UFC founder: I thought Art Jimmerson would really hurt Royce Gracie
The UFC was created in 1993, by four men - Art Davie, Rorion Gracie, Campbell McLaren, and Bob Meyrowitz.
Maxim magazine conducted a tremendous interview with McLaren, briefly excerpted below.
Nick Leftley:From those early days where you had, say, kickboxers fighting sumo wrestlers, is there one match that really stands out?
Campbell McLaren: The first fight from the first UFC was the sumo wrestler Teila Tuli [AKA Taylor Wily] versus the savate kickboxer from the Netherlands, Gerard Gordeau, and it was over in 26 seconds. That’s the most amazing fight you’ve ever seen! There is no more amazing fight than that. I come back to this Mortal Kombat image. Gordeau’s wearing the jean pants and he’s got a shaved head - I think he was actually an assassin. I mean, he was the scariest guy I had ever encountered, his eyes were just cold. And Teila was this roly-poly Samoan sumo, and he charges, slapping the top of his bald head, and Gordeau’s backing up, as calm as anything, like he’s out for a walk with a 360 pound man charging him. He kicks Teila’s feet out, and Teila goes boom like a proverbial sack of potatoes. Gordeau kicks out his feet and punches him underneath the eye; it’s the most brutal thing I’ve ever seen. It looked like nothing else I’d ever seen, and that was true for everybody else watching. That fight scared me to death because I thought, we have a three hour block. If they all go like this, it’ll be a nine-minute show!
NL: So you weren’t expecting Tuli to go down so fast?
CM: I was so naïve. I thought the boxer was gonna really hurt Royce, and I thought Teila was going to slam everybody into the chain link fence and smoosh them. So that’s how much I knew! But I knew it was all going to be cool. I’ve always liked the very different fights - I liked when Keith Hackney fought Manny Yarborough in UFC 3, because I’d really taken to sumos, because they looked visual, they’re big. I remember, Keith was underneath Manny as Manny was pummeling him with that giant arm that weighed 180lbs. Keith said it felt like someone was dropping a toolbox on his head. And he said when he kicked Manny’s legs, it was like kicking piano legs. Manny weighed 660lb! When we did the show, he asked me, “Campbell, can you say 600? Because 660 sounds so fat.” I’m like, dude…I think they know you’re eating the sprinkles every time you order the ice cream. But in the end the little guy won, so that’s kind of what I liked. So I’ve always been taken by that David versus Goliath idea.
NL: Is it true that Conan The Barbarian director John Milius came up with the idea for The Octagon?
CM: Oh, absolutely. All the movie tough guys knew of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Hollywood. John was in that camp, and I think he trained with the Gracies for a little while. I came out on a trip 20 years ago and met with John, met with Arnold Schwarzenegger, met with Jean-Claude Van Damme, you know, we did kind of a, “Let's round up the Hollywood tough guy” strategy session. Arnold said [does Arnie impression], "Yah, that's a good ideah, you should do that right away. I can't do that, I'm a moovie star for families now, but that's a great ideah." You know, he really said that. He was going, "Yah, now! What are you doing heah now? You should be doing this now." So he was very encouraging. And Jean-Claude Van Damme goes, "You're gonna scare a lot of the paper tigers in the martial arts world." You know, all the guys that sell styles of fighting that no one can really use. Van Damme was very cool. Chuck Norris, not so cool; he was badmouthing it. He didn't want to be involved, he thought it was bad for the martial arts. How is it bad for the martial arts to find out if your hokey "woona woona woona" style actually works or not? How is that bad? The UFC, one of the things it did that I’m fairly proud of, it really changed the martial arts. You know, it made them more what Bruce Lee had always talked about - less nonsense and more reality. But not everybody likes reality.
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