At UFC 16, Frank Shamrock emerged as an MMA star:
Semaphore Entertainment marketed the show, and the promotion around the 25-year-old Shamrock in all television ads, trying to make him the new face of the promotion. Shamrock came through, taking Zinoviev off his feet with a high double-leg takedown, and slammed him down so hard Zinoviev was knocked out cold in only 23 seconds.
Chuck Liddell, who may have finished his UFC career just last weekend, got his start at UFC 17, as did Dan Henderson:
Chuck Liddell would go on to become the biggest draw and most popular fighter in UFC history. But at UFC 17 at the Mobile Civic Center on May 15, 1998, in Alabama, Liddell made his mixed martial arts debut in a non-televised bout against Noe Hernandez. He’d go on to win a decision.
Bas Rutten, now a commentator and coach for MMA, showed his special brand of terror at UFC 18:
The turning point of the match came after the second stand-up, as Rutten threw a devastating kick to Kosaka’s knee, and the usually stone-faced Japanese grappler winced in pain. The knee was damaged bad enough that Kosaka no longer had the leg drive to take Rutten down. Rutten, a master kickboxer, took control from there, putting the fight away with strikes with 45 seconds left in overtime of a match he may have lost the decision in.
Tito Ortiz set up one of the biggest events in UFC history at UFC 19:
Ortiz stole the show by not only stopping Mezger with a brutal ground-and-pound, but by subsequently getting into a jawing match with Mezger cornerman Ken Shamrock. Ortiz pulled a shirt on after the fight that made fun of Mezger, which outraged Shamrock. It led to their feud, which culminated with an Ortiz-Shamrock fight at UFC 40 that set a record for largest gate.
Bas Rutten won a tournament that decided the heavyweight champ at UFC 20 with a controversial decision over Kevin Randleman:
The tournament, which spread out over four cards, was a disorganized mess, in part because of the UFC’s financial situation, as big names bolted the company for the bigger money offered by Japan’s fledgling PRIDE Fighting Championship. The tournament finally ground to a halt at UFC 20 on May 7, 1999, as Bas Rutten defeated Kevin Randleman via a controversial split decision to claim the crown.
Pat Miletich shined in his home state of Iowa at UFC 21:
This card, on July 16, 1999, was at the Five Seasons Events Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Predictably, the championship bout featured an Iowan, Pat Miletich, putting his lightweight (now welterweight) belt he had won at Ultimate Brazil against Andre Pederneiras. Miletich ended the fight in the second when a big right hand opened a gash over Pederneiras’ eye. Referee John McCarthy stopped the fight because of the cut and gave the win to Miletich.
Now, we want to hear from you. What was your favorite event of the ones discussed this week? Vote in the poll and share your memories in the comments.
- Frank Shamrock
- Bas Rutten
- Chuck Liddell