UFC 3: The American Dream

A Tournament of Legends

On March 9, 1994, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned with its third event, UFC 3: The American Dream, held at the Dean Dome in Reno, Nevada. UFC 3 was the first UFC event to feature weight classes, with a heavyweight division (over 200 pounds) and a lightweight division (under 200 pounds).

The Tournament Format

UFC 3 followed a similar tournament format to UFC 2, with eight fighters competing in each weight class for a $60,000 prize. The event featured a diverse range of participants, including practitioners of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, karate, taekwondo, and wrestling.

Each tournament match lasted until one fighter submitted, was knocked out, or their corner threw in the towel. Judges were not used.

Tournament Highlights

UFC 3 delivered another action-packed night of fights, with several memorable moments and impressive displays of skill. Steve Jennum, a relatively unknown fighter, emerged as the surprise winner of the heavyweight tournament, while Frank Shamrock, the younger brother of UFC 2 champion Ken Shamrock, won the lightweight tournament.

Other notable fighters included Harold Howard, a former kickboxing champion who reached the heavyweight semifinals, and Royce Gracie, the defending champion from UFC 1 and UFC 2, who was forced to withdraw from the lightweight tournament due to fatigue and dehydration.

Match Results

UFC 3’s tournaments unfolded with a series of exciting and unpredictable matchups. Here are the official match results:

Heavyweight Tournament

  • Steve Jennum def. Harold Howard via submission (strikes) at 4:40 of Round 1
  • Art Jimmerson def. Kimo Leopoldo via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:02 of Round 1
  • Steve Jennum def. Art Jimmerson via KO (punches) at 0:46 of Round 1
  • Harold Howard def. Keith Hackney via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:16 of Round 1
  • Harold Howard def. Steve Jennum via TKO (cut) at 2:55 of Round 1

Lightweight Tournament

  • Frank Shamrock def. Anthony Macias via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:00 of Round 1
  • Royce Gracie def. Trent Ayers via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:36 of Round 1
  • Frank Shamrock def. Christophe L’Etang via submission (rear-naked choke) at 0:54 of Round 1
  • Royce Gracie def. Masakatsu Funaki via submission (armbar) at 1:11 of Round 1
  • Frank Shamrock def. Royce Gracie via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:22 of Round 1

Championship Matches

  • Steve Jennum def. Harold Howard via submission (strikes) at 0:38 of Round 1
  • Frank Shamrock def. Frank Dux via KO (punches) at 0:09 of Round 1

Legacy of UFC 3

UFC 3 continued the UFC’s growth and popularity, further establishing its position as a leading platform for MMA. The event’s introduction of weight classes marked a significant step in the sport’s evolution, providing a more level playing field for fighters of different sizes.

UFC 3 also highlighted the rise of new stars, as Steve Jennum emerged as an unlikely heavyweight champion and Frank Shamrock showcased his grappling prowess, setting the stage for his future dominance in the lightweight division.

Today, UFC 3 remains an important chapter in the history of MMA, remembered for its exciting tournament format, the emergence of new champions, and the continued development of the sport. The event’s legacy lies in its contribution to the growth and mainstream acceptance of MMA, paving the way for the sport’s remarkable transformation over the past three decades.


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