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Thursday, 05/01/2014, 10:55 am

BattleGrounds MMA Hosts One-Night, Eight-Man Tournament – Four UFC Veterans Already Signed


May 15th, 1998. UFC 17. That was the last time the UFC held a tournament-style event on US soil.

If you’ve never watched an early UFC event, where competitors would fight up to 4 times in the same night… where men would display enormous amounts of endurance, guts, determination and heart… well, you’re doing yourself  a huge disservice. And while the tournament format might not have been the best way to determine who the better fighter was that night, it certainly determined who the toughest fighters were.

Unfortunately though, as exciting as those tournament events were, they had a few fatal design flaws. The main flaw being the fact that one fighter could sometimes have an exponentially easier path to the final round than another fighter.

For example: imagine entering the tournament, where you must fight Hector Lombard and Jacare Souza in order to reach the finals. Then use even more imagination, and picture how tired, bruised and battered you would be, if you actually managed to knock off those two destroyers.

Now… how upset would you feel, if you found out that your final opponent had to face the fearsome duo of … Tiki Ghosn and Andy Wang.

Yeah. I’d be upset too. And this is why Dana White once said “Imagine going three rounds, two tough guys, and then you gotta get back in the tournament and fight again another thirty minutes. It’s not fair. It doesn’t really determine who the best guy is.”

And while the tournaments were always fun to watch, these fatal flaws caused the UFC to abandon the format after UFC 23 in Japan, as they attempted to shed the “human **** fighting” appearance, rebranding themselves as a true pugilistic sport. And while that was the right decision at the time, I still miss watching fighters like Royce Gracie, Dan Severn and Don Frye, gritting their teeth and carving a path through opponent after opponent. Sure, other MMA shows tried to put a few 4-man tournaments on, but it was never quite the same. Alas, it looks as though those days are gone for good…

Until June 27th, that is.

That’s when BattleGrounds MMA is going to try to revive the format, playing host to a one-night, eight-man welterweight tournament with the winner receiving $50,000. The BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma will be the venue, with UFC welterweight champion and native Oklahoman Johny Hendricks as their “special guest” for the night.

MMAFighting.com has spoken to BattleGrounds MMA CEO Kenny Monday, and they’ve confirmed that UFC veterans Dennis Hallman, Cody McKenzie, Josh Bryant and Luigi Fioravanti will all be a part of the tournament. And there’s always the possibility of more UFC vets being added to the event, as they continue to announce the other participants.

Monday had this to say, in a release sent to MMAFighting.com: “We are excited to have assembled a group of incredibly talented and accomplished athletes for this landmark tournament. The one-night tournament is truly the toughest test physically and mentally in all of combative sports, and BattleGrounds MMA is proud to bring this format back to life and usher in a new era of elite competition in the world’s fastest growing sport.”

Whether or not this will be the catalyst to an “ushering in” of a new era has yet to be seen. But, as a fan who remembers the days of the 8-man tournaments, I wish them all the success in the world. Sure, it still might not be the best way to determine the better fighter, but as the sport has evolved, the fighter’s skill sets have evolved along with it – today, if a fighter finds themselves with an easier path to the final round, it’s much more likely due to their skill and talent, rather than them simply facing easier competition.

And if you happen to live in the Tulsa area, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket – relive a small piece of MMA history. You won’t regret it.

Tickets for the event are on sale at www.bokcenter.com.

By Jim Chadwick | Twitter

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