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The Top 14 Lessons Learned from 

Extreme Fighting 1

The Historic Event that Devastated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Roberto Pedreira

 November 23, 2022

Bob Guccione became rich by imitating Hugh Heffner's Playboy magazine. What worked once might work again so when the UFC gave promise of appealing to his target demographic (young males), Bob jumped on the bandwagon. The result was Extreme Fighting. He even hired his Penthouse "Pets" to carry ring cards around. No one in those years had a problem with half-naked, bosomy, over-made-up, sexy biological girls. It was even considered somewhat normal and healthy for young males to like girls, or at least people like Bob Guccione thought so. His magazine Penthouse was a cut-rate version of Playboy, and Extreme Fighting was a bargain-basement version of UFC. But in most ways it was better. Better fights, better fighters, more skills, more realism, more money for more people, more Brazilians going to America to teach jiu-jitsu and make VHS videos. More opportunities in Japan.

There are unintended negative side-consequences to everything. Extreme Fighting had a few and one in particular that is with us today and threatens the well-being and continued existence of BJJ.

For context, readers might want to review the first four UFCs here

Extreme Fighting 1

November 18, 1995

John Perretti was the match-maker. He and Dave Bontempo did the "color" commentary.

The referee was Gokor, former world champion of Russian sambo and judo. and five time world bare-knuckle no rules champion and best student of Gene Lebell.  This was repeated numerous times for unknown reasons, possibly because it "works." Gokor wasn't fighting in Extreme 1. But due to his incredible competition record he had authority as the "third man in the ring."

1 Ralph Gracie v. Makoto Muraoka

Ralph Gracie represented the "legendary" Gracie Family, undefeated since 1915 (1995 minus 80 = 1915). Makoto wasn't legendary but he was under the "watchful eye" of a legend, namely Benny Urquidez. Benny was a disciple of another legend, the former professional wrestling champion, Gene LeBell (Gene taught at the Jet Center in those days; here, and was the instructor of two of the Extreme 1 participants, Gokor and John Lewis). Almost everyone there that night was a legend. Except Makoto, but in compensation he had "black belts" in Kyokushin Karate and judo. 

The fighters came to throw down, not pose and posture. Very little trash talk. Makato was nervous but respectful. Ralph had 80 years of undefeated Gracie history (not counting numerous draws and defeats) to buoy his confidence.

Ralph came out with old-school boxing, walking while punching, throwing arm-punches. This is the way boxers used to advance on an opponent before Joe Louis introduced the "shuffle step" style, whereby one would also be on balance while moving and always in position to generate "leverage." Ralph didn't need to know how to throw hard punches because he didn't need hard punches. They only had to be hard enough that Makoto reacted to them, in which case even light punches usually work, because most people don't like getting punched in the face, or even bitch-slapped. 

Makoto stepped back, and Ralph retreated. Makato threw a half left kick, but Ralph maintained critical Gracie distance. Ralph re-entered with wing-chun punches. Makota weaves away and throws two missed kicks, one with each leg. Ralph throws a right hand and secures a body lock. He follows with a right outside leg kosoto trip. They fall. Ralph is on top, Maktoo has an overhook on Ralph's right arm. Ralph launches a right knee to Makato's head. Makoto tries to turn out to knees, but leaves his legs too close and doesn't create the angle. His head his down,  his elbows on the mat, with legs wide. Ralph jumps on his back, puts leg hooks in, and throw two punches at the back of Makoto's head or neck, perhaps aiming at the student of Benny the Jet's basil ganglia. Matako decided that "enough of that," and posts his right leg to begin getting to his feet. Since he is very off balance at that point, Ralph rolls him to the right side and gets his hands in position for the lion killing choke. Makoto, not knowing what to do, naturally, tries to strip the Gracie representative's hands off, which fails, and tries to punch up at the jiu-jitsu representative's face which also fails. Makoto, being old-school, doesn't surrender, goes out cold instead. Death before dishonor.

It lasted 40 seconds. That's keeping it pretty real. John Perretti commented wisely, "as soon as the hooks are in, you have to remove them." That was very sound advice and still is. It's not always easy to do, but that is what we should train to do, that and avoiding for the hooks to get in in the first place. Makoto could have avoided that but, understandably, he didn't know how. People didn't know a lot of things in 1995 that they know now. People don't let their back get taken anymore (right?). 

2. Igor Zinoviev v. Harold German

Igor was said to be the 1995 Empire State games judo absolute champion, and the captain of the Russian Judo team. He was also (said to be) a kickboxer with a 15-0 record. He weighed 187 (or 190) lb, with maybe 7% body-fat, John Perretti thought.  His antagonist, substituting for aikidoist John Lewis, was Harold German. Harold was an "American moo-tie boxing" stylist, and an amateur boxer. In fact he was the Puerto Rico light heavyweight Golden Gloves champion. He weighed in at 168, but looked about 175 by fight time, in John Perretti's opinion. Harold's ring record was said to be 17-0 undoubtedly amateur because he had and has no professional record.  Neither man had ever tasted the bitter flavor of defeat.

The fight began with Igor throwing a "hopping side kick"  within the first three seconds of action. Igor didn't believe in wasting time. He followed with a right hand punch that put Harold on the floor (more of a stumble than a knock down). Igor ignored Harold's legs and went immediately into beast mode (also known as G & P). Harold, despite supposedly knowing nothing, knew enough to use his knee shield for defense (perhaps an adaptation from his "moo-tie boxing" arsenal. It was working pretty well. Igor jumped up, grabbed Harold's left leg, spun around and applied for a heel hook. John Perretti quickly pronounced that "the fight is over." But Harold was not clueless at all. He briefly tried to exchange heel twists with the undefeated Russian kickboxer/judoist but then wisely decided to give up Igor's (left) leg, and sit up, which he did by pulling himself forward by handles on the 1995 Empire State champion's pelvis bones. "Harold doesn't know what to do" according to John, but if he didn't know, he did the right thing instinctively, and which everyone knows to do these days: don't lay back, don't exchange heel hooks with a heel hooker, sit up, apply forward pressure (this is how people like Felipe Pena and Vinny Magalhaes derailed Gordon Ryan's train of terror). Harold German in 1995, despite not knowing what to do, knew what it took people another 20 years to figure out. He survived the leg attack. Igor gave up on the legs after spinning into a feet-facing position, and having nothing to attack from there, stood up and resumed his brutal saloon brawling methods. Harold again intelligently tried to use his moo-tie boxing knee shield, while Igor did nothing effective to circumvent it. Igor persisted with his Northern California gangsta tactics. The only thing lacking was a bad attitude. Harold figured the game was up (he did enough to earn his paycheck) and tapped. He wasn't hurt and barely got hit, but after all, what was the point? It lasted 40 seconds, coincidentally the same as Ralph versus Makoto.  And like Ralph versus Makoto (actually, even more so), it resembled a "real fight": Nasty, brutish, and short.  

3. Tom Glanville v. Gary Meyers

Tom Glanville was the 1992 World Karate Association heavyweight champion of the world. He had 6-0 record. Therefore he became the champion of the world by winning six WKA kickboxing (or full-contact karate) fights. Nothing wrong with that. Some people have become world or national champions without winning any fights. Gary Meyers had a more impressive resume: Six times Greco-Roman gold medallist in "world competitions" with a 150-0 (or 150-1) record. Gary had the edge in experience. Tom had an edge in weight, 17-25 lbs depending on which number we pay attention to (Tom was 245 lb, Gary was either 220 or 228 lb). Neither one knew a lot about ground. Tom was just getting into it but recognized that "ground matters." Gary was a Greco-Roman wrestler, so he might have known par terre, but Greco par terre is very different from submission, let alone MMA. Who would win when neither man is a ground specialist? John Perretti thought it could go either way. Tom was a powerful leg kicker. John suspected that Tom might try to throw some leg kicks. How would a six-time Greco champion deal with leg kicks? Dave didn't know either. He was just there for color commentary.

Fighters in 1995 did their fighting in the ring. No press conference, no tweeter wars, no one blasphemed anyone's religion or critiqued their ex-porn star wife.  No one chanted  "BLM" or wore MAGA caps. Tom didn't waste any time. He was all about "seek and destroy." Within the first three seconds he had tagged Gary with a solid leg kick (with his right leg to Gary's left). Gary hopped on his bicycle and circled to his right (smart thing to do). Tom stalked him and threw another leg kick. Two of those were plenty for the six-time Greco champion. Gary made a "high-dive" (or a "Greco-Roman tackle," John Perretti thought) and down they went, with the WKA world champion of top, but quickly reversed. Tom made the best of the situation and closed a "guard" around Gary. Gary did what wrestlers do, and tripoded up. (That's what Dan the Beast Severn did in UFC 4, but it didn't work out well for Dan, the reason being that Royce knew what to do and could do it) but Gary was not unduly endangered (because Tom knew what to do, but not how to do it). "He's winning from the bottom right now," John Perretti thought (because he believed the story that being on the bottom is the "dominant position." Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't). Gary didn't realize that one of his arms was between Tom's legs, or didn't care, or didn't know it mattered. Tom was hunting for a triangle, John Perretti thought. But the angle was completely wrong. One arm in the middle doesn't equal a triangle. Gary tried to apply for some brutal G&P acvtion. Tom held Gary's wrists (good move). But Gary kept his back up and straight (also good move, kills triangle). Tom lost his leg position which wasn't working for him anyway (he should have bailed sooner and under his own initiative). From his already upright position Gary had no trouble taking side control  and did the only thing he knew, which was to try to pound on the former WKA champion's head. He managed to push Tom's head into the cage, or they ended there somehow, and did another thing that jacked, juiced-up Venice Beach body-builders often ignorantly did during that era (if they wandered into a BJJ academia), which was to drive his (left) elbow into Tom's neck. Because Tom's neck was bent, his lived experience was probably characterized by some discomfort. 

Gary made no attempt to achieve "mount position" which wasn't anything a Greco-Roman wrestler would focus on, so Tom easily slipped one leg between Gary's two legs, and thereby had what might be called a "half-guard."  But understandably, Tom, being a kickboxer, didn't know what to do with what he had, so it didn't help him. Gary made no effort to remove his leg, probably because it wasn't impeding him in any noticeable way. He continued trying to batter Tom, who by that time was, in John Perretti's words, "in his own private Idaho." (American readers may know what this refers to). Gary's punches were not inflicting any trauma but when he landed three head butts, Tom "tapped out." He didn't buy into the "death before surrender" thing. The official time was 12:31, meaning the fight had lasted 2:29 minutes.  The head butts must have been a nuisance but Tom's face was unscathed. John Perretti's assessment was that Tom "just got tired down there, just got tired." Everything considered, no damage was done, one guy got tired, and it was over pretty quickly. Like the first two fights, it was a good example of unarmed human combat when the participants are in a situation where neither really knows what to do under unfamiliar rules. 

The next fight was highly anticipated, at least by people who knew something about jiu-jitsu in Brazil. It was preceded by an exhibition by June 1995 Penthouse Pet Elizabeth Hilden walking around the ring in high-heels.

4. Mario Sperry v. Rudyard Moncayo

John Perretti was lavish in praise of Mario Sperry. whose acclaim began from this event. Ze Mario (JP thought the Zé meant Zen, but really is a just a short form of Mario's first name, Jose), was already a "legend"; he was the "Mike Tyson" of Extreme 1; he had an unbelievable record of 272-0, with no fight lasting longer than two minutes. Of those 272, 18 were "real fights." The other 254 were, possibly, training rounds in the academy, but in any case weren't "real."  It wasn't made clear in which of those two categories of fights, real and otherwise, Mario "won" in less than two minutes and never "lost." John Perretti may have been exaggerating a little. But he wasn't exaggerating when he described Carlson (Sr.) as "the greatest fighter in Gracie history." Carlson was there, supporting his team, consisting of Mario, Conan Silvieira, and Carlson Jr. Ralph was on loan from Barra Gracie, but undoubtedly enjoyed encouragement from the Master (as no one from the Barra faction was in evidence that evening). Also in the entourage were Vitor Belfort, and and Conan's brother Marcello Silvieira, and boxing trainer Steve Petromale. Rudyard Moncayo was the sacrificial lamb, or was intended to be, but turned out to be tougher than expected. Mario was a jiu-jitsu man, but also studied judo, with George Mehdi.  Mario was in Extreme 1 to defend his personal honor, the honor of Brazil, and the honor of jiu-jitsu. Rudyard wasn't trying to defend honor. He just wanted to test his skills and see how he did against other people. "Hopefully, I'll be ok," he predicted. His fight background was less extensive (only seven no rules fights, although he won all of them, six by KO), but he was versed in Kenpo karate, judo, kickboxing, no rules fighting, and wrestling. He weighed 191 or 192 to Mario's 198 or 199 pounds. They were both champions of events that no one ever heard of. Rudyard was from Ecuador, in South America, although his perfect English hinted that he probably grew up not far from where he currently lived, in Santa Ana, California.

The fight started. Rudyard circled to his right (good plan). Both warriors were right-handers, therefore, if Mario threw a punch or kick, it was likely to come from the right side (Rudyard's left side). Moving to your right is usually the thing to do against a right handed antagonist. Mario approached menacingly in a classic "Gracie" posture, flicking out his left hand like a venomous snake, such as the ones that his country is famous for (of both reptilian and human species).  Within seconds, Mario threw a right leg kick. It landed harmlessly. Rudyard continued moving laterally, switching directions and not crossing his feet, indicating that he knew what he was doing. Switching directions was also a good thing to do. Mario threw another right leg kick and clinched with high underhooks, and after a brief struggle during which Rudyard tried unsuccessfully to pummel his right arm in, Mario applied for a right outside (kosoto) trip, and down they went. Rudyard maintained his overhook on Mario's right arm and prevented Mario from withdrawing his underhook, trapping his arm (for a while), avoiding him to punch or control Rudyard's neck. That was a smart thing to do, but Mario slipped out. He mounted and applied for "Lebellian double-grapes" as John Perretti explained to the befuddled Dave Bontempo. Mario having achieved the "dreaded mount," John recited what he thought Carlson would say: "keep the pozishoon." 

Perretti praised Mario for dragging Rudyard to the center of the ring (wasting energy doing so). It is unclear why he thought that was a good thing because it simply gave Rudyard more room to move. The Glanville vs. Meyer fight showed that being against the cage is not a good place to be (although it can sometimes be used to advantage, if your neck is not bent and spine not twisted). But maybe that wasn't obvious at the time. Rudyard was worried about punches from the dreaded mount, and endeavored to keep Mario close. But Mario wasn't thinking about punching at that point. Evidently he wanted to win with "jiu-jitsu" and went for a "figure-four elbow lock" (as Perretti described it). Mario seemed uncomfortable. The angle of the elbow lock was not such as would have satisfied Helio or Rorion.  Rudyard reached over Mario's back, ineffectually. He should have snaked his left arm under Mario's right arm and connected his hands. But Mario was blocking that entrance. It might have been possible with effective BJJ "bumps" but Rudyard was a kenpo-kickboxer-judo-wrestler, and those guys don't have a long game from the back. They don't want to be there, but don't have a plan B for what to do when they are, in case violent bridging doesn't work.)  Mario wasn't getting anywhere with these figure-four, so he inched up higher and (apparently) tried to scoop up Rudyard's right arm, looking for a chance to go for an Okinawa arm lock. But Rudyard bridged Zé Mario off. The undefeated jiu-jitsu legend landed on the bottom with his legs in play. He weaved his head under Rudyard's left arm and escaped his hip, and inserted his right leg hook, and then tried to sweep the kickboxer. Rudyard had good balance from pronation, like most wrestlers.  Mario was eventually able to muscle the kenpo-kickboxer on to his back. He landed in a (sort of) 1/2 guard position but obviously had no clue what to do with it. Mario simply stepped over Rudyard's leg and took the dreaded BJJ "high mount" and at that point Mario abandoned subtlety and went for ground and pound jiu-jitsu style. Rudyard tapped at 2:40. Mario helped him up, like a gentleman (as Perretti complimented him) and the two warriors gave each a warm brotherly hug. Zé Mario looked a bit discouraged (in this writer's subjective opinion). He may have been thinking about his coming fight with Igor Zinoviev. For  an undefeated legend with a 272-0 record, all quick submissions, it seemed that Zé Mario might have been thinking that this Extreme Fighting thing is not as easy as grappling in a quimono. That is probably what most people with no MMA experience would think. Zé Mario had time to mull it over. Before he faced Igor, there were two other fights to watch. 

5. Conan v. Victor Tatarkin

Marcus Conan Silviera weighed 240 or 247. He was " a big boy." He was the undefeated 1994 Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion, it was claimed. He was a student of Carlson Gracie Sr., who gave the big boy a school in Miami. Conan was tolerant. He didn't want to put anyone down, all styles have something to offer. But he came to Extreme 1 to prove that jiu-jitsu was the best fight. He was one hundred percent confident about that, he guaranteed. His adversary was Vitor Tatarkin, from Moscow, 207 lb, 1995 Empire State Games heavyweight  judo champion. Victor, had nothing to say, or almost. What he did say was unintelligible, other than that he liked to fight. He liked to break legs. He didn't say that. John Perretti did. Probably that was an assumption based on the fact that Victor was Russian, therefore he must train sambo (aka sombo), the competitive form of which privileges leg attacks, but precludes chokes. Obviously he must like to break legs.

Conan removed his quimono with the Met-Rx logo. The fight began. Conan threw a light, forward, left leg kick to Victors' right leg. Then he did it again. Victor over-reacted and lost his posture. Conan seized the opportunity to rush in for a double-underhooks clinch. After a brief struggle, he executed a slide-by and either a lateral drop or ushiro-nage (view was obscured), landing in a nice side position. Victor  gave his back, and after a bit of squirming, turn to his knees (a good thing). But ended rolling to his back (but was usually on one shoulder, a good thing). As John Perretti commented, Victor knew what he was doing. Conan took the dreaded high mount and began dropping bombs on the judo champion. Victor attempted a Saulo turn-over (named after Saulo Ribeiro, who popularized it). That didn't work, or he used it to go for what he really wanted, a tripod (good move, often effective). But there was a a complication. Conan had his arms around Victor's neck, preparing for the dreaded Brazilian jiu-jitsu lion killing choke. Victor apparently thought he needed two hands to shave Conan's right arm off. But in consequence he couldn't use his free (left) arm as a post (which would have left Conan's 240-247 pounds dangling face down above the mat, thereby most likely killing the choke). So he fell face down with Conan on his back. Victor continued rotating to his knees, attempting to slide out of the position (rather skillfully done, but ultimately unsuccessful).  Finally, as Zé Mario did, Conan gave up trying to submit the Russian, and took a dreaded high mount, and dropped hammers down on the Empire State Games champion's head. Victor's left arm was stuck under his own throat so he couldn't tap out. His teammate and fellow 1995 Empire State Games champion, Igor Zinoviev, literally "threw in the towel " for him, as Carlos Gracie did that famous night in 1951, to save his brother Helio from horrific mutilation at the terrible hands of Masahiko Kimura. (Unlike Helio, Victor did not claim that he "really" won the fight.) The fight lasted 2:30 minutes, give or take a few seconds.

6. Carlson Jr. versus John Lewis

Two fights remained. They were title fights. Between, as a sort of intermission and to give the fighters a break, a special fight had been scheduled, between Carlson Gracie Jr. and Aikidoist John Lewis. The special fight was preceded by an appearance by October 1993 Penthouse Pet Stacy Moran.  (Stacy would have been considered as emaciated by Victorian standards, but chunky and "thick" by today's standard. Extreme 1 fans didn't complain.

The special fight was not a tournament fight. It was a World Championship fight.

John Lewis was not only an Aikidoist. He was also a BJJ blue belt, and a Gene LeBell black belt (based on John's participation at Gene's historic impromptu Inosanto Academy seminar in December 1994. Described here.)  John was also a dancer. Dancers have excellent balance and body control and tend to be in good shape. John Lewis certainly was. As soon became evident, John Lewis was well-prepared to confront Carlson Jr.

There would be no reason to expect that John (Perretti) and Dave (Bontempo) would provide much, or any, accurate factual information about anything. That wasn't their job. It would be more surprising if they did. There were few surprises. John did say a few correct things however, which will be duly noted.

First, let's meet the contenders for the title. The title was the world title or to be specific the Extreme Fighting Lightweight Championship of the World (which did nothing to rule out every other fight being a "world title" whereby an unlimited number of people could all be "the World champion." According to John Perretti, Carlson Jr. was known in Brazil as "The Prince of Jiu-jitsu" and "The King of Brazil." Lewis was "probably the Kong of Las Vegas." That may be how they achieved the status of being world title contenders. In addition to having a BJJ blue belt, being a dancer, and having trained Aikido with Steven Seagal, Lewis had his own brand, called "J-Sect."  

Carlson Jr was (according to John Perretti), the 10-times Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion and the six-times Brazilian Greco-Roman champion. Neither was true, needless to say, although Jr. did have experience in Greco, and competed in jiu-jitsu (there was, of course, no such thing as a Brazilian champion in 1995, except in the sense that they were Brazilians and had won at last one contest at some age and belt level). John Lewis was according to John Perretti, one of four black belts under Gene Lebell, with a 6-0 fight record. The first part was true. He did have a black belt from Gene LeBell (here). The second part was not true. His actual record was 1-0. Carlos Jr himself contributed a few dubious statements. "My father was the best jiu-jitsu fighter in the family...." That was sort of true, but not exactly true. Almost all of Carlson's fights were luta livre, not jiu-jitsu. But on the other hand, it might have been true in 1995. In addition, Jr said that Carlson Sr. was the best jiu-jitsu fighter, not that he had the best jiu-jitsu fight record. (Anyway this was the text translation of what he supposedly said).

Based on data and reality, Carlson's accomplishments were good enough that he didn't need to fabricate or prevaricate. Not many others of his family could say that. 

Some much for background. 

The fight started. Junior feinted with some of the worst kicks ever seen in the ring up to that time or since. Not that it mattered, he just wanted a chance to Greco clinch high with underhooks, which happened 13 seconds later. Lewis responded with an overhook, dropped unintentionally to one knee, with one hook in, and rolled back, almost rolling Junior on his back, but Junior landed in base.  Junior applied for an over-under pass. Lewis defended it efficiently. Junior was not accustomed to passing guards in a VT context. Junior actually wanted to be on his back, which was a "dominant position," John Perretti analyzed. (In reality it is unlikely that any Carlson Gracie fighter would "want" to be on his back in a VT/MMA tussle (Ricardo DelaRiva possibly excepted), and bottom is only dominant if the opponent doesn't know what to do (as Rickson clarifies here). Junior applied an ankle sweep (because he didn't want to be on his back, otherwise he would have stayed there).  John Lewis avoided falling by grabbing the fence. Throughout most of the remainder of the fight including the 5 minute overtime, he hung on to the fence, or supported himself by hanging one or both arms over the top. That was completely OK, as John P commented. Extreme 1 was all about "real" fighting with no rules. John Lewis kept it street lethal by clinging to the fence for the rest of the fight, occasionally and briefly releasing it to throw a punch. Junior tried to duck under or slide by John Lewis's arm, but his arm was attached to the fence. John Lewis also had his left leg outside-entangled (kosoto) around Junior's right leg, also blocking his movement to the right (Junior's right) side. This situation continued. At 5:56 John Lewis threw a right hand at Junior's' face. Junior took him down, John Lewis grabbed the fence, which was his "safe space." John Perretti commented, "You're looking at the greatest Brazilian there." John Lewis occasionally let go the fence to punch the top of Junior's head (John Perretti doubted the wisdom of that) or his right kidney. John Perretti assessed this no-action stalemate as a "terrific strategy fight." Both, especially Junior, resorted to foot stomps. Here we, the world, were seeing the highest level of Brazilian jiu-jitsu versus one of Gene Lebell's elite students, only one of four. It consisted of fence holding and foot stomping with brief interludes of fighting. 

Finally frustrated at not being able to go behind John Lewis (who was planted against the fence, leaving no where for Junior to go to), at 11:38 Junior threw a right hand punch at John Lewis's face> The punch was lacked leverage even if it hit anything (which it didn't). It would have made sense if Junior simply wanted John Lewis to let go of the fence. But it had an unintended consequence. John Lewis had his left leg already around Junior's right leg so he promptly and easily dropped him. Junior fell but with his hooks in and immediately began heel-hunting with an outside-garami. "He's trying to break his leg!",  John Perretti exclaimed. Indeed, he was looking for a heel hook.  Lewis stayed on his feet using the fence for support (a smart thing to do.) John Lewis leaned forward to punch Junior's face. That was good from a fan-pleasing POV (fans didn't pay their money to watch someone holding on to a fence) but "compromised" his "defense". Junior turned to his knees and grabbed John Lewis' right leg (looking for that sweet single), but John Lewis again retreated to the safety of the fence. Jr. was not, at that point, going to drag John Lewis away from the fence, or take his back. Neither one seemed to have an alternative plan. John Lewis didn't want to fight and Junior didn't want to give up his tie-up.

Regulation time (15 minutes) ran out. John Perretti diagnosed that "neither of these guys will settle for a draw." No doubt they both would have preferred to win the fight and the purse, but neither was willing to revise their tactics that had already proven to be ineffective--Junior trying to drag John Lewis away from the fence, John Lewis desperately hanging on to the fence. If the OT round ended in a draw, they would split the purse and come back to Extreme 2 for a rematch, John Perritti inaccurately predicted. The OT round was literally a DNA clone of the regulation round, only shorter. With the exception that this time Jr was also holding on to the fence, with one hand and sometimes with both. At one point they were both holding the fence. 

Dave Bontempo perspicaciously commented what many people were probably thinking: "I'm a little surprised that neither fighter made a radical change from this after realizing that each one effectively [unitell.] to neutralize the other." Maybe it wasn't really that surprising. Junior hadn't planned for the contingency that his opponent would refuse to fight, while John Lewis didn't want to lose (maybe holding to the Helio Gracie philosophy that not losing = winning).

The historic world title fight ended with both warriors doing what they had spent most of the fight doing, John Lewis hanging on the the fence, Junior trying to peel him off. The actual fight occupied about one minute of the 20 minutes. 

John Perritti summed it up: "That's it, history has been made....this is cataclysmic." It was cataclysmic, he meant, in that it was the first time in history that any Gracie had not won a fight. (The reality was quite a lot different, but in 1995 people didn't know that. They only knew what Rorion told them, recycled by John Perretti and the previous clueless UFC color commentators, here.)

History having been made (but no champion anointed), fans settled back to wait for Conan's throwdown with Gary Meyers. September 1993 Penthouse Pet, Andi Sue Irvin, still pretty hot albeit a mite thick in the glutes, wobbled around the ring unsteadily (those stiletto heels are unstable!) to get the fans in the mood for blood, which was imminent. Incredibly, this blatant display of sexual exploitation was considered "ok" in the dark ages of 1995. Women were only qualified to be strippers, lap dancers, and pornographic actresses, not fighters, it seemed to some unenlightened people in 1995.

7. Conan v. Gary Meyers

Conan came out with the will to defend the honor of jiu-jitsu. John Perretti expected Gary to be aggressive. But Conan was the aggressor, pursuing the Greco champion and throwing three excessively long left hands (jabs) as Gary bounced around evasively. Going for the kill, Conan threw a long right hand power shot, but predictably missed and fell forward, giving Gary a chance to grab his right leg and take him down, although he was already crumbling from the momentum of his ill-timed jiu-jitsu punch. Gary landed on top but Conan got his legs around Gary and hugged his neck. This was a "dominant position" for Conan, according to John P, who also evaluated Gary's top position as "very bad." Conan's dominant position was not so dominant that Conan didn't try to get out of it. He attempted a hook sweep that almost worked, but wrestlers tend to have stable par terre belly-down bases. Gary wanted to inflict punishment but the jiu-jitsu representative hugged him tightly. The most damage Gary could inflict was a few right hands to Conan's ribs. Neither fighter was in any danger of doing or receiving any mayhem. Gary assumed the tripod position (hips up, head down) that wrestlers  would do, and as Dan The Beast did in UFC, but without a happy outcome, for himself anyway.) Conan survided.

The only damage done during the approximately four minutes of action of the floor were two minor lacerations. Gary's was below his right eye. Conan's was above but to the side of his left eyebrow. Referee Gokor stopped the fight and stood them up. They were checked and found to be "ok." The fight restarted on the feet.

Conan threw a kick, Gary bounced around and went for a tackle. Conan stuffed it and threw some arm punches. Conan then threw another kick. Gary didn't like that and went for another tackle. Conan stayed on his feet and sunk in a gravata choke. Gary didn't know what to do. John P thought that Gary should have "put guard on " Conan. But he didn't know to do that. John P called the gravata "not just a choke, it's a crank." If Gary had conceptualized it as a head and arm, but without the arm, he might have been able to figure an exit, but in the heat of combat, there wasn't time for calm analysis. Instead, he tapped out at 4:25. History was made again. Conan had become the Battlecade Extreme Extreme Fighting World Heavyweight Champion." It was the second time that night that a jiu-jitsu representative had earned the right to claim to be called "World Champion." But wait. There was more to come. Even more history would be made if Mario Sperry won his fight against Igor Zinoviev. Then there would be three newly crowned world champions, all of them jiu-jitsu representatives.

8. Mario Sperry v. Igor Zinoviev

Igor, 16-0, and Zé Mario Sperry, 273-0, faced off to prove who most deserved to claim the title of middleweight world champion. What gave Bob Guccione the right to anoint a world champion? His field of expertise was naked girls. Wrong thinking. America is the land of freedom. Anything that isn't prohibited is ok and it wasn't and still isn't prohibited to anoint world champions. The first world boxing championship, in fact the idea that there could be a world championship, was "imagined" and created by a sports magazine, the National Police Gazette. Thanks to the American self-esteem movement, almost everyone now is a world champion, or deserves to be in their own minds. Nothing wrong with that, reality is a social construct, as we now know.

Igor was a judo-kickboxer. Zé Mario was pure jiu-jitsu with seven years of judo training under George Mehdi. Igor weighed 187 lb, Zé Mario weighed 199 lb. Neither had ever tasted the bitter flavor of defeat. Zé Mario had the reputation of finishing all of his fights in less than two minutes. (Although his only confirmed fight up to then lasted 2:40). Actually "the reputation" and the record were both figments of John Perretti's imagination and had no more basis in reality than the 273-0 record. Zé Mario was "the best there is" and "the baddest man on the planet" (a title Mike Tyson claimed until he met Buster Douglas in Tokyo). John Perretti assessed that Igor was "over-matched."  Igor might have something to say about that.

Both gladiators fought from the orthodox stance (righties). Neither wasted time feeling each other out or showboating. They came to claim the world title. Nine seconds later, Zé Mario went for the upper-body tie, bull-rushing Igor into the fence where they stayed for ten seconds. Igor went for a right leg kosoto but Zé Mario (thanks to his training with Carlson and George Mehdi) spun him clockwise to the canvass. He secured the top position in a leg-drag clutch, later made popular by BJ Penn (a student of one of Carlson's students, so within the noble lineage). Igor foresightedly overhooked Zé Mario's left leg with his own left leg. Ordinarily this would be useless and possibly self-injurious (to the knee), but Igor was apparently trying to keep the Carlson Gracie team representative in, as much as possible, a parallel position from which he (Zé Mario) could be bridged over. This was made easier by Zé Mario's head control. With his arm under Igor's head, he was roughly parallel to the Russian judo-kickboxer, which meant that (if Igor's hips were free to move, which they were) Igor would have a good shot at bridging Zé Mario over. He tried but failed. Zé Mario could have minimized that possibility by removing Igor's hook and also by changing his head control (elbow over head rather than arm under), in order to make himself 90 degrees (or at a 十字 angle). That would kill almost any bridge. As it happened, Zé Mario slid off through the dragged leg to the "100 quilos" side control. Igor used Lebellian pro wrestling methods to turn to his knees  at 13:13. Zé Mario failed to control or flatten him. Igor stood up at 13:11 (i.e., spent only two seconds in the dreaded four-point position). Zé Mario tried valiantly to get Igor back under domination but by 13:08, Igor was locked and loaded and ready to rock and roll with his sights set on the world title. 

What happened next was the biggest upset in MMA history since John Lewis avoided being defeated by Carlson Jr. (Some Gracies would call Lewis' draw a win because he wasn't defeated. In that case the outcome would have been even more humiliating for jiu-jitsu and Brazil, accordingly no one called it a win.)

They resumed with Igor throwing three tentative leg kicks. Sperry walked in a took a bearhug tie.  They were back at the fence. Unlike John Lewis, Igor did not cling to it. Sperry attempted right leg kosotos and the second time, succeeded. Down they went! Igor kept a left overhook on Sperry's right arm and achieved  a half-guard. Because of the overhook Sperry couldn't hip-switch (or back step) to free his trapped leg and was forced to try to go up rather than around. This allowed Igor to achieve full guard. John Perretti assessed this as a "dominant position."  (It tended to be in those days when people didn't know what it was.) Sperry couldn't pass Igor's guard so he stood up and tried G&P (now we know why wrestlers started doing it, and why even jiu-jitsu fighters avoided guard when they had a choice.) He promptly got kicked in the face and retreated back down to a lower, safer level. Igor opened his closed guard and tried playing from open guard, but that was a mistake. Sperry stood up and walked around it to side-control, and from there quickly to mount. "No one's ever gotten out of this position with Mario Sperry," Perretti asserted. That was partly true. No one yet in Extreme I had. But Igor did. As most BJJ students learn, the high mount is an unstable position, which is why they are rewarded with four points for doing it rather than a side control (no points), as pointed out by legendary judoka and BJJ teacher Oswaldo Alves here.  

Igor hung on to Sperry's head and arm. (If you are going to bridge the man, or lady, over, it's good to control at least one of their arms). After copious struggling, Igor did bridge Sperry. but was immediately put back on the bottom. Sperry punched on Igor from top, and Igor punched on Sperry from bottom. You can't do that, according to conventional GJJ wisdom. Igor showed that you can and it can be somewhat effective if there are no better options. (Cover-and-wait isn't a permanent strategy. Eventually punches are going to start landing. Conversely, no man likes getting punched in the grill even if he's in the top dominant position). No one had ever gone ten minutes with Mario Sperry, John Perritti enthused, which was true if he meant in Extreme 1. Sperry was still in mount when with 8:58 remaining Igor did another thing that no one should ever do (Sperry later put it on an instructional video and every BJJ fighter now does it, if possible). He pushed on Sperry's upper body and shrimped to the right. Sperry lost his balance and the position. Igor stood up. Sperry grabbed his right leg. Igor rained punches down on Sperry. Sperry took Igor down with the leg. Igor landed seated and stable with his right hand posted out. 

The action, to make a long story short, continued in more or less the same way, Sperry on top, Igor in survival mode. During one exchange, Igor rolled, exposing his back, Igor put him in a judo "kesa gatame" or if you prefer, a pro wrestling headlock hold. Sperry eventually squirmed his way out to the back, as we are supposed to do (it's hard to keep a kesa without a gi). They both stood up. Igor maintained the head and arm control with Sperry still behind him. They lurched toward the fence. This time Igor emulated John Lewis and grabbed the fence with both hands and also posted his head on it for extra support. Sperry tried to pull him away. Sperry pulled his head out and they continued. 

The beginning of the end started when Sperry took a hand punch at Igor's averted face, and then tried to jump up on his back. Igor bent forward and Sperry dropped like a feather in a vacuum. Again, he grabbed Igor's leg and took him down but not before eating a knee in his forehead, which opened a gash. Igor grabbed Sperry's head and arm again. Sperry stepped over Igor's legs. At this point Sperry patted the mat once with his right palm. Gokor stopped the fight. Zé Mario had noticed that he was bleeding. No martial arts magazine "Samurai" philosophy for him.

History had been made for the second time that night. All of Brazil went into mourning. Women threw themselves off of cliffs in in Ipanema and Lebon. Brazilian jiu-jitsu was no longer the undisputed king of the no-holds-barred fight world.

Top 14 Lessons Learned

As Benjamin Franklin said, experience is a "dear" (expensive) teacher. Better to learn from other people's experiences. More examples to learn from and it hurts less.

1. Not losing (drawing) is not the same as winning. Otherwise Carlson Jr. would have been the world champion.

2. Losing is not winning. Losing is losing. BS only goes so far. Moral victories are consolation prizes for losers.

3. Setting up the tackle (tie-up, throw, take-down) is important (as Ralph proved in his fight with Makoto by doing it, but even more so by not doing it against Takanori Gomi on May 7, 2004). 

4. Having a way to seal the deal after taking it to the ground matters. Sealing the deal may be as simple as keeping the perp pinned until the uniforms arrive. Alternatively, it is whatever the event organizers say it is. Arm-locks are overrated as fight-stoppers.

5. Jiu-jitsu alone is not enough (as Carlson repeatedly said, contradicting Rickson and other of Helio's sons.) Submissions, other than sleepers, are holding (pinning) techniques. They only end the fight if the adversary wants them to.

6. Trying to be a boxer when you haven't trained as a boxer is idiocy. As is boxing with a boxer if you aren't a boxer. Substitute jiu-jitsu for boxer and the message is the same. Likewise, wrestling. Don't wrestle with a wrestler. Jiu-jitsuists know this, hence, pull guard. Boxers know it too. Don't punch with a puncher. Wrestlers know it. Take the boxer down asap. The rare exceptions prove the rule. The only people who seem to not get it are those who tell us that jiu-jitsu is all you need (Helio, Rickson, Royce to name a few of a vanishing cult, as well as assorted gym franchise owners). Check your ego at the door, but keep your critical thinking skills polished and handy.

7. Jiu-jitsu may reign supreme, but no always. Wrestling, boxing, judo, Muay Thai, karate, also work, depending on the time, place, and practitioner. Jiu-jitsu is common sense, not a magic bullet.

8. Luck matters. Good and bad luck. Time and chance happens to every man. But as Demetrius Havanas said, the more you train, the luckier you get.

7. Preparation matters. Know the opponent and prepare realistically. Jiu-jitsu reigned supreme in early MMA events because it took a while for people to understand what to prepare for, while the jiu-jitsuans already had that figured out, thanks mostly to Carlson.

8. Being in shape matters. Sperry got tired trying to subdue Igor. Igor wasted less energy merely responding. Not losing isn't winning but it can be an effective defensive strategy.

9. Physical attributes matter. 

10. Experience matters.

11, Motivated Reasoning is real. Motivated Reasoning is the common phenomenon of looking for reasons to believe that what we want to be true really is true, while avoiding contradictory (disconfirming) evidence.

12. Holding on to something is a good way to stay upright. Having a wall behind you is a good way to avoid someone to go to your back. 

13. Repetition works. It doesn't matter whether it is true or not, people will believe it if you say it. These are aspects of what In psychology are known as the Illusory Truth Effect; the False Fame Effect; and the Sleeper Effect. (Some references here).

14. Heroes need heels. Styles that are the Best need styles that (supposedly) aren't as good to defeat in order to prove which is best.  Extreme 1, and other similar events, stimulated interest in the rival styles, or grappling systems with different names. Particularly because some of these styles were in fact "the Best" by BJJ's own criterion. The MMA boom was a boon for magazines, video producers, and everyone else poised to take advantage of the gullibility of the typical 18-34 year old male fan (note 3). One could argue that was a positive result. Many people got what they wanted and no one was harmed. They didn't lose money that they couldn't afford to do without. Roberto isn't complaining. He bought plenty of VHS videos, DVDs, and books, and reviewed some of them here and here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Everything considered Extreme 1 was somewhat of a disaster for jiu-jitsu. Not even a moral victory. The jiu-jitsueiros substantially outweighed their tiny antagonists in four of the six fights. It shows why Rorion was successful at business and promoting jiu-jitsu in America while Carlson was a flop. Jiu-jitsu could not have taken off and a boomed with Carlson at the helm. Carlson was the technical mastermind, along with his many associates, of modern jiu-jitsu, the one that we all train today, but he utterly lacked Rorion's business sense and Carlos Junior's organizing zeal. 

In fact the disaster was even worse than it seemed. The Gracie Family's 80 years of unbroken victories and lack of defeats was put to an end. The undefeated win streak of the King of Brazil (Carlson Jr) was halted by a dancer, and the Greatest of them all (273-0) Mario Sperry was stopped by a lowly judoka coached by a pro wrestler. 

Could the massacre have been any worse? Yes it could, if Ralph and Conan had gotten schooled and spanked. That didn't happen in Extreme 1. It happened later. The Gracie reign ended almost as quickly as it started. In its place a new era began. Jiu-jitsu could never had lasted if based on the pretense of always being able to kick everyone's ass. What it needed, and got, was professional organization. One reason that ass-kicking was a good foot-in-the door stratagem but a poor long-term strategy was revealed painfully in Extreme 1 and even more so in subsequent events world-wide.  To spell it out, even the best BJJ people ended up sometimes getting their own asses kicked, and in ways that could not be described as moral victories or even victories for jiu-jitsu. Marketing has limits. Sometimes a loss really is a loss.

It was what it was:

Ralph = 1-0

Carlson Jr. = 0-0-1

Conan = 2-0

Zé Mario Sperry = 1-1

The total haul of wins was 4 of 6 fights. Not bad, but Ralph used street boxing and pro wrestling. Conan used "boxing" and pro wrestling. Sperry scored his W with wrestling and brawling. Or was all that "jiu-jitsu"? As always, it was hard to say, because jiu-jitsu meant everything and nothing. It was from the beginning mostly a brand name or a way to disguise the reality that it was judo mixed in with anything else that helped accomplish whatever the purpose, hustle, or scam at hand was (not that there's anything wrong with that.) The situation now is different. Jiu-jitsu is defined by the IBJJF, or whoever is trying to sell something. 

Final Takeaway

Train jiu-jitsu. Also train boxing, judo, wrestling and Muay Thai and any other style that involves being in shape and resisting opposition. Specialize in what you like best and need most for whatever your purpose is. Also, learn how to think critically. That means putting as much effort into disconfirming what you already think or want to believe as to confirming it.

 

Note 1. Additional information about John Lewis' dancing career and plans is from Gong Kakutougi Plus vol. 16, November 2001, p. 46. John planned to organize a MMA show that would combine fighting, dancing, and "rock" music. The Gong interviewer 高島学 asked John if his new organization, WFA, would be a "minor league" UFC? John denied it; WFA would be a full equal to the UFC, Pride, WEF, KOTC, Extreme, and a few more. Unfortunately, most businesses fail, and WFA was not an exception.

Comments about John Lewis and Gene LeBell should not be construed as implying that they were only and exclusively (1) a dancer and (2) a pro wrestler, respectively. John Lewis had other feathers in his cap and Gene LeBell had other arrows in his quiver. Additional information will be provided in subsequent Extreme Fighting commentaries.

Note 2: These are sufficiently explained in the following (among many others):

Jacoby, L. L., Kelley, C., Brown, J., & Jasechko, J. (1989). Becoming famous overnight: Limits on the ability to avoid unconscious influences of the past. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56(3), 326.

Peters, M. J., Horselenberg, R., Jelicic, M., & Merckelbach, H. (2007). The false fame illusion in people with memories about a previous life. Consciousness and Cognition, 16(1), 162-169.

Polage, D. C. (2012). Making up history: False memories of fake news stories. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 8(2), 245-250.

Bearak, Barry (Nov. 12,  2011). A ToeHold in the Mainstream. New York Times

According to Baerak, the demographic "sweet spot" for UFC in 2011 consisted of 18-34 year old males. It is not implied that all MMA fans are gullible.

 

 

(c) 2022, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.

 

 

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