This Saturday night will see the UFC return to New York for the first time in over two decades, so for the next five days, Fightful will bring you a Countdown To UFC 205.
Our first step in that countdown takes us back to September 8, 1995 and Buffalo, New York as UFC 7: The Brawl In Buffalo becomes the first and only UFC event to ever take place in New York -- until UFC 205
The show would take place at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, a venue Michael Buffer proclaimed as the home of the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. It was actually the home of the Buffalo Sabres from the NHL.
The show featured an eight-man tournament and a superfight between Ken Shamrock and Oleg Taktarov, who were training partners at the time. Before we get into a fight by fight recap of the tournament and the superfight, there were three alternate fights for the tourney.
The reserve fights saw Joel Sutton defeat Geza Kalman by TKO via cut, Onassis Parungao defeat Francesco Maturi by submission due to strikes and Scott Bessac defeat David Hood by submission via guillotine choke.
The broadcast team consisted of Bruce Beck, Jeff Blatnick and Don “The Dragon” Wilson. “Big” John McCarthy, who is a staple of UFC events to this day, was the only referee for this entire card.
Paul Varelans and Gerry Harris kicked off the tournament. Varelans would later venture into professional wrestling and face Taz in the early days of Extreme Championship Wrestling, coming up short in his efforts. Varelans comes in the fight at 300 pounds. while Harris tipped the scales at 260 pounds -- no weight classes back then. Varelans gets the quick takedown on Harris while the octagon door breaks open as they land. The fight does not stop and Varelans beats on Harris with a ton of strikes. Harris quickly taps as Varelans attacks him with elbow strikes to the back of the head (now illegal). Varelans advances to the second round.
Mark Hall versus Harold Howard is the next opening round bout. Howard made it to the finals of UFC 3, losing to Steve Jennum. Howard enters the fight with a 50-pound weight advantage, another benefit of the time period. Howard just swings at Hall with no regard for defense. Howard goes to the ground and Hall gets on top to land some strikes. These guys aren't wearing any gloves, slugging it out, yet another evident change. Howard taps to the strikes and the hometown boy is eliminated in the first round. The replay showed that Howard tapped not in the traditional way we've grown accustomed to, but by making an “X” with his arms and by yelling at the referee.
Remco Pardoel and Ryan Parker are up next. Parker’s stat line says he is a full time student at Moorhead State University, not the best thing to be known for when you're getting involved in a fight with little rules. These guys are both wearing gis with black belts and pretty much look identical, so this should be interesting to call. Pardoel takes Parker down and holds him in a headlock while landing a bunch of unanswered strikes. Pardoel gets full mount and does absolutely zero with it while the fans get pissed off, Pardoel gets a forearm choke and a tap out follows. I guess the black belt in karate didn't do much for Parker.
Our final first round match of the event is Marco Ruas taking on Larry Cureton/ Ruas may be one of the more overlooked pioneers of MMA, but the man was a machine in the cage. The tale of the tape says that Ruas age is ??? and Cureton has a thirty-pound weight advantage. Ruas cares little about weight advantages as he slams Cureton on the ground with ease. Ruas has the ground edge, and Cureton winds up showing some skill by landing strikes while in top position. Ruas rolls for an arm bar and Cureton escapes, but Ruas catches him with a heel hook to force a tap out.
The first round of the tournament is in the books, we saw Paul Varelans elbow a man’s skull into obscurity, Mark Hall upset Harold Howard as he tapped to an occasionally landing strike, Remco Pardoel defeat the best Moorhead State University (not the alma mater of Fightful.com managing editor Sean Ross Sapp, that's Morehead State) has to offer and Larry Cureton nearly pull a major upset by defeating Marco Ruas.
Paul Varelans and Mark Hall will kick off the semi-finals, and Varelans will enter the fight with a 110-pound weight advantage which is more than a 2014 Michelle Waterson. Varelans was also about a foot taller than Hall. Varelans quickly scores a takedown and forces Hall to tap out with a keylock in a relatively quick fight to advance to the finals.
Our last semi-final round fight pits Remco Pardoel against Marco Ruas. This one actually goes a long time, well over the ten-minute mark. Keep in mind that there were no rounds and a 20-minute time limit in each fight, with a 30-minute time limit for tournament finals and super fights. Pardoel and Ruas both excelled at the ground game in this fight, Ruas still has ??? for his age. Maybe it's still that to this day. This fight has a truly odd ending as Pardoel simply tapped out when Ruas gained the full mount position, similar to the Royce Gracie/Art Jimmerson fight from UFC 1.
The semi-finals of the tournament is in the books, we saw Paul Varelans destroy a fighter he could have easily ate for dinner and Remco Pardoel randomly tapping out to the fierce violence that was Marco Ruas in the full mount while doing absolutely nothing.
The superfight between Ken Shamrock and Oleg Taktarov is up next and the less that is said about this atrocity, the better. The bout lasted a total of 33 minutes (30-minute round and 3-minute overtime), but the fight was merely both fighters laying on top of each other, doing very little to win or advance position in any meaningful ways. The fight ends in a draw, as there were no judges at the time. The crowd absolutely crapped on everybody in the fight, even the referee. There was no winner declared and this fight, along with the terrible Ken Shamrock/Royce Gracie superfight, would lead the UFC to stop hyping super fights for a very long time. However, the length of the fight caused major headaches for the UFC and the fans at home who ordered the pay-per-view, but more on that later.
The finals of UFC 7 would pit Paul Varelans against Marco Ruas, Varelans again entered the fight with a massive weight advantage over his opponent. However, this fight would be different for Varelans as Ruas was a truly great fighter on the ground, which neutralized Varelans suffocating game. Also, Ruas was in far better shape, which worked to his advantage as the fight went a little over 13 minutes in total time. Ruas would finish Varelans with strikes and win UFC 7, starting a legendary run in both the UFC and MMA as a whole.
Now, the big problem was that the majority of the pay-per-view audience never saw the entire fight because the Ken Shamrock/Oleg Taktarov fight went so long that by the time Ruas and Varelans made it into the cage, there was only a little amount of pay-per-view time. A huge part of of those who bought the pay-per-view never got to see any of the finals -- the show would end as the fighters made their way to the Octagon. The whole fight would later be shown on VHS....months later. A less than impressive first showing in New York.
The UFC’s first and so far, only visit to New York was a bumpy one at best. A great tournament run by Marco Ruas was tragically cut short because of the horrifyingly bad superfight between Ken Shamrock and Oleg Taktarov. There were memorable moments like Remco Pardoel mysteriously tapping to Ruas while he was trapped in the full mount and Paul Varelans defeating a man that he outweighed by more than a hundred pounds. Needless to say, UFC 205 is already on pace to provide more history-making moments than the almost forgotten UFC 7.