Back on November 12th 1993 something happened which is about to seem very familiar to MMA fans across the world.
Just as boxer James Toney steps into the Octagon to face MMA superstar Randy Couture at UFC 118, so boxer Art Jimmerson stepped into the Octagon at UFC 1 to face BJJ expert and future MMA superstar Royce Gracie.
Nowadays MMA is filled with martial artists who train in every aspect of the sport from Wrestling to Boxing through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo to name but four of the many disciplines needed. Back in 1993 however such a depth of training was unheard of and the competitors entered with mainly one skill.
In the case of Art Jimmerson and Royce Gracie it was a Boxer vs BJJ match. Jimmerson was far from a whipping boy brought in for Royce to beat however, before he entered UFC 1 he was on a 15 fight winning streak in his own sport and was about to have a fight with the 6 weight world champion Thomas Hearns. It was that upcoming bout which led him to enter the Octagon to face Royce whilst wearing one boxing glove.
Here we see Jimmerson destroying the highly rated Lenny Lapaglia in the fight which made him his name in the boxing world.
Of course with impressive victories like the Lapaglia win under his belt Jimmerson probably wasn't expecting this to happen against a little guy from Brazil.
With all this in mind fullmount.co.uk decided to see what Mr Jimmerson thinks of his modern day equivalent, James Toney's chances in the Octagon and of course an insight into the UFC experience of the man we MMA fans know as "One Glove".
Craig Devlin: Were you aware of what you were letting yourself in for, did you know who Royce Gracie was? I believe you were on a 15 fight win streak at that point, did you assume you'd walk through him?
Art Jimmerson: You know UFC 1 looking back, I'd never heard of a Royce Gracie, I'd never heard of grappling, I'd never heard of MMA the only thing that came to mind was Rolls Royce the car! When they offered me the fight it was something different I'm up for a challenge, I mean I was in my twenties, I'm always looking for a challenge and to me it was a great challenge. I thought it was easy money, I really did!
CD: Did you enter to prove boxing was the best combat sport, to test yourself or simply for the pay-cheque during a gap between boxing bouts?
AJ: I actually believed that with boxing there was no way in the world MMA could defeat a boxer. I mean my whole life I've been training the upper body, jabs, right hands and left hooks, my best skills are from up at that level, I never saw it as chasing specific rounds, I always saw it as just fighting. To me for fighting you stand up so when he dragged me onto the ground I was waiting for the referee to come over and break us up, so for me I was completely shocked and I completely forgot what to do and I was just like "whats going on?"
CD: Famously, you wore one boxing glove during your bout, was this to protect your jab hand due to an upcoming boxing bout or another reason?
AJ: Yeah I had an upcoming fight with Tommy Hearns the six weight world champion and I figured "you know what? I'm a skilled guy and I don't want to break my hands and kill them" Because he only weighed like what? 175? At the time I was fighting at heavyweight and at the UFC there wasn't a weight limit so I thought this would be like easy pickings. Not saying that he was afraid of me but I could see some nervousness in his eyes and I just thought that...you know, if I could have it over again I would do it differently
CD: Leading on from that, If you had the chance again would you still have worn the “one glove”?
AJ: No, what I would do is basically I'd be more aggressive and also I would learn some type of ground work. I mean Royce, he's a legend and I give him his props for doing what he did but I just came in there with no bullets in my gun, I had a gun with no bullets you know? The way they had it set up I was like a fish out of water you know? I just didn't know what I was doing.
CD: Back at UFC 1 and after did you ever envisage what the UFC and MMA has become?
AJ: No I had no idea, no when they told us about the first fight it was something different and I thought it would be something that would come and go. I mean my manager even said this won't last, I mean they even offered me part of the UFC instead of the twenty grand they wanted to give me, they said "your choice, twenty grand or part of the UFC?" We decided that because it was so barbaric that they'd do the first two or three shows and it would die out, I'm just full of amazement at how popular it is.
CD: Do you maintain an interest in MMA and the UFC, aside from when people like me call you up and annoy you about it?
AJ: Yeah I think it's great and it's raw, they're more advanced now than we were when it first started and back at the start we never had rules and now they have rules and the padded gloves. Man, if I'd known different I could have come in there with no gloves on and basically I would have fought a totally different fight, I would have been more aggressive...I would have came at him!
CD: Even though the sport of MMA has come such a long way and with such well rounded fighters, we’ve now got another boxer entering the UFC, seemingly to prove that boxing is the best combat sport, in James Toney in what promises to be an old school style versus style bout. He has also said he’s trying the UFC as no heavyweight boxers will fight him, do you think he has the honour of boxing at heart or is he just using the UFC to get himself more exposure in the boxing world?
AJ: I like James, I love James, personally I've worked out with him a couple of times sparring (at the Kronk gym) and I think he's a great fighter and a legend in boxing and you saw where Ray Mercer beat a couple of guys...
CD: Former UFC champ Tim Sylvia
AJ: Yeah, I think what happens is it goes to whoever wants the fight the most, I think whomever is in the best shape, whomever has the most knowledge of the other fighter is gonna win the fight. I think that if James goes in there and does his job and keeps his jab out there and also doesn't let Randy get him to the floor then I think he'll be okay. If Randy comes out and puts the aggression on James and gets it to the floor then it'll be a different story. I think whoever has the biggest wheel, whoever puts their wheel on the other person will win.
CD: Obviously James' best days were at middleweight and he’s now a somewhat rotund heavyweight, do you think his cardio will hold up against Randy?
AJ: James has fought all the way from middleweight all the way up to heavyweight and he's beaten some good guys at heavyweight too and I think he carries the weight real well and I think again, that it's just a matter of who wants it the most. Take Chuck Liddell if he got to the ground he made sure he got the guy off of him, it's another art to learn, if you keep a guy from getting you down then you have a better chance of being a boxer and showing your skills.
CD: So, the big question, who is going to win, James or Randy?
AJ: Both of them! Haha! They'll both make a lot of money so they're both gonna win!
CD: And finally, do you still have the One Glove?
AJ: You know what? It's somewhere, I think it's at my moms house. I've got different people from around the world interviewing me asking me if they can buy the glove, so you know, I gotta find that glove one day! Next time I'm at my moms house I'll find it!
CD: Haha! Well thank you so much for your time and speaking to us at fullmount.co.uk. Also I'm sorry for waking you up (Mr Jimmerson was on an overnight sleeper train when I first called) AJ: No problem and God bless!
written by mmamanica, 24 August, 2010