The Fighters that Held the UFC together Part 1
MMA has grown in such a way that it has seeped in to mainstream media’s front offices. What once was viewed as brutality with no rhyme or reason is now officially a real sport. There are pioneers, people who truly walked the path no one else wanted to travel. There was no bonus system and the pay wasn’t all that hot either, but still they fought and became the glue that held the young organization together. BJPenn.com takes a look at some of the heroes of the UFC (post UFC 5).
Jens Pulver was the UFC Lightweight Champion and considered one of the best pound for pound fighters in the UFC from 2000-2002. He won his last four fights before leaving the organization and his last win may have been his biggest over UFC legend and this site’s namesake BJ Penn. The fight went to a majority decision and despite the popular belief, Pulver got the hard-fought win. After his stint in the UFC, Jens dropped two his next 4 fights, but won all four of his professional boxing bouts. Without Pulver the lightweight division very well could have faded away.
Ortiz was born with a chip on his shoulder and he will tell you that in person. He was emotional, outspoken, and tenacious in The Octagon. His battle with Frank Shamrock is legendary and at the time was considered the best MMA fight in UFC history. After Ortiz’s loss to Shamrock he won 6 straight as the UFC’s Light Heavyweight Champion before dropping the strap to Randy Couture at UFC 44.
His bout with Ken Shamrock at UFC 40 was the most significant fight in the UFC’s young history. It garnered mainstream media attention and was the first real public rivalry that mirrored what people had come to expect from boxing. Ortiz won that fight in decisive fashion and helped put the UFC on the map at the same time.
Ken Shamrock, like him or not, was one of the main reasons the UFC held interest in its infancy. He was the anti-Gracie so to speak. He dominated with wrestling and ground and pound, but he could also strike. He looked the part of a modern gladiator by staying in top physical shape. Ken was given the moniker “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” by ABC News in one of their specials early on in his career. Shamrock also made the jump over to the WWE during its wildly popular “Attitude Era”. Ken was a hit and became the first athlete from the UFC to truly make a name for himself outside of The Octagon.
While it may seem self-serving to place him on this list I would also be doing him a great disservice if I did not. BJ is one of two fighters to ever hold a championship in two divisions. His win over Matt Hughes is legendary. At UFC 46 Penn submitted Matt Hughes in round one and fulfilled his dream of becoming UFC champion. He would later dominate the lightweight division as its champion, but it was this moment that really showed what he was capable of.
Liddell started his UFC career at UFC 17 and suffered only two losses in the organization until UFC 71. Chuck was a refreshing addition to the UFC and a much needed diversion from the lay and pray style that was becoming popular at that time. Liddell would later avenge those early two losses, but his trilogy with Randy Couture will always be remembered as one of the greatest in UFC history, and maybe what truly defined his career.