mma / Columns

History of the UFC: UFC VII – The Brawl in Buffalo

May 14, 2007 | Posted by Matt McEwen

It is September 8, 1995, just seven weeks removed from their event in Casper, Wyoming, and the UFC returned to PPV with UFC VII: The Brawl in Buffalo. Want to take a guess where it took place?

Live from the old Aud, Bruce Beck is still our play by play announcer, as he sets the record for doing it for the fourth consecutive event. He may not know what he’s talking about all the time, but he is a pretty good announcer. He lets us know that tonight we will be seeing fighters from five different countries representing fourteen different disciplines. Since there is only ten men on the card tonight, I will assume there is some overlapping.

Jeff Blatnick also returns once again, and as usual, he does his intro from inside the Octagon and shows off his prowess with the measuring tape. I really hope he stops doing that fairly soon. To his credit though, he does mention how intimidating the Octagon can be to a first time competitor. He mentions a quote from Harold Howard which I think is meant to be funny, but comes out sounding awkward and uncomfortable.

Here is a big change – no more Jim Brown! The third man in the booth tonight is Don “The Dragon” Wilson, a championship kickboxer as well as an actor of little note.

There were alternate fights earlier in the evening, as Onassis Paungao vs. Francessco Maturi ended with Maturi tapping out to strikes about five and a half minutes in, while Scott Bessac defeated David Hood with a guillotine in only thirty seconds. You may now wipe all that from your mind, as for once, no alternates make there way into the tournament at all.

There are no rule changes this time, as we still have time limits with no judges. Great recipe there….you’d think they would have learned after having their biggest fight ever go to a draw.

Michael Buffer is back again to announce the fighters, and spends about five minutes repeating everything Beck, Blatnick and Wilson have already told us before getting to our first fight of the night.

Round 1

Gerry Harris (0-0) vs Paul Varelans (1-1)

They have completely done away with the intro videos, which in spite of their unintentional humor, were getting pretty annoying. This is a BIG fight, as Harris – a black belt in karate – stands 6’8 and 260 lbs, while the returning Varelans is the same height, but has a forty pound weight advantage. Wilson makes himself useful by pointing out that Harris’ discipline of karate does not strike to the face. Interesting.

Varelans grabs Harris to start and muscles him up against the fence and gets a quick takedown. Lots of short punches from the top by Varelans while he is in side control. Harris gives up his back, but Varelans is unable to finish him with punches. He eventually decides to try some elbows, and Big John steps in to stop the fight after two of them land at 1:07. Beck mentions that Varelans has had the flu all week, but he looked pretty good here, lack of submissions aside. On the replay, you can see that Harris actually tapped out to the elbows.

Mark Hall (0-0) vs Harold Howard (2-1)

Hall is listed at 190 lbs, but looks smaller. He’s has at least a fifty pound disadvantage, as Howard is listed at 240 lbs and looks to have stepped up his conditioning from his last appearance. Being from nearby Niagara Falls, Ontario, Howard is also the obligatory hometown boy in the competition tonight.

They come out and dance around each other a bit, with Howard resembling a strutting chicken. He lands a nice right, and they go to the clinch. They’re both struggling as they move all around the Octagon before Howard trips him for the takedown. Halls immediately rolls and is in Howard’s guard. Hall lands two hard shots to Howard’s face and he is bleeding. Hall rises up and lands a couple of mores shots. Hall lays back down and controls Howard’s head by grabbing his mullet. Nice strategy. Beck is convinced that Howard is going for a choke, but he is throttling Hall like you would see in a bad movie. Howard taps out suddenly at 1:41. Weird ending as he tapped – or rather made and “X” with his arms and yelled at McCarthy – while taking no punishment. Looks like he just couldn’t get out from under, and gave up rather than get hit anymore.

Quick shot of Jim Kelly in the crowd.

Remco Pardoel (2-1) vs Ryan Parker (0-0)

Remco returns with a new spelling to his last name to take on the 6’3, 235lb college student Parker. Both guys are in full gi’s, but Remco is distinguishable by the advertisement for Hartj’s Autos on his, making him the first sponsored fighter.

Remco takes control right from the start, throwing Parker up against the fence and using a headlock to set up a nice judo throw. He starts punching once they are on the ground. Remco mounts him and slowly starts to look for a choke as the crowd boos as he is essentially laying on top of him barely moving. He does sink in a nice front choke though and it is over at 2:55. If you find it weird that this was the longest fight so far with the shortest write up, that’s because about two minutes of it was Remco laying on top of Parker. Fun times.

Marco Ruas (0-0) vs Larry Cureton (0-1)

Cureton has tan lines that make it look like he sun bathes in a bikini, but he his a pretty big guy, outweighing the 210 lb Ruas by a solid forty pounds. To say that Ruas is a lean is an understatement, as the guy looks exactly like what you would think an athlete should look like. They list Ruas’ age as “?” on the tale of the tape. Must be a Brazilian thing.

Ruas goes for a quick takedown at the start, but gets caught in a guillotine, which looks fairly tight. Ruas gets out that by picking up the bigger man and slamming him down, rolling into side control and then quickly mounting. Cureton surprises by being able to reverse Ruas, and ends up in his guard. Ruas tries for an armbar, but Cureton stands up out of it, allowing Ruas to grab his ankle and start working for a heel hook. He rolls his hips and Cureton is forced to tap at 3:25. This was a strange fight as it was quick flurries followed by lulls. I think Cureton stunned Ruas with his reversal out of being mounted, which led to Ruas really taking his time and not being too too aggressive from the bottom until he knew he had his man.

Semi Finals

Mark Hall (1-0) vs Paul Varelans (2-1)

On paper, this looks like a big mismatch as Varelans comes in with a 110l lbs weight advantage, as well as being eight inches taller.

Hall salutes the crowd as he is introduced with a possibly offensive gesture. Let’s just say you can’t do that in Germany anymore, and leave it at that.

Hall negates Varelans height advantage at the start by jumping up to land a straight right to the big mans nose, bloodying him in the process. He follows up with a nice leg kick, but Varelans grabs his head and takes him down. Blatnick says he could literally pull his head off in that move, which I would really like to see. Varelans lets go and mounts, landing elbows from that position. Hall tries to fend them off, but leaves his arm in position for a key lock and is forced to tap at 1:04. Varelans is looking fairly impressive here this time, while Hall was definitely a tough little guy in there.

Marco Ruas (1-0) vs Remco Pardoel (3-1)

Blatnick expects Ruas by submission, while Wilson thinks that Pardoel will pull out the victory here.

Ruas dances a bit to start out, but initiates with leg kicks. Pardoel grabs his head and tries for a guillotine, but Ruas works first his fingers in, then his full left arm in, keeping himself out of any real trouble. Of course, Pardoel still has him in a headlock, so he is not going anywhere for a while. They stay up against the fence for about five minutes in this position, with Pardoel trying very hard to choke Ruas, and the crowd getting very restless. Blatnick wonders aloud what would happen if Ruas started stomping Pardoel’s feet while in Ruas’ corner, you can see future UFC fighter Pedro Rizzo cheering on his mentor. Ruas actually starts throwing foot stomps, which is just plain funny given Blatnick’s musing a few minutes before. Pardoel does not like those at all. they go down to the mat with Pardoel on top but Ruas quickly rolls and gets hi head finally free six and half minutes in. Ruas uses Pardoel’s gi to keep his body controlled. He grabs a leg and falls back looking for a hell hook again. Pardoel tries to pull free but cannot. Nine minutes in and Pardoel finally pulls his leg free and gets back to guard. Ruas sits back and gets a punch in. He stands up, kick an Pardoel’s legs, and then jumps into side control and lands some knees. Twelve minutes in now. Ruas mounts and Pardoel taps, seemingly from exhaustion and concern at being hit from that position. This was a good strategic battle but with a really odd ending.

A promo for their next event airs – The Ultimate Ultimate. I’m looking forward to that one. Essentially a champions tournament, it could lead to some great fights.

Quick interview with Tank Abbot, who promises to be at the Ultimate Ultimate, and will not be beaten by the altitude this time. He feels that losers are cocky, and winners are confident, and he is confident.


Ken Shamrock (4-1-1) vs Oleg Taktarov (4-1)

If I haven’t mentioned anything about the SuperFight, it is because I was kind of dreading watching it. Shamrock and Taktarov are training partners, and by all accounts were not happy to be fighting each other. Add in the fact that both of them are patient grapplers who will wait a long time for their opponent to make a mistake, and you have the recipe to cure insomnia.

The only incentive these guys have is the winner gets $50k, while they will each get $30k if they go to a draw.

Shamrock with light jabs to start, as both appear hesitant to engage. Big John tells them to get going, and tone of the fight is set already. Shamrock gets a takedown and Taktarov pulls guard. Lots of rabbit punches and LOTS of laying here. Some headbutts by Shamrock and few punches to the ribs are the extent of his offense, while Taktarov is doing nothing from the bottom. About six minutes in, Taktarov starts using the fence to maneuver around and keep his head free. Big John tells them to get going again, but he seems hesitant to restart them. Shamrock is developing a rib, rib, face punch routine. Thirteen minutes in and we are still laying on the Octagon, though a small cut has opened up over Taktarov’s left eye. Beck is convinced it is the same cut from UFC V. McCarthy FINALLY stands them up.

Back on their feet, you can see a big welt under Takatarov’s right eye from Shamrock’s headbutts. Right hand by Shamrock and then Taktarov pulls guard much to the crowd’s chagrin.

McCarthy stands them back up at about the twenty minute mark, with about the same result.

McCarthy restarts them again at 27:30. This time we get some really bad boxing until they clinch. Shamrock pulls free while Blatnick says that Shamrock’s game plan is to punch out Taktarov. Shamrock’s decided lack of punches might suggest that it was not his game plan at all.

Shamrock tries a kick, but Big John yells at him not too since he is wearing shoes. The announcers are unaware this is a rule. Good organization there.

Beck tells us that the OT period will be only three minutes, rather than the announced five. I’m OK with that at this point.

The OT period goes just like the rest of the fight, with some bad boxing and clinching, though they do land a few decent punches each. Shamrock tries for a leg with ten seconds left, but the bell goes and we have our second tie in three SuperFights.

Not a very good fight at all.


Paul Varelans (3-1) vs Marco Ruas (2-0)

Quick start as Varelans comes right at Ruas. Lots of punches and nice combos with leg kicks by Ruas. The clinch up against the fence and Ruas manages to block Varelans knees. He gets a little distance and bloodys Varelans’ nose with a right hand. More leg kicks, and welts are starting to form on the left (front) leg of Varelans, so much so that he switches stances for a bit.

Ruas shoots, but Varelans goes for a guillotine, and even picks Varelans up off the mat trying to cinch it in. He can’t do it though, and Ruas grabs the clinch this time. More foot stomps, and Varelans really doesn’t like them very much. Ruas tries to take his back, and finally does. He has his hands locked around the big man’s waist, and his offense at this point consists of more foot stomps, while Varelans just holds onto the fence to stay up. Not that exciting at this point, as they spend about five minutes in this position.

Big John restarts them eventually, and Ruas starts throwing nasty leg kicks again. By the ten minute mark, Varelans is limping noticeably. They clinch, but Ruas fights him off and lands another leg kick. Varelans finally starts trying to block those kicks, but he is a bit too slow and a lot too late. A HUGE leg kick drops the Polar Bear and Ruas pounces on him with rights and lefts to earn the stoppage victory and the UFC VII championship. Great overall performance by Ruas in victory, and Varelans showed a lot of skill and heart in defeat here.

The 411: Overall, this was a pretty solid event that showcased some competitors who would help the UFC take the next step in its evolution. Both Varelans and Ruas showed their superiority over the rest of the field with their quick wins, but showed how good a match up between two very skilled fighters could be. While there is a very noticeable separation between the top level competitors (Ruas, Pardoel, Varelans) and the rest, at least we are starting to see more of these legitimate athletes in the competition. The only real down point of the show was the fairly boring SuperFight, marking the second time in three outings that the SuperFight was the decided low point of the entire event. Next time out, we return to the birthplace of the UFC in Denver for UFC 7.5 - The Ultimate Ultimate featuring a virtual who's who of the best so far - except for Royce Gracie, of course.
Final Score:  6.5   [ Average ]  legend

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Matt McEwen
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