The Ideal UFC 1?
Just an idle thought. The idea that the "Gracie Mafia" was shielding Royce from the best martial artists in the world is kind of a bullshit notion. Ignoring the obvious budget limitations the UFC had at the time, I seriously doubt that every decent fighter in the world was jumping at the opportunity to fight for an upstart promotion promising to host no-holds-barred death matches. It's actually kind of impressive that Art Davie and Rorion managed to scrounge together the fighters who actually competed in UFC 1. They received virtually no applications, at least until the second show. Ken Shamrock wasn't even sure if the event would really happen and fought in a Pancrase match just three days before.
Still, I've been wondering as of late what the first UFC would've looked like if the disciplines featured on the card were represented by the best fighters each style had to offer. This is what I've come up with:
Evander Holyfield or Riddick Bowe
Hidehiko Yoshida or David Khakhaleishvili (There were no Judoka in the first UFC, but ideally there should've been)
Alexander Karelin (Same thing with wrestling)
Branko Cikatic or Ernesto Hoost
Maybe Marco Ruas
Benny the jet? Or was he about done by then.
Otherwise Sam Greco because I want Aussies in everything.
This isn't to say that the dude's they rounded up for the first UFC were bad, by the way:
- Ken Shamrock was a miracle catch, and I think his presence in the tournament kind of shuts down the notion that the Gracies totally babied Royce.
- Pat Smith won the Sabaki Challenge, which seemed to be the most talked about martial arts tournament in the years before the UFC.
- Kevin Rosier was the most well-known American fighter in the event, having been one of the early stars of the WKA alongside Don Wilson and Benny Urquidez. He might've not had much skill (Because he fought under WKA/PKA rulesets, after all), but was still respected enough to have been specifically sought out to compete in the inaugural UFC. The promoters didn't expect him to be as out-of-shape as he turned out be, probably because the photo he sent to them was from his career prime when he was built like a tank.
- Teila Tuli was the best Sumo wrestler they could afford. He had some boxing experience and was known as a "bad boy" in Sumo, so he fit in to the UFC's vibe. Not a bad actor, either.
- Art Jimmerson was the best boxer they could afford. They tried getting Leon Spinks initially, but I honestly think Jimmerson was the better catch at that point in time. Spinks had lost to 2-34-1 James Wilder in 1993 and the debuting John Carlo in 1994. James "Bonecrusher" Smith might've actually been a worthy representative for boxing because he still had some juice left, but I guess he wanted more than the UFC could afford (Jimmerson got $20,000 up front).
- Zane Frazier had some minor kickboxing titles and beat up Frank Dux back in the day when some people still believed his bullshit, so you can't fault the UFC promoters for putting him in. He was apparently the only fighter besides Royce that Rorion recommended for the event. Rorion was impressed that Frazier actually had some grappling ability despite being a karate guy.
- I don't think I need to tell anyone that Gerard Gordeau was legitimately nasty.
Greco would've been good but Urquidez was done more or less.
Originally Posted by gregaquaman
Ron Tripp as an alternate? You fool!
Also, why is Igor Yakimov not on the list. Craziness, I tell you. Craziness.
I view Royce as representing judo as well as BJJ in UFC1. It's hard not to.
Originally Posted by Holy Moment
Alternatively, Gokor to represent sambo.
Originally Posted by 3moose1
Nice idea for a dream tournament. Wouldn't be many surprises, mind you, as Karelin would have destroyed every single one of the contestants, including Gracie.
Originally Posted by Shawarma
Look what Dan Severn did to Royce...and he wasn't that great of a wrestler...
And Royce never really was that great a BJJ player, he just happened to fight a bunch of people who'd never heard of it.
Karelin, on the other hand, is a pretty fucking great wrestler. Plus his left testicle weighs more than the entire Gracie Family put together. If he'd been in UFC1, all the kids today would walk around wearing Suplexout beanies and bragging about their training in Russian Wrestling instead of BJJ.