Defending his UFC lightweight championship belt for the first time, “The Croatian Sensation” Pat Miletich was undefeated inside the Octagon and ready to take on the Brazilian challenger Jorge Patino, a celebrated Vale Tudo fighter and BJJ blackbelt.
Entering the Octagon with an already stellar 16-1 pro record, Evan Tanner marked his long UFC career in a debut middleweight bout against Darrel Gholar, an alternate for the 1988 US Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team.
In only his second Octagon appearance, 1996 US Olympic silver medalist wrestler Townsend Saunders squared off with Lion’s Den standout Mikey Burnett who had just fought in the first ever UFC lightweight title bout against Pat Miletich.
Returning to the Octagon for the first time since his Fight of the Year candidate bout with Kevin Jackson, UFC veteran Jerry Bohlander was set to face the fairly unknown, 24 year old Tito Ortiz who was making his third appearance in the promotion.
After riveting fight fans in his Octagon debut in his native Brazil, heavy-handed Pedro “The Rock” Rizzo put his undefeated young career on the line against the always formidable, former UFC heavyweight champ Mark “The Hammer” Coleman.
Arguably the most prolific fighter in Japanese MMA organization Pancrase’s history, Bas “El Guapo” Rutten made his Octagon debut in a main event heavyweight bout against Tsuyoshi Kosaka who was coming off a huge UFC win over Pete Williams.
To kick off the evening’s fighting festivities, professional boxer and professional MMA fighter LaVerne “Fists of Fury” Clark entered the Octagon in a lightweight bout against hometown hero, police officer, and jiu-jitsu trained Frank Caracci.