Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast and the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

No Holds Barred: John Perretti on His Pioneering 1997 Grappling Event, The Contenders 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman reposts a show from December 2012 with lifelong martial artist, former UFC and Battlecade Extreme Fighting matchmaker, TV commentator, and our senior correspondent, John Perretti.

The focus of that discussion was on his 1997 grappling event known as "The Contenders". With the more recent revival and growth of real professional wrestling and catch wrestling, as well as many grappling events, the lessons of what happened with "The Contenders" are particularly poignant today.

Here is the original description of this show:

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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