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The card consists of an eight man tournament, two alternate bouts with no Superfight. UFC 10 champion Mark Coleman looks to become only the second man in UFC history to win back-to-back tournaments, following Royce Gracie. We open with a video package highlighting the fighters competing, with much of the hype around the event focused on the potential Mark Coleman vs. Tank Abbott showdown in the finals.
We have a 15 minute time limit in the quarter-finals, a 15 minute time limit with a 3 minute overtime in the semi-finals & 20 minute time limit in the final. The two alternate bouts saw Scott Ferrozzo, who we had previously seen back at UFC 8, defeat Sam Fulton in 1 minute and 45 seconds via submission and Roberto Traven, making his MMA debut, defeated Dave Berry, also by submission.
Mark Coleman vs. Julian Sanchez
Mark Coleman is enter this opening contest with a 3-0 recording, coming off a victory over Don Frye in the final of UFC 10. The 31 year old weighs in at 250lbs, which the commentators note is actually bigger than he was at UFC 10! His opponent, Julian Sanchez, seen here appearing in his only MMA fight, is 23 years old, with his discipline listed as ‘Asax’ – which both the commentary team & Google don’t seem to know anything about. He weighs in at 300lbs.
Read More: UFC 10 Review
After his debut at UFC 10, we have no Bruce Buffer, as Rich Goins returns to give us our ring introductions. Big John McCarthy gets us under way. Coleman gets a quick takedown, gets into side mount & lands some heavy right hands. Sanchez is in trouble and tries to cover up, but Coleman gets a side neck crank in and Sanchez taps after just 45 seconds.
Well, we were told this was a bit of a mismatch and that proved to be the case. Easy work for Coleman here, as close to a squash match as you are ever going to get in MMA.
Reza Nasri vs. Brian Johnston
This is Reza Nasri’s only MMA fight. He specialises in Greco-Roman Wrestling and the 27 year old becomes the first person from Iran to compete in the UFC. He weighs in at 205lbs. His opponent, Brian Johnston, wearing his signature American flag shorts, is a more familiar face having competed at UFC 10, losing to Don Frye in the semi Finals. The 6”4 kickboxer enters the octagon with a 1-1 record and weighs in at 235lbs.
Big John gets things started and Nasri shoots in right away, but Johnston blocks and lands a knee to the head. They clinch and both men scramble to get into a dominant position. Johnston lands a knee to the body, and suddenly hits a huge slam and quickly mounts, landing multiple headbutts and some hard right hands. Big John comes flying in to stop the fight after just 28 seconds. McCarthy launched himself at Johnston there in a panic to stop the fight, and actually busted up Johnston’s nose in the process. He begins bleeding from the nose, and understandably, is PISSED.
I’ve never seen anything like the chaotic end to this fight before. McCarthy launched himself and hit Johnston hard, who immediately started bleeding a lot. He was understandably furious. Post-fight, you can here Big John apologising to Nasri for not stopping it sooner, which gives a little insight into his mind-set at the end there, but I wouldn’t say it seemed like a particularly late stoppage from McCarthy.
Tank Abbott vs. Sam Adkins
Tank Abbott enters the octagon with a 3-2 record in the UFC, coming off a loss to Dan Severn at the 1995 Ultimate Ultimate tournament. The UFC 6 runner up weighs in at 298lbs. His opponent, Sam Adkins, enters with a 2-1 UFC record, with both his victories coming in alternate bouts, most recently at UFC 10. The former professional boxer weighs in at 260lbs.
Tank is probably the most over UFC fighter we’ve seen up until this point. During his walk to the cage, you can spot a young Tito Ortiz in his entourage!
The fight gets going and Adkins throws a big right, but Tank avoids it and gets a quick takedown. He lands some short left hands from side control which drives Adkins back into the fence. Adkins grabs Tanks head to try and keep him close, but Tank is able to work and create distance, landing a few more strikes. Tank then forces Adkins head into the fence and pushes his forearm down into his throat. Adkins taps pretty quickly after 2 minutes at 6 seconds.
The announcers discuss how Tank looks slightly more controlled than usual and that was evident here. He definitely took a more considered approach here in order to preserve his energy. He still made short work of Adkins, who was never really in this fight. The finish was so vicious: driving his forearm across the throat and Adkins’ head into the cage looked brutal.
Fabio Gurgel vs. Jerry Bohlander
Fabio Gurgel is making his UFC debut as the 1994 & 1995 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu National Champion, having been awarded his BJJ black belt in 1989. The 26 year old weighs in at 200lbs. His opponent, Jerry Bohlander, enters with a 1-1 record in the UFC coming off a loss to Gary Goodridge at UFC 8. The 21 year old ‘submission fighter’ is training out of Ken Shamrocks Lion’s Den and weighs in at 200lbs.
They clinch from the beginning, with Gurgel driving the action back into the fence. Bohlander has to grab the cage to avoid being taken down. Neither man really has control of their opponent for any amount of time with the momentum in the clinch changing constantly.
Bohlander gets a trip at around the 90 second mark, finds himself in Gurgel’s guard and begins landing some hard but short left hands to the body. Gurgel kicks him away, but the distance this creates allows Bohlander to stand and spring back down dropping a huge right hand. He then stands and kicks at Gurgel’s legs, but this earns him a warning because he is wearing shoes. Big John steps in and they stand to reset the fight.
Gurgel lands a stiff right, which draws blood from Bohlander’s forehead. They clinch again, with Bohlander landing short punches and knees to the body. Gurgel drives the clinch towards the fence and is able to get the takedown. He manoeuvres into half-guard, and eventually takes full mount.
As he gets into full mount, Bohlander rolls him over and gets into top position in Gurgels guard. He lands some headbutts and works the body with short punches as the crowd begin to chant ‘USA’. Gurgel is keeping Bohlander close, but isn’t looking for any submissions. The announcers discuss how Gurgel was very upset about the 15 minute time limit being so short, as it is not the way a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner would operate, preferring to lay there and wait for a chance to arrive, taking as much time as necessary.
Bohlander drives Gurgel back into the cage, landing the occasional headbutt and punch to the body. Gurgel begins to drop his elbow down to block the body shots. Bohlander then lands a brutal knee to the tailbone, which just looked so horrible. The action is at a bit of a stalemate here, but Bohlander is working enough to stop Big John from standing the fight up.
Gurgel eventually manages to push kick Bohlander off, who stands before diving back into the guard. Gurgel tries a triangle but Bohlander pulls right out of it, and we settle back into Bohlander in the guard. Bohlander continues to land short punches to the body and we reach the 15:00 minute time limit.
We go the judges, with all three scoring in favour of Bohlander.
Regardless of Gurgel’s thoughts one 15:00 time limit, they were the rules and Bohlander was the clear winner of this fight, landing far more strikes while taking dominant offensive positions on the ground for most of the fight. This wasn’t the superb submission showcase I hoped it would be going in, but the fight didn’t drag at all. There was always a sense that something special could happen at any point, and that tension made the fight exciting, even if nothing ever did happen!
Mark Coleman vs. Brian Johnston
Mark Coleman enters this contest with a 4-0 record, weighing in at 250lbs. His opponent, Brian Johnston, enters with a 2-1 record, with his only loss coming against Don Frye at UFC 10, the man Mark Coleman would go on to defeat in the UFC 10 final. He weighs in at 235lbs, and for what it is worth, is showing no sign of damage to his nose after his collision with Big John earlier in the night.
Both men circle tentatively to begin with. Johnston is keeping a low base to reduce the target Coleman has for takedowns. Johnston lands a few good leg kicks which Coleman seems hurt by. I don’t know if Coleman was just selling the kick to entice Johnston to throw another, but the next time Johnston tries one, Coleman has it scouted, catches it and immediately gets the takedown to half-guard.
Johnston holds on tight to minimize the distance between the fighters, so Coleman lands some short right hands. Coleman drives Johnston back towards the cage, creates some distance and begins unleashing those trademark powerful right hands on the ground. Johnston turns his back, and Big John has seen enough, stopping the fight after 2 minutes and 20 seconds.
Coleman is such an animal on the ground; he has so much size and power. As soon as he got Johnston down he made easy work of yet another fight. I just can’t see how anyone could beat him at this stage. He is comfortably the best fighter we have seen in the UFC by this point; it’s going to be fascinating to see how things develop for him.
The announcers spend a lot longer talking about that fight than they would normally do. Finally, it is explained that Bohlander is having some problems ahead of his semi-final and may need to be replaced by an alternate but it hasn’t been decided yet. I have to say, a tired, and potentially injured Jerry Bohlander has no placed going out there against a fresh Tank Abbott considering the 100lb weight difference. It is eventually officially announced that Scott Ferrozzo will be replacing Bohlander in the semi-finals.
We are shown highlights from his 1 minute 45 second victory over Sam Fulton in one of the alternate bouts earlier. We are also shown replays from Bohlander’s quarter final fight, highlighting his cut which is likely the reason for his inability to continue in the tournament.
Stalling; the announcers discuss what chance Mike Tyson would have if he were to enter the UFC. Blatnick says he would be destroyed as he is far too one-dimensional, but Wilson points out that as we haven’t seen a legitimate world class striker in the UFC yet, it isn’t really fair to write Tyson off. You can hear me and Bob discuss the prospect of Mike Tyson in the UFC on the September 1996 MMA 20 Years Ago Podcast.
Tank Abbott vs. Scott Ferrozo
Tank Abbott enters the fight with a 4-2 record after his quarter final victory earlier in the night. He weighs in at 298lbs. Scott Ferrozo has a 1-1 record in the UFC, losing to Jerry Bohlander at UFC 8 but winning his alternate bout earlier in the evening. His discipline is listed as ‘pitfighting’, which Tank called out in his promo at the start of the night as being made up. He weighs in for this at a mammoth 350lbs.
Tank Abbott can’t have been at a 52lbs weight disadvantage too many times in his career. Ferrozo is booed on his way to the Octagon with the crowd firmly pro-Tank Abbott.
Big John gets us going and they exchange some big shots in the centre before Tank muscles Ferrozo back to the fence. Ferrozo lands a flurry of overhand rights to the back of Abbotts head and muscles his way off the fence, and both men begin swinging wildly again. The slugfest results in another clinch, Ferrozo tosses Tank down but Tank pops up and grabs a waistlock. Tank drives Ferrozo to the fence again. Only 47 seconds have passed!
Tank lands a few right hands to the head and busts Ferrozo open above the right eye. Don Frye is screaming advice to Ferrozo, who then turns to face Tank and lands a succession of hard knees to the body which seem to wind Tank. They break off and exchange wild punches again. Ferrozo lands a huge uppercut followed by a right hook and drives Tank Abbott back against the cage.
Back in the clinch, Ferrozo lands another uppercut followed by more knees to the body. Big John then steps in to have Ferrozo’s cut checked. The doctor says he is good to continue and the action resumes. Immediately, they begin to exchange wild punches. Ferrozo eats a right hand and backs off but begins dancing. Tank grabs the clinch and drives it against the cage again, with Ferrozo landing a few more knees.
Tank looks really tired here; he isn’t throwing anything and is just pushing into Ferrozo driving him back against the cage. The action follows this pattern for a while, until Big John eventually breaks them up and restarts the fight after around 12 and a half minutes. They exchange wild punches yet again, and Ferrozo lands another huge uppercut that snaps Tanks head back. Tank stands strong and forces the clinch against the fence again, where the action stays until the 15 minute time limit.
We head into the 3 minute overtime period, and the crowd have completely switched their pre-fight allegiances and are firmly behind Ferrozo. After a tentative opening, the overtime follows the exact same pattern, with an exchange of punches to open the action, before Tank shoves him into the fence where he holds on as Ferrozo lands knees to the body and rabbit punches. As Tank takes the clinch to the fence, the crowd boo him loudly.
With less than 25 seconds to go, Big John resets the action and the finish by trading wild punches, with the fight having come full circle from its opening. With that, the fight is over and we are headed to the judges, who unanimously award the contest to Ferrozo.
This was such a strange fight. I expect so much more from Tank Abbott here; he just didn’t seem to have a game plan. He just held on to the clinch, absorbed knees and looked knackered. It was evident why it eventually became illegal for fighters to hold onto the cage. The parts of this fight where the two just swung wildly at each other were so much fun, but so much of this fight was just spent in a clinch against the cage. Ferrozo was absolutely the right winner here, so fair play to him for stepping in and being able to defeat Tank Abbott.
A long delay follows, featuring interviews with Don Frye and Ken Shamrock. For some reason, both of these were cut from Fight Pass, so to find out what was said, you’ll have to listen to the September 1996 edition of the MMA 20 Years Ago Podcast!
It is eventually announced that due to dehydration, Scott Ferrozo has pulled out of the final, and Robert Traven, the winner of the 2nd alternate bout earlier in the evening is in.
We get highlights of Traven’s victory in his earlier bout, which he won via submission is just 1 minute and 33 seconds. He had a back mount and rained down with strikes to the back of his opponents head. They follow this with highlights of Mark Coleman’s route to the final. We cut backstage to see Coleman preparing for the final. They seem to be stalling as they now cut to Tank Abbott interacting with fans and begin assessing his performance again. They announce that Roberto Traven has a broken hand and cannot compete and the officials are deciding what to do for the final.
Mark Coleman comes to the Octagon, where he is declared the winner of the tournament by default. Blatnick interviews him, asking him about his progress and the Ultimate Ultimate in December. Coleman says he is going to keep getting better, and wants to be the best ever in this sport.
So yep, that’s it; Mark Coleman is declared the UFC 11 Champion. It seems like Coleman has an exhibition fight against someone who, on fight pass, goes unnamed, but this isn’t shown and we go off the air.
This was a very frustrating show which highlighted the potential pitfalls of the tournament format. The delays between fights really took a lot away from the show, and the ending was a bit of a farce. It isn’t really anybody’s fault; they had alternate bouts but on this night there were just too many injuries so it’s hard to be too damning on the show, but it still didn’t make for great viewing. I wouldn’t say there were any fights on this show particularly worth going out of your way to watch; nothing terrible but nothing great either. I did enjoy parts of Abbott & Ferrozo but so much of that fight was spent in a clinch against the cage. Coleman put on another great performance but it was somewhat overshadowed by an unfortunate ending to the show. He finishes the show 5-0 having dominated both UFC events he had featured in. I said it earlier, but it’s hard to envisage how anyone could beat him.