The Thursday Throwback: UFC 15: Collision Course

October 17th. 1997, Maurice Smith successfully defends the UFC heavyweight world championship against iconic mixed-martial-arts pioneer Tank Abbott in St Louis. Missouri. The kickboxing ace clashed with Abbot for just over eight minutes, with the Californian forced to concede the title due to exhaustion and dropped his second straight promotional defeat. Abbott was called upon on short-notice to replace wrestling icon Dan Severn, who was forced from the title clash with Maurice Smith due to a hand injury.

Seattle native Smith, had just claimed the heavyweight crown from Mark Coleman, and the victory over Abbott would mark the final defense of the title, as co-headliner Randy Couture claimed the crown at UFC Japan two months later. UFC 15: Collision Course also marked a huge change to the landscape of mixed-martial-arts as we know it today. The event brought an end to groin strikes, headbutts, hair pulling, strikes to the back of the neck and head, small joint manipulation, kicks to a downed opponent and head stomps as they all became illegal.

We’re reasonably spoiled in terms of event regularity nowadays and the sheer number of bouts per card, with the vast majority of pay-per-view and ‘Fight Night’ events scheduling up to eleven bouts. UFC 15: Collision Course on the otherhand, featured just seven matches.

In our co-headliner bracket, the aforementioned Couture earned championship contender status, in his first of three clashes with future 205 pound best Vitor Belfort, as the two met in a heavyweight ‘Superfight’. Couture, who went on two twice trump Belfort, handed ‘The Phenom’ his premier loss that night in October, landing a first round knockout win.

A heavyweight tournament featured throughout the night as well, consisting of Mark Kerr, Dwayne Cason, Dave Beneteau, Greg Stott, Carlos Barreto, Alex Hunter, Harry Moskowicz and Houston Dorr. In an alternate bout, Cason finished Houston Dorr to book an appearance in the final after Dave Beneteau was forced to withdraw due to fatigue. In a narrow victory, Alex Hunter managed to pick up a split decision over Harry Moskowicz after twelve minutes of fighting in our second alternate match up.

The previously mentioned Beneteau was forced to go the fifteen minute distance against Carlos Barreto. Mark Kerr entered his semi-final clash with Greg Stott having successfully won the UFC 14 Heavyweight Tournament, and added a second straight tournament win with a hasty finish of both Stott and then Cason.


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