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Live from Dothan Alabama, it’s UFC 12: Judgement Day, the first ever UFC show with weight classes on which we will crown the first ever UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Our hosts for this evening are Jeff Blatnick and Bruce Beck, who introduce the new format for the show consisting of two separate four-man tournaments, based around two weight classes, one for those above 200lbs and one for those below 200lbs.
They run down the four man tournament bracket for the lightweight division featuring a familiar name in Jerry Bohlander and 3 UFC debutants.
On the Heavyweight side of things, the only fighter we have previously seen in the UFC is Scott Ferrozzo, but there is a very noteworthy UFC debut for non-other than 19 year old Vitor Belfort.
Our main event for the evening is of course Mark Coleman vs. Dan Severn, which will determine the first ever UFC Heavyweight Champion.
The two alternate bouts saw Nick Sanzo defeated Jackie Lee via TKO in 48 seconds in the lightweight division. In the heavyweight division Justin Martin defeated Eric Martin via submission in just 14 seconds.
We cut backstage to the meet the newest member of UFC’s broadcast team, and it is none other than Joe Rogan! I had no idea he was involved as early as this. Rogan will be interviewing the fighters as they come out of the Octagon.
In the semi-finals of the two tournaments we have a 12 minute time limit with a 3 minute overtime optional, and a 15 minute time limit with a 3 minute overtime period in the finals.
We kick things off with the Lightweight tournament semi-finals.
Jerry Bohlander vs. Rainy Martinez
Rainy Martinez, seen here making his MMA debut, comes from an amateur wrestling background but is also 9-0 as an amateur kickboxer. He weighed in at 195lbs.
His opponent, Jerry Bohlander, enters with a 2-1 UFC record, with one of those victories coming against heavyweight tournament fighter Scott Ferrozzo. The 22 year old submission fighter weighed in at 199lbs.
Ken Shamrock joins the commentary team for the lightweight division with a special interest in this fight as he is a teammate with Bohlander fighting out of the Lion’s den.
Manny Garcia runs through the formal introductions and Big John McCarthy gets us underway.
Bohlander quickly throws some leg kicks before jumping in for the takedown attempt. Martinez tries to sprawl but Bohlander is able to get him down against the cage. Bohlander is in side mount, and as both men scramble he moves into half-guard. Martinez is able to roll out and briefly gets back to his feet, but Bohlander swiftly takes him back down into the fence in side mount.
Martinez rolls and gives up his back, and Bohlander quickly gets his hooks in and locks in a rear naked choke to get the submission victory in just 1 minute 18 seconds.
Good performance from Bohlander here, but I don’t know what the hell Martinez was thinking rolling the way he did and giving up his back. A short fight that was mostly fine.
Rogan interviews Bohlander backstage, who credits the victory to his previous experience in the Octagon and says it’s nice fighting guys his own size as he can show his technique.
Wallid Ismail vs. Yoshiki Takahashi
Wallid Ismail, making his UFC debut, is 4-0 in MMA. He is an 8 time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion and weighed in 182lbs.
His opponent, Yoshiki Takahashi , is also making his UFC debut but has vast MMA experience with a 9-7-1 record which includes two losses to Ken Shamrock. He weighed in at 196lbs
After a tentative opening, Takahashi lands a few strong punches and shoves off a takedown attempt from Ismail. Ismail grabs on and they grapple for position. Takahashi is basically giving Ismail a wedgie here, grabbing the back of his shorts for leverage. Ismail tries a takedown, but Takahashi grabs the fence to prevent it. Big John repeatedly shouts ‘let go of the fence,’ but Takahashi seemingly doesn’t understand.
Ismail is still trying for the takedown but Takahashi has control in a front facelock. He releases that to grab the fence yet again. Ismail transitions into a rear waistlock and tries to pull Takahashi down, who avoids this by hanging onto the fence. Big John is fuming, this time physically removing Takahashi’s hand from the cage. Ismail then successfully gets the takedown with a trip. Takahashi is quickly able to work back to his feet, before landing some punches inside the clinch before both fighters separate.
Ismail presses forward, but Takahashi lands two right hooks which drop the Brazilian. Instead of following up, Takahashi starts yelling at McCarthy to administer a standing 8 count, as would be the case in Pancrase. The fight continues with both guys on their feet, with Ismail pressing forward Takahashi doing all the damage with some crisp counters.
Ismail eventually shoots in again, but Takahashi sprawls and uses the fence to keep himself up again. Ismail is working for the takedown and Takahashi is continuously using the cage to keep himself up. Takahashi then proceeds to tear the protective cup out of Ismail’s shorts and land some strikes to the groin. I know it isn’t against the rules but how dirty a fighter is Takahashi?
Takahashi continues to hold the fence, leading to McCarthy physically removing it yet again. Ismail looks for the single leg, but Takahashi is able to counter with an ankle pick and gets on top in Ismail’s guard. He lands a combination of hammerfists, and headbutts. This continues to the end of the 12 minute regulation period. Ismail looks absolutely spend and his face is a mess.
As they prepare for overtime, McCarthy tells Takahashi he is not allowed to hold the fence. We are underway in overtime. Both fighters stand in the centre with no action for the first 30 seconds. Both fighters then trade a few punches, before Takahashi attempts to call a time out, citing a poke to the eye. McCarthy ignores this and orders them to continue. Ismail is out on his feet here, barely moving. Takahashi closes the distance and lands some nice shots, which drops Ismail. Takahashi then throws, and lands an illegal kick. It is illegal because he is wearing shoes. McCarthy signals that this move should be noted by the judges. Ismail looks really wobbly, with Takahashi landing the occasional combination as the fight comes to an end. We go to the judges, who give Takahashi the win via unanimous decision.
That was really frustrating to watch. Takahashi clearly had no idea about any of the rules. That being said, nothing about grabbing the cage was mention when we ran through the rules at the beginning of the night. Big John was certainly acting like it was illegal, and it played a big part in the fight, with Ismail expending a lot of energy trying to get to the takedown only to have Takahashi hold on to the fence. Calling for time out, and standing eight counts in the middle of this fight was all rather comical. Pulling the cup out, while not against the rules, was just so dirty.
With that we move into the heavyweight tournament semi-finals, with Tank Abbott joining the commentary team, telling us he isn’t here for the ‘small time kiddy category, just here for the heavyweights’.
Jim Mullen vs. Scott Ferrozzo
Jim Mullen, seen here making his UFC debut, has a 0-1 MMA record. He has a 16-1 record in professional kickboxing, and is said to have knockout power. He weighed in at 215lbs.
His opponent, Scott Ferrozzo is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Tank Abbott at UFC 11. He has a 2-1 UFC record and weighed in at 323lbs.
So despite the introduction of weight classes here, Scott Ferrozzo has a 108lbs weight advantage here.
Ferrozzo swarms in and charges Mullen back to the fence early. He uses the huge weight advantage to press Mullen into the cage, landing the occasional knee. Ferrozzo lands some heavy uppercuts but Mullen doesn’t go down. Ferrozzo locks in a front facelock and forces Mullen to the ground. He lands some hard knees to Mullen’s head.
Ferrozzo continues to grind Mullen down, landing knees and short punches and dominating with his weight. Mullen is able to stand by Ferrozo quickly grabs him and slams him down to the guard. He passes into half guard and keeps Mullen pinned down with a forearm across his throat. Ferrozzo is really breathing heavily here, as he just attempts to smother Mullen. McCarthy calls for a pause to the action so they can check the swelling over Mullen’s left eye.
The action restarts, and Mullen lands a good left hand, but then attempts a spinning elbow as Ferrozzo charges through him and sends him into the fence. He drops three heavy knee’s to the head and that is enough for the stoppage via TKO after 8 minutes and 2 seconds.
This was like a fight you would see before the introduction of these weight divisions. Mullen had a good kickboxing record but we never got to see if he was decent standing because Ferrozzo just smothered him with his huge weight advantage in a comfortable victory.
Tra Telligman vs. Vitor Belfort
Tra Telligman is a submission fighter with a 3-0 MMA record making his UFC debut. He is known for fighting despite having only one pectoral muscle. He trains out of the Lion’s den and weighed in at 233lbs.
His opponent, Vitor Belfort, is making his UFC debut but enters with a 1-0 MMA record. In the modern day, the ‘phenom’ holds the record for the most knockouts in UFC history. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist weighed in at 205lbs.
As Vitor makes his way to the Octagon, the announcers talk about how the 19 year old has the potential to be a long term great in the UFC.
Vitor takes the centre of the octagon immediately, with Telligman taking a more cautious stance circling his opponent. This draws quick criticism from Tank Abbott, who says he knows Vitor can let his hands fly. Almost on cue, Vitor unleashes a lightning quick combination which tags Telligman.
Tray tries to clinch, but Vitor breaks off, and lands his trademark machine gun punch combination, landing an incredible amount of shots in quick succession. Telligman looks for the clinch again, but Vitor knocks him down with a huge left hand, quickly dropping down into side mount. From there, he lands a series of lefts followed up with some horrible looking elbows for the head for the stoppage after just 1 minute and 17 seconds.
After the fight, Tank Abbott says that Belfort looked sharp but it was more of a reflection on who he fought. He says he is interested in seeing how he develops, I wonder if he knew at this stage he was being lined up to take on Belfort at UFC 13.
We haven’t seen striking executed with that combination of skill and speed in the UFC. What makes it all the more impressive is the fact it came from a 19 year old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion. A fantastic debut for Vitor, who made short work of an opponent who was no match for him.
Next up, we see a video package covering Mark Coleman and his training for the heavyweight title fight in the main event. He says he thinks the fight will come down to who has the most heart. He feels he could have won the Ultimate Ultimate 96 and it was difficult for him to watch.
Backstage, Joe Rogan announces that Takahashi is out of the lightweight tournament finals due to a broken hand. Alternate Nick Sanzo is taking his place after his 48 second victory earlier in the night. Ken Shamrock re-joins the commentary team for the lightweight finals.
Jerry Bohlander vs. Nick Sanzo
Jerry Bohlander comes into the final with a 3-1 UFC record, weighing in at 199lbs.
His opponent, Nick Sanzo, made his MMA debut earlier in the night, so enters this final with a 1-0 record. He is a Jiu-Jitsus specialist and weighed in at 199lbs.
Sanzo opens up with a quick takedown attempt, but Bohlander is able to scramble, block and get in a front facelock. He lands some knees to the head, locks his arms across the back of Sanzo’s neck and rolls through into a crucifix neck crank for the submission victory after just 48 seconds!
Shamrock claims to have worked on it with Bohlander three weeks ago. Joe Rogan interviews a delighted Bohlander, who has become the first ever UFC Lightweight Tournament winner. Bohlander says he wants to keep getting better and keep winning. Rogan asks him who he would like to fight, and Bohlander says he really wanted Takahashi, but would fight anyone who steps into the octagon.
Before we get to the heavyweight tournament finals, we have a video package covering Dan Severn. He says there isn’t a moment he isn’t thinking about this fight and running over different scenarios. He says the beast is here, the beast is crazy and the beast wants to perform. He has no animosity for Mark Coleman, for him this is all about competition.
Vitor Belfort vs. Scott Ferrozzo
Vitor Belfort enters this final with a 3-0 MMA record. The 19 year old weighs in at 205lbs.
His opponent, Scott Ferrozzo has a 3-1 MMA record and weighs in at 323lbs, giving him a 118lb advantage in this final.
Tank Abbott re-joins the commentary team, saying that while it seems Belfort has great hand speed, that doesn’t mean he has any power behind his punches, and we’ll have to see how ‘the rotund one’ can handle them.
We are underway in the final, and Ferrozzo taunts Belfort as we begin. Ferrozzo presses forward, and Belfort cracks him with a lightning quick left, following up with an even faster left hand which drops Ferrozzo face first onto his stomach. Belfort dives straight onto him. They scramble and Belfort gets a rear waistlock. He begins unleashing hard powerful punches to Ferrozzo’s head, and Big John stops the fight right there after just 43 seconds.
Ferrozzo, seemingly completely out of it, grabs Belfort and tries for a single leg, which takes Big John and another official forcing him off. Belfort and his enormous entourage celebrate, all chanting ‘Jiu-Jitsu’, despite Vitor Belfort needing to show almost none of his BJJ skills on his way to winning this tournament.
Vitor demonstrated some more incredible hand speed with the two left hands which dropped Ferrozzo. When people talk about the ‘old Vitor Belfort’, this is the guy they are referring to. A seriously awesome performance throughout the tournament, which he won almost entirely with exceptional stand-up skills, but knowing how well versed he is on the ground is a scary proposition. He entered the UFC and made a real statement to everyone in the organisation on his first night.
Don Frye replaces Abbott on the commentary team. He says that the people have been robbed as he is unable to compete due to a broken hand, which caused the commission to cancel the fight between him and Severn. He thinks the main event will be a close one, but he leans towards Severn.
It’s time to crown the first ever UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Mark Coleman vs. Dan Severn
Mark Coleman enters this fight 5-0 in the UFC, with his last appearance coming back in September 1996 as he won the UFC 11 tournament. The freestyle wrestler weighed in for this one at 240lbs.
His opponent, Dan Severn enters this fight with a 14-2 record in MMA, with his last UFC appearance the infamous split decision victory over Ken Shamrock back at UFC 9. He has fought 5 times since then, and is on a 9 fight win streak. He weighed in at 260lbs.
After a tentative opening, Severn shoots in for a takedown but Coleman is able to sprawl and grab a front facelock, with both guys coming up standing. Coleman avoids another takedown attempt, landing a crisp right hand as Severn comes in. Severn shoots again, but Coleman blocks it and ends up on top in full mount.
Severn quickly rolls out of it and Coleman grabs a rear waistlock. Coleman lands a few short rights to the back of Severn’s head, so he tries to roll out of the position but Coleman ends up on top in full mount. Coleman lands a few rights to Severn’s ribs, before transitioning into side mount and locking in a side headlock.
Severn tries to fight back, landing some weak looking strikes to the top of Coleman’s head as well as jamming his hand into his face and eyes, but Coleman keeps the neck crank locked in and eventually Dan Severn taps out after 2 minutes and 57 seconds, making Mark Coleman the first ever UFC Heavyweight Champion.
I was definitely expecting this to be a bit more even, but Coleman dominated this whole fight. Severn kept looking for a takedown but never looked like getting it because Coleman was just far too dominant with his wrestling. This is the last time we’ll see Dan Severn in the UFC until September 2000, so this sort of signified a passing of the torch between the best wrestlers the UFC had seen up until this point. This was the same way Coleman finished Jullian Sanchez at UFC 11, but this was clearly a much higher calibre opponent so this was mighty impressive. I love watching Mark Coleman fight, he has by far been my favourite fighter going back and covering MMA from this era.
Joe Rogan interviews Mark Coleman, who says he is very proud to be a wrestler and he doesn’t believe any could take him down. He says whoever the fans want to see him fight, he will fight, but he would like to take on Don Frye in a rematch next.