All Hands on Deck: Meet The Sherdog Staff

We're Fans Too

By Staff Jan 4, 2019

4) What fight made you a fan of the sport?

Jordan Breen: When I was in fifth grade, I went to a local convenience store, and rented UFC 6 and 7 on VHS; I thought I would be exhilarated. As a kid who grew up a pro-wrestling fan, I thought, “Man, this is wrestling, but it’s real!” Despite watching “Tank” David Abbott send John Matua into convulsions and watching Marco Ruas cut peoples’ legs out, I just wasn’t entertained. For whatever reason, it just bored me.

Fast forward 18 months later, I’m reading the Wrestling Observer Newsletter -- shouts to Big Uncle Dave -- and Meltzer happened to mentioned that Ken Shamrock’s younger brother, Frank, has retained his UFC “middleweight” title against Tito Ortiz. I got on IRC and downloaded UFC 22, an MPEG-Layer 1 rip. 240x160 aspect ratio. Hooked ever since.

Jason Burgos: That is a tough one to pinpoint. There was no, “I was watching Griffin/Bonnar and fell in love,” moment for me. There were definitely influences that made me want to watch, such as Brock Lesnar and Kimbo Slice. But, the bout that truly made me fall for the sport itself was on the same card as the aforementioned Lesnar’s first UFC win. That was at UFC 87, when Kenny Florian technically outclassed Roger Huerta. That performance made me want to know so much more about the details of the sport.

Edward Carbajal: Like most people, the first UFC event and Royce Gracie beating guys that, at the time folks thought would beat him. I also thought it was cool for a guy with a gi to win a tournament like that.

Jordan Colbert: My father was a fan of the sport long before I was and my brother and I would often watch Pride events alongside him as young kids. The fight where I truly became a fan of MMA and not simply watching it because my father had it on was Anderson Silva’s UFC debut vs. Chris Leben.

Tristen Critchfield: It wasn’t necessarily one single fight that drew me in, although I do remember being intrigued watching Keith Hackney defeat Emmanuel Yarborough, an opponent twice his size, on a UFC 3 VHS one of my friends had rented in the late 1990s. For a while after that, I didn’t seek out MMA but I’d watch periodically when the opportunity arose.

I became a more avid follower of the sport beginning with “The Ultimate Fighter 1.” Once I learned Diego Sanchez would be part of the cast, the show became appointment viewing. I didn’t know Sanchez personally at the time, but I had plenty of friends and acquaintances who had interacted with him in some shape or form, which piqued my interest. So while Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar drew in the mainstream masses at the “TUF 1” finale, I had been tuned in from the initial episode to see a local high school state wrestling champion in action.

Jacob Debets: I got into MMA after watching season three of The Ultimate Fighter, but what got me hooked to watching every fight live was the UFC 126, where Anderson Silva front kick KO’d Vitor Belfort in the first round.

Ben Duffy: Ooh, hard to say. I was a serious high school wrestler and a fan of NCAA and international wrestling, so the “ultimate fighting” stuff got my attention when people like Mark Schulz, Townsend Saunders and Mark Coleman got into it, but in the late 90s, either I wasn’t ready for MMA or MMA wasn’t ready for me. Probably a bit of both; a lot of that stuff is not terribly watchable by today’s standards. Whatever the reason, I watched some fights but the MMA bug didn’t really bite me, and I went back to doing whatever it is that I used to do before this sport ate my life.

Around 2003, the UFC and Pride pinged my radar once again, and what a difference five years made. UFC 45 was the first pay-per-view I bought with my own money, but Frank Mir breaking Tim Sylvia’s arm at UFC 48 was the moment I realized I was a fan of a particular fighter. I wanted more of that.

Tom Feely: It's hard for me to pinpoint one fight that permanently made me a fan of the sport, since it was more of a slow burn. Once Bryan Alvarez got Figure Four Online up and running, a subscription was one of my first purchases once I got some spending money in college. And over the course of listening to their radio shows for pro wrestling news, I wound up hearing about all the colorful characters fighting in PRIDE and the UFC. Mirko Cro Cop captured my imagination the most, particularly with the rise of streaming video making his highlight reel available; I distinctly remember being in group study or project settings and deciding to show off videos of Cro Cop kicking people's heads off.

So, in a way, it's a bit odd that if I had to name one fight that turned the corner for me, it's probably Cro Cop's loss to Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 70. Looking back, this appears to be the first card I watched "live," given that I had neither the money to pay for pay-per-views at the time nor the knowledge of how to stream them illegally. So there I was, watching on tape delay on Spike TV, waiting for Cro Cop to kick this Brazilian dude's head off, and, well Cro Cop got Cro Cop-ed. It was disheartening, but at the same time - while still being aware of upsets like Matt Serra over Georges St. Pierre or Kevin Randleman over Cro Cop - it was the first time I saw with my own eyes how ridiculous and unpredictable this sport could be.

Mike Fridley: Growing up in a boxing household gave me a love for the Sweet Science that is as old as any memory I have. Naturally, that love progressed to cage fighting when UFC 4 was available via pay-per-view in Columbus. I was hooked immediately, but Dan Severn throwing Anthony Macias around was probably the event’s standout moment to me.

Brian Knapp: There are so many to choose from. I've been a fan from the beginning, but I can probably credit Matt Hughes-Frank Trigg 2 for reigniting my passion for MMA.

Tudor Leonte: Brock Lesnar vs Cain Velasquez, the first fight I ever saw live. I was a pro-wrestling fan at the time and I was curious about this “UFC” everybody was talking about. I simply loved the action in the Octagon, even though I was cheering for Lesnar.

Adam Martin: This is going to be a cliched answer but I have to go with Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar. I think for a lot of people this was the fight that really made us fans of MMA and it would have to be for me to. It just showed me how exciting of a sport MMA can be, and I haven't stopped watching since!

Jay Pettry: At UFC 6 in 1995, D.L. "Tank" Abbott made his MMA debut against John Matua, who was heralded as a specialist in the “Hawaiian Art of Bone Breaking.” Abbott obliterated Matua in a little over 15 seconds, and as an impressionable youth who had been practicing Karate for a couple years already, I was hooked. It might not have been the first MMA fight I had seen, but it was the first one that really stuck with me, and it didn’t hurt that Michael Buffer was the announcer that night as well. By the way, there’s no way Matua was 400 pounds that night.

Mike Sloan: I grew up in a boxing household so I was always a boxing fan and that will always be my No. 1 sport. But if this question is specific to MMA, it was the first time I saw the UFC. My friend Rick had rented the VHS tapes of UFC 1 and 2 and, since he knew how much I loved boxing, he wanted me to watch this new fight thing. I was hooked immediately, though I always cheered against Royce Gracie because I wanted Pat Smith to win. I never knew I’d eventually be hooked on jiu-jitsu, hahaha.

Eric Stinton: This is like asking what song made me a fan of music. There are just too many, and so many of my favorite fights were old by the time I saw them. I don’t know what made me a fan of fighting, really. As far as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed violent spectacle of some sort or another.

Anthony Walker: A specific fight didn’t turn me into a combat sports fan. It was actually a traumatic event that did it for me. I never believed in Santa Claus, but I believed in the Ultimate Warrior. Hulk Hogan (who is now dead to me,) Bret Hart, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan were among my heroes in pro wrestling. I had the action figures. I imitated all the moves while play fighting with friends and family.

When my dumb little 9 year-old self found out that neither WWF nor WCW were real fights, I was crushed. While I had a casual interest in boxing thanks to my father’s love of Pernell Whittaker, learning my favorite Saturday morning programming was scripted shattered my world and actual fights filled the void nicely. By the time MMA as we know it came around, casually watching the original UFC tournaments, kung fu movies, K1 on ESPN, and boxing prepped me for the never ending cycle of Saturday nights.

Kevin Wilson: The first fight I ever saw was GSP vs BJ Penn 1 when I was 10 years old and I have been hooked ever since. I was at a friend’s house with a bunch of other people and after the fights, we went out to the backyard and like the dumb kids we were, foolishly tried to recreate some of the techniques we saw until someone got hurt. I’ve since lost touch with those friends but my passion for combat sports has lived on.

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