes. Given UFC 9’s ban on closed fist striking, it seems that Big John is being extra vigilant tonight to make sure the brutality doesn’t last any longer than necessary.
Quarter Final: John Campetella (0-0) v Gary Goodridge (2-2)
This is the battle of the biceps, with 263 lbs Goodridge against 235 lbs Campetella. Goodridge returns off the back of an upset defeat to the awesome Mark Schultz at UFC 9.
Campetella is a former wrestler who has equal standing and ground skills, and is built like a brick shithouse despite only being 5’9”.
Some frantic early grappling as they lock up and tumble around, before Campetella has Goodridge up against the fence. Goodridge pulls Campetella down into his guard, they roll around a bit more, and Goodridge ends up on top with Campetella pressed against the fence. Big Daddy lands four nasty right hands to the face and Campetella taps out.
Tank Abbott is ringside talking about his involvement in a crowd brawl at UFC 8. He explains that somebody got smart with him and he had to lay the law down. What kind of nutcase would talk trash to Tank Abbott? Blatnick seems to put his arm around Tank for moral support.
Tank adds a final chilling caveat: “If I woulda took it further, I’m coming after your ass.” As I’m left to contemplate this disturbing yet confusing bon mot, I am seriously bothered by people’s general inability to use conditional tenses effectively. Although I wouldn’t say that to Tank’s face.
Semi Final: Don Frye (5-0) v Brian Johnston (1-0)
Pre-fight, they show another Frye promo where he talks about his strategy for this next fight being the same as the last fight. They clearly filmed both at the same time, so it’s great to know they had so much faith in Mark Hall that they let Frye film a victory promo before the fight.
Tank is on commentary now, and is turning out comedy one-liners so thick and fast that I can’t keep up.
Both guys come out swinging before locking up and trading knees. These guys seem fairly well-matched, with Johnston giving as good as he gets, possibly taking advantage of Frye’s fatigue after his lengthy opening bout.
Frye lands a takedown and has Johnston’s back, landing some body shots. Frye takes side control, lands some nasty elbows to the head, and Johnston taps.
Tank glances at Dan Severn and then tells us about a dream he had of being raped by Freddie Mercury at Ultimate Ultimate 1995. This is the tip of the iceberg, honestly.
Semi Final: Gary Goodridge (3-2) v Mark Coleman (1-0)
With Goodridge getting undone by a 200 lbs wrestler at UFC 9, he now has to face a 240 lbs wrestler. Good luck, Big Daddy.
Coleman shoots and mounts, and Goodridge is already in trouble. Coleman is mixing it up with headbutts, right hands and elbows. A “we want blood” chant begins.
Goodridge gives up his back but stands up against the fence, and my loins are quivering with anticipation for a suplex. Instead, we get Goodridge scaling the fence and dragging Coleman over to the other side of the Octagon so Big Daddy can get advice from his corner. Amazing.
We get a hilarious moment of Goodridge attempting to have a chat with his trainer, which is rudely interrupted by a solid uppercut from Coleman.
The fighters trade positions a couple of times before Goodridge is back facing the face and eating uppercut sandwiches. Big Daddy is barely fighting back. They separate and go back to the standup. Goodridge circles and throws a few punches but Coleman says enough of that shit and takes him down again.
Side control for Coleman, who lands some big knees and right hands. Goodridge gives up his back once again and then taps out before Coleman can even land a punch. Coleman looks exhausted.
It’s interesting to see how at this early stage how wrestlers such as Severn, Schultz and Coleman were able to dominate other fighters. Fast forward to today, and we have Cain Velasquez, Georges St-Pierre and Frankie Edgar all holding UFC titles, all of whom are accomplished wrestlers.
Dan Severn joins the panel on commentary, explaining his UFC 9 abortion of a superfight as “strategic psychological warfare”. On the viewers.
He then mentions how he feeds off the support of the crowd, the same crowd who were chanting “boring” and “bullshit” at him for half an hour. He also says he has no intention of fighting Don Frye, which I guess is some kind of moustachioed warriors’ pact.
Final: Don Frye (6-0) v Mark Coleman (2-0)
A fascinating matchup. Coleman is the superior wrestler and 25 lbs heavier, but Frye is the more dangerous striker. Both guys looked exhausted at the end of their respective semi finals, and Coleman has had barely any time to rest.
Coleman shoots right from the off but the takedown is stuffed by Frye. Coleman then spins expertly and takes Frye’s back. Don manages to roll over but is pushed up against the fence as Coleman rains down punches, opening up a cut below Frye’s right eye.
Coleman is throwing punches like a madman but without any clean contact. Coleman escapes an armbar attempt by Frye, and it occurs to me that any BJJ grappler worth his salt would probably have caught Coleman in a submission by now.
Coleman goes for a head crank but fails to turn his opponent in and is scalded by Blatnick for his sloppiness. Frye slips out and both men are back on their feet, looking totally gassed.
Coleman takes down Frye again, lands a big knee to the face, and takes his back. Frye rolls over and Coleman starts throwing punches again. Big John intervenes to check out Frye’s cut.
The fight restarts, and Coleman is clearly running on fumes. Some tentative standup, and Frye shoots unsuccessfully for a takedown and once again gives up his back. Coleman tries to roll through for a choke but Frye escapes.
Coleman then picks up Frye and for a second it looks like we might get the mother of all slams, but Frye manages to grab hold of the fence. Coleman takes Frye down again as the fighters trade punches. Coleman lands a couple of nasty headbutts and by this point, Frye’s face is covered in blood with his right eye almost completely closed.
McCarthy steps in once again to get Frye’s cut examined, and this time stops the fight.
Your winner, and UFC 10 champion: Mark Coleman
Overall, a pretty fine event, probably one of the best so far. Of course, when juxtaposed with the UFC 9 shitfest, anything half decent will look like PPV of the century, but in terms of entertainment UFC 10 is right up there.
We saw more development of Octagon tactics with the continued development of ground and pound and the ongoing dominance of wrestlers.
Mark Coleman had a truly outstanding debut, the best so far, taking down everyone in his path and pummelling them into submission in a style not dissimilar to Brock Lesnar.
Wrestlers had set a precedent for Octagon dominance in prior tournaments in the form of Severn and Schultz, but Coleman was the first to show just how devastating a wrestler with good ground offence can be.
Up next is UFC 11, as Mark Coleman defends his belt against none other than Mr Tank Abbott.
Event rating: 4 out of 5