This Day in MMA History: July 13

By Ben Duffy Jul 13, 2020


On July 13, 2002, the Ultimate Fighting Championship washed up on British shores for the first time in its existence. UFC 38: Brawl at the Hall. The main event featured Matt Hughes defending his welterweight title against the man he had defeated to win it, Carlos Newton. Hughes ground Newton down on the way to a fourth-round TKO, putting any lingering controversy from their first fight behind him.

Beyond the main event, the seven-fight card is loaded with historical curiosities and footnotes. UFC 38 featured just two British fighters—one of whom, James Zikic, made his first and only Octagon appearance that night—who went 1-1. The win, however, was a big one, as Ian Freeman knocked out Frank Mir in the co-main event, handing the future heavyweight champ his first career loss. That Freeman had dedicated the fight to his cancer-stricken father, not knowing he had died the day before, elevates his best career win to a Hollywood-level moment.

Perhaps the most fabled fight that night took place outside the arena. While the actual happenings are shrouded in myth, and accounts vary broadly based on the source, the prevailing version of the story is that UFC light heavyweight champ Tito Ortiz was involved in an altercation with a then up-and-coming British middleweight named Lee Murray, and that the champ got somewhat the worse of the exchange.

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