By Damon Martin, MMAWeekly.com
Looking Back At The IFC: Global Domination Tournament.
On September 6th, 2003 one of the most monumental competitions took place and now in 2005 we all see that talent that entered and competed in the IFC: Global Domination light heavyweight tournament. A few of the names that fought that night were already household names with a great many mixed martial arts fans, but even more have evolved and become stars in the sport. The favorite going into the night was Miletich fighter and MMA veteran, Jeremy Horn, and his competition included Forrest Griffin, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Trevor Prangley, and eventual tournament champion, Renato “Babalu” Sobral. All of the fighters entered in the one night tournament knew that if they were going to come out on top they had to fight three times, and that is no easy task even for athletes of this caliber.
The first round of action saw “Babalu” take on now UFC veteran Trevor Prangley. The two fighters went to war for all three rounds and despite a valiant effort from the South African fighter Prangley, the unanimous decision went to “Babalu”. Another first round match up pit Chute Boxe fighter, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. fellow Brazilian and new comer, Eric Wanderlei. “Shogun” proved that he was for real by winning his first match-up by TKO in the 2nd round. Forrest Griffin had a tough fight against Team Quest member Chael Sonnen, but once the fight went to the ground it was Griffin who caught his opponent with a triangle choke, earning a first round victory. Horn made his presence known by tapping out Mikhail Avetisyan by armbar in the first as well.
The second round of match-ups made for extremely interesting fights. First off, Renato Sobral coming off of a hard fought decision win had to go into the cage to face Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Both fighters seemed ready for the battle at hand and neither backed down at any moment during the fight. Going into the third and final round, both men were obviously tired and feeling the effects of their second fight of the night. About midway through the third round, one major mistake landed Rua on the end of a guillotine choke applied by “Babalu”, and the Brazilian and Marco Ruas prodigy, Sobral, continued on. The second semi-final fight saw the very experienced Jeremy Horn take on Forrest Griffin. In a very fast paced match that saw both men go for strikes and scramble for position on the ground, it was Horn who landed a wicked high kick on Griffin to put an end to his run and the finals were set to see Jeremy Horn face off against Renato “Babalu” Sobral.
“Babalu” had taken a world of punishment in his previous fights and walking into his match-up with Horn seemed to only have partial vision as one of his eyes was almost shut from the damage taken earlier in the evening. Horn on the other hand had dispatched of both of his opponents, with neither fight going past the second round, and was the fresher of the two fighters. In what many who were in attendance that night called the gutsiest performance they had ever seen, “Babalu” fought through exhaustion and won a unanimous decision over Jeremy Horn.
Looking back on the talent that was in that tournament is a collection of fighters that fans may never see assembled in the United States again. The amount of success that the fighters have felt has to be seen by the tremendous accomplishments achieved since that night.
Trevor Prangley, who took the eventual champion “Babalu, to a decision has now gone on to fight twice for the UFC winning on both occasions. Chael Sonnen is now poised to get his shot at the UFC in his debut on the October 7th pay-per-view and his rumored opponent is none other than Renato “Babalu” Sobral. Jeremy Horn who was seen as the favorite going into the tournament continued on to become one of the top ranked 185lb fighters in the world before being signed to the UFC just recently back at 205lbs. Horn made his return to the octagon in a big way scoring a title shot against light heavyweight champion, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell. Although Horn did not come out on top he did last longer than most do against the champion and gained even respect from fans and critics for his performance.
Renato “Babalu” Sobral, who won the entire tournament, had to face a turning point after his devastating loss to Chuck Liddell at UFC 40. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever be asked back by the UFC and he knew that a good run in this tournament would definitely do a lot to raise his stock. Not only did he show why he is one of the best fighters in the world, but he gained so much respect for the way that he battled through and managed to win the whole competition. Babalu has since returned to the UFC, defeating Travis Wiuff and is highly touted as a top contender in the light heavyweight division.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua entered the IFC tournament fairly unknown by American fans and even hardcore MMA watchers only knew him as the latest product by the Chute Boxe Academy. “Shogun” lost that night to “Babalu”, but to his credit that remains the only blemish on his record. Rua did enter another tournament recently and managed to win the whole thing. The Pride Grand Prix tournament is widely seen as the number one competition in the world, pitting some of the best light heavyweight/middleweights against each other to prove who is truly the greatest. “Shogun” not only managed to show that he deserved to be in the tournament, but he defeated a list of top fighters like no one has ever done before. On his way to the championship, Rua defeated former number 1 contender, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, won a very tough decision against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, handled Dutch striker Alistair Overeem and in the finals defeated in very impressive fashion, Brazilian Top Team member and Abu Dhabi submission champion, Ricardo Arona. “Shogun” is now considered one of, if not the top light heavyweight fighter in the world.
And last but not least is Forrest Griffin. To American fans, he became the new face of mixed martial arts and the UFC when he won the first “Ultimate Fighter” competition. Griffin was already being looked at as a possible competitor before the show ever started, but when he won his final fight against Stephan Bonnar, he solidified himself as a rising star in the sport. To date, he hasn’t accomplished as much as “Shogun” or Jeremy Horn inside the ring, but he is as widely known to the mainstream world as just about any MMA fighter out there.
Looking back at that show, no one really knew what kind of talent would arise from the fighters who competed in the tournament, but two years later, the MMA world has seen almost everybody turn into champions. It’s a night to remember….something we may never have the privilege of seeing again.