Sunday, August 12, 2012

UFC 4: Can Royce Gracie Win His Third Tournament?

Royce Gracie and Dan Severn

UFC 4:  Revenge of the Warriors – Tulsa, Okla. – Dec. 16, 1994

Royce Grace’s quest to reclaim the undisputed top spot in mixed martial arts was the theme of UFC’s fourth show.

After winning the first two tournaments, Gracie suffered an injury in his first-round win over Kimo at UFC 3. This allowed alternate Steve Jennum to surprise everyone and win the tournament.

Bruce Beck and Jim Brown return on commentary, joined by Jeff Blatnick, who won a gold medal for the U.S. in Greco-Roman wrestling in 1984.

The announcers helpfully explain that the UFC has solved the problem from the last show by having alternates win a prelim fight so they won’t be totally fresh like Jennum if they are pressed into service.

Then, the announcers inform us that in the alternate fights, Joe “The Ghetto Man” Charles beat UFC 1 alumnus Kevin Rosier; and Marcus “Grasshopper” Bossett beat Eldo D. Xavier.

Also, instead of drawing the fighters at random, Jennum is placed as the No. 1 seed, with Gracie at No. 2. The idea is to have the previous champs meet in the finals, but...Gracie at No. 2?

Rich “G-Man” Goins is still here as our ring announcer. Go Rich! Big John McCarthy is our ref, and off we go!

1. Royce Gracie (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) vs. “The Black Dragon” Ron Van Clief (karate)

The Black Dragon is 51 years old! He’s been a martial artist for four decades and has won karate titles around the world. Gracie says he’s out to prove that his family’s fighting style is the best. That’s why the UFC was created.

Gracie gets a huge ovation because after the first three UFCs, everyone knows he is the man. He takes the Black Dragon down and wraps him up “like a boa constrictor,” according to Brown.

Gracie is in total control, landing shots to the back of the head before putting Van Clief away at 3:45 with the rear naked choke.

2. Keith Hackney (White Tiger Kenpo Karate) vs. Joe Son (Joe Son Do)

Hackney beat the enormous Emmanuel Yarborough at UFC 3 but couldn’t continue due to a broken hand. Joe Son was in Kimo’s corner on that show, and this time, Son comes out with the crucifix and his cornermen displaying Bible quotes.

Joe Son fights with his hands down and his chin out. Maybe that's "Joe Son Do." After an exchange of takedowns, Hackney chokes Son with one arm while landing SIX groin shots in a row. Say it with me now (in a high-pitched voice): "There are no rules!"

Son can’t take it any more, and I can’t blame him. He taps out at 2:30.

3. Melton Bowen (boxing) vs. Steve Jennum (policeman/ninja)

Bowen is from Miami, and the announcers note that he’s the first boxer to compete in the UFC. He’s wearing a T-shirt that helpfully reads: “BOXING”. Where can I buy that shirt?

Bowen is also wearing boxing gloves with the fingers cut out. Art Jimmerson is facepalming at home. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Poor Jennum is getting booed by the crowd. It’s not his fault he was awarded the tournament crown and $60,000 just for winning one fight at UFC 3.

Jennum takes Bowen down and unleashes some ground-and pound, but Bowen weathers the storm and escapes to his feet. Jennum hits a Greco-Roman hip lock and goes back to the ground-and-pound.

Just as one of the announcers says Jennum can’t finish, oh yes he can! Jennum hits a great looking armbar for the submission at 4:40. Both champions are in the semifinals.

4. Anthony “Mad Dog” Macias (Thai boxing) vs. Dan Severn (wrestling)

Macias is the hometown boy from Oklahoma. Severn is a freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestler from Michigan. Brown calls Severn one of the favorites.

It’s a classic striker vs. wrestler matchup. Severn hits a couple of suplexes. Macias tries some elbows, but Severn locks in the rear naked choke for the win at 1:45.

So the semifinals are looking great with Hackney, Severn and both champions. If everyone can avoid injury, we should be in for a strong finish.

No! As soon as I typed that, the announcers tell us that Jennum is hurt and can’t continue. Grasshopper won a coin flip over the Ghetto Man to take his spot.

5. Semifinal No. 1: Royce Gracie (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Keith Hackney (White Tiger Kenpo Karate)

Hackney spends the first two minutes staying away from Gracie’s takedowns. Gracie moves Hackney against the cage. Hackney lands some strong right hands, but Gracie drills him with a series of knees to the chest.

Gracie drops to his back and goes for a triangle choke, but Hackney slips out and starts pounding down on Gracie. This repeats itself, but Gracie finally grabs an armbar for the tap out. He moves on to the finals.

6. Semifinal No. 2: Marcus "Grasshopper" Bossett (karate) vs. Dan Severn (wrestling)

Bossett teaches karate to kids in South Central Los Angeles and wants to be a positive role model. Severn checks in at 260 pounds, 40 more than Bossett.

Charles opens with a big kick, but Severn catches him and takes him down. It’s wrestling time! Severn is on top with a front choke and gets the tap out at the 1-minute mark.

So we’re set for a great battle on the mat between Severn and Gracie, but while they rest, we see an extra fight, with the winner getting a spot at UFC 5. They had a lot of good ideas on this show.

7. Jason Fairn (Jiu-jitsu) vs. Guy Mezger (Kickboxing)

Fairn is from Canada; Mezger is from Dallas. Both guys are wearing ponytails, but they’ve reached a gentlemen’s agreement not to pull them. I love it! Technically, they could pull a Hackney and blast each other in the groin, but it’s OK as long as they don’t pull each other’s hair.

Sure enough, the fighters both knee each other in the crotch. Fairn drops Mezger with a punch, but Mezger battles to his feet and takes Fairn down. Mezger delivers some ground and pound, and the towel flies in at 2:11. See you at UFC 5, Guy!

8. UFC 4 Final: Dan Severn (Wrestling) vs. Royce Gracie (Brazilian jiu-jitsu)

Severn has an 80-pound advantage, but by now, but we know that means nothing against Gracie. Severn takes Gracie down in the opening minute and piles on top.  

Blatnick takes this opportunity to tout wrestling as a fighting style that hasn’t gotten enough respect. Severn lands a headbutt at 4:20 and tries to wear Gracie down.

Gracie has a tight guard and then tries a choke from the bottom. We have dueling chants of “USA!” and “Gracie!” Severn is dominating Gracie but can’t put him away. Gracie finally gets a triangle and Blatnick says “There’s nothing there.”

Wrong! Severn taps at 15:45 and Jim Brown goes nuts, rubbing the wrestler’s loss in Blatnick’s face. “What did I say? Smile, Jeff!”

Gracie pockets $64,000, while Severn takes home $19,000.

UFC was supposed to help determine the dominant fighting style, and at this point, you would think the answer is “Brazilian jiu-jitsu.” However, the real dominance in the first four UFCs was displayed by Royce Gracie himself.

He is so much better at what he does best than his opponents are what they do best. It makes you wonder what would happen if Mike Tyson were in the UFC and Gracie were not. People might say, “well, boxing is the best fighting style.”

The question could only be answered over a couple of decades, if, for example, several Brazilian jiu-jitsu players continually got the best of the other fighters. However, this didn’t happen because the fighters were smart enough to learn the other fighting disciplines and become true mixed martial artists.

@JeffDGorman is an MMA announcer. You can e-mail him at and check out his work here.

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