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Snubbed in New York, ultimate fighting draws crowd in Alabama

February 8, 1997

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) _ Asked why he brought his 13-year-old son to see the bloody Ultimate Fighting Championship, Ken Brimlow pulled no punches.

``I thought he needed to see this, so he would know what a real fight looked like,″ Brimlow said of the seven fights filled with head butts, choke holds and knees to the forehead.

An overflow crowd of 2,600 packed the Dothan Civic Center Friday night, and promoters expected the pay-per-view event to draw millions of viewers around the world.

The fights, a combination of martial arts, boxing, wrestling and street brawling, were supposed to be held in Niagara Falls, N.Y., but organizers moved the event under pressure from New York lawmakers.

New York’s Athletic Commission passed emergency rules two weeks ago requiring combatants to wear head gear, boxing gloves and groin protectors. The rules, which organizers unsuccessfully challenged in court, also bar fighters from striking opponents when they are down.

In Dothan, however, fighters had to wear only mouthpieces and groin protection, and they were barred from biting, eye-gouging and kicking above the shoulders or below the knees.

In the main event, Mark ``The Hammer″ Coleman won $100,000, twice that of the man he beat, Dan ``The Beast″ Severn.

Fans had to be turned away from the free event, and many cheered through the bouts.

``I love it,″ said Randy Carr. ``I know we live in the Bible Belt, and a lot of those people might not be happy about it, but to each his own.″

During the third bout, one fighter lifted his opponent over his head, slammed him to the floor, trapped him against the ring enclosure and delivered repeated knee blows to his head and face.

The referee stopped the fight to clean blood from downed fighter’s face, and the crowd booed during the lull. The winner eventually knocked his opponent unconscious by slamming his head between the floor and his knee.

Shelby Williams, 19, drove 30 miles from Graceville, Fla., with friends to see their favorite fighters.

``We didn’t know about it until the last minute, but we are dedicated fans and we drove here as soon as we heard about it,″ Williams said.

David Isaacs, chief executive officer of promoter SEG Sports Corp., said the move to Alabama was expensive but necessary.

``Our first obligation was to our fans and our fighters,″ Isaacs said. ``The only people that are losing out are the 5,000 fans that purchased tickets in New York.″

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