On June 29, 2001, UFC 32 took place in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It was just the third Ultimate Fighting Championship event since its acquisition by Zuffa, LLC, and if the promotion’s new masters had owned a crystal ball, they probably would have felt pretty good about their purchase, as the card was absolutely, historically stacked.
Along with light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, who was set to defend his title in the main event, the card featured four future UFC champions: Josh Barnett, Andrei Arlovski, B.J. Penn and the debuting Ricco Rodriguez. Once you include recently dethroned welterweight king Pat Miletich, UFC 32 featured a whopping six former, current or future champs out of 16 fighters, and the other 10 included names like Din Thomas, Caol Uno and Yuki Kondo. Whether they knew it or not, the Fertitta brothers and Dana White were looking at a significant chunk of the star power that would help carry the UFC—and in some ways the sport—through the remaining lean years and into the post-“Ultimate Fighter” era.
The main event featured Ortiz, in the first defense of the newly-rechristened belt he had most recently defended by slamming Evan Tanner through the floor at UFC 30. Across the Octagon was a relative man of mystery: Elvis Sinosic. “The King of Rock n’ Rumble” was the first Australian to fight in the UFC and had punched his ticket to this title shot by tapping out Jeremy Horn the same night that Ortiz won the title. Sinosic’s eventual 1-6 UFC record belies his skills and importance as a mixed martial arts pioneer Down Under, but this was a dreadful matchup. Sinosic weighed in at five pounds under the limit—presumably his walking weight—while Ortiz was one of the first high-level fighters to bring an amateur wrestling-style water cut to MMA and in all likelihood outweighed the Aussie by 25 pounds on fight night. He looked an entire weight class bigger.
Once referee “Big” John McCarthy motioned the two into action, it took about 45 seconds for “The Bad Boy From Huntington Beach”—as his nickname was still phrased at the time—to haul Sinosic to the canvas with a body lock at the base of the fence. Once there, Ortiz’s sheer power and physicality overwhelmed Sinosic’s savvy guard. When Sinosic fended off Ortiz’s first attempt to pass his guard, then controlled the champ’s posture fairly well, Ortiz simply worked with what Sinosic gave him, blasting him with elbows from full guard until McCarthy was forced to stop the beating. By the time McCarthy pulled the champ off of a bruised and bloodied Sinosic at 3:32 of the first round, it had taken longer than his previous two victories combined, but the result was the same; the Ortiz era rolled on.