What happened at UFC's first year-end spectacular, Ultimate Ultimate 1995?

Dan Severn celebrates victory at UFC: Ultimate Ultimate 1995
Dan Severn celebrates victory at UFC: Ultimate Ultimate 1995

The UFC rounded off a successful year in 1995, with its first ever year-end show on December 16, 1995.

The event featured former UFC tournament champions Steve Jennum, Dan Severn, Oleg Taktarov and Marco Ruas competing against one another to determine the Ultimate, Ultimate Fighting Champion.

Rounding off the lineup were UFC tournament finalists Tank Abbott, Paul Varelans and Dave Beneteau. The final participant was the infamous "Giant Killer" Keith Hackney.

Notable by his absence was Royce Gracie, the winner of UFC 1, 2 and 4 who declined to appear after retiring from the sport following UFC 5 in April 1995. Gracie would not fight again until he made a comeback in Japan for Pride FC in January 2000.

Returning to the one-night tournament format with no "Superfight" and only an interview with reigning "Superfight Champion" Ken Shamrock and without Gracie, the card looked a little lacklustre on paper, despite the heavy hype surrounding the event.

This was also the first UFC event that featured judges, meaning no more never-ending draws; see UFC 5 and 7 for examples. The first round of matches were a series of mismatches.

Tank destroyed UFC 3 Champion, Steve Jennum in 74 seconds.

Taktarov bounced back from his bore fest at UFC 7 versus Shamrock to win decisively with an Achilles hold submission over Beneteau in a rematch of their bout at UFC 6. The result was the same but Beneteau survived for 18 seconds longer this time. Perhaps he could point to that as progress.

Severn bested Varelans in a battle between girth and skill wherein skill won in double quick fashion with a victory by arm triangle choke after 61 seconds. Thankfully though, Varelans had rediscovered the ability to walk after his pummelling by Ruas three months earlier.

In the final of the lopsided first-round bouts, Ruas beat Hackney in the most closely fought of the opening matches, but it was still over in less than three minutes as Ruas calmly avoided a wild Hackney right hand to manoeuvre the "Giant Killer" into the Octagon fence, where he eventually worked in a rear naked choke for the win.

The Semi-Finals featured three former champions and a former finalist in Tank and as such were much more closely contested.

So close in fact that both fights relied upon the judge's scorecards making them the first two bouts in UFC history to be decided by judge's decision.

Severn versus Tank resulted in an 18-minute Unanimous Decision win for Severn and Taktarov versus Ruas also ended in an 18-minute Unanimous Decision victory for Taktarov.

Therefore, the final match of the Ultimate Ultimate 1995 was a rematch of the UFC 5 tournament final.

Dan Severn contests the Ultimate Ultimate 1995 Final versus Oleg Taktarov
Dan Severn contests the Ultimate Ultimate 1995 Final versus Oleg Taktarov

As was the case at UFC 5, Severn was the victor.

Despite the judges, UFC slapped a 27-minute time limit on the headliner which both men used entirely. That led to a three minute overtime in which both fighters still could not earn the win.

For a 30-minute fight with no rounds or rest breaks, it was a perfectly solid encounter with both men working hard for the win.

Severn, the heavy hitter landed much more damage than Taktarov, who aside from an early leglock attempt was very much on the defensive for the fight's duration.

Severn notched up his second tournament victory of 1995 and earned a shot at the winner of UFC 8's Superfight between Shamrock at UFC 9.

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Edited by Vikshith R