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TEILA TULI (SUMO WRESTLER, PARTICIPANT): I told them, If you give me the money for my funeral, I'll come—I ain't sticking my mom with the funeral bill. As soon as I arrived in Denver, I gotta have that money or else I'm turning back to Hawaii. They gave me like $8,000.
DAVIE: Rorion picked his younger brother Royce to represent the family in jujitsu. And he provided another fighter, Zane Frazier, who was a heavyweight world kickboxing champ.
ZANE FRAZIER (KARATEKA, PARTICIPANT): Rorion and Davie needed to see me fight, so they were coming to watch me at the U.S. karate championships one night that July [before UFC 1]. But I got into a street fight earlier that night with the guy in Bloodsport who Jean-Claude Van Damme's character is based on, Frank Dux. [Frazier claims that he had been teaching classes for Dux and that Dux hadn't paid him; Dux disputes that account and says that Frazier suckerpunched him while wearing brass knuckles.] LAPD came and drew guns on us, put us in handcuffs. Afterward, Davie comes up and asks, "Are you Zane Frazier?" I go, "Yes, sir." He says, "I'm Art Davie of the UFC," and I go, "I'm sorry about this; I'll be able to make bail and fight tonight." And he says, "Never mind. We've seen you fight. You're in the UFC."
DAVIE: Another young fighter told me he was training at a place called the Lion's Den in Lodi, California, and that his teacher, Ken Shamrock, was the man. At the time, Shamrock was over in Japan competing with a wrestling promotion called Pancrase.
KEN SHAMROCK (SHOOTFIGHTER, PARTICIPANT): I grew up in a group home. I was a troubled youth and involved in the streets and different things like that. I lived out of a car. I was a little bit wise to the world.
DAVIE: I got in touch with Ken, and he thought I was talking about a "work." In the parlance of a promoter, a work is roughly six fights where the outcome has been determined by the promoter. A "shoot" is a real event where no one knows who's going to win. [For his eighth fighter, Davie lined up Patrick Smith, who claimed to be 250--0 in taekwondo.]
FRAZIER: When I heard they were going to have a fight with no rules, I drove all the way to Rorion Gracie's office in Torrance [Calif.]. I asked, "Are you really going to have this?" They said, "Oh, yeah." I was so excited, so I started training. I grew up in an all-Crips neighborhood [in Los Angeles], and on Friday nights we would meet in parks and fight. A friend of mine told everybody there that I was going to the UFC and representing the neighborhood, and they said, We'll get him ready. I went back thinking that I was going to fight one guy, but 15 guys jumped on me and started beating me up. That's how I prepared for the UFC.
II FIGHT WEEK
"The only guy I've got to worry about is the one in the pajamas."
GORDEAU: I arrived in Denver one day before the event. At that time, there was no Google or YouTube. You saw your opponents there, where we were staying, for the first time.