Longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan has said multiple times on his podcast that he believes mixed martial arts fighters should not be required to wear gloves. Rogan is coming from the perspective that an MMA bout should be as similar to a real hand to hand combat scenario as possible. After all, that is what the sport was founded on.
Fighters were not required to wear gloves in the early days, but unfortunately for those who agree with Rogan, the sport was forced to abide by athletic commission rules, which included rounds, weight classes, and gloves.
At Least He Was Wearing Gloves At #UFC202
As a result the days of UFC being mainstream vale tudo fights are long gone. Some UFC fighters did manage to get a little bareknuckled experience under the belts before heading to the UFC however.
Here are five videos of UFC fighters fighting bare-knuckled…
5. Nate Diaz
There is no way that an athletic commission of any kind would sanction a fight like the one in the video below. This fight took place in 2002, when Nate Diaz was 16 years old. His opponent appears to be a fully grown dude with a gut.
This was an exhibition fight organized by the two fight camps each belonged to, which makes you wonder why Cesar Gracie thought that Nate Diaz would improve as a fighter by beating up such opponents.
It would be another 2 years until Nate would fight his first official amateur bout.
4. Chuck Liddell
At UFC 17 Chuck Liddell made his MMA debut, earning a decision victory over Noe Hernandez. His next fight however, was not in the UFC. He would fight later that summer for the International Vale Tudo organization in Brazil.
The IVC followed the rules that had been created in the early “Gracie Challenges”, which was basically as few rules as possible. Head butts and groin strikes were completely legal, with head butts from within your opponent’s guard being sort of a game changer for some fighters.
Eventually the state of Sao Paulo stepped in and prevented the IVC from continuing. In 2011 a new IVC formed under the unified rules of MMA.
Chuck Liddell competed at IVC’s 6th ever event: