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UFC 14: What happened when Mark Coleman defended the Heavyweight Championship versus Maurice Smith?

Paul Benson
ANALYST
Feature
Timeless

Maurice Smith shocks the world to become Heavyweight Champion at UFC 14
Maurice Smith shocks the world to become Heavyweight Champion at UFC 14

In July 1997, everyone believed that Mark Coleman was unbeatable. Having handily defeated Dan Severn at UFC 12 to become the inaugural UFC Heavyweight Champion and earlier winning back to back tournaments at UFC 10 and 11, he entered UFC 14 undefeated in all six of his MMA fights.

Step forward, Maurice Smith who made his UFC debut at UFC 14, entering the show with a 5-7 MMA record. That is five wins and seven defeats.

In his defence, Smith was a Kickboxer rather than a Martial Artist. The then 35-year-old had been Kickboxing professionally since the early 1980s and was a multi-time champion in the sport but despite that, no-one considered him a threat to Coleman.

The MMA world was in for a shock then, when Smith won a Unanimous Decision to win the Heavyweight Championship.

Coleman secured an early takedown which seemed like a sensible game plan, given his wrestling credentials and Smith's dangerous striking ability. However, Smith was able to defend resolutely in the guard as Coleman gassed due to his inability to put Smith away.

When the bout headed to overtime, Smith was finally able to stand up for a significant period and landed some solid strikes to Coleman who was barely mobile at this point. That action saw Smith through to achieve the ultimate upset.

UFC 14 saw Coleman's pal, an accomplished wrestler, Mark Kerr debut for the promotion. Competing in the four-man, Heavyweight tournament, Kerr quickly knocked out his opponent, the little known, Moti Horenstein.

In the other Heavyweight Semi-Final fight, Dan Bobish challenged UFC veteran, Brian Johnston. In an upset. Bobish pulled Johnston into his guard and worked him over with strikes, before securing a forearm to the throat for the submission win.

Kerr versus Bobish was the Heavyweight Final. Kerr demonstrated his superiority over the competition with a quick victory. Kerr immediately secured a takedown and pushed his chin into Bobish's eye to secure the submission. That's a way to win you don't see every day.

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Kerr was the Heavyweight tournament champion.

Mark Kerr: Impressed in his UFC debut
Mark Kerr: Impressed in his UFC debut

UFC 14 also featured a Middleweight tournament, which is a bit of a misnomer as it is exactly the same weight class they used at previous events as Light-Heavyweight but anyhow the first match-up was Joe Moreira versus Yuri Vaulin.

This was a dull, dull fight. The less said about it the better, in truth. Moreira won a comfortable decision versus Vaulin who had no ground game whatsoever to speak of.

In the second Middleweight match-up, Kevin Jackson punched the living daylights out of Todd Butler to earn the tap out in under 90 seconds.

Jackson didn't meet Moreira in the final, however. Moreira suffered a concussion and wasn't allowed to compete. So, Jackson met alternate, Tony Fryklund instead.

This was an interesting collision due to Fryklund's behavior in his alternate bout. After winning the clash due to submission, Fryklund continued to smash his opponent, Donnie Chapell's head in. Officials pulled Fryklund off as fans booed him out of the building.

It led to an incredible atmosphere in the final where Frylund was loudly jeered and perhaps distracted by the reaction, turned his back on Jackson, who quickly sunk in a rear naked choke to win the Middleweight tournament.

That was UFC 14; historic but lacking in engaging competitive action. Thankfully UFC 15 would be a much greater return to form for the promotion.

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