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UFC 20: What happened when Bas Rutten and Kevin Randleman battled for Heavyweight gold?

Paul Benson

Rutten vs Randleman: Result shrowded in controversy
Rutten vs Randleman: Result shrowded in controversy

UFC 20 is best known for hosting the final of the (protracted) Heavyweight title tournament that began way back at UFC Brazil, the previous October.

In May 1999, two men remained to do battle. Dutch MMA legend, Bas Rutten and young, hungry 27-year-old, Kevin Randleman.

In a 21 minute bout, Randleman pinned Rutten to the mat and pounded away on him, almost at will. Rutten landed a few blows from the bottom but he could not escape Randleman's control.

Everyone expected a decision win for Randleman, however, inexplicably the judges awarded a split decision to Rutten. That call was a joke. No-one could make a case for Rutten in that bout; he was never in control of the fight, not even for a minute.

Randleman understandably stormed out of the Octagon in disgust and was not interviewed post-fight. Rutten tried to justify his win following the decision but they were hollow words. It was almost as if UFC had decided the MMA legend Rutten would be their new face of the promotion, no matter what.

As it was, in a weird twist of fate, Rutten would never fight for the company again, forced to retire shortly afterwards due to injury.

Randleman's time would come again.

The headliner between Randleman and Rutten had a shocking result
The headliner between Randleman and Rutten had a shocking result

Pedro Rizzo knocked off Tra Telligman with an impressive knockout victory. The two exchanged some wild combinations until Rizzo landed a perfect right hand that knocked Telligman out.


Wanderlei Silva who had not yet earned his legendary reputation competed opposite Tony Petarra in a one-sided encounter wherein Petara managed to clinch Silva into the fence but the Brazilian fired away with knees to the body until he hit a series of knees to the head which dropped Petarra for the knockout.

Marcelo Mello defeated Dave Roberts in just 83 seconds, taking Roberts down and blasting him repeatedly with sick elbows before the referee jumped in.

LaVerne Clark took just 10 seconds more to dispatch of Fabiano Iha when he busted Iha openly badly and the referee had no choice but to stop the fight.

In the final match on the card, UFC veteran Pete Williams clashed with Travis Fulton in a competitive match-up wherein the young Fulton impressively escaped William's mount and submission attempts but eventually succumbed to an armbar, while he had Williams mounted.

UFC 20, with its lacklustre fights, is unsurprisingly remembered for the controversial decision in the headliner and not much else. Thankfully, the Heavyweight Championship which had been in a state of flux for over a year finally found a home at UFC 23.

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