The initial idea was discover which styles would prove most effective in combat. You would see artists displaying such styles as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, Ninjitsu, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu (or Gung Fu), Muay Thai, Shootfighting, Judo among others. The towering heroes of that time were Ken Shamrock--the very first UFC champion--and Royce Gracie, who became famous for an ability to lock the biggest fighters into submissions.
And we should remember that Shamrock and Gracie ruled during a time when there were no weight classes, no boxing gloves, and a combatant could fight three or four times in a single night.
Those who ran the UFC during this period often billed it as "no holds barred" boxing; it wasn't true of course, since there have always been basic rules ensuring that the fights would not get out of hand, however tougher the fight game was at the time (there were two rules in those early days: no biting or eye-gouging).
The ploy was intended to capture the attention of jaded fight fans, and the early game was in fact quite popular with both live and pay-per-view audiences. But others who saw this advertising blitz--which sometimes also showed quick, edited scenes of the bloodiest matches--naturally thought the very worst of the UFC, without ever having seen an actual match.
UFC 3: The American Dream was held on September 9th, 1994 at the Independence Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. UFC 2 had experimented with a roster of 16 fighters in the tournament; but this time, the event returned to its original format of an eight man tournament. With no weight classes however, this still meant that the winner would have to fight three times in a single night. The winner received $60,000.
Royce Gracie, who had now gained notoriety as being unstoppable after cruising through the first two events, would face Kimo, his biggest challenge to date, in one of the most infamous matches in early UFC history.
Another match which has also gained fame was between Keith Hackney and perhaps the largest man ever to step inside the Octagon, American amateur Sumo wrestler Emmanuel Yarborough, who measured 6'8" and weighed 668lbs. As one may expect, this match was the first in a long night of injuries and controversy.
Another anomaly which occurred at this event was number of times the tournament had to resort to alternates, due to injuries suffered by the eight fighters on the roster. For the first time in the history of the UFC, an alternate fighter--who wasn't even expected to fight that evening--stepped into the title match and won the event.
In fact, both alternate fighters were used, and there was talk of resorting to a third. After the quarterfinals, Hackney injured his hand in his fight against the Sumo giant Yarborough and was forced out, prompting Felix Lee Mitchell to fight Ken Shamrock in the semis. Also after the first round, Gracie was forced to withdraw due to an injury and fatigue.
Here's a weird-but-true tale: Had Gracie merely remained in the locker room and withdrawn (as do most fatigued fighters), then fighter Harold Howard would have gone against Jennum in the semis. But Gracie perhaps hoped for a miracle, and came to the ring before throwing in the towel. Because of this, Howard waltzed straight into the finals, only to lose to Jennum there.
In the semis, Shamrock had defeated Mitchell, but was injured in the process. With Shamrock and Gracie gone, this left Howard to face the alternate Jennum in the finals.
The matches had no time limit or rounds; therefore no judges were used for the
night. The referee was 'Big' John McCarthy. The event was particularly hard on the
fighters, and marked the inception of referee stoppage in fights. UFC 3 also
marked the first time the event was held outside of Colorado.
1 Keith Hackney(win) vs Emmanuel Yarborough TKO (Strikes) 1:59
2 Ken Shamrock(win) vs Christopher Leninger Submission (Strikes) 4:49
3 Harold Howard(win) vs Roland Payne KO 0:46
4 Royce Gracie(win) vs Kimo Leopoldo Submission (Armlock) 4:40
5 Ken Shamrock(win) vs Felix Mitchell(1) Submission (Rear Naked Choke) 4:34
6 Harold Howard(win) vs Royce Gracie(2) TKO (Forfeit) 0:00
7 Steve Jennum(win)(3) vs Harold Howard Submission (Strikes) 1:27
(1) Keith Hackney withdrew due to injury. He was replaced by Felix
(2) Royce Gracie withdrew due to exhaustion from his previous fight with Kimo. No replacement was available.
(3) Ken Shamrock withdrew due to injury. He was replaced by Steve Jennum.
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