The Top 14 Lessons
Extreme Fighting 1
The Historic Event
that Devastated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Bob Guccione became rich by imitating Hugh Heffner's
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
The result was Extreme Fighting. He even hired his Penthouse "Pets"
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
special fight was not a tournament fight. It was a World Championship
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
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
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
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
Some much for background.
The fight started.
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
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
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
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
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 =
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
8. Mario Sperry v. Igor
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
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.)
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
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
Ralph = 1-0
Carlson Jr. =
Conan = 2-0
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
2: These are sufficiently explained in the following (among many
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),
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.
Barry (Nov. 12, 2011). A ToeHold in the Mainstream. New York
Baerak, the demographic "sweet spot" for UFC in 2011
consisted of 18-34 year old males. It is not implied that all MMA fans
(c) 2022, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.