Sean Daugherty Interview (Part 1 of 4)

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William C

Active Member
Sep 6, 2015
One of the Old School Leg Lockers: The Sean Daugherty Interview

Part One of Four: Fighting in UFC 2 and Joining the Lion’s Den

By William Colosimo |

Sean Daugherty is a catch wrestling practitioner and instructor who has the distinction of being in the first fight on the second Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event, held March 11th, 1994. This follow up to the history making inaugural UFC was the only show from the company to feature a 16-man tournament. UFC 2 was the event that began my obsession with no holds barred (NHB)- and later mixed martial arts (MMA)- fighting, so it holds a special place in my heart. While Sean’s first round fight was not featured on the pay-per-view (PPV)- only the Royce Gracie vs Minoki Ichihara fight from that round was- this was the first show to be released on VHS (video home system) tape, which helped spread the popularity of the organization and NHB fighting in general. At 18 years old, Sean was the youngest fighter in UFC history- a record held for 12 years. He also trained at the famed Lion’s Den gym and was there at a critical period when some future MMA stars were getting their start in the game- and he has some fantastic insights on that period of time for us.

William Colosimo: I had seen you mention before that you did full contact fighting starting at age fourteen. What was your fight background- the styles, the experience- before UFC 2?

Sean Daugherty: Okay, so I was fourteen years old, 1990. Kickboxing was around when I was in the sixth grade- my oldest brother was training me at boxing, he was a teenager, he was a golden gloves champ and all that kind of stuff. He moved away to Florida- this is all taking place in Ohio by the way. For a couple years I didn’t have anything, and then came my freshman year, I saw the sign that said kickboxing. I’m like “I tried boxing before, maybe I’ll try this.” The place was billed as a martial arts center, so it had a lot of different martial arts there to choose from- it had jiu-jitsu, it had aikido, it had judo, ninjitsu, taekwondo- those were the main things there. I was told if I wanted to kickbox I had to take an art. So I chose taekwondo because that’s the American style of kickboxing- style of kicks. I liked all that twirling around and stuff. So that was the beginning, I just had a bunch of fights around Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia- one of my fights I was 15 years old and I TKO’ed (technical knockout) a thirty year old marine, so- I had a lot of confidence because I was a teenager and I never ever fought anybody my own age. They were always older, and a lot of times heavier.

WC: What kind of rules did these full contact fights have?

SD: Kicking above the belt, it was just your American style kickboxing rules. Kind of like something you’d see on ESPN back in the 80’s. Like Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez. All those kind of fights. You had the rubber boots on, 8oz boxing gloves, that was it. The long pants, with your belt.

WC: Did you have any grappling or submission experience before UFC 2?

SD: Absolutely zero. Matter of fact- I graduated high school in 1993, we were sitting there in November of ’93, me and two of my buddies- we were watching UFC 1- we were watching all this go down. You had Kevin Rosier, Jason DeLucia, Ken Shamrock, Gerard Gordeau, Teila Tuli- all these guys, right? And I’m sitting there and I just had this weird feeling come over me man, it was one of those first times you really have this synchronicity kind of thing take place in your life- I just looked at my friends and I’m like “I’m gonna be in the next one.” A week later, it just so happened I had already told a friend in Buffalo, New York (NY) I would help him with a karate tournament. It turns out they were friends with Kevin Rosier, and Charlie Anzalone was his manager. Do you know who Charlie Anzalone is?

WC: I do. I was going to ask why Charlie was walking you out at UFC 2, so you’re heading right where I wanted to go.

SD: Yep. Charlie got Kevin in, and Charlie was friends with Art Davie- I go up to Buffalo, NY a week after the first UFC to help judge in tournaments and things like that. Kevin Rosier had a booth set up there, to try and build off the momentum of his fight that he just had in the UFC- because he made himself pretty famous- he was one of the funniest characters in that. You know they were like “Hey, what was your game plan?” “Let ‘em hit me. Yeah, let ‘em get tired out.” (Laughter) That was really his game plan. That guy had so much problems with that first fight. He had a root canal that went bad, his tooth basically exploded on the plane flight over there. It’s kind of known he’s had a troubled past. But I meet Kevin Rosier, I’m like “Hey, I’d like to turn pro in kickboxing, and I don’t have anybody around in my area that can get me there.” ‘Cause he was a major pro kickboxer before the UFC. So he comes down and he sees one of my kickboxing fights, like a couple weeks after that, and he says “Yeah, come on up.” So I pack up, now January 1st, 1994 Buffalo NY, it’s about 40 below on the average with the wind chill factor, and the snow piled so high it’s like walking a maze on the street. And I get up there and we’re not even a week in and it turns out he’s a bipolar manic depressive with a cocaine addiction. Here I am, 18 years old living out of my Honda Accord in downtown Buffalo, NY- 40 below, basically homeless, right? And he’s having me run his karate-kickboxing classes for him while he checks himself in the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) hospital psych unit, I’m like “What the hell’s going on around here?” (Laughter) I won’t even get into the details on how crazy it got just in the short period of time- but I stuck it out for a few weeks to a month. And Charlie finally says “Man, cut your ties- you have no loyalty to this guy. I should have told you.” He and my other friend from the karate tournament- they were like “We wanted to say something, but we wanted you to see for yourself.” I’m like “Yeah. I did it.” And then he’s like “How would you like to fight in the next UFC?” I was like “Well hell, alright- things are coming to pass.”

But because I did go up, because I did endure that BS, good stuff came out of it. So, Charlie had a meeting like a couple weeks after that out in Torrance with Art Davie and Rorion (Gracie). I did some modeling right after high school, so I had headshots- professional shit all ready. And then I went out to California with that, like a couple weeks after that I’m told that yeah, I’ll be on the next UFC but I’ll be an alternate- I might not be on the actual show but I’ll be an alternate.

WC: How much influence did Charlie have? You were 18 at the time- why did they pick you for the UFC over all the other applicants that were probably trying to get in through Black Belt magazine or what not?

SD: Well, I mean one- he saw me train, he saw me fight- he knew I could handle myself. And when it comes to this industry, it’s not always what you’ve done, it’s who you know. Speed of trust kind of thing. Charlie is probably one of the longest running managers I’ve ever seen in MMA, I mean he’s somebody who should be in the UFC hall of fame actually. But anyways, Art Davie- one thing he was talking about, when you pick a fighter- the look, can they sell- I’m covered in tattoos, I was a young kid- you know what I mean? Everything fell into place. I had a decent record that could be worked off of- it got inflated a little bit (laughter)- it went from 8-0 to 15-0 or something like that, just to beef it up. That’s just how the industry works. Nothing is ever really real. If there’s an illuminati- then the fight industry, the WWF (World Wrestling Federation), all the entertainment business, is what it is. It’s all kayfabe (Editor’s Note: Kayfabe is the presentation of staged or scripted events as real).

WC: How much notice did you have that you would be part of UFC 2?

SD: I had about two months’ notice- I fought in March, so end of January or early February was when Charlie was meeting with Art Davie. And then he comes back from there, lets me know, and then as far as I know, I’m just on standby as an alternate. So then two weeks before UFC 2 happened, Ken Shamrock broke his hand training with Vernon (“Tiger”) White- he got a spiral fracture, on his right hand I believe. And he had to get casted. So two weeks prior, or whenever this happened, Art Davie gave me a call. He said “Sean Daugherty? Art Davie here. How ya doing? Ken just broke his hand, how would you like to take his place and be on the main card?” I’m like, “Is the pope Catholic?” (Laughter) You know, 18 years old- already declared last year that I was gonna be in the next one. It was like well, why am I gonna stop now? Sure. Of course, in all reality, I’m way over my head compared to these guys that are coming up- I just had a teenage career in martial arts. I was pursuing everything, I just had balls and intuition. I knew a good opportunity when I saw one.

WC: How did you prepare for UFC 2? What did your training consist of?

SD: Oh, the same thing I did for kickboxing. Matter of fact, the only grappling I had prior to it was I had a workout at UFC 2 at some gym- we had some wrestler guy come take me down a bunch of times to see if I could get the feeling of it, whatever. I wrestled for like a couple months in high school, and I dropped that and found kickboxing. So, I didn’t really have anything at all. Matter of fact in my fight I actually pull Scott Morris over on me as he does the tomoe-nage (Editor’s Note: A backwards, circular throw) throw on me, I actually pull him up over on me to like a full mount with a head and arm choke. It was pretty funny. It was just pure… I had no idea what the hell I was doing. So anyways, I get the call, nothing really changed- I really didn’t have training partners. It was all solo training for me. It didn’t really matter, I mean I lasted what, like 30 seconds- if that- I can’t remember what the time was.

So they fly me out, I’m there, I have my coach with me- and I’m meeting all kinds of people. I’m meeting this dude that was in the Karate Kid, the guy that played A.J. Quartermaine on General Hospital (Editor’s Note: Sean Kanan). He was the villain in the Karate Kid, where it wasn’t Johnny the villain, it was later on. He was an avid taekwondo dude, he asked to train with me ‘cause I was a taekwondo guy. And we were talking, he was like “Man, I wish I was doing what you’re doing.” I’m sitting there going “Yeah, I wish I was doing what you’re doing.” Because I always thought about being a stuntman- with martial arts I was always athletic, acrobatic, I could do all the hard kicks, things like that.

WC: What were your thoughts on the UFC while at the event, but before the actual show. I saw a picture online where you were sitting at a table right next to Scott Morris at the press conference.

SD: That was when they showed the order of the fights, he and I were actually the first picked fight, first to fight that night. We were actually “Big” John McCarthy’s first “Let’s get it on.”

WC: How did you find out you and Scott were fighting?

SD: Oh, there were neatly stacked envelopes on top of each other, that they named off one by one (laughter). It was pretty clear all the fighters were picked for a certain order, ‘cause the first few UFCs, all they were intended to be, as far as Rorion was concerned- were Gracie infomercials. Whereas Art Davie, he didn’t give a shit. He just wanted to see whose style was the f**kin’ best. He didn’t give a shit. It wasn’t his family. And so, even Art talks about that, how Rorion- it was an agenda for him, he had a personal agenda with it- but Art didn’t care who won. He just wanted to know what the truth was. And he wanted to put on a good show.

WC: Before UFC 2, when you were there that week- you did some kind of board breaking demo there?

SD: Yeah, I did a brick breaking demo, I did a couple different breaks. One where I- the one that everybody liked the most, that they should have showed, was where I just put my hand on the brick- flat, and then I flip it over and hit it with the back of my hand- short break, precision. And then they showed me breaking a big stack of bricks. All the Japanese photographers loved it.

WC: Did you have any memorable interactions with certain fighters in the days before the show?

SD: Yeah, actually there’s people that I’m friends with to this day. Ken saw me train a few times before the thing, and he saw that I had potential, and he was looking to recruit people for the Lion’s Den, because he was having a hard time keeping people around and having real deal fighters coming in. Like Scott Bessac said (Editor’s Note: Sean is referring to my prior interview with Scott), people would come and go. Anyways, Ken took me out to dinner, and then officially invited me to come live and train with him. Gerard Gordeau did the same exact thing- he offered for me to come train with him in Holland, at The Hague- to live with him and train there to further my career. So I had two choices of who I was going to go with. And then another guy I really liked when I saw him in the first UFC was Jason DeLucia. I hung out with him while we were there, and Jason was also- Jason, Ken and I all had dinner together, we all kind of settled down with it, Jason and I talked about, you know- “Are you gonna do it?” “I don’t know; I think I will.” Just one of those kind of things. It was like “I don’t know, let’s see. I have to look at my options.”

WC: I had interviewed Jason about thirteen, fourteen years ago- he had told me that he met Ken at UFC 1, and they would train a little bit in the hotel here or there. He said at UFC 2 when he fought Royce, he broke a bone in his foot when he threw the first kick-

SD: It was his fibula.

WC: And then he said right after UFC 2, he went with Ken and did the Lion’s Den tryout- the 500 push-ups, sit-ups, squats, whatever it was, on the broken foot-

SD: Yeah, we did that together (laughter).

WC: Oh, you and Jason both were-

SD: Yeah, yeah, I’m getting’ there. So, I end up flying out first. It was like March 31st I fly out. Bob (Shamrock) picked me up, and then Bob and I went and picked up Jason the next day at the airport, and then we went and picked up Frank (Juarez, later Shamrock) from Folsom (State Prison) a few weeks after. Jason and I were there first, so we had already gone through the first workout of 500 squats, 200 push-ups, 500 sit-ups, a two mile run- we just did all this kind of stuff. Jason and I did not have to get initiated, because we had already proven ourselves by fighting in the UFC. That one: we’re willing to do it, two: did it, three: we’re experienced fighters. Ken was used to getting people right off the street, who have never done anything before. So Jason and I, we didn’t have to- but Frank did. And Jason and I were the ones sitting there watching Frank get the hell beat out of him by Ken. First thing Ken does is knees him in the ribs and breaks his nose. So he basically cracked his ribs and breaks his nose right off the bat, and then chokes him out. Frank wakes back up, goes and pukes, then comes back and finishes the 20 minutes. I was like, “Damn.” Jason and I kept looking at each other with our freakin’ jaws to the ground, saying “I’m so glad I fought in UFC.” (Both laugh) “I don’t have to do this.” It was just a pure- fight Ken for twenty minutes kind of thing.

WC: I think Frank had said in an interview that April 24th or something like that was his first day at the Den. So you and Jason were officially part of the Den for a few weeks before Frank came in?

SD: That’s right.

WC: Before I go any farther with the Den, let me just finish up on some UFC 2 stuff.

SD: Sure. We still got a little bit in there going on don’t we?

WC: Oh yeah. You drew Morris- now how soon before the event did you know that he was your opponent?

SD: Oh, we knew right there- that picture with me, Brian Kilmeade, and him- that is right when we found out. The bowl that had envelopes was literally about four feet away from us. So, they say my name and then his name- we’re both looking at each other like wow, this is kind of convenient. So we found out at the press conference it was a live drawing- drawing my ass. They were like I said, neatly stacked on top of each other.

WC: How did you assess that match up, what was your strategy?

SD: Oh my gosh- okay, so I’m sitting there, I’m thinking we’re the first fight of the night, we’re not seeing anybody fight before us, we’re not getting a good bearing on everything, all we have to go from is UFC 1. So I’m thinking we’re going to feel each other out, we’ll get this going, probably start out a little slow. I don’t even leave my side of the ring yet- he takes off in a full tilt sprint towards me. And I’m like “What the hell is this guy doing?” I never had anybody run after me before. So all I can think of is “Well shit, I’m just gonna wait ‘til his left foot plants right in front of me, and I’m gonna do a Thai kick.” Matter of fact, right before- I was doing Thai kicks wrong, and I met Master Toddy (Editor’s Note: Master Toddy- Thohsaphol Sitiwatjana- is a high ranking Muay Thai instructor) at that UFC 2, and a few days beforehand actually showed me how to kick right and I’m glad he did. But anyways I did the Thai kick that Master Toddy taught me, and it stopped him from continuing the motion. Then we kind of had a little bit of a barrage, I remember elbowing him, a couple exchanges of hands, but it was more like a mauling. And then he hooks my head into a head and arm, and he does a sacrifice roll backwards. And I pull his legs over on top of me to where he’s in full mount, and he’s got the head and arm choke, and I’m sitting there like okay… oh first, this is hilarious- so, I had an aikido background- pressure points and shit like that that karate schools teach for getting out like grabbing love handles, twisting, or sticking your fingers… well I tried all those things man, so it was right in the UFC where I realized “This is bullshit! This doesn’t work!” (Both laugh) So then I start seeing stars, I’m like “What is going on here?” And I remember “Oh wait, I think I’m about ready to pass out.” So I was like “What did they tell me to do when I’m in this position? Oh yeah, tap the ground three times.” So I’m sitting there- in my mind I’m going “one”- as I’m slapping the ground- “two, three”- and it was over. And that was so fast man- I’m up, like still ready to fight, and I’m like “What the hell’s going on? What just happened to me?” And I felt so small, I was like “Man, I am nothing.” So, after that fight I was like “Yep, I think I’m going to Ken’s. I need to learn how to grapple, I need to learn how to fight on the ground.”

WC: You mentioned a couple times it was a head and arm choke- it wasn’t a neck crank- it was a choke?

SD: It was a choke, yeah- it was a choke. I always thought it was a guillotine, but as I looked at the footage, you can see it. He’s got- it’s in guillotine fashion, it’s just that he’s got one arm overhooked and clasped up underneath real tight. Plus, he’s on full mount. So imagine in full mount where he’s got full pressure to put his body down. You know what I mean? It was tight, man. I was goin’ out. And to this day, I look back- if I would have had just a little bit of experience- that guy, I would have beat. But I made a stupid decision that I had no clue as to what the heck I was doing.

William C

Active Member
Sep 6, 2015
This interview series with Sean has a ton of info on behind the scenes of UFC #2. Also a lot of critical info on early Lion's Den (including Frank Shamrock's initiation). Also a decent amount of interesting info on Pancrase.