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UFC 10 marks the return to the tournament format, with a show consisting of an eight man tournament and featuring no Superfight.
Three of the participants are guys we have seen before: Don Frye, Gary Goodridge and Mark Hall. Making their respective UFC debuts on this show: the man who would become the first UFC Heavyweight Champion, Mark Coleman, and the now-synonymous voice of the Octagon: Bruce Buffer!
Mark Hall vs. Don Frye
Our first quarter-final sees two of the veterans in the tournament facing off. Mark Hall entered the Octagon with at 3-1 record, coming off the 40 TKO victory over the 400lbs Koji Kitao at UFC 9. His only loss was at the hands of ECW shoot-fighter Paul Varelans at UFC 7. He weighed in at 189lbs. Don Frye entered as the tournament favourite, with a 4-0 record, having been victorious in the last tournament held by the UFC. He had a 25lbs weight advantage over Hall, weighing in at 214lbs.
Bruce Buffer introduces his first ever UFC fight, certainly not up to his own modern day standards, but an improvement on Rich Goins, and Big John McCarthy gets us underway. Hall tries a spinning back kick, but Frye just grabs him and slams him down. Frye begins to land crisp, had punches to Hall’s body. Hall holds Frye in the guard valiantly, and throws a few punches off his back, but absorbs a lot of body shots.
Frye continues to land punches to Hall’s ribs, not really looking to pass Hall’s guard but is landing consistently to the body. Hall is unbelievably bruised; the entire left hand side of his body is purple and blackening. There is some interesting dialogue between the fighters, as Frye tells Hall, “you need to quit”, and Hall replies “I can’t”. Frye insists; “you can”, but Hall proclaims, “I want to lose with honour”. Frye then shouts, “you need to stop this fight John,” and a few short moments later, Big John steps in and stops the fight at 10:21.
I felt sorry for Hall. He showed a lot of heart but was overwhelmed by Frye’s size and power. Hall is definitely someone who could have thrived if the UFC had weight classes at this point. Frye is the best fighter we have seen so far and never looked in any danger of losing his undefeated record here.
Scott Fiedler vs. Brian Johnston
Both of these guys are 6”4 kickboxers making their MMA debuts. Fiedler has one of the most interesting haircuts I have ever seen in my life, completely shaved all over except for a platted mullet on the back. Immediately, I find myself rooting for Johnston.
Fiedler charges into the centre and tries to clinch, but Johnston executes a Judo throw, only for Fiedler to pop back up into the clinch. Johnston gets another takedown, but Fielder gets his back. He looks for a rear naked choke but can’t get it. Johnston manages to shake Fiedler off his back and gets on top in a back mount. He lands a few punches to the back of Fielder’s head and Big John stops the fight at 2:25.
This was a short, frantic fight between two kickboxers who failed to throw a solitary kick. The stoppage was absolutely correct, especially by 2016 standards, but certainly seemed quick when compared to others we have seen in 1996.
Mark Coleman vs. Moti Horenstein
Again we have two MMA debutants. Horenstein is a 3 time Israeli Karate Champion and weighed in at 230lbs. Coleman weighed in at 245lbs, and looked a lot larger than that. He was a 1988 NCAA champion and part of the 1992 Olympic wrestling team. He would go on to become the first ever UFC Heavyweight Champion, and is generally considered to be the ‘Godfather of ground and pound,’ so it’s interesting to see his first ever MMA fight.
Coleman immediately shoots for the double leg, gets full mount and begins pounding away as Horenstein desperately holds on. Coleman moves into side control and lands some knees and a big headbutt. Horenstein pulls guard, but Coleman unleashes some bombs directly to the head and Big John rightly steps in at 2:43.
Easy win for Coleman in his MMA debut. We saw how effective a top level wrestler could be in the early years of the UFC with Mark Schultz at UFC 9, and while Coleman may not be quite the same calibre wrestler as Schultz, he certainly threw strikes on the ground a lot more effectively.
Gary Goodridge vs. John Campetella
Podcast favourite Big Daddy Goodridge entered this tournament with a 2-2 record, on a 2 fight losing streak, but against top level competition in Don Frye at UFC 8 and Mark Schultz at UFC 9. He weighed in at 263lbs. Campetella made his one and only MMA appearance here. He held a 2nd degree black belt in Kempo Karate but by day was a high-school biology teacher. He weighed in at 235lbs.
Both these guys are huge, and immediately charge at each other exchanging blows and tumble around the Octagon in the clinch. Campatella gets Goodridge in a waistlock pressed against the cage and lands a couple of hard punches to the back off his head. Goodridge looks like he might be in trouble.
Goodridge pulls guard and rolls Campatella into mount, before landing four hard left hands to Campatella’s head and Big John steps in at 1:27 to stop the fight.
This may have been a slightly early stoppage by 1996 standards, but again was absolutely correct by today’s. Campatella absorbed those strikes clean to the head without intelligently defending them. He actually looked quite good here, but ultimately Big Daddy Goodridge was too much for him.
Now, if you are watching this show on UFC Fight Pass, you are about to miss out on one of the highlights of the entire thing as Tank Abbott joins us for a quick interview. This entire segment is cut on Fight Pass, and is both hilarious and offensive in equal measure. Tank also joins the commentary team for the next fight. This isn’t cut completely on Fight Pass, with certain quips left in but he is never given any kind of introduction. You can hear Tom, Bob and I discuss this entire segment on this month’s MMA 20 Years Ago Podcast.
Onto the Semi-Finals!
Don Frye vs. Brian Johnston
These two are well matched; Johnston compares his own style to that of Don Frye.
Frantic start with both guys coming out swinging, locking up and trading punches and knees before breaking off. Back into the clinch Johnston takes control landing some more knees and a big right hand before they break off again. Frye gets a takedown and lands some elbows to the body. Johnston tries to escape but Frye manoeuvres into side control. Frye lands some brutal looking elbows to the head, busting Johnston open, and Johnston swiftly taps at 4:37.
Frye looks exhausted after that. He used a lot of energy in his quarter-final and was really tested here. One of the few Tank Abbott lines from commentary that was left in was that he felt this was Don Frye’s first real fight.
Gary Goodridge vs. Mark Coleman
Goodridge is listed as having an 18lbs weight advantage here, but if anything it looks like it might well be the other way round. Granted, Goodridge is wearing a gi, but Coleman just looks massive.
Goodridge presses forward but Coleman takes the supposedly larger man down with ease. He drops a brutal looking headbutt, and pounds away, moving Goodridge to the fence. Coleman gets a back mount but Goodridge is able to stand. Coleman pushes him against the cage, grabbing a rear waistlock and landing a few hard uppercuts.
One of the most unique sequences I have ever seen in MMA follows. As Coleman is holding Goodridge against the cage, Goodridge scales, horizontally, around the Octagon in an attempt to move the action in front of his own corner for advice. It’s a truly remarkable visual. Coleman lets it happen, but once they get there lands some more uppercuts.
They eventually break off and Goodridge presses forward, but Coleman is able to get the takedown at the first attempt. Goodridge tries to escape but Coleman has too much power and keeps him in side control. He lands some elbows and knees before taking a back mount, at which point Goodridge taps at 7:00.
This was even more impressive from Coleman than his quarter-final. He was able to out-power the bigger man. Once he secures a takedown, which he can do at will, he is so proactive in looking for a finish on the ground.
Don Frye vs. Mark Coleman
It’s time for the final! With no Superfight on this show, we are headed into this without much of a break for either guy. Frye has a 31lbs weight disadvantage here, but if there is one guy who could cope with that, you have got to imagine it would be Frye considering he was, as a David, the victor of the David vs. Goliath tournament back at UFC 8.
Coleman shoots in, Frye sprawls and blocks excellently, but Coleman spins and is able to take Frye’s back. Frye rolls through into guard, but takes some big right hands to the face, and is busted open early. Coleman pins Frye against the cage and continues to land hard punches consistently. We are at the 2:25 mark, and I have to say that Big John stopped at least two fights earlier in the evening for less than we are seeing here.
Coleman is in side control, and attempts a neck crank, but Frye uses the fence to push off and is able to get back to his feet. Frye backs him up and lands a right hand, but Coleman gets a takedown and takes Frye’s back. Rather than looking for the choke, he lands some punches but Frye is able to get back to guard.
McCarthy calls time to beck Frye’s bloody face. While the doctor takes a look, Coleman can barely stand, leaning against the cage for support. When the action restarts, Frye presses forward and shoots in for his own takedown, which Coleman reverses and gets another back mount. Coleman tries for a choke, but Frye blocks it, reverses and ends up on top for the first time in the fight!
Coleman manages to reverse position, and then lifts Frye’s entirely body weight, almost over his own head. This is an absolutely stunning moment; he could hardly stand just minutes prior. Frye desperately clings to the top of the cage, or he would have probably ended up being thrown over it, or slammed down with incredible power. Coleman lets Frye go, lands some huge punches and swiftly gets another takedown. On the ground, he drops some hard headbutts onto a bloodied Frye and Big John steps in to stop the punishment at 11:34.
What. A. Fight. This might be my favourite fight I have watched as part of the MMA 20 Years Ago project. Both guys were absolutely exhausted, but showed so much heart and determination to pull through and produce an excellent fight. What a performance from Coleman. He is the easily the most impressive guy we have seen so far. He had exceptional wrestling, power and on the ground he was proactive with powerful strikes. He dominated Don Frye here.
UFC 10 was a great show. There was nothing resembling a boring fight on the card, and one hell of a main event. It is historically significant in that in featuring the debuts of both Mark Coleman and Bruce Buffer, as well as hosting Don Frye’s first ever MMA loss. They don’t call Coleman the innovator of ground and pound for nothing. He became a star at UFC 10. I would absolutely recommend going back and watching this show.