The year was 2002, and it was time for UFC to break new ground as a company. In their first venture to London, England, the top MMA promotion presented “Brawl at the Hall” on July 13th, 2002.
This event provided a unique British flavor, with fighters like Ian Freeman and Mark Weir having their moments in the spotlight. However, it also had a big welterweight main event as well. Meeting for the second time, former champ Carlos Newton and then-reigning titleholder Matt Hughes fought in the main event.
The fight offered Newton a chance to regain a belt that he had quite a short amount of time with. But for Hughes, it was an opportunity to continue what was starting to look like an impressive run as champ.
It’s time to continue our watch of 2002. So hop in the time machine with me and travel nearly two decades back to the Royal Albert Hall for seven fights.
A Quick Prelim Rundown – Three Fights
There were three prelims that took place before the main card. Here’s a quick write-up on them.
Evan Tanner continued his winning streak in the opening bout, defeating Chris Haseman via unanimous decision.
Haseman reportedly took this fight on short notice, and it shows. Per databases, he was replacing Vladimir Matyushenko.
Tanner succeeded with ground and pound shots throughout the fight. His best round was easily the third, as this was where he unloaded with lots of punches and elbows. The fight was nearly stopped in the final minute due to a heavy amount of ground and pound shots.
This was Haseman’s sole UFC fight as a pro. He ended up fighting five more times before retiring in 2012.
Tanner is now on a three-fight winning streak in the UFC. We’ll see him again next year.
The next prelim was another pummeling, honestly. Renato Sobral returned to the win column with a one-sided victory over Elvis Sinosic. Every round of this fight saw Sobral damage Sinosic with ground and pound, leaving him quite bruised by the end.
This continued a rough run for Sinosic. His previous fights were first-round losses to Evan Tanner and Tito Ortiz. He had some of the toughest names in the division consistently thrown at him during these years.
This turned things around for Sobral after losing his previous UFC fight to Kevin Randleman.
In the final prelim, Phillip Miller had an incredibly hard-fought battle against Watford’s James Zikic.
Miller walked away with the win, but Zikic certainly gave him a ton of trouble both on the feet and on the ground. Miller now had a strong undefeated record of 14 wins.
This fight from Zikic was his sole UFC appearance as a pro. He continued to compete as late as 2015, but it appears he has now retired.
Smooth As Ever, Sudo Wins His Debut
The main card kicked off with the UFC debut of notable MMA fighter Genki Sudo. The Japanese showman was matched against Leigh Remedios, giving him the first time to show his quirky fighting style to larger British and American audiences.
With grace and comfort, Sudo walked around the cage during the fight with unique mannerisms and sudden dance moves. He turned his back to Remedios at times, but would then snap back at him with a kick – almost serving as a reminder that his unique style is still dangerous after all.
Remedios seemingly didn’t know how to respond to this.
Sudo had Remedios in trouble at times in the first round. Late in the round, Sudo attempted a triangle choke while on his back. He also scored with some elbows in this position.
Sudo slammed Remedios to the ground early in the second round, beginning the finishing sequence for the bout. After being in side control for a while, Sudo quickly took the back of Remedios and applied a rear naked choke to end the fight. The tap came quite fast, and Sudo earned his first win in the UFC cage.
Sudo is quite an intriguing character. He’s quite a showman with the way he fights or even his walkouts. He’s also an interesting guy out of the cage. In 2019, I wrote a short story about how he has even become somewhat of a pop star later in his life. We’ll see him again in this series.
Weir Wins His UFC Debut In Seconds
Before the next fight, it was announced that Randy Couture and Ricco Rodriguez will headline UFC’s next event. We’ll watch that show in two weeks.
This next bout was a surprisingly short one. In his UFC debut, Mark Weir put away Eugene Jackson in just 10 seconds. Weir was able to floor Jackson with a short jab after missing with a front kick. This immediately put an end to the fight and brought the crowd to their feet.
Weir celebrated for a moment but was quick to calm himself and seemingly get a little worried about Jackson.
Weir joined the UFC roster with a strong record of nine wins and one loss. Because of this win, we’ll see many more times to come. This was a big moment for Weir, even if it didn’t get to show much of him.
Jackson was coming off a recent win, although before then he had a rough three-fight losing streak from 2000 to 2001. This fight moved his UFC record to three wins and four losses and marked the end of his run with the promotion.
Freeman Hands Mir First Loss
Ian Freeman picked up a big win in the co-main event, becoming the first man to defeat Frank Mir.
This fight was mostly on the ground, where Mir seemed focused on tapping Freeman out. However, Freeman was able to avoid most submissions and do damage with strikes on the ground. Mir seemingly got trapped in the final minute of the round, as he consumed a large number of elbows and punches from side control.
The fight was instructed to be stood up by the referee, but Mir was seemingly too hurt to get to his feet, rising but then falling back down to his knees. While the referee seemingly gave Mir numerous chances to continue, he was unresponsive so the fight eventually was called to an end.
While this was the first time Freeman fought on a UFC card in the United Kingdom, he had appeared in the promotion before. He notably competed three times in 2000, attaining two wins and one loss.
Mir entered this fight with a bit of reputation from two strong wins. He entered this fight with two prior UFC bouts over the past year, with both of them coming within a round.
After the fight, Freeman dedicated the fight to his father, who he said was in bad condition due to cancer.
Hughes Leaves No Doubt In Newton Rematch
It’s main event time. As you know, the final fight of the night was a rematch between UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes and Carlos Newton.
For those who aren’t up to date, here was the storyline up until now. Newton won the UFC Welterweight Championship in 2001, submitting Pat Miletich. This put an end to a relatively strong run that Miletich had at the time and in my opinion ended a certain type of era for the UFC.
Newton lost his belt in his next appearance, suffering a slam knockout against Matt Hughes later that year. Newton returned to Pride FC for one win since then, defeating Pele on a card in early 2002.
It’s also worth noting that Hughes defended his belt once since his first time against Newton, defeating Hayato Sakurai earlier this year.
Hughes walked out to the cage with his belt over his shoulder. Serious question: why don’t we see that too much? You see it constantly in pro wrestling, but never in MMA. I think for aesthetics it would be cool to see champions flaunt their champion-ness a little more.
On to the fight. This was a thorough performance from Hughes that showed how superior of a fighter he was due to his wrestling. Most of the fight saw him hurt Newton on the ground with striking. He scored a takedown early in every round, then remained active on the ground with striking.
Hughes nearly put the fight to a close in the third round due to a quick flow of strikes.
Newton looked quite defeated come the fourth round. The takedowns seemingly came without much resistance, and Newton didn’t have much of an answer for Hughes’ attacks. Things finally came to a close late in the fourth round due to a steady pace of shots that Hughes landed in a crucifix position.
As I have mentioned before in this series, Newton had an interesting career in these years. He flipped between winning and losing which gave him an ugly record, but he was clearly one of the more talented names in his weight class and had close fights. With that being said, this wasn’t a close fight. Hughes had a game plan that worked out perfectly.
As we’ll see in later episodes, the dominance from Hughes certainly doesn’t stop here. In fact, his first run as champ will last more than another year from now.
But we won’t get to those fights just yet. For now, we’re going to hop out of the time machine again and back into the present. See you next week for the great spectacle that was Pride FC’s first “Shockwave” event.
NEXT WEEK: Pride FC: Shockwave