MMA legend Don Frye – set to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame later this year – had some incredible battle during his 15-year MMA career. In an FO exclusive, Frye discusses some of his personal favorite fights.
1. vs. Amaury Bitetti (UFC 9, 05/17/1996)
Early UFC events’ limited rules led to some brutal fights. Frye explains: “That guy was a machine. He came to fight that night and there was no killing the guy. That guy almost died. Cal Worsham punctured his lung in his fight that night and he had to be taken to the hospital and as he was leaving the hospital he said he saw Amaury Bitetti laying in the ICU with tubes sticking out of his head, trying to relieve the pressure and swelling on his brain from our fight. There is no quit in that guy. They had to stop that fight. I was trying to kill him.“
2. vs. Tank Abbott (UFC Ultimate Ultimate 96, 12/7/1996)
“We knew it was going to be a tough tournament. Right before the fight my brother made me swear not to go toe-to-toe with Tank. He said, ‘Be smart. You used to be a wrestler. Take him down.’ As soon as we started fighting my brother turned to the other cornermen and said, ‘God damn it I told that dumbass not to punch with him!” I have such selfish tunnel vision I don’t even know what’s going on around me. The whole world could explode around me and I wouldn’t even know it. I’m just concerned about the fight and nothing else.”
3. vs. Gilbert Yvel (Pride 16, 09/24/2001)
An abductor injury before a return to MMA after four years would have stopped most men, but not ‘The Predator’. “They probably shot it up (with Novocain) 45 minutes to an hour before the fight,” he says. “The first takedown – boom. My corner said they could hear it explode. I couldn’t move after that. God bless Gilbert Yvel. He came to fight. All he would have had to do was stick and move. I would have never been able to catch him. I couldn’t move sideways. He decided to take both of my eyeballs home with him as a souvenir. Right when the referee stopped it the first time he asked if I was OK. I told him I couldn’t see. Over my shoulder my corner said, ‘Shut up, Frye! Don’t complain. Get after it.’ When a fighter complains he’s done, he’s out of the fight. I said, ‘OK. I’m good. Let’s go.’ It was great. It was quite a welcome back to the fight world. He poked each eyeball three times. The eyes heal quickly. I was only blind throughout the fight. It was blurry the rest of the night but they healed up within a week or so.”
Read the full interview with Don Frye inside the July edition of Fighters Only – on sale now.