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Sunday, December 02, 2012
On October 11, 1997, before the major no-gi grappling championships of today, John Perretti was the main organizer of a pioneering grappling event known simply as "The Contenders". The format was a seven-match card, held in Sioux City, Iowa, pitting a team of various martial artists against a team of elite U.S. wrestlers. Victory in each match could come by submission or, if there was none, judges' decision. There was no striking permitted, and the matches were held in a cage. The martial artists won, four matches to three, including three wins by submissions, but controversy ensued during and after the event about the rules and decisions.
This ended up being a money-losing, one-shot deal, because attendance was sparse and pay-per-view buys were minuscule. Still, it is considered a pioneering event because its concept helped inspire the numerous no-gi grappling championships which followed it.
Calling the event his "brainchild," John Perretti said in this interview, which was recorded by Skype Sunday, "I am to blame for all the problems with it." But he added, quoting a widely-held view about this event, "It's the greatest show no one ever saw."
We thus discussed what happened at this historic event, many of whose matches can be seen on YouTube, some of the lessons for today, and much more.
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