PRIDE Fighting Championship made their North American debut Saturday night with PRIDE 32: The Real Deal. Over the years, one of PRIDE's key promotional tactics has been the intriguing mismatch. Today in the United States, weight classes are strictly enforced. In Japan, the rules are more similar to professional wrestling in regards to weight classes -- anything goes. PRIDE loves to book together fighters of various size, style and experience. This seems to be related to the fact that spectacle is much more predominant in pop culture in Japan. Reality TV that would put Fear Factor to shame has been popular in Japan since the 80's.
The year before PRIDE even existed, though, the UFC would be the first to base an entire MMA event around the concept of mismatched fighters. UFC 8: David vs. Goliath took place on February 16, 1996 at the Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The event was a single elimination tournament, and featured opening round match-ups of fighters with significant weight differences.
We are welcomed to the show by our announcers Bruce Beck, Jeff Blatnick and Don "The Dragon" Wilson.
Big John McCarthy will be the referee for all of tonight’s matches. Opening round matches will have a 10-minute time limit. The remainder of the matches will have a 15-minute time limit. One of the three judges for tonight's fights is Stephen Quadros, who would go on to become one of the best MMA play-by-play announcers of all time with PRIDE.
UFC VIII: DAVID VS. GOLIATH
-Don "the Predator" Frye is a former amateur wrestler trained in judo and was a professional boxer. From Puerto Rico, Thomas Martinez is a Pa Kua Chan fighter. Martinez is announced as being undefeated in over 200 bare-knuckle fights.
1 - DON FRYE (30 / 6'1" / 206) vs. THOMAS RAMIREZ (41 / 6'1" / 410)
ROUND ONE: Don Frye and Thomas Ramirez throw simultaneous straight right hands, but only Frye connects with his. Frye follows up with several more punches, as Ramirez backpedals. The last punch hits Ramirez square on the chin and drops him to the canvas. Frye hits Ramirez once more when he falls to the ground, for good measure, before the Big John McCarthy steps in. Ramirez is knocked silly. His eyes are open, but he is completely spaced out.
FINISH: Don Frye Wins by KO at 0:08 of the First Round.
STAR RATING: (*) Well, that was quick. While eight seconds would make for a great bullride, it doesn’t make for much of a fight. Wonder who those 200 people were that Thomas Ramirez supposedly defeated? Don Frye was able to take out the big man with only a couple of punches. The silly look Frye put on the face of Ramirez helps this match avoid a minus star rating.
RAMIFICATIONS: David 1, Goliath 0. Don Frye slew the first giant of the night and advances to the semi-finals. This was Thomas Martinez’s only MMA match.
-Joe Moreira is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter who is also trained in judo. Paul "the Polar Bear" Varelans is a freestyle fighter.
2 - JOE MOREIRA (33 / 5'11" / 205) vs. PAUL VARELANS (26 / 6'8" / 300)
ROUND ONE: The fighters circle to strike. They clinch standing, and Joe Moreira lands a right punch. Moreira shoots in, but Paul Varelans is too strong. Varelans lands an elbow in close. Each fighter lands a punch, but Varelans hurts Moreira more. Varelans is stalking Moreira. Varelans lands a hard counter punch. Not much action and the crowd is booing. Moreira shoots in and gets punished with strikes. Moreira comes back with a hard right of his own. In a continuation of a pattern here, Moreira clinches, releases and lands another hard right hand. Moreira tries with his strategy again, but misses the punch this time. Varelans lands a kick and some punches. Varelans is the aggressor, but Moreira has landed bigger strikes. Varelans finishes strong with strikes.
FINISH: Paul Varelans Wins by Unanimous Decision after 10:00.
STAR RATING: (*) Very boring fight. Paul Varelans chased after Joe Moreira for the entire fight, while Moreira looked to hit and run. Moreira landed some big shots, and could have won the fight based on the fact that he inflicted more damage, but Varelans was the one pursuing, so the judges rewarded him.
RAMIFICATIONS: Goliath 1, David 1. The big man evens it up. Paul Varelans will advance to the semi-finals to face Don Frye. Joe Moreira’s last MMA match was in 2002, after a 2-2 career.
-Jerry Bohlander has an amateur wrestling background. Scott "the Pitbull" Ferrozzo is a pitfighter who also has a wrestling background.
3 - JERRY BOHLANDER (21 / 5'11" / 200) vs. SCOTT FERROZZO (31 / 5'10" / 330)
ROUND ONE: Jerry Bohlander starts the match with a low kick. Scott Ferrozzo clinches, and pushes Bohlander up against the fence. Ferrozzo lands a succession of left hands, and then viciously throws Bohlander over his shoulder, smacking Bohlander's face off the canvas. Ferrozzo holds on, clinching Bohlander around the waist. Bohlander stands back up, and Ferrozzo sends him flying with a sick belly to back suplex. Ferrozzo got hit somewhere in there, and is bleeding from above his eye. Bohlander is on all fours, with Ferrozzo hunched over him. Ferrozzo gets a guillotine on Bohlander, and controls him for some time, until Bohlander is able to get back to his feet and escape the hold. Bohlander headbuts Ferrozzo square to the forehead and then knees him to the gut. Bohlander has a guillotine of his own now on Ferrozzo. Bohlander drives elbows down into the back of Ferrozzo. Bohlander is tired, and spits out his mouthpiece.
Scott Ferrozzo gets a takedown, and is on top of Jerry Bohlander in his full guard. Ferrozzo is smothering Bohlander with his weight advantage. Ferrozzo lands a couple of brutal headbuts to Bohlander. Big John McCarthy calls time for the doctor to examine Ferrozzo's cut. Doc says okay, and we are back to action. Bohlander lands a low kick and a straight right hand. Ferrozzo bulrushes Bohlander back to the fence. Bohlander is pulling on Ferrozzo's wrestling singlet, to hold him in close. We have a stalemate, so the fighters are reset, but quickly we are right back to Ferrozzo pushing Bohlander up against the fence again. Ferrozzo hits a foot stomp. Ferrozzo tries for another throw, but Bohlander counters and he takes down the big man instead. Bohlander gets a guillotine on Ferrozzo. Ferrozzo tries to escape, pushing Bohlander up against the fence, but he is trapped. Ferrozzo taps out.
FINISH: Jerry Bohlander Wins by Submission at 9:03 of the First Round.
STAR RATING: (**+) Unexpected finish, as Jerry Bohlander was getting manhandled by Scott Ferrozzo for most of the match, until he got a marvelous reversal off Ferrozzo's takedown, and was able to cinch in a choke. This was a vintage dirty-tactic UFC match. While headbuts are illegal in today's UFC, they were still legal at UFC 8. Bohlander landed a big headbut while the two were standing and Ferrozzo smashed Bohlander several times on the ground with headbuts. Sloppy match overall with dull periods, but Ferrozzo landed a couple of sick suplexes to make the match compelling.
RAMIFICATIONS: David 2, Goliath 1. The smaller fighters have pulled ahead with this upset by Jerry Bohlander, who advances to the semi-finals. After a 4-2 career, Scott Ferrozzo’s last MMA match was in 1997.
-Paul Herrera was an All-American collegiate wrestler, and trains with Tank Abbott's Huntington Beach crew. "Big Daddy" Gary Goodridge is a Kuk Sool Won fighter, and is wearing a gi for this match.
4 - GARY GOODRIDGE (30 / 6'3" / 258) vs. PAUL HERRERA (29 / 5'10" / 185)
ROUND ONE: Paul Herrera shoots in on Gary Goodridge immediately, but Goodridge sprawls and counters. Goodridge has Herrera in a crucifix position, with Herrera's one arm locked between Goodridge's legs and his other arm locked with one of Goodridge's arms. Goodridge uses his other arm to land down 8 vicious elbows to the head of Herrera. Herrera seemed to be out after the first elbow landed, and was definitely out after the second. Fatality.
FINISH: Gary Goodridge Wins by KO at 0:13 of the First Round.
STAR RATING: (*+) Absolutely brutal finish. Paul Herrera ate at least 6 more elbows than he needed to, as Big John McCarthy was slow to step in. Herrera was out cold. Gary Goodridge got an amazing finish here, trapping Herrera in a crucifix and elbowing him into oblivion.
RAMIFICATIONS: Goliath 2, David 2. Gary Goodridge ties it up for the big men, and advances to the semi-finals to face Jerry Bohlander. Paul Herrera would fight one more time in MMA, winning a match in 2002 to bring his record to 1-1.
-We move on to the Semi-Finals. Paul Varelans is not able to continue in the tournament, and will be replaced by alternate fighter Sam "the Experience" Adkins, a former professional boxer. Adkins beat Keith Mielke in a preliminary match via submission in 50 seconds.
5 - SAM ADKINS (30 / 6'3" / 265) vs. DON FRYE
ROUND ONE: The fighters circle to strike. Don Frye gets a single leg on Sam Adkins and takes him down to the ground. Frye punches Adkins repeatedly to the back of the head, and then some to the front of his head. Frye is pummeling Adkins, who is bleeding profusely. Big John McCarthy steps in to end the fight.
FINISH: Don Frye Wins by TKO at 0:48 of the First Round.
STAR RATING: (*) Don Frye makes quick work of his second opponent in a row. In less than a minute, Frye has taken out two opponents. Frye took the boxer Sam Adkins to the mat, where a boxer has no experience striking from, and pounded out the victory on the big man's face. Punches to the back of the head were still legal in the UFC here, as Frye disabled Adkins with them, before finishing him with hammer strikes. Brutal, bloody finish.
RAMIFICATIONS: David 3, Goliath 2. Don Frye slays another giant, and advances to the final match. Sam Adkins still competes in MMA, but has a less-than-illustrious 7-17-2 record.
6 - JERRY BOHLANDER vs. GARY GOODRIDGE
ROUND ONE: Gary Goodridge starts the fight with a left hook that lands to Jerry Bohlander's head. Bohlander shoots in, but Goodridge avoids. Goodridge has a guillotine, but Bohlander escapes. Goodridge has Bohlander locked around the waist from behind. To avoid being suplexed, Bohlander drops face first down to the mat. Bohlander flips over and Goodridge is on top of him, in side control. Even though Goodridge has a dominant position, we have a stalemate. Bohlander gets Goodridge back into his guard, and then Bohlander uses an elevator for a beautiful reversal. Bohlander is now on top, in Goodridge's half guard. Bohlander gets the mount, and is raining down strikes and a couple of headbuts. Goodridge clinches, and tries to reverse. Bohlander is using his balance well, but Goodridge is too strong and powers out of the position. Goodridge is now on top, in Bohlander's guard. Goodridge pounds down at Bohlander. Goodridge stands up, and holding onto the fence, he stomps Bohlander. Bohlander is trying for an ankle lock. Goodridge throws down a brutal right pendulum punch that lands squarely, and Big John McCarthy steps in to end the fight.
FINISH: Gary Goodridge Wins by TKO at 5:31 of the First Round.
STAR RATING: (**-) Kind of tedious match, but Jerry Bohlander gave a respectable showing. Bohlander scored a beautiful elevator reversal, and had Gary Goodridge in trouble a bit on the ground, but Goodridge proved to be just too powerful for Bohlander.
RAMIFICATIONS: Goliath 3, David 3. Gary Goodridge advances to the finals to face Don Frye. The final match will determine the tournament winner, and settle tonight's David vs. Goliath debate. Jerry Bohlander’s last MMA match was in 2004, after an impressive 11-4 career.
-Dan "the Beast" Severn joins the announcers for tonight's Superfight Championship match. Kimo is a pankration fighter. Ken Shamrock is the current and defending UFC Superfight Champion. Severn will face the winner for the title at UFC 9.
7 - KEN SHAMROCK (32 / 6'0" / 205) vs. KIMO (28 / 6'1" / 270)
ROUND ONE: Ken Shamrock starts off with a nice right hand, and Kimo grabs a guillotine and drops to the ground. Shamrock is on top, in side control, but Kimo has Shamrock’s head locked. Kimo releases the guillotine, and pulls Shamrock into his half guard. Shamrock sends down some punches to the body of Kimo. Not much happening, as Shamrock is looking for an opening. Kimo would like to get to his feet. Shamrock passes guard, and has the mount. Kimo uses his strength advantage to reverse Shamrock. Kimo is now on top of Shamrock, in his half guard. Kimo lands a couple of headbuts. Kimo rakes the face of Shamrock, coming close to an eye gouge. Kimo hits a big left to Shamrock on the ground. Shamrock has his legs locked around Kimo's waist, as Kimo stands up. Kimo is looking for an opening to land a big shot, as Shamrock scrambles to avoid one. Shamrock is looking for an anklelock. Kimo gets Shamrock's back, but Shamrock slides underneath him and grabs a hold of his ankle, again. Shamrock has Kimo's leg trapped. Kimo is not moving, and he has to tap out to a kneebar.
FINISH: Ken Shamrock Wins by Submission at 4:24 of the First Round.
STAR RATING: (**) Great finish, as Ken Shamrock countered Kimo’s power with a smart fight. Some decent ground work by the two, as Kimo scored a nice counter before Shamrock went fishing for an ankle, and eventually caught a kneebar. At the time, this was one of the biggest MMA matches ever. In the UFC, Kimo was coming off an impressive showing against Royce Gracie at UFC 3. Kimo lost to Gracie, but beat him up good, to the point where Gracie could not continue on in the tournament. Ken Shamrock was one of the UFC’s golden boys, and this match against the monster Kimo was highly anticipated.
RAMIFICATIONS: Ken Shamrock retained his Superfight Championship. Shamrock would go on to lose the title to Dan Severn at UFC 9, though, in a boring 30 minute decision. Shamrock recently announced his retirement from MMA after a 26-12-2 career. Kimo continues to fight to this day, compiling a 9-6-1 record over the years. These two fighters would have a rematch at UFC 48 in 2004. Shamrock would also win the rematch.
-We are now at the UFC 8 Tournament Championship Match. Gary Goodridge is no longer wearing a gi.
8 - DON FRYE vs. GARY GOODRIDGE
ROUND ONE: The fighters come out looking to strike. Gary Goodridge throws first, but Don Frye lands first. The fighters clinch up against the fence, and Frye sends up knees. Goodridge has Frye locked around the waist from behind. Frye sends back elbows to the head of Goodridge. Goodridge gets a takedown, but Frye stands right back up. Goodridge holds on, though, and lifts Frye up and slams him back to the mat. As Frye is getting back up, Goodridge comes flying in with a kick that barely misses Frye. The fighters are back to their feet, clinched up against the fence. Frye has Goodridge clinched around the neck, and nails Goodridge with uppercuts, in a display of dirty boxing. Goodridge now has Frye pushed up against the fence, and tries for a takedown, but Frye holds onto the top of the octagon fence. Goodridge is pulling on his legs, but Frye is holding on and dangling in the air. Frye lets go and Goodridge slams him to the mat. Goodridge has Frye’s back, but Frye scoots underneath him and rolls Goodridge over to his back. Frye is on top of Goodridge, in the half guard. Frye lands a couple of short right hands and Goodridge’s corner throws in the towel.
FINISH: Don Frye Wins by Submission at 2:14 of the First Round.
STAR RATING: (**-) This historic night featured the MMA debuts of both Don Frye and Gary Goodridge. Both fighters would go on to become top stars in the sport. Not much to the actual match here, but a pinch of dirty boxing and a crazy spot, that would be illegal in today’s UFC, where Frye was clinging to the cage as Goodridge was yanking on his legs. The significance of this match outweighs the entertainment value.
RAMIFICATIONS: David 4, Goliath 3. For all the Davids of the world, Don Frye defeated his third Goliath of the night to capture the UFC 8 Tournament Championship. Both Don Frye and Gary Goodridge would go on to have illustrious careers in MMA.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Not a very good show, if you’re looking for quality fight action. The David vs. Goliath gimmick made for some decent spectacle, but the UFC was still in its early days here with some less-than-quality fighters on the card. Historically important card, though, in that it featured the MMA debuts of both Don Frye and Gary Goodridge. Also, the Ken Shamrock vs. Kimo match is significant in that it was a big-time match, and shows Ken Shamrock in his prime. Mostly short matches, but with a couple of excellent striking finishes, including an unforgettable Gary Goodridge elbow finish. Not a show to go out of your way to see, but interesting enough for what it is and the time it took place. Not near enough spectacle, though, considering the theme of the show.
BEST FIGHT: Jerry Bohlander vs. Scott Ferrozzo
WORST FIGHT: Joe Moreira vs. Paul Varelans
UFC 44: Undisputed - Ortiz vs. Couture Review
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MMA TORCH STAR RATING SYSTEM (By Wade Keller)
We have created a star rating system for use at MMATorch.com as a courtesy for readers looking for a quick reference to decide which DVDs to rent or purchase, and as a subject for discussion among MMA followers.
Our star rating system is not judging the performance of fighters, whose job it is to win their match, not entertain. If a fighter can win in a few seconds, he's doing his job as he should, yet the match would not receive a high star rating because it wasn't substantial enough to be considered a "must see" or "go out of your way to see" match.
We have a basic five-star rating system, with no quarter or half stars, but instead a plus (+) or minus (-) to indicate whether it was a strong or weak version of two-star or four-star match, etc.
The criteria is based primarily on "drama" or "entertainment value" - the primary reason anybody watches any sport, but with a healthy dose of consideration (20 percent) on strong technique being shown by fighters and a final dose of consideration (10-20 percent) on whether the fight is "significant" in the sense of history (a dream match between known fighters, an upset by a newcomer over an established fighter), or changing the title picture. In other words, a **+ match might become a ***- because it has major ramifications or a surprising finish. A * match might move to **- because the technique of the submission or knockout was noteworthy.
ONE STAR: Every fight gets one star for merely taking place, so a *- would indicate the least entertaining fight possible (Severn-Shamrock draw debacle or a sloppy one minute submission). A *+ rating would go to a match that was forgettable and perhaps mostly boring, but with a redeeming quality, such as a few good punches, reversals, or a submission of note.
TWO STARS: This is your typical average MMA fight that you might forget about within minutes, if not for one or two decent rounds or a memorable knockout or submission or historical significance. (Sylvia vs. Arlovski III as an example might be considered **- because the title being at stake added drama, but otherwise it was a *+ propped up only by a solid first round; Liddell vs. Sobral would be probably ranked only two-stars because it was so short, but I'd add a plus because it was a Liddell title match and Sobral had a strong winning streak and a title was at stake, adding elements of drama to it going in and ramifications afterward.)
THREE STARS: This is good fight, where if there were three of them on an event, it'd make it an event worth seeing with some good technique, although not superior. (Hughes vs. Gracie might arguably reach three-stars because of the stature of the fight, the drama of the armbar, and historical significance, although I'd be tempted to have it **+ because it was so short.)
FOUR STARS: This is an elite fight, where it can carry a show on its own or come close to it, or a good match between two name fighters. If it's one dimensional with no ground fighting, or all ground fighting with no stand-up, that can work against it, unless the stand-up or ground fighting is compelling throughout.
FIVE STARS: This happens maybe twice a year, and would be up for MMA Fight of the Year. It could be an awesome undercard match between two up-and-comers, but more often will be a match with something at stake, high interest going into the fight to add drama, and a match that exceeds expectations and goes at least two rounds. (Griffin-Bonner I would be five-stars as it fits much of the criteria perfectly, only falling short in not being a showcase for any ground fighting - but that's a small factor. Another potential five-star level match this year was Diego Sanchez vs. Karo Parisyan from the Aug. 17 Ultimate Fight Night Live.)
We will track on MMATorch.com a list of four-star and five-star matches during the year, as graded by our official contributors reviewing live events, TV shows, and DVDs. We will also compile over time a list of top rated match from past years, as they are reviewed for MMATorch.com by our contributors, and a note of their availability on DVD.