The Gracie family made their mark from the beginning, UFC 1:
Rorion Gracie was satisfied at the end of the night and made his point when Royce Gracie submitted each of the three men he fought in order to become the tournament winner. He tapped Jimmerson, though he only was mounted on Jimmerson and hadn’t put on a lock of any kind; he choked out Shamrock with his gi and he won by putting a rear naked choke on Gordeau.
Royce Gracie dominated an insane tournament in UFC 2:
Because the matches were so much shorter than expected on the first show, UFC 2 featured the only one-night 16-man tournament in MMA history, meaning the winner had to beat four people in one night ... Gracie took him down, beat on Smith with strikes and Smith’s corner threw in the towel at 1:16 when it was apparent he couldn’t escape from the mount.
UFC 3 saw the birth of circus fights:
UFC 3 is notable for two things: It marked the first time Royce Gracie failed to win a UFC event; and it pitted 618-pound Emmanuel Yarborough against 190-pound Keith Hackney at the Cole Center in Charlotte, N.C.
UFC 4 brought with it Dan Severn, his awesome mustache, Sen. John McCain starting his work on getting the sport banned, and cable providers preventing most viewers from seeing Royce Gracie's most impressive win.
Four minutes after much of the country went dark, Gracie locked Severn in a triangle from the bottom, a move never seen up to that point in UFC competition, to win what up to that point in time was the most dramatic match in UFC history. But the success in selling the show was tempered by the huge amount of money that cable companies refunded to irate customers.
Though UFC 5 was hyped for a Superfight between Gracie and Ken Shamrock, Severn stole the show when Gracie and Shamrock fought to a draw. Severn's entry into the sport paved the way for more wrestlers to try MMA:
Severn’s success opened the floodgates for top-notch wrestlers to give what was then known as “no holds barred fighting” a shot, as they viewed it as a chance to make extra money, something sorely lacking in the amateur wrestling game. This led to the sport’s first real strategic shift, as jiu-jitsu alone was no longer enough to carry a fighter.
In UFC 6, the first championship was awarded, and Tank Abbott arrived with his crazy posse and the first appearance of MMA gloves.
With his buzz-shaved head and beer belly, Abbott had a unique look. And by becoming the first fighter allowed to wear what today are known as MMA gloves, he changed the game, because with bare knuckles, you could only throw so many punches before damaging your hands, but the open gloves protected the knuckles.
The Superfight continues with the emergence of a Brazilian not named Gracie, and Shamrock and Oleg Taktarov fighting to a draw:
Ken Shamrock and Oleg Taktarov, who are close friends, compete in the Superfight, but wind up in a draw in an intense grappling match after 33 minutes. There are no judges and the only way to win is by submission, knockout or throwing in the towel, so Shamrock retained his Superfight title
In UFC 8, Don Frye proves that bigger isn't always better:
In the finals, Goodridge, who outweighed Frye by about 60 pounds, took the former wrestler down twice but Frye escaped, got on top, and threw punches until Goodridge tapped out.
Now, we want to know what were your favorite memories from the early days. Vote in the poll, and then share your thoughts in the comments. We will do this every week until UFC 100 on July 11.
- Royce Gracie
- Rorion Gracie
- Ken Shamrock