As we creep closer to UFC 100, Yahoo! Sports is counting down every UFC event from the very beginning. This week, we saw the rise of Tito Ortiz, Wanderlei Silva, Randy Couture, the "retirement" of Frank Shamrock and a bizarre accident for Kevin Randleman (pictured).
UFC 22 saw the final fight in the Octagon for MMA legend, Frank Shamrock.
It was reminiscent of the night the UFC’s first legend, Royce Gracie, had his most impressive career win, over Dan Severn. Like Gracie, Shamrock would never get his hand raised again in UFC after his biggest win. Unlike Gracie, he also never fought again in UFC.
The UFC ran its final one-night tournament in Japan at UFC 23.
Yamamoto won the tournament by securing a knee bar on Fujii in the second round. The card also featured a bout for the vacant heavyweight title between Kevin Randleman and Pete Williams. Bas Rutten won the belt at UFC 20, but says on the broadcast that he gave it up because he wanted to drop to middleweight (now light heavyweight) to face Frank Shamrock.
In one of the more forgettable events in UFC history, the main event at UFC 24 was cancelled due to a last-minute, freak injury for Kevin Randleman.
Kevin Randleman was scheduled to defend his heavyweight title against Pedro Rizzo in Lake Charles, La. While warming up backstage, Randleman stepped on a pipe, lost his balance, fell and cracked his head on the floor. He also injured his shoulder in the fall. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and vomited on the way. Doctors refused to let him fight, since they believed he had suffered a concussion.
In a look to the future, UFC 25 saw a title fight between Tito Ortiz and Wanderlei Silva.
During much of Ortiz’s reign, the UFC struggled, as it looked to get regulated in the United States and ended up sold. In the interim, PRIDE asserted itself as the world’s dominant mixed martial arts organization, with better depth of talent, bigger cards, and bigger paydays. But while Ortiz and Silva were both champions, the UFC could point to the UFC 25 result, and, right or wrong, claim that they had the best fighter in the world at the weight class.
A boring main event between Kevin Randleman and Pedro Rizzo was the hallmark of UFC 26, which had the crowd raining down more than boos on the cage.
The fight was so dull fans started throwing garbage into the cage and it didn’t help that there was little excitement on the undercard, which saw wins by future champions Jens Pulver and Matt Hughes, as well as Pat Miletich retaining the lightweight title (as the current welterweight title was then known) beating John Alessio with an armbar at 1:43 of the second round.
A 42-year-old Dan Severn lost quickly to Pedro Rizzo at UFC 27, but that wasn't the biggest news of the night.
The biggest news on the show came during the broadcast, when it was announced that state of New Jersey had sanctioned a set of rules that would come to be known as the unified rules. This was the biggest step to date in the widespread acceptance of mixed martial arts, though it came too late to save original UFC owners Semaphore Entertaiment.
At UFC 28, Randy Couture repeated as champion, but more importantly, this was the first event fought under a state commission's approval.
It was more that MMA was given provisional approval as a sport by the New Jersey Athletic Control Board. It was the regulation in New Jersey, and eventual creation of the unified rules, that led to Nevada’s pivotal approval and the eventual return to widespread pay-per-view nearly a year later.
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