I remember seeing the ppv commercial for UFC 1. Before that I had only ever seen point sparring matches, ISKA kickboxing, and this one tournament that was kind of like K-1 in style. I remembered that one had come down to a Japanese kyokushin karate fighter and an American guy who defeated the Japanese guy with some killer knees. Anyway, the UFC looked like the coolest thing ever. Back then I still believed Kung-fu movies were real life, so I expected it to be like Street Fighter 2, but real. Unfortunately, my mom refused to order it for me.
Flash forward a little bit and I see UFC 2 sitting on the shelf at Blockbuster. I picked it up immediately. I had no idea what BJJ was and I remember thinking that the Japanese karate master would probably run through everyone like Ryu. I remember seeing the beginning promo on how Royce Gracie had won the previous tournament and I thought to myself, “no way, the karate guy will figure it out and find a way to defeat him”. I was very shocked and disappointed when Royce simply took him down and tapped him not long after. I actually hated Royce Gracie and Gracie Jiu Jutsu for a long time after that, because I couldn’t stand how he just took guys down and submitted them. It was like he ruined the show with his cheap tactics. I remember rooting for Pat Smith to win that tournament, but by the end I was not surprised that he lost to Gracie. Even though Ken Shamrock was a grappler as well, he still threw some punches and I became a huge fan of his by UFC 3 because he seemed to have the best chance of beating Royce. I remember seeing his interview during UFC 2 about coming back next time to avenge his loss and I thought he was the coolest guy ever.
After that I started being able to get the UFCs on ppv. I even remember ordering Pancrase and extreme fighting (or something like that) with Mr. T doing the pre-fight interviews.
Later on Don Frye became my favorite fighter due to him having both the boxing and wrestling skills. He seemed extremely evolved at the time and I remember being shocked later when Coleman came out of no where and beat him. I was also a huge Marco Ruas fan.
It always bothered me how grapplers dominated back then, but I still loved watching because it was the reality of fighting.