What’s the first MMA fight ever where both opponents could be thrown in the UFC and be competitive – not at the top, but win some fights in the division? (Assume that they are the same fighter they were in that fight – no new training methods, nutrition, S&C work, etc.)
Some that come to mind:
-Tom Erickson v. Murilo Bustamante (1996): I feel confident that version of Big Cat would beat up some guys outside the top 10, and that the 1996 Bustamante had the skills to win a few fights at today’s MW. (By 2001, I think that version of Bustamante beats some good UFC MWs).
-I’d have to watch it again, by MAYBE Paulson v. Hume (also 1996).
-Maybe Randy v. Mo Smith (1997). I think both guys had skills in 1997 to beat some of the lower ranked HWs of today.
-I think Carlos Newton and Sakuraba had the skills in 1998 to get some WWs to the mat and submit them.
What do y’all think?