MMA Review: #76: UFC 11: The Proving Ground Jan17

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MMA Review: #76: UFC 11: The Proving Ground

UFC 11: The Proving Ground

09/20/96

Augusta, Georgia

-We open with a video package highlighting the fighters competing, and it seems that the event is centred around the possibility of a Mark Coleman/Tank Abbott fight in the finals.

-Your hosts are Bruce Beck, Jeff Blatnick (who interviews Mark Coleman) and Don Wilson (who interviews Tank Abbott). We get a rundown of the rules, and this time the Quarter-Finals have a fifteen minute time limit, the Semis the same with a three minute overtime period, and the Finals with a twenty minute limit.

Quarter-Finals

Mark Coleman vs Julian Sanchez

Sanchez is 6’3’, 300lbs and he’s advertised as an ‘Asax’ stylist, which is something I’ve never heard of before. Announcers are expecting Coleman to dispose of him quickly.

Coleman gets a quick takedown to open and gets into a side mount, where he lands some heavy, clubbing right hands. Sanchez looks in trouble and starts to cover up, so Coleman gets a side neck crank and squeezes on it for the tapout at about 45 seconds in. Well, that was exactly as advertised.

Brian Johnston vs Reza Nasri

Kickboxer Johnston made a decent showing at UFC 10, taking out fellow kickboxer Scotty Fiedler, and giving Don Frye a decent run for his money in the semis. Nasri is an Iranian Greco-Roman wrestling champion of some repute.

They begin and Nasri shoots in right away, but Johnston blocks it and lands a knee to the head, into a clinch where both muscle for position. Johnston suddenly gets a nasty uranage-style slam and quickly mounts, where he opens up with multiple headbutts, and some big right hands, and Big John McCarthy comes flying in for the stoppage, busting Johnston’s nose up in the process. Post-fight Johnston is PISSED.

Nasri was just given no chance to get out of the gate here as Johnston overwhelmed him totally, and it was almost panic that caused McCarthy to slam into him to stop the fight I think, as the end came so suddenly and viciously.

Tank Abbott vs Sam Adkins

Adkins is a former professional boxer (albeit not the most successful) and the announcers are wondering whether Tank will bother standing with him. As Tank makes his entrance, you can spot a young Tito Ortiz in his entourage, if you look closely.

They begin and Adkins throws a big right, so Tank avoids and gets a swift takedown, landing some short left hands and forcing Adkins into the fence. Adkins tries to control Tank’s head, but he works and eventually creates some distance, landing some bigger shots, before forcing Adkins’s head into the fence and pushing his forearm into the throat at the same time. Adkins looks panicked, and taps pretty quickly.

Pretty similar fight to Tank’s at UFC 6 with Paul Varelans actually. Announcers discuss that Abbott looked a bit more controlled and less animalistic than usual here, as if he was trying to conserve energy.

Jerry Bohlander vs Fabio Gurgel

Gurgel is quite famous in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, holding multiple titles, and he’s actually a Third Degree black belt at this moment in time. With both guys coming in at around 200lbs, I think this was also the first time that Bohlander hadn’t been outsized badly in the Octagon. Announcers are expecting a grappling fight here.

They clinch right from the offset and Gurgel shoves him into the fence. Bohlander grabs the fence to avoid a takedown and they muscle for position, with both avoiding takedown attempts. Bohlander finally gets a trip down to Gurgel’s guard, and works the body over. Gurgel tries to kick him away, so Bohlander stands and drops a good right down onto him, before kicking at the legs. This earns him a warning as he’s wearing shoes, so they restart and Gurgel nails him with a stiff right, bloodying him from the forehead. Into the clinch again, and Bohlander works the body, but Gurgel gets a takedown and pulls out of a guillotine on the way. He works to pass the guard, getting into half-guard and finally taking a full mount, but as he does, Bohlander rolls him over and gets into top position in Gurgel’s guard. Bohlander lands some headbutts and works the body with some short punches as a ‘USA!’ chant strikes up. Gurgel holds on and keeps Bohlander close, but doesn’t attempt any submissions as Bohlander works a forearm into his throat. Gurgel tries a sweep, but Bohlander blocks and lands some more headbutts, then knees to the tailbone. He’s continually working so they’re not stood, but this is really slow at this point as he’s doing no damage. Gurgel finally manages to kick him away, and tries a triangle as Bohlander re-enters the guard, but Jerry pulls right out and we end up back in the guard where Bohlander continues to chop away as the time runs out.

We’re going to the judges, and all three score in favour of Bohlander. It’s discussed that Gurgel was unhappy about a time limit being imposed on the fight, as it’s not the way a BJJ stylist operates – he’d rather lay there until a chance arrived, however long it’d take. Sorry, but hey, that’s not the rules. Bohlander advances to the semis.

Semi-Finals

Mark Coleman vs Brian Johnston

They circle tentatively to begin, with Johnston keeping a low base to avoid takedowns, and he actually lands a couple of good leg kicks that appear to hurt Coleman. Johnston throws another, but this time Coleman has it scouted and catches it, getting the takedown to half-guard, where he lands some headbutts. Coleman creates some distance and opens up with the gorilla rights, and Johnston turns his back, so McCarthy stops it there.

Coleman looked in some difficulty when the fight was standing, but once he got it to the ground it was another easy win for him.

-We get a LONG delay as it’s explained that Jerry Bohlander’s having some problems, and eventually they announce that Bohlander’s pulled out and he’ll be replaced by alternate Scott Ferrozzo. They show us highlights of Ferrozzo’s win in the alternate bout over Sam Fulton, and then clip back to the Bohlander/Gurgel fight and show us Bohlander’s cut, which seems to be the likely reason for his inability to continue.

-More delays follow as they discuss the chance of Mike Tyson succeeding if he were to enter UFC. Blatnick says he’d have no chance because he’s too one-dimensional, and grapplers tend to rule the UFC, while Wilson says that that’s not really fair, because we’ve never seen a legitimate world-class striker in UFC, and in time strikers might come through. How prophetic.

Tank Abbott vs Scott Ferrozzo

Yay, they’re FINALLY ready to begin. Ferrozzo gets soundly booed upon arrival as the crowd is solidly pro-Tank.

They exchange big shots in the center of the Octagon to open before Tank muscles him back into the fence. Ferrozzo lands some rabbit punches, and they come back out and slug again with neither man seeming to have the advantage. Back into the clinch and Ferrozzo tosses him down, but Tank pops right back up and grabs a waistlock. He forces Ferrozzo to the fence and lands some shots from behind, while Ferrozzo yells ‘Fuck you!’. Tank keeps hitting him, opening up a small cut over the right eye, and finally Ferrozzo turns to face him. Ferrozzo works some good knees to the body that seem to wind Tank, and then they break and exchange, with both landing big, wild shots. Ferrozzo now muscles him to the fence, and lands the knees to the gut again, but they stop things to check his cut. A quick wipe and he’s okay to go, so they restart and exchange wildly into the fence once more. Ferrozzo continues to land knees to the body and a series of rabbit punches, as Tank looks winded and simply shoves him into the fence. Eleven minutes in and Ferrozzo continues to work from the fence, but McCarthy calls for the restart. They exchange wild swings once more, and Ferrozzo lands a heavy uppercut that snaps Tank’s head back. Tank forces him right back into the fence again, and they stay there until the opening period ends.

We go into the three-minute overtime period, and the crowd have totally changed now, cheering Ferrozzo wildly. They exchange wild punches to start again, but Tank shoves him into the fence once more where he holds on, while Ferrozzo works him over with knees and rabbit punches. McCarthy breaks them to end the fight, and they finish by trading big punches again.

We’re going to the judges, and Ferrozzo gets the vote of all three judges, celebrating like mad. Uh, dude, you REALLY should be conserving energy rather than wildly shadow-boxing. Post-fight he dedicates the win to Don Frye, who’s been training him. This was actually an interesting fight to watch, if crude, as Abbott for the first time met someone with as much brawn and power as him, became the victim, rather than the bully, and obviously had no idea how to deal with that.

-Interviews with Don Frye and Ken Shamrock follow, plugging the Ultimate Ultimate show coming up in December. Frye discusses the possibility of rematching Mark Coleman, while Ken says he’ll crush Tank if they happen to meet in the tournament.

-Another loooooong delay follows before they announce that Ferrozzo has pulled out due to dehydration, and Roberto Traven, who won his alternate bout earlier, is in. They show us highlights of Traven beating his opponent with strikes.

-We go backstage to see Mark Coleman preparing for the finals, before they announce that Traven has now pulled out citing a broken hand, and the officials are deciding what to do about the finals. The announcers waste time while we wait, answering some questions from the Compuserve fans, before Tank Abbott gives a short interview with Blatnick, citing a lack of training for a bigger fighter as the reason he lost to Ferrozzo.

Finals

Coleman comes out to the Octagon, where he’s declared the winner of the tournament by default. Blatnick interviews him, and he says he’s the best guy currently in the UFC and wants to be seen as the best ever. From what I can gather, it looks like Coleman does an exhibition match with Kevin Randleman, but rather than show that they show the WHOLE FIGHT between Abbott and Ferrozzo again, before the show ends there. Ugh.

Final Thoughts…

While it’s probably not the worst UFC show of all time, UFC 11 has to be the most frustrating. I think it really highlighted the pitfalls of having one tournament taking up the whole show, as the delays between fights just became ridiculous, and the situation to end the show was a complete farce. It’s nobody’s fault as such – fighters need time to rest and people get injured – but it’s no surprise that following this show UFC dumped the single tournament format and went with a double tournament format for the next show, eventually dumping the concept altogether. Coleman put in another good performance, but it ended up as somewhat of a wasted tournament for the company as the money match (Abbott/Coleman) never came about. There’s nothing as horrible as Severn/Shamrock II on offer, but there’s also no classic fights worth noting, and unless you love shots of the crowd while the announcers talk random things to stall off, it’s not really worth checking this show out. Recommendation to avoid.

Coming Soon…

Pride: 27 and 28.

UFC: 12, 13, 14, 55 and 56.

Cage Rage: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.

WFA: 1, 2 and 3.

King of the Cage: 18, 23, 30 and 32.

IFC: Shogun

Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

OratoryNewman@gmail.com