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MMA Fighters of Yesteryear


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Despite The Athletic deciding to cut loose its writing dream team a few days after I purchase a year's subscription, I've been doing a bit of reading (well, I have paid after all), and there was an excellent article on Jeremy Horn. Obviously, I can't post the article here - it would be out of order, and at worst be a breach of some kind of copyright, I guess. But there were a fair few points worth discussing that I thought might warrant starting a new thread, because, whilst the article was specifically about Horn, it took on an undertone that raised the question of why MMA and its fans tends to forget certain fighters of previous eras. It positioned Horn as one of MMA's great pioneers, and, this being in all possibility the first time I've ever heard of him in any great detail, I can see why, based on what the article discussed.

The guy was an absolute machine, looking at his record. Over 100 fights, including three wins over Sonnen, 1-1 with Chuck Liddell and Travis Fulton, wins over Griffin and Yvel, two UFC LHW championship challenges, and even fighting three times in one fucking night. Not to mention that he packed the fights in - in numerous places, there's only a gap of a week or a month between. Insane. But it does raise the question: why did he only fight in the UFC a few times? He was even released after his third win over Sonnen! He did come back and go 0-3, but why wasn't he there for longer? The sheer number of promotions he fought for might suggest that maybe he just wanted to be able to fight, and that the earlier UFC just couldn't give him that many fights, either through being not big enough a promotion yet, or through having to observe athletic commissions' medical suspensions.

The article paints an overall picture of an ordinary, everyman type of guy with solid-but-unspectacular talent and a great love for fighting, who was always up for it, and whom it was foolish to look past, because he could make you pay if you took him lightly. In essence, a battle-scarred warrior type that both more discerning fans and Two-Can van Dammes must surely root for. There was one paragraph of the article (think it's OK just to post a segment) that piqued my interest enough to start this thread:

Quote

 

Still, it does seem like MMA – both as a sport with a history but also just as an ever-changing cultural thing – should have some way of holding onto a memory of guys like Horn, doesn’t it? There’s the UFC Hall of Fame, but then, Horn acknowledged, he’d fought there only a handful of times and he never seemed to be a favorite with the front office anyway. There’s also the stories fans love to pass around on message boards and social media, this sort of collective memory that gets transferred between generations of fans, but that type of post-career fame tends to belong to the larger-than-life figures, the ones who can be explained with a highlight reel or a classic interview.

The physically unremarkable everyman who consistently finds a way to win, he just doesn’t tend to get that brand of love in MMA.

So where does that leave Horn, a guy with over 100 fights and the respect of his peers, but not much in the way of a legacy that you can pin down and put a name to? He doesn’t quite know.

“I mean, it’d be nice to be remembered,” Horn said. “But I guess I’d like to be remembered for being a nice guy who was lucky enough to be a part of this sport for his whole life, and hopefully as a guy who contributed something to it. I just don’t know what, specifically, that would be. But then, I don’t know, maybe that’s not for me to say.”

 

Having not seen anything of Horn's career, I'm relying on you guys to tell me about whether or not he was worth watching. 

Also, are there any other fighters like him that you think either don't get the plaudits they deserved, or whose careers aren't discussed in as much detail as you think they should? From what people on here have often said, I'd guess people like Marco Ruas or Ricardo Arona seem to have faded in the collective memory a bit too much, but it'd be interesting to know what the more veteran fans on here think.

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I only remember loose bits of information about his career. As examples, he lost out on a UFC title shot in 2001 when he was subbed by Elvis Sinosic, it took until his 95th career fight until someone stopped him with strikes (Liddell at UFC 54), and he was very fortunate to win a decision against Trevor Prangley in late 2005.

What I personally remember him most for was his association with Miletich Fighting Systems, which was probably the number 1 camp in the US when I first started following MMA properly in the mid-2000s. A bit like Tanner at Team Quest, Horn was out of place at Miletich's camp, which was frequented mostly by college wrestlers. As Hughes said, Horn was the sort of guy you would expect to walk past you carrying a GameBoy or skateboard. He didn't play sports in high school and didn't really consider himself to be an athlete. In fact, before moving to Iowa to train with Miletich's team, he didn't even lift weights, run or spar competitively. 

Nevertheless, despite barely socialising with his teammates outside of practice, it doesn't sound as if many at Miletich had an issue with him. Horn claims that he still gets on with many of his former training partners to this day. Instead, it was Sylvia, who was desperate for acceptance, that Pulver and Hughes took exception to. 

I can imagine others who followed the sport between 2000 and 2004 will remember him as a road warrior. A fighter who seemingly showed up in every promotion and fought almost everyone of note. But for me, he will always be a part of Pat, Matt, Timmy, Robbie and Jens' clique. 

 

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Horn was class. My first memory is always the horrific beating he put on Daiju Takase at UFC 21. One of the earliest ‘OK this is hard to watch’ beatdowns in UFC history. Other standouts from that timeframe are him putting Chuck Liddell completely to sleep with an arm triangle from the bottom in their first fight and his fight with Frank Shamrock at UFC 17, which for some reason was cut from the DVD so I never saw it until recently on Fight Pass. Even in his last UFC stint in 2008/09, it went terribly for him, he went 0-3, but I remember really enjoying his fight with Palhares at UFC 93 in Dublin.

I haven’t seen much of him outside the UFC. I remember watching the Big Nog fight years ago when I was going through Nog’s career but I can’t recall much about it. I saw his fights with Forrest Griffin and Babalu on that IFC tournament as well and probably a handful of others. I vaguely recall really liking the Akira Shoji fight from Pride too. Looking at his record now though, I’ve definitely never seen his fights with Randy Couture or Anderson Silva.

Always liked him. He was one of the first fighters who really broke the stereotype of what a ‘cage fighter’ was for me. Guys like Chuck Liddell and Vitor Belfort looked the part. And you wouldn’t have wanted to spill Jeff Monson’s pint either. But Horn always looked weedy and he didn’t act tough or talk shit or carry himself like a badass. You’d never guess that guy had 100+ professional fights under his belt if you ran into him in Asda or something. Even if you got chatting, unless he told you, you probably wouldn’t guess. He’s one of those guys who doesn’t get the fanfare because he never won the major titles, never trash talked or had a heated rivalry that people remember etc. He just showed up, put his mouthpiece in and went to work. 119 fucking times! He’s definitely largely forgotten but I think he’s one of those fighters who’s respected by his peers more than by fans. I specifically remember Nick and Nate Diaz talking about how much they were fans of Jeremy Horn and they rarely have much good to say about anyone.

As for other examples, there’ll be tons. No really obvious ones are immediately jumping out to me (guess because they’re forgotten, right?) but I’ll have a think. 

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Posted (edited)

I'll have to that article and have a read.

I dont think its exclusive to MMA that lots of fighters get forgotten about though. Its just the nature of sports in general. It happens in boxing too, everybody remembers the stars but anyone who never really became a box office draw or were involved in fight of the year type fights and held multiple championshios go on the scrap heap over time. It sucks for the forgetten men but it makes for an never ending treasure chest of stuff to discover which is pretty cool as a fan.

As for Jeremy Horn, he was a mainstay fixture of MMA when i got into the sport but he usually fought in such random promotions that you'd never see the fights being pre-youtube and all that. Very much in that Dan Severn mode where he would rock up and headline small events against whoever, collect his cheque and be on his way, basically a high level journeyman. The UFC only ran 4-5 shows a year at that time too so Horn's approach was likely a financial choice, he could pick up a regular cheque fighting anywhere and everywhere.

My lasting memory of actually seeing him fight was his 2nd fight against Chuck Liddell, which ended up being a brutal one sided beating. Horn was outclassed that night but the guts he showed was amazing. He'd had 90 fights by that point too! it has the be the last time the UFC ever had someone fight for them with that amount of fights. Im not sure how that Chuck fight came about really, the UFC was abit more all over the place at that point, they lined all sorts of random people up in front of Chuck Liddell.

edit* dunno if you are aware but Horn actually made his Pro Boxing weekend last weekend 😄

Edited by Egg Shen
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Coincidentally, I read a article on The Athletic yesterday along the same lines about TJ Grant. He was scheduled to fight Benson Henderson for the lightweight championship but had to retire due to concussion issues. https://theathletic.com/1749445/2020/04/15/whatever-happened-to-ufc-contender-tj-grant/ (article is free)

This thread has made me look into people I haven't thought about in years. Did you know that Travis Fulton was still fighting as recently as last year? His record is now 255-54 and he beat Shannon Rich (record 58-88) last April.

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Posted (edited)

TJ Grant is a fantastic shout for this thread. It was a real shame how things went for him. He was scrapping away for years on the undercards and was quite under appreciated really. I remember catching a few of his earlier UFC fights by chance back when I was in my DVD buying phase and there was something I liked about his style right away. I never expected him to become champ or even get in contention but he was just one of those hard nosed battlers who, even in defeat, could at least make some of those top boys feel like they’d been in a tough fight. Much like a Jim Miller type for me. A guy who, on a given night, has the tools to catch anyone. But would probably just be a respected high level journeyman. Looking at his record again now, I think it might’ve been the Johny Hendricks, Kevin Burns and Ryo Chonan fights I enjoyed. Just noticed he lost a decision against Ricardo Almeida in 2010 as well, that sounds like a fight I need to check out.

My main memory of Grant was him dropping to Lightweight and going on a right unexpected tear. Like I said, it was always evident he had skills and was tough in his days at Welter but he came unstuck a few times and I remember the Stun Gun Kim fight in particular being a one sided domination and a bad night at the office for Grant. He looked totally rejuvenated at 155 though, going 5-0 in about 18 months before his career ended. Finished Shane Roller and Matt Wiman. Won a decision in a tremendous forgotten war with Evan Dunham too. These names don’t look so impressive on the resume now but these were solid wins at the time and I recall there was a real sense he was so much better suited to 155. Then he wrecked Gray Maynard, who wasn’t yet looked at as shot and wasn’t far removed from those classics with Frankie Edgar. Grant done him in a round. That was the performance that bagged him the title shot which never ended up happening. 

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Obviously, it goes without saying that his health and brain are more important than a shot at UFC gold. But the timing of the concussion issues taking hold couldn’t have sucked a fatter one. I think he’d have had a decent shot at pulling it off as well. He most likely wouldn’t have been favoured by MMA media and fans at the time but with hindsight, we didn’t know at the time but Bendo was just about to go on a little bit of a dip in form. And with the momentum Grant had at the time and the self belief he must’ve felt, I think he could’ve possibly been catching Bendo at the perfect time. Still, it’s better he got out when he did. Hopefully he’s doing good whatever he’s up to these days. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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think its actually been posted here before but Grant ended up working in a mine.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.sportsjoe.ie/amp/mma/two-years-ago-tj-grant-was-set-to-fight-for-a-ufc-belt-now-hes-working-on-a-potash-mine-27050

thats an old article, but theres actually a newer one from April this year on The Athletic (like Carbomb i got stung by the MMA writers leaving after signing up), i'll read it later when im taking a shit.

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