December 16, 1994
Most people who are now fans of MMA, don’t even know about the earlier days of the sport. We’ve been flashing back to historic moments at ADCC News and highlighting industry movers and shakers.
UFC 4, held at the Expo Square Pavilion in Tulsa, Oklahoma was a definite eye opener. By this time, those in the pro wrestling industry were still convinced that the UFC could be fake. Many in WCW were calling it a "stiff work". Basically, saying that the punches were real/hard but they knew the outcome. Obviously they were wrong.
By this time, everyone wanted to see someone derail Royce Gracie who had racked up an 8-1 record (with the only loss being withdrawing from fighting due to injury).
Dan Severn was a modest pro wrestling/fighter. He was working for a "worked" promotion (hard hitting matches with pre-determined outcomes) but was only a lower-level performer who people wrote off. But, believe it or not, Severn wasn’t a favorite, it was Keith Hackney and Steve Jennum (UFC 3 winner) who were thought to be the ones to take out Gracie.
Joe Charles tapped out Kevin Rosier in :14 with an armbar
Marcus Bossett KO’d Eldo Dias Xavier in 4:55
Guy Mezger (Ken Shamrock protege) beat Jason Fairn when his corner threw in the towel at 2:14.
Royce Gracie tapped Ron Van Cleif with a RNC in just 3:59
Keith Hackney choked out Joe Son in one of the most memorable matches of the tournament at 2:44. This was the match were groin strikes were clearly allowed!
Steve Jennum armlocked Milton Bowen in 4:47
Dan Severn made his UFC debut in spectacular fashion as he landed the "suplex heard round the world" and tapped Anthony Macius with a RNC at 1:45
Royce Gracie had his hands full with Keith Hackney but got him around the 5:32 mark with an armlock
Dan Severn disposed of Marcus Bossett (who replaced Steve Jennum who was injured) in only :52 with another RNC.
By the time the final match rolled around, it was Severn who became an instant star and the live crowd and the hundreds of thousands watching on PPV believe he was going to destroy Royce Gracie.
Severn was fresh and had only spent less than 3 minutes in the ring. Gracie was hurt but not ready to quit.
What happened next was historic on many levels. The 170lbs Royce Gracie against the American Beast Dan Severn at 280lbs was a classic matchup. By this time, the crowd was split on who they wanted to see win. The underdog, little guy or the American wrestler who threw Macius around like a rag doll.
The match did not disappoint. Dan Severn laid it all on the line and gave Royce Gracie arguably the beating of his career (to that point). It appeared that Gracie had met his match in the giant wrestler. Severn pounded the much smaller Gracie and kept his on his back the entire fight. In 15:49, it was Royce Gracie stealing the show again with a triangle choke from nowhere.
Gracie did it again while Severn became an instant sensation.
This bizarre part was that many cable systems shut down the PPV because it ran over the allotted time slot! Thousands, nation wide didn’t see the end of the match and were furious. Some were able to catch the replay and some remained clueless as to what happened. Keep in mind kids, the Internet wasn’t big yet 🙂 so you couldn’t log onto Sherdog and get the results.
Americans were starting to grasp the thought that Martial Arts was definitely changing but we still had skeptics thinking UFC was still "fake."