Relive the era of no rules, no weight classes, and pure artful violence.
As the UFC’s spectacle era thrived in the US, this was how MMA was packaged at the far east back in 1994.
Japan held its first Vale Tudo tournament on July 29th of that year, bringing this Brazilian concept to the land of martial arts. The style vs. style element remains present, and fights were held inside a squared ring, like how it was at the Maracanãzinho in Rio.
It was also the time when Rickson Gracie first entered the public consciousness of the Japanese fans as a superstar. As the man widely considered as the “ultimate Gracie” who supposedly held an undefeated record with more than 400 fights (official record 11-0), Rickson did make a strong first impression by winning all of his matches via punishment.
Through every opponent, Rickson’s gameplan was quite straightforward: close the distance, get the fight to the mat, establish a dominant position, and lay a beating. Yoshinori Nishi tapped to a rear-naked choke a fight prior, while in this quarterfinal match, American David Levicki tapped out to strikes. Both contests ended in less than three minutes.
Rickson Gracie went on to defeat Bud Smith in 39 seconds in the third fight to win the tournament. He went on to do the same at the 1995 Japan Vale Tudo, before signing up to fight at Pride 1 two years later.