UFC 3: The unlikely king

Noteworthy | Results

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.

Yarbrough is 6-feet, 8-inches tall and has at times weighed more than 800 pounds, earning the sumo wrestler a Guinness record for being the world’s largest athlete.

The format was once again an eight-man tournament, and Gracie once again did not lose. But he failed to win this event for the first time when he became dehydrated and physically exhausted during his first-round match against Kimo Leopoldo. Leopoldo became the first man in the UFC to actually threaten Gracie. Gracie finally won the bout with an armbar but withdrew from the event, saying he couldn’t continue. Harold Howard, Gracie’s semifinal opponent, won via forfeit.

The curiosity that became that the winner of the tournament – Omaha, Neb., police officer Steve Jennum – wasn’t in it when the event began. Jennum was an alternate and got a ticket to the finals when Ken Shamrock pulled out following his semifinal victory over Felix Mitchell.

Photo Omaha policeman Steve Jennum was the most unlikely UFC champion ever.

Shamrock had a torn ACL and said he’d entered only to fight Gracie. Given that Gracie was out, he didn’t want to risk further injury and also withdrew. That allowed Jennum, the alternate, to go directly to the finals.

He made history by becoming the first UFC tournament champion other than Gracie by defeating popular Canadian Harold Howard. Jennum knocked Howard down with a right and then defeated him via ground and pound, forcing Howard’s corner to throw in the towel.

Jennum had earlier managed to survive a guillotine choke attempt by Howard in the fight’s opening seconds.

The card turned out to be exceptionally popular on pay-per-view and did nearly a quarter of a million sales, a hint of the sport’s future success.


Hackney was outweighed by more than 400 pounds, but got Yarborough down and forced him to tap due to strikes to the head. Hackney, though, couldn’t continue because he broke his hand and was forced to withdraw.

After Jennum basically came out of the crowd and won the finals against Howard, who had already fought, the UFC instituted alternates matches beginning with UFC 4, then winners of which would then go into tournaments as substitutes if someone needed to withdraw due to injury.



Keith Hackney def. Emmanuel Yarborough, TKO, 1:59
Ken Shamrock def. Christophe Leninger, submission (strikes), 4:49
Harold Howard def. Roland Payne, KO, 0:46
Royce Gracie def. Kimo Leopoldo, submission (armbar), 4:40


Shamrock def. Felix Lee Mitchell (substitute for Hackney), submission (rear naked choke), 4:34
Howard def. Gracie, forfeit

Steve Jennum (substitute for Shamrock) def. Harold Howard, 1:27