Diehards beware. One of your earliest favorite moments, one of the first FIGHT PASS Follies in UFC history, may have all been an illusion.
Fan favorite Tank Abbott stood across the Octagon from the muscle-bound Cal Worsham in the opening round of UFC Ultimate Ultimate ‘96. Both men were veterans of the UFC and had a keen understanding of what was to come in the Octagon with minimal rules to hide behind.
Can you throw an opponent out of the Octagon, though?
Abbott rushed Worsham, pressing him against the cage before lifting him up inches from the top of the Octagon. We, as fight fans, have spent nearly three decades assuming that we almost saw the first fighter ejected from the cage.
“You know, no one’s ever really talked to me about that. I really wasn’t trying to do that,” Abbott said. “I go, ‘If I do that, what’re they going to do?’ They were probably going to get him back in and then I’m going to have to take him down all over again. He was a striker with all his Taekwondo stuff, and I wasn’t looking forward to getting kicked by accident. So I said, ‘All right, I’ll just chain pole him down to the ground here and finish him off.’ So that’s what I did.”
Never one to be bothered by revisionist’s history, Abbott pays no mind to the long-running misconception that he made history by being the first to try throwing an opponent out of the cage WWE style. What he does take exception to is the notion that he was unable to do so.
If Abbott wanted him out, he would have been and there likely would have been more to follow.
“In hindsight, I would have loved to do it just because everybody talked about it so much,” Abbott said. “Hindsight is 20/20. I would have really gave him a show. He would have really gone flying. I was doing like 405 tricep pushes in those days. I would have at least been able to throw him as long as the platform of the Octagon is. If you really thought about it, then I would have climbed over the cage and kicked his ass outside, where there really are no rules.”
As close as we might have been to seeing a “first,” Abbott was inches away from giving the UFC another first that would have changed the game more than he already did.
As he had Worsham pressed against the cage and on his back, Worsham’s corner was against the cage immediately to the right of the action and almost got themselves a dose of the punishment.
“I was going to punch a guy’s face because he had his face up against the screen, you know, the cage,” Abbott began explaining. “He was like, yelling in his ear, ‘Come on! Come on!’ I was so close to punching the cage with his face up against it. I’m telling you, I was like 50/50 about punching that cage to f*****g f*** his face up.”
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For those who question how cerebral of a fighter Abbott was, you may be surprised to know that honest thought was put into the decision, as the scenario played out in his head mid-fight and Abbott passed on the opportunity. All the while, he was making a decorated striker tap to strikes.
Tank Abbott was one of a kind.
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