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Ultimate Fighting Championship 1; Brazilian jiu jitsu, Royce Gracie Wins UFC

Updated on October 14, 2015

UFC 1; Royce Gracie

The First Ultimate Fighting Championship

In 1993 a pay per view special was announced and all boxing fans and Karate experts began delving into the age old argument of which fighting style is the best; would a great boxer with a powerful punch be able to beat a well skilled Karate champion? Or would a top notch Sumo Wrestler use his tremendous weight to crush both of them in nothing flat? Fight fans had argued these points endlessly for decades and it appeared that the unthinkable was going to unfold before their eyes. They would have their answer.

"No holds barred" sounded like something from the 19th century, the kind of fight one would read in fascination about where John L. Sullivan and the tough bare knuckle fighters of his time would fight to near death. This would be reminiscent of the history of boxing, where anything could happen; a David could beat a Goliath, and the fight could go on without the interruption of a bell.

With the rigid rules that had come to play in the sport of boxing it seemed impossible that a true fight to the finish would ever be allowed. As fight fans wondered what kind of last minute sissy rules would be enforced but they still paid the pay-per-view fee, that was approximately half of what fans were paying for major boxing matches, to have the Ultimate Fighting Championship broadcast in their homes where friends and family gathered and placed bets on their favorite fighting style. There was to be kick boxing, Karate, a boxing champion, a Sumo Wrestler, Shootfighter, and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu master.
The fight card was narrowed into eight fighters with the winners of the first fight to be paired against each other until a final bout would decide who was the Ultimate Fighting Champion.

The fighters arrived in Denver Colorado with virtually no clue as to what was happening. Because there had never been a UFC previously, the fighters were distrustful and refused to sign their contracts. The scene with managers and fighters looked as though an ultimate fight would erupt when suddenly Teila Tuli turned and began walking out of the room. Rorion Gracie, one of the promoters who was also overseeing his younger brother, Royce, in the event, called out to Teila and asked where he was going and what about the contract. Teila pointed to his contract on the table that he had signed and announced to the group that he was ready to rumble and would be up in his room. Rorion then looked at the other fighters who were butting heads over the paperwork and said, "now that's a man", indicating the giant sumo wrestler. The other fighters went quiet and soon singed their contracts.

The fights and fighters were paired up completely at random.

Gordeau vs. Tuli

The Moments Before Tuli Went Down

The First UFC Fight. Gordeau and Tuli

The first bout was between talented kick boxer, Gerard Gordeau, and sumo wrestler Teila Tuli. The sight of a sumo wrestler of well over 400 pounds standing in the octagon alongside a slender, not very muscular, kick boxer/Karate mixed martial artist, was shocking, and many viewers were already cringing at what would happen to the poor Gerard Gordeau.

Gordeau had fought in several no-holds-barred fights in his homeland of the Netherlands and in Japan, giving him at least the experience of having been in such a brutal bout before.Tuli seemed totally absorbed in his sumo style.

For approximately 15 seconds fans were on the edged of their seats when the two men squared off, but suddenly Tuli was on the ground. Had this been a boxing match the referee would have started counting but this was no-holds-barred, and it seemed as though the sumo wrestler did not comprehend the meaning of this as he held onto the rope with on hand and sat completely unprotected. Gordeau, having an instinct for no-holds-barred wasted no time and kicked Tuli in the face, sending his teeth flying into the crowd. The fight was over in 26 seconds and the reality of a fight without limits was firmly understood by the fighters and the crowd. The audience and announcers were dumbstruck and a little uneasy about the rest of the matches after having such a violent display take place so suddenly, but one thing was certain; the crowd did not think that sheer size would win in future bouts and were becoming more intrigued by fighting skill.

The other fighters were skeptical as to whether or not the fights would be real. After seeing this, they were firm believers in the UFC.

When interviewed 20 years later, Tuli stated that going into the fight the biggest fear he had was his knees. He realized that Gordeau was a powerful striker with a stunning kick and he worried that Gordeau would go straight for his knees and cripple him. Immediately after the fight and for 15 years after, the Sumo wrestler was embarrassed and ashamed of his performance and the fact the he would go down in UFC history under such an undignified display, however, he now realizes that just having fought in that tournament shows that he had guts,determination, and was in fact an athlete. Tuli now accepts his place in the UFC for what it is.

After Being Kicked in the Head Tuli is Done

Rosier launches a flying jab

The Second UFC Bout. Rosier vs Frazier

It was between Kevin Rosier and Zane Frazier. Both fighters were large and imposing, Rosier at 6' 4" and 265 lbs and Frazier at 6'6" and 230 lbs. The second UFC fight was an entirely different display that the first. Both fighters looked evenly matched, Rosier looking slightly overweight and out of shape, was exactly what many fans like to see on a boxing under card. The image of a heavy hitting thug who could drink men under the table out of the ring is something that appeals to fight fans unanimously and this fight would prove to be the longest of all ultimate fights of the evening ending by TKO after 4:20. The battle was an awkward slug fest, the kind most fans appreciate and relate well to, as it resembled a brutal boxing match. After all the punching, Frazier went down while Rosier resorted to kicking and stomping. The heavier Rosier was the victor and gave an interview immediately after the bout smiling amicably and showing true sportsmanship with regard to his defeated opponent. When asked when he felt that he had the fight won, he replied, "not until it was over."

Rosier Wins Like a Man

Zimmerman vs Gracie

The Beginning; Royce Kicks

Art Zimmerman vs. Royce Gracie

The fight between jiu jitsu artist, Royce Gracie, and boxer, Art Zimmerman has forever saddled Zimmerman with the nick name, "one glove." This is because in 1993 no one had seen mixed martial arts fights and where unsure of what to expect. Zimmerman, being a boxer, likely thought that his best bet was to keep one hand free in case he had some minor grabbing and wrestling to do and with the benefit of having a more biting bare knuckle punch. He may have kept his left jab protected with a boxing glove because he did not want to hurt the hand that would be doing most of the punching. Great idea right? Well, as we discovered, Zimmerman was already at a disadvantage having no ground fighting skills but he further hurt himself by virtually fighting with one hand tied behind his back. Royce, a master ground fighter, threw his famous fake punch followed by a kick and then a take down.

Royce mounted Art and began landing painful strikes to the head and body at will. Once Zimmerman realized that he was a sitting duck, lying on his back completely defenseless. He tapped the mat before too much damage could be inflicted. The fight was over at 2:18, and Art lost the fight by submission.

Gracie Mounts Zimmerman

Shamrock and Smith

Patrick Smith vs Ken Shamrock

The End. After Patrick Tried To Kick Shamrock

Shamrock vs Smith

One of the most exciting fights of the night was between Ken Shamrock and Patrick Smith. The excitement came partially because the two men were in great physical shape and had the look that most fans associate with a tough guy. Smith was cocky and arrogant, while Shamrock was stoic and calm with movie star looks and a magnificent physique. Smith being from Denver was the crowd favorite, and with an impressive record of over 200 fights in which he won every fight, the crowd was undoubtedly expecting their fighter to win hands down with his opponent a bloody wreck. Shamrock was introduced to mild cheering and some un-sportsmanly booing from the Denver Colorado crowd, while Smith was greeted by loud cheers.

Although Smith was in great shape he paled visually next to Shamrock's Greek god perfect physique, yet Smith was the slightly taller of the two. It was anyone's guess who would win this match.

Smith came out, hands held high, while Shamrock did the same before turning things around quickly by shooting low to Smith's legs, virtually sweeping Smith's legs out from under him. Shamrock quickly mounted the stunned Smith and got the better of him. Smith was reduced to throwing punches from his back and flailing his legs in hope of hitting Ken with a long wild leg. Shamrock was well in control as he brushed Smith's wild kicks aside and went for an ankle lock. As Ken wrestled Smith's leg, Smith tried to do the same thing right back, with added elbows to Shamrock's shin, but the stronger and better grappler soon had his prey in a submission heel hook.

Shamrock won the fight at 1:49 after Patrick Smith alternated his taps to the floor and to the fighter himself in desperation to get free. The referee called the fight over and Smith proved himself to be a sore loser as he tried to kick Shamrock as he arose, Smith then began screaming obscenities and wanted to fight again. He shoved the winner as Shamrock was walking to his corner. This footage has since been removed from the DVD version which has led many later generation viewers to accuse Shamrock of "roid rage" as he puffed up ready to fight Smith again, but the edited version simply does not represent the facts, (kind of like CNN and MSNBC.)

Smith then began screaming and ranting with many of his fans cheering the belligerent fighter on. Shamrock was interviewed immediately after the fight and showed himself to be charismatic, confident, and respectful. After this single fight Ken Shamrock was on his way to becoming one the most admired fighter that the UFC has ever seen, and although the crowed was booing his win due to not understanding exactly how Ken won, they where becoming intrigued with his submission style of fighting.

Gordeau Stomping on Rosier

Semi Finals- Gordeau vs Rosier

Gerard Gordeau and Kevin Rosier were the first in the semi finals. Rosier was obviously outclassed as he threw wild punches into the air as Gordeau looked like a controlled mechanism. The fight ended in 59 seconds by TKO. Rosier quickly found himself sitting down and holding into the ropes much as the sumo wrestler had done against Goreau with disastrous results. This time after being pounded in the head several times without retaliation the referee ended the fight.

As Rosier was being pummeled by Gordeau stomping him at will, the referee stopped the fight.

Shamrock Faces Royce Gracie

Shamrock Gaining Supremacy

Shamrock Trying To Escape Gracie's Hold

Gracie Finishes as Shamrock Taps

Shamrock vs Gracie

The enchanted crowd was more than ready to see Ken Shamrock in action once again. His chisled physique was a sight to behold, and as the crowd was now aware of his lightning speed and skill. It was becoming unanimous that Ken Shamrock was the best fighter and would be the winner of the
UFC, all he had to to is make short work of the skinny Brazilian named Royce Gracie and he was lined up for the final bout.

This fight was to be the biggest upset of the night. After watching several bouts throughout the evening Shamrock had become the crowd favorite. He was tough, respectful, articulate and looked like a real fighter. Most of the crowd now believed that after defeating Patrick Smith, Ken would quickly make mince meat of the stringy guy in the gi and then move on to the final.

After just 57 seconds the fight was over by submission. Ken tapped the canvas as Royce choked him out.The referee did not actually see the tapping by Ken and was prepared to let the bout resume until Ken told the ref that he did in fact tap the canvas.

Shamrock said after the bout that he overestimated himself and under estimated Royce.

Gordeau vs Gracie

Gordeau vs Gracie, the Final

Gerard Gordeau vs Royce Gracie was the final bout. Whoever won this fight would be declared the UFC champion. Gerard now had a broken right hand that was swollen to double its normal size. Gordeau would have had is work cut out for him under the best of circumstances but with his most dangerous weapon virtually disabled he was no match for the 4th degree black belt who appeared as fresh as he had during his first bout of the night with Zimmerman. At 1:44 the fight ended by submission and Royce Gracie was the Ultimate Fighting Champion.

After watching the very first UFC one thing was apparent to viewers, and that was the fact that real fights go to the ground quickly, they also could see that punching does as much damage to one's own hands as it does to the opponent's body. The crowd was now deeply interested in Brazilian jiu jitsu because not only did Royce beat everyone but he beat them in a way that seemed to leave himself free of injuries. Viewers were immediately interested in seeing Ken Shamrock make a return to UFC and win. Although many viewers deeply admired Gracie's abilities he was simply lacking in charm, charisma and poise next to Shamrock. Gracie won the UFC but Shamrock won the crowd.

Royce Gracie; The Winner of UFC 1

UFC 1; Review

Rating the UFC Champions

In the Pre Rules UFC Who was the Best Ultimate Fighter?

See results


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      That hold looked really, really painful and frustrating! How can the loser stand being in unbearable pain and at the winner's mercy like that? I would think that is a very emasculating experience for the loser and a very empowering experience for the winner... I wonder if women watching feel similarly about the two men?

    • GlendaGoodWitch profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from California

      It does not appear that Shamrock held too long. As soon as Smith finished with the three taps he was released. Shamrock was in the dominant position from the beginning. He mounted Smith and was actually on his own feet while putting pressure by walking forward, on Smith's head and neck. Because Smith is a scrappy guy, the fight could have turned at any time, but he was in a desperate state. His final flurry was when he felt the pain of the ankle lock he rallied with a few vicious right elbows to Shamrock before falling backward and tapping.

      His ego was destroyed and he wanted to fight again right after tapping out. Eventually, after the fight, Smith gave Shamrock credit for being the better trained fighter that night, and would from that moment on say, "the only time I really lost was to a shoot fighter, and that's saying a lot."

      The fight can be seen on Metacafe.

      Just Google Ken Shamrock vs. Patrick Smith 1 Metacafe.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Tell me more about the end of the Shamrock-Smith fight. What was the hold like? Did Ken hold it too long, or not long enough?

    • Taranwanderer profile image


      6 years ago

      Very good hub! I am a recent fan of the ufc and am glad to learn a little bit about the history. It makes sense now why Royce Gracie is such a legend in the sport.


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