With just six fights on the card, Ultimate Japan 3 was a far cry from the 12 to 13-fight cards fans are used to today, but on display were two rising stars from Japan (Ikuhisa Minowa and Sanae Kikuta), a future UFC middleweight champion (Murilo Bustamante), and a main event featuring two fighters who would become icons of the sport in Tito Ortiz and Wanderlei Silva.
Twenty years later, I give you UFC 25: Ultimate Japan 3.
After the stunning retirement of Frank Shamrock after UFC 22 in September of 1999, a vacancy was left atop the middleweight division. Top contenders Tito Ortiz and Wanderlei Silva stepped in to fill that void in the main event of UFC 25 in Tokyo, and when it was all over, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” was crowned champion via five-round unanimous decision.
“I worked very hard for this, to make this belt happen,” said the 25-year-old Ortiz.
The two aggressive battlers circled each other warily to start the bout, with Silva’s first offensive push getting met by an Ortiz takedown. Ortiz controlled matters from the top for the remainder of the round, landing short shots that didn’t cause any significant damage, but that did score points.
Silva came out fast for the second frame, but a flurry from the Brazilian left him open for an Ortiz right hand that dropped him to the canvas. Silva cleared his head quickly, but soon he was on his back again, eating shots from Ortiz. The pattern continued for the remainder of the stanza, putting Ortiz up 2-0.
Looking winded, Silva needed to turn things around, but he apparently didn’t have the energy to do so. Ortiz didn’t push the pace either, with a failed takedown attempt the only significant action until until nearly two minutes in, when an exchange saw Silva finally rock his foe. Ortiz literally ran to clear his head, but after a few tight moments, he was able to get the bout back to the mat, where he again controlled the battle with positioning and ground strikes.