It was the event that introduced Brazilian Vale Tudo to the world as Marco Ruas made his bow in the 7th Ultimate Fighting Championship, The Brawl in Buffalo.
The show began with the tournament quarter-finals, beginning with karate fighter Gerry Harris facing trap fighter Paul Varelans.
This battle of the big men saw Varelans scored with the quick take down. From there he overwhelmed Harris, whose lack of ground fighting experience showed as Varelans took his back. Harris tapped after a series of elbows to the top of his head.
The next fight saw multi-black belt holder Mark Hall taking on the mullet man himself, Harold Howard.
These two were like statues at the beginning before Howard took the fight to the ground while he was trying a one handed choke.
But as Howard fell to his back Hall took control and bloodied Howard’s nose, and as Hall continued his assault Howard gave up, making a cross sign with his hands before tapping.
The third quarter saw jiu-jitsu fighter Remco Pardoel taking on karate man Ryan Parker.
These two gi-wearing fighters put on an interesting contest. Parker had no ground fighting experience and looked lost when Pardoel took the fight down.
Pardoel locked in a head lock, delivering a few punches before taking the mount and getting the tap out with a lapel choke.
The final quarter final saw the aforementioned Marco Ruas taking on kickboxer Larry Cureton.
This was the one I really wanted to see, mainly because I’d seen Ruas in action before when I reviewed his instructional DVD a few years ago.
This was by far the best fight of the round. Cureton went for a guillotine straight away, with Ruas countering with a big slam.
Then, surprisingly, Cureton reversed positions so he could take the guard. From there he went to work with the ground and pound, dominating for a couple of minutes.
Ruas then regained control, locking up Cureton’s leg and getting the submission win with a knee bar.
Then it was on to the semi-finals, beginning with Paul Varelans against Mark Hall.
Varelans had a massive size advantage in this one, using it to good effect as he took Hall down with a headlock before taking the mount and synching in a key lock for the submission win in just 61 seconds.
The second semi saw Remco Pardoel against Marco Ruas.
This was a war of attrition. Pardoel went for a guillotine attempt early on, keeping the hold applied for several minutes. The only problem was that he also had Rua’s right arm trapped as well, which negated the effect of the choke.
Ruas eventually took the fight to the ground, and the Brazilian soon took control, using Pardoel’s own gi against him as he went for a heel hook.
Then, as the fight neared the 13 minute mark, Ruas took the mount, and just as it looked as if Ruas was about to unload with the ground and pound Pardoel strangely tapped out, even though he still looked in good condition, with the announcers speculating that the Dutchman knew he was in for a beating.
The big title fight followed as UFC 6 tournament winner Oleg Taktarov challenged Ken Shamrock for the Superfight title.
Now this really was a war of attrition. Most of the bout was contested on the ground, with Shamrock in the guard position, controlling Taktarov with blows and head butts.
And that was how the action played out for the majority of the fight. Referee John McCarthy stood them up twice, but they soon returned to the ground, and by the time they were brought back up with three minutes left Taktarov had two cuts by his left eye and a swelling by his right.
Then they engaged in a striking battle, with Taktarov bloodying Shamrock’s nose. But there was still no finish as the 30 minute time limit expired.
So it was on to the three minute (down from the original five) overtime period, where we saw more striking before they went back down to the ground as the fight ended.
After all that the fight was declared a draw, with Shamrock retaining his title. It was a dominating performance from Shamrock, and it was also the fight that prompted the UFC to appoint judges from the next show.
Last up was the tournament final between Paul Varelans and Marco Ruas.
Varelans, as is his custom, came out of the traps immediately, only for Ruas to meet him with a series of right kicks that softened up his left leg.
Ruas then got his man up against the cage, surviving a brief guillotine attempt before taking the big man’s back. Varelans would surely have been taken down had he not held on to the fence.
When the referee broke them up because of inactivity Ruas went back to work with the leg kicks as Varelans began to limp quite badly. Eventually Ruas was able to cut him down, and after the Brazilian followed him down for some ground and pound the referee quickly stepped in to give Ruas the TKO win and the tournament victory.
In conclusion – my trip into the history of MMA was certainly interesting before, but this time I was in for a slight revelation.
Up until this point those entering the tournaments had been either strikers or grapplers, with those returning to the Octagon beginning to learn a little more about other fighting disciplines.
But Marco Ruas seemed to change all that, showing that he was gifted in both departments. He really was an all round fighter, perhaps even more so than Ken Shamrock at the time, and it certainly would have been interesting to see Ruas challenging Shamrock for the Superfight title. Sadly, the first Ultimate Ultimate tournament got in the way.
So in all UFC 7 gets the thumbs up as another great piece of MMA history, and the performance of the King of the Streets.
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