UFC 11: PROVING GROUND
SEPTEMBER 20, 1996
AUGUSTA, GA. AT THE COLISEUM
UFC said the odds were 10,000 to 1 that three fighters would go down with injury leaving Mark Coleman a walkover win in the finals. That may be true, but given how close they have come before to an equal number of injuries, they should have had a provision spelled out in the regulations.
As it turned out, Mark Coleman won his second straight UFC tournament by fighting a total of three minutes and four seconds. After Scott Ferroza (who beat Sam Fulton at 1:45 in an alternate bout that night) replaced opening round winner Jerry Bohlander and upset Tank Abbott in the semi-finals, he was unable to make it to the finals. After the 18 minute decision win over Abbott, he suffered from dehydration and exhaustion and was taken to the hospital. There was no one left able or willing to fight Coleman.
The promoters wantedalternate winner Roberto Traven, a highly respected fighter out of Brazil, to step into the finals, but Traven suffered a broken hand in his match and was unable (and besides that, apparently not eager) to face an energized, fresh Coleman in the finals. That left no one who had actually won that night to fight i the finals. They discussed with Abbott that he could enter the finals, but both Abbott and the promoters realized Abbott had no chance against Coleman if fresh, much less after a grueling 18 minite loss. Had Abbott gone into the finals and lost quickly, his marketability would have been totally ruined.
As it was, Abbott lost nine-tenths of his reputation. In the past he looked good against no-names and held his own on the defense against respected names, but had yet to beat a major name. Now he lost to no-name who beat him at his own style – pitfighting, i.e. tough man brawling. The legend of Abbott took a serious beating.
But so did Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Besides Traven, who beat David Barrie in the alternate bout, Fabio Gurgel was unable to best Jerry Bohlander out of Ken Shamrock’s camp. Fabio trains part time at Renzo Gracie’s studio and is a second degree Gracie black belt, yet was unable to put away Bohlander in 15 minutes. Gurgel in some circles is considered to be bigger and better than Royce Gracie and has been a world championship calliber fighter in Brazilian jiu jitsu tournaments. This event continued to build evidence that the Gracie style does not fare well in the Octagon because of the time limit and the stand-up rule. But there is no point of reference whether Don Frye or Mark Coleman would be able to beat former UFC Champion Royce Gracie until Royce actually returns. Perhaps Royce would be able to protect himself in the guard against Coleman and wear down the bigger Coleman for 45 minutes before putting him awayt with a submission hold. But UFC rules don’t allow for that long of a match, so who can blame Royce for not returning if the rules work against him.
The Ultimate Ultimate on Dec. 7 (probably in Birmingham, Ala.) features Frye and Coleman as two of the four men in bracket A and Shamrock and Abbott as two of the four in bracket B (although there is talk after this showing Abbott may not return). Dan Severn is leaning against returning and other past contenders are considering offers in other organizations. Ferrazo would be a worthy Ultimate Ultimate candidate after his showing on Friday.
UFC did not handle their bad luck well. They need to prepare for shorter matches by having features produced ahead of time to fill in gaps. The announcers have to be more open and talk about what past UFC stars are doing (Oleg Taktarov, Royce, Marco Ruas, Dan Severn, etc.) and interview legitimate journalists who are free to criticize UFC when deserved and give open analysis. UFC’s lack of communication with the TV audience was inexcusable. After they interviewed Coleman in mid-ring, announcing he was the champion by default, they cut to a replay of Tank vs. Ferrazo without any explanation or introduction after previously saying they were going to have an exhibition match for Coleman. UFC badly needs a backstage camera and reporter to interview fighters in the back, or at least their trainers, reporting to the pay-per-view audience the injury status of fighters after each fight and as soon as someone drops out due to injury, they need to explain it and if possible have the fighter explain his injury or show the fighter being taken to the hospital. Otherwise it creates a possible impression that there is secretive maneuvering going on backstage.
In short, UFC seems to secretive and needs to open up about their product (including talking about how uninformed political pressure has caused UFC to become much more bloody and brutal due to the addition of gloves which protect the hands, not the opponents’ faces).
People can forgive bad luck, but not lack of preparation and the holding back of information. UFC should decide if they are a professional organization or amateurs in for a quick buck. They looked like the latter on Friday night.
(1) Mark Coleman beat Julian Sanchez at 0:44 via tap out after a series of punches against the fense.
(2) Brian Johnston beat Reza Nazari at 0:30 after Nasari was hit with a barrage of punches and the ref stopped the bout.
(3) Tank Abbott beat Sam Adkins at 2:06 when Abbott had Adkins against the fense and his forearm across his throat.
(4) Jerry Bohlander beat Fabio Gurgel via judges decision (3-0) after a 15 minute draw. Lots of mat wrestling with Gurgel on his back in the guard most of the match.
(5) Mark Coleman beat Brian Johnston at 2:20 when the ref stopped the fight after a series of punches in against the fense.
(6) Scott Ferrazo (replacing Bohlander who was unable to continue) beat Tank Abbott via judges decision after an 18 minute draw. It was a very exciting fight as both men fought like street fighers. They exchanged punches in mid ring. They fought to the fense where Abbott hugged the fense to keep Ferrazo from escaping or throwing him. Ferrazo dominated Abbott in a big surprise. He was unable to knock out Abbott, but Abbott didn’t get in any solid blows against him. (Earlier Ferrazo beat Sam Fulton before the live show in an alternate bout to earn a spot as the top alternate.) After the match Abbott said he didn’t prepare to fight someone as big as Ferrazo, but fans booed Abbott because he didn’t live up to his reputation.
(7) Mark Coleman won via forfeit when Ferrazo was unable to continue and the other alternate fighter broke his hand in his alternate match before the event started. Ferrazo suffered from dehydration and exhaustion and needed intravenous fluids and was taken in an ambulance to a hospital. Fans were very disappointed Coleman didn’t have to fight in the finals.
The event was a disappointment even though matches four and six were very exciting.
Chris Zavisa, Torch columnist: Someone once postulated that when the world ends, it will not be with a bang, but with a wimper. That sage could have easily been describing the ending of UFC11. With no fighters left standing Mark Coleman got his hand raised in what can only be described as a huge disappointment. Don Wilson said the odds were about 10,000 to 1 of this happening, but happen it did.
Because the UFC is not a worked event, they always run the risk of unforseen problems. You have to wonder how this will play over the long run with pay-per-view customers. Fortunately, they have their big one coming up in December and it looks like a packed gem that could make everyone forget this disaster. That is everyone who takes the chance to buy it.
The other thing that ended with a whimper was the legend of Tank Abbott. It should be painfully obvious by now that when the bout does not instantly go the way Abbott wants it to he is one lost child. That was clear in his match against Dan Severn where he just laid on the mat like a beached whale taking a beating. It was confirmed against Scott Ferrazo. Tank said he was not prepared for another big man and that is one lame excuse. Not only did he not look prepared, but he looked tired and intimidated as well. Jeff Blatnick had the best line of the night when he described the big blow-hard as “a falling star.” Abbott is star who has burned out and crashed. By rights, he does not even belong in the Ultimate Ultimate Dec. 7. I’d replace him with Ferrazo who whipped his ass pretty good.
Mark Coleman continues to look impressive. It will be interesting to see how he fares against Ken Shamrock or Dan Severn. The Ultimate Ultimate looks like a must-see line-up.
Bruce Mitchell, Torch columnist: Two stories dominated this Ultimate Fight. The first was enough to almost make this show a success, at least in my eyes. The Tank tanked. The fact that loudmouthed thug was outfought by an alternate who was as sick of his act as the rest of the UFC fighters was particularly enjoyable. The blown up Tank’s crave an excuse that he wasn’t ready to fight big guys said all you really needed to know regarding UFC’s biggest gimmicked star.
The other story was a complete turnoff – the confusion and lack of communication behind Mark Coleman’s tournament forfeit win. What? No one knew Traven had a broken hand two hours after his fight? It’s bad enough that UFC caved in on the gloves issue and now more guys than ever are getting hurt. It’s ridiculous that they made people wait so long to find out there wasn’t even going to be a final bout. And could SEG have some video features in the can just in case of short fights. Hey, I enjoy scoping out the crowd as much as the next guy, but enough’s enough. And talking about Mike Tyson’s chances in an Ultimate Fight is a collosal waste of time. Bob Dole climb into that Octagon before Tyson ever will.
Hey, didn’t those Brazilians use to be good at this?