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October 6, 2003 Observer Newsletter: UFC turns 10, UFC 44 review, more

With the Ultimate Fighting Championship about to celebrate its 10th anniversary, there has been considerable debate over the past year on who would be ranked as the greatest fighter in its history.

Up until a few months ago, the debate had come down to two names. The first was 180-pound Royce Gracie, who dominated the early shows, going 11-0-1 (some list a loss to Harold Howard, but that match technically never got started, as Gracie was injured in a previous match that night with Kimo). Gracie’s skill level was ahead of the curve, winning three of the first four tournaments and never officially losing in the octagon before bowing out when the competition caught up. The other was Frank Shamrock, who went unbeaten from 1997-99 as what was then called the middleweight (now light heavyweight champion), despite usually giving up ten pounds because he was small for his weight division. Gracie tapped out larger wrestlers Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn (the latter of whom had only had maybe two or three training sessions in the sport before entering the tournament) in his most famous wins.

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