The fans who showed up in Birmingham, Ala., for UFC 10 couldn't have possibly known they were about to see one of the pivotal cards in mixed martial arts history.
UFC 9 two months earlier was an artistic fiasco, as the company dropped its traditional tournament format for a straight fight card, a series of matches that failed to live up to potential.
So the company returned to its roots with a one night, eight-man tournament on July 12, 1996 and set the stage for the emergence of its next superstar.
Mark Coleman, who placed seventh at 220 lbs. in the 1992 Olympics and won an NCAA heavyweight title at Ohio State, exploded into the scene to win the tournament in his MMA debut.
The night ended up going down in history as "the birth of ground and pound," as Coleman employed his wrestling takedowns to set up a brutal ground game. "The Hammer" made short work of Morti Horenstein in the first round, stopped established star Gary Goodridge in the semifinals, then scored what was at the time considered a major upset, as he stopped Don Frye in 11:34 to win the tourney.
UFC Hall of Famer Coleman went on to become one of the most decorated fighters in MMA history, as he went on to win the UFC 11 tournament, won the heavyweight title at UFC 12, and then won PRIDE's first Open Weight Grand Prix tournament in 2000.
UFC's political problems continued brewing, as Arizona Sen. John McCain, he of the supposedly pro-business, anti-regulation stance, continued his crusade against mixed martial arts. McCain nearly succeeded in derailing UFC 9 and the resulting negative P.R. made the city of Providence, R.I., pull the use of its Civic Center as a site for UFC 10. Then-company owner Semaphore Entertainment moved the card to Birmingham and would stage the bulk of their events over the next several years in regulation-lax Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
UFC 10 featured the pay-per-view debut of longtime octagon announcer Bruce Buffer. Buffer is the second-longest tenured current company employee behind head matchmaker Joe Silva.
Sam Adkins def. Felix Lee Mitchell, decision
Geza Kalman def. Dieusel Berto, TKO, 5:56
Don Frye def. Mark Hall, TKO, 10:21
Brian Johnston def. Scott Fielder, submission (strikes), 2:25
Mark Coleman def. Motu Horenstein, submission (strikes), 2:43
Gary Goodridge def. John Campetella, KO, 1:26
Frye def. Johnson, submission (strikes), 4:37
Coleman def. Goodridge, submission (position), 7:00
Coleman def. Frye, TKO, 11:34
- Mark Coleman
- Gary Goodridge