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May 17th, 1996 – Live from Detroit Michigan: it’s UFC 9: Motor City Madness!
The rematch between Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock is remembered as one of the worst MMA fights of all time – but was it really that bad?
This is the first UFC show without the tournament format and we have a card consisting of a series of bouts. The seven fight card features guys such as Don Frye, Mark Schultz & Gary Goodridge. The main event is a highly anticipated superfight rematch between the current champion, Ken Shamrock & Dan Severn.
The two had fought in July 1995 in the inaugural UFC superfight, to crown the first UFC Champion, with Shamrock winning via submission after just 2:14.
We open with a promo video for the main event in which Severn says that ‘nothing clicked for him the first time round,’ and as a result he will ‘be a lot more patient this time and is not going to force it’. Clearly, Dan Severn is a man of his word. Shamrock hypes the fight by liking it to a ‘chess match,’ which, with hindsight, does the level of action in most chess matches a disservice.
Zane Frazier (Kenpo Karate) vs. Cal Worsham (Tae Kwon Do)
We have seen both these guys before, with Frazier defeated at UFC 1 & Worsham losing effort to podcast-favourite Paul Varelans at UFC 6. Both guys tentatively feel each other out but Worsham eventually shoots in and gets the single leg takedown. Worsham lands some elbows, headbutts and punches and Frazier eventually taps at 3:14. Worsham is thrilled and celebrates exuberantly, which Don Wilson explains by saying Worsham has ‘adrenaline and who knows what other chemicals flowing through his body - he’s high……….naturally’. Frazier seemed out of his element in the octagon, really passive while standing and completely overwhelmed on the ground.
Rafael Carino (Jiu Jitsu) vs. Matt Anderson (Warrior Training)
I have no idea what Warrior training is, I can only assume Anderson hails from Parts Unknown. Rafael Carino is 6”8 and we are told he will shoot for the takedown immediately, with Anderson described as being ‘vulnerable on his back’. This seems fairly one sided on paper. Carino takes him down immediately as promised and calmly grinds him down. Anderson squirms about but only delays the inevitable as Carino gets full mount as land a few heavy shots for the stoppage at 5:32. There seemed to be a lot more than the billed 20lbs weight difference in that one, Carino engulfed Anderson who seemed to do well to survive as long as he did.
Mark Schultz (Wrestling) vs. Gary Goodridge (Kuk Sool Won)
Schultz agreed to take this fight on the day of the show, replacing his training partner Dave Beneteau who had suffered a broken hand in training and unsuccessfully tried to hide it from UFC officials and medical staff. Schultz had been retired from wrestling competition for eight years but is a former Olympic, World & NCAA champion.
This is Schultz’ only MMA fight, taking place just four months after the brutal murder of his older brother Dave; the subject of the critically acclaimed movie Foxcatcher. Goodridge cuts an absurdly cheesy inset promo in which he proclaims: ‘I’m not no loser’.
Schultz takes the much larger Goodridge down immediately, with Goodridge briefly looking for a guillotine but being unable to get it. Schultz is in control but with the action reaching a stalemate referee Big John McCarthy stands them up. Schultz instantly gets another takedown, straight back into the guard. He lands a few good punches and opens up a cut near Goodridge’s right eye. Big John stops the fight to have it checked out but we continue.
The fight restarts and we get another takedown from Schultz, who targets the cut with his punches and Goodridge is bleeding a lot. Schultz continues to pummel Goodridge from the mount and the 12 minute time limit expires. There is a little confusion as the fight would normally be scheduled for three minute of overtime but the doctors declare Goodridge unable to continue, giving Schultz the victory.
I felt a little more emotionally invested in this knowing the story behind Foxcatcher and it made this very good fight even more entertaining. A dominant performance by Schultz who made Goodridge look nothing like the fighter we saw at UFC 8. Schultz was successful in every takedown he attempted despite the 40lbs weight disadvantage.
Schultz is asked about the possibility of returning to the UFC as says it depends on the money offered. Clearly it wasn’t enough. He also says his brother Dave was his motivation. Goodridge cuts a great promo stating that he forgot the weights during training and he wouldn’t be making that mistake again. This was much better than his pre-fight promo, the guy has such a natural charisma to him.
Mark Hall (Moo Yea Do) vs. Koji Kitao (Sumo)
I remember Mark Hall from UFC 7 looking good early but eventually being overwhelmed but the 100lbs weight difference between himself and Paul Varelans. This time out, his opponent is nearly 200lbs heavier than him. It’s Koji Kitao, who you may remember from Wrestlemania VII, who becomes the first man to have competed at both Wrestlemania and within the UFC. Kitao is nearly 400lbs, and ‘favours power over technique’ and has ‘questionable mobility’.
Hall dives straight in and runs around Kitao before being caught against the cage. Kitao crushes Hall and gets the takedown but Big John dives in to stop the fight after just 40 seconds. It isn’t immediately clear why, but then we get a close up of Kitao and his nose is a mess - severely broken and gushing blood. Mark Hall claims in his post-fight promo that he landed a punch which did all the damage. That is one hell of a shot as he was about to be crushed. Hall then proposes to his girlfriend!
Don Frye (Wrestling) vs. Amaury Bitetti (Jiu Jitsu)
Bitetti replaced another podcast-favourite Marco Ruas, which is unfortunate considering a Frye and Ruas fight would have been excellent.
We have an aggressive and frantic start from both guys as they lock up and trade strikes in the clinch, with Frye getting the upper-hand in these early exchanges. We get an incredible stand-up sequence with Frye landing some huge shots but Bitetti refuses to go down. They clinch against the cage before Frye manages to take him down. He lands some hard elbows and Bitetti is busted open. Big John stops the fight to check on the cuts, before allowing it to continue. We are immediately back to where we left off, with Frye landing hard elbows on the ground. Big John checks on Bitetti’s cuts a second time but again the fight continues.
The fight resumes and Bitetti immediately shoots for the takedown, but Frye sprawls and lands a series of vicious knees to the head and a brutal elbow on the base on Bitetti’s spine. Frye has absolutely taken Bitetti apart here. More knees to the skull and Big John steps in at 9:22 to mercifully declare Frye the winner.
This was one hell of a fight, Don Frye is phenomenal, and the more we watch of him the more we see why he is entering the UFC Hall of Fame this year.
Superfight: Ken Shamrock (C) vs. Dan Severn
Okay. Here we go.
In the early going, Shamrock is planted in the middle of the Octagon with Severn circling around him. After roughly three minutes of this, the crowd start to boo loudly and this could go as long as 30 minutes (24 minutes regulation time, plus two three minute overtimes).
Literally NOTHING is happening.
Severn is still circling to Shamrock’s right, seemingly trying to draw him out but Shamrock isn’t allowing that to happen. Neither man is looking to engage or throw any meaningful strikes whatsoever. Don Wilson eliminates any credibility he had as an announcer by describing this debacle as ‘interesting.’
There is some more circling. The occasional slap or jab, with little power behind it, is being thrown. 10 minutes have passed.
The crowd begin booing again and Big John stops the fight to have a word with both guys. The fight resumes and so does the circling. 12 minutes have passed. A member of the crowd throws some rubbish into the octagon which is the most exciting thing that has happened so far.
Shamrock throws, and lands, the first combination of the fight roughly 13 minutes in. The circling resumes. Crowd chant ‘boring’. The commentators agree. So do I.
Severn shoots for a single leg takedown and almost has a hold of Shamrock’s leg. They both roll around briefly with neither guy into control and quickly return to their feet.
The circling resumes.
Severn shoots in for another single leg takedown but this time, Shamrock ends up in full mount. Severn is holding on tight and giving Shamrock almost no room to manoeuvre. Shamrock lands the occasional blow but otherwise, nothing is happening. 23 minutes have passed.
Severn rolls onto his front, Shamrock slides off and Severn dives on top in the guard. Severn pounds away and the crowd goes nuts. Severn is landing a lot of clean elbows and punches and bloodies up Shamrock in the last minute of regulation time. We are headed to overtime. The last 70 seconds of that fight were actually exciting, so I hope that’s a sign of things to come in overtime.
Overtime starts. The circling resumes. Nothing is happening. The first three minute overtime session expires and I’m not sure a strike was thrown.
The second overtime period starts. The circling resumes. With less than a minute to go, Shamrock shoots in but Severn sprawls and they clinch against the cage. And thankfully, we are done.
That was easily one of the worst MMA fights of all time. There were a few minutes towards the end of regulation time where we got some exciting action but that wasn’t enough to save it. Both guys had rigorous game-plans and relentlessly stuck to them, which in itself is a positive thing, but made for a really, really boring fight. The judges give the split decision victory to Dan Severn who is crowned the new UFC Superfight Champion and Shamrock agrees with the decision.
We had some great stuff on this show. Both Frye/Betetti and Schultz/Goodridge were excellent fights, and nothing on the main show was any less than decent. But that main event was such a drag, and with it being a 30 minute fight, brought the whole show down in a big way. A really fun UFC show, but if you seek it out do yourself a favour and switch it off before the Superfight!