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Remarkable Fred Ettish posts

Fred Ettis became infamous after being destroyed by Johnny Rhodes in UFC 2, a symbol for everythig that was wrong with traditional martial arts training. In fact, for many years he was the subject of ridicule on such sites as The Fred Ettish Fetal Fighting Online Dojo.

But, over the years the feelings about Ettish mellowed, and it turned out that he had actually become a member of mma.tv’s Underground forum. A few days ago, someone on the forum asked Ettish to describe his experience in UFC 2 and Fred replied with a remarkable series of posts. Ettish is a humble man who was haunted by his performance in the UFC for many years. His posts tell a story of a man who has come to grips with his past and has rebuilt himself for the ground up:

Thanks for your interest. I have told the story before, sometimes it has been chopped up and edited into bits and pieces, sometimes told almost in it’s entirety. It is a very long story, so hard to post it, here, but I will try. I would also refer you to Cylde Gentry III’s book, “Ultimate Fighter, Evolution”, his article in “Ultimate Athlete”, Jim Genia’s article in “Full Contact Fighter”, Nov 03 edition, and recently in “Real Fighter”. Apologies to anyone else I am forgetting who did an authorized version.

1. How did you find out about the event?

I found out about the event by being shown an article about UFC 1 in “Black Belt” magazine. I did not see the event, just read about it and it sounded like something new, challenging, and that would suit me and my philosophies about real fighting. I always hated “point fighting” because it was such bs, and often got disqualified for “hitting too hard”, throwing people down, knocking people out of the ring area, etc. I thought an event like the UFC would let me fight without being encumbered by stupid rules and politics.

2. Who did you contact or who contacted you about it?

I wrote a letter to Art Davie asking to be included in the card for UFC 2. He called me and let me know that they had a full card for UFC 2, but that they would consider me for a later UFC. About 10 – 12 days prior to the event, Art called and told me that Ken Shamrock had broken his hand and could not participate. He had moved an alternate (Johnny Rhodes, ironically) up to take Shamrock’s place, and wondered if I would agree to come in as an alternate to replace Johnny Rhodes. I agreed right away, and asked if I could fight the other alternate like they did in UFC 1. He said no, that since this was a 16 man tournament that there was no time for that. The only way I would get to fight is if someone did not show up to fight, or got sick or injured PRIOR TO fighting. Remember, in UFC 1 they did not use any alternates in the main tournament, so there was no precedent for an alternate to fight in the main draw. By fight time, all fighers were present and ready to go.

3. Were you paid an appearance fee or just travel and hotel expenses?

I was paid $1000 in addition to travel, hotel, and $50 per day for food.

4. Did SEG agree to cover medical expenses for the fighters?

I am not sure. They offered to take me to the ER after my fight, but I refused.

5. Was there a rules meeting?

Yes, there was a rules meeting the night before the event. As I remember it, the rules were simply; 1. No biting; 2. No eye gouging; and 3. No fish hooking. Groin shots, small joint manipulations, everything else was legal. THe only thing they said they would do if you violated the three rules would be to fine you, as I recall. I have the paperwork stashed somewhere that spells it all out.

6. Did you have doubts after seeing monsters like Shamrock and Tuli before the event?

I was in UFC 2, so the guys you mentioned weren’t fighting, but Shamrock was there. He was not a monster. He was a lot smaller back then, but still obviously very strong. The fighters I did see all looked like they would be tough and I respected them all. Of course, I (like probably everyone else there at the time), wanted to fight Royce, because he was the champ. Why go if you don’t want ot fight the best? I wanted to fight him BECAUSE he was the best and I respected him and his abilities.

7. Did you have any idea you would be making history and that martial arts would be redefined forever because of it?

No, I had no idea the scope and magnitude of what the UFC would turn into, nor the long – term ramifications of my participation in it.

I have said for a long time that I was going to write a book, one day, my life’s story. My life as basically been in and out of the shitter ever since I was a kid. Rest assured, my UFC experience and the fallout from that would take a large portion of that book. I suppose now what few people would have bought the book would no longer do so, since the story has been told so many times.

To complete the story a little bit, I was 38 years old at the time of my participation in UFC 2. After it was all over, I felt awful. I did a shit job, and despite all the bullshit from others that I have endured from then until now, no one could ever be harder on me than I have been on myself. I had my one shot, a shot that a lot of people would have loved to have had. I had a chance to be a productive part of something I believed in and I blew it. Not because TMA sucks, my training sucks, etc., because I sucked on that night. I did, and still do, work my ass off to be a better person in every way, as a martial artist, a fighter, and as a man. I could fight much better back then, and I could damn sure fight a whole lot better now. I completely froze up mentally and psychologically. It was like a nightmare. Nothing worked, I got hit, completely lost my vision in one eye (temporarily), and couldn’t shake it off. I came to fight. I had been in fights before, but never in front of so many people, never with a TV camera in my face, with smoke, loud music, a hundreds (maybe thousands, I am not sure), of screaming fans all around. This was not a self – defense situation where you just reacted immediately without thinking, there was so much swirling around, so many distractions, so many things I was just not used to and that were out of character for me, I just plain froze up.

After all the fighters showed up at the arena and were ready to go, Art Davie asked me to help him run the show. He said that he was sorry I would not get to fight, but that he would bring me back on a later show. He asked me to help him behind the scenes to run the show. My job was to go find the fighters and get them up to the staging area in time to walk to the Octagon for their fights. I had just brought Minoki Ichihara up and got him on his way to the Octagon to fight Royce, and was going downstairs to find the next fighter. Rorion Gracie was coming up the stairs. He grabbed me by the arm and asked me if I was ready to fight. I said something like “Huh? Right now?” He said, “Yes, Hammaker hurt his hand and can not fight his next fight. I need you to fight.” I had to run around the arena, find my corner people, gather up my gear, find a place to change, try to warm up, strectch, and get myself in a fighting frame of mind. Didn’t work so well.

For just a bit over 3 minutes out of my life, I put up with over a decade’s worth of shit. All my training, the thousands of hours of blood, sweat, and tears I’d invested were distilled down to those few minutes. That is all anyone ever saw of me and I was judged and labeled because of it. There was no redemption, the UFC did not respond to my request to bring me back, although they had promised me they would (SEG, not ZUFFA). There were no other shows at the time. After a while other shows started coming and going, but for a variety of reasons, I was never able to make a come back.

As a par
ticipant in the cage or the ring, the sport passed me by. I was born at the wrong time. Now, I try to train, work with others, and be involved in the sport as a ref, a judge, a cornerman, however anyone needs me. I love this sport, and am happy if I can contribute in any small way to it.

That’s the best I can give you on this forum. Hope I answered everything in amongst all my ramblings. There is more to tell, but that will have to wait for the book.

Respectfully:

Fred


Fred Ettish in UFC 2

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Like a lot of other people, I started Martial Arts to get and keep myself out of trouble. That and I was tired of getting my ass kicked in school, at home, and on the street. As I alluded to earlier, my life sucked pretty bad, and I made a lot of bad choices. One of the very few smart choices I made was to start in a martial arts class. Looking back and knowing what I know now, it is obvious that the teacher was full of crap as far as his claims of rank, experience, etc., but back in the 60s a young kid believed pretty much everything he heard about this new thing called martial arts. The guy ran a good class and set a good foundation for me, and there was lots of hard sparring. It did work to get me to quit doing a lot of stupid things, because I wanted to keep training and they told me if I was going to be a punk, I couldn’t train with them.

The first martial art I took was a kind of Chinese Kenpo. In 1979 I started in Okinawan Karate. I have never stopped practicing Okinawan Karate. There is much more involved in it than most people realize. I have been blessed to have and continue to train with some great teachers in Okinawa. It isn’t just punching and kicking or what most people view as TMA in this day and age. I also train with other people in other disciplines whenever I can. I have trained a little BJJ, trained with some Judo and wrestling people just a bit, and like to add whatever I can to make myself better. I have trained @ MFS on a very few occasions and look forward to training with them again.

I will never abandon my core art. I will continue to try to improve my understanding and rendering of it, and I will continue to try to learn from other disciplines, especially ground – based arts.

Respectfully:

Fred

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I appreciate all the kind thoughts expressed by everyone in this thread. Mike, what you said, as far as I am concerned, is about the highest compliment I could be paid. For someone to say they would like to have their kids trained by me, that is a trust and confidence above just about any I can think of. Thank you.

Respectfully:

Fred

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Just a few more things, then I have to take my Geritol, put on my depends, and get my old butt into bed. I have to work at 0dark30 tomorrow morning, then drive abut 12 hours up to see my friends in MN and ND at the DFC.

One person who has never gotten enough credit, IMHO, in all this is Johnny Rhodes. Few people realize that before he proceeded to beat me like a rented mule, he fought something like 15 – 18 minutes (not exactly sure, but it was the longest fight to that point in UFC History) and beat David Levicki, who was something like 260 – 270 pounds. Johnny weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 215 (Old skinny Fred was about 175). He fought Pat Smith after he was done tenderizing my face, and lost, but I am sure he was exhausted from all the energy he expended using me as his heavy bag. He was a good fighter, hit hard, and a real decent person on top of it. He will always have my respect.

Thankfully, there is no more footage out there of me. Maybe when I make my comeback fighting in the AARP National Championships they will film that. Stay tuned.

Respectfully:

Fred

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” fred, tell us what it was like standing with the rest of the ‘UFC Legends’ at the meet-and-greet table at UFC 45″

Ah, Jim Genia, my friend. Yes, that was an experience of a lifetime. I will always be glad that I took your advice and contacted Zuffa. I am grateful to Dana for providing me with a pass into the show and including me in the 10th anniversary happenings. I was just going to fly out and go to the show. I had not been to one live since I saw UFC 2 up close and personal.

I never felt I belonged in the lineup with so many of the true greats of the UFC. I felt very self – conscious and out of place. Most of the fighters, however, treated me so well that it made me feel a lot better. Some of the people I admire most in MMA were there and just talking to them was worth flying out there for. People like Randy, Pat, Royce, Don Frye, Mark Coleman, Marco Ruas, Keith Hackney, those guys were all true greats inside and outside of the Octagon. Pretty humbling for an old guy from the northwoods of Mnnesota to be sitting in the middle of all that greatness. Another guy that catches a lot of heat, Wes Sims, was there (My friend, Big Poppa Schnake introduced us), and he was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet.

I found it interesting, too, that virtually every fan who spoke to me was very friendly and polite. One guy thought he might have been out of line when he said, “I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you sure got your ass kicked”. I laughed, told him I didn’t mind at all, since that was the way I remembered it, too. Some fans had no idea who I was, and that is fine, and others just passed me by at the autograph table saying nothing at all, and that is fine, too.

It was a difficult thing for me to do, as I usually am somewhat reclusive and reserved, but I am glad I did it. I figured I wanted to see the show, anyway, Dana got me a cageside seat, and by putting myself out in the public eye so openly, it would give my detraters the chance to tell me personally what they had been saying so long annonymously. I also feel it is important in life to face your demons head on and deal with them. THe monkey has been on my back a long time (not Mayhem), and since I have come out of the shadows on the UG and started going to and working at shows all over the midwest and Canada, people have been treating me a lot better.

Many, many thanks to Jim Genia and Loretta Hunt for all their help in making it happen, thanks to Dana for including me in the show, to all the fighters who treated me so well, and to all the fans for the way they treated me.

Respectfully:

Fred

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“Fred, who are some of the best martial artists that you have trained with?”

Wow, I have been blessed to have trained with a few truly great martial artists, IMHO.

Fist of all, my Okinawan teacher, Mr. Kuda Yuichi. He passed away in 1999, but I had the extreme honor to have had a close, personal relationship with him for many years. He considered me and my good friend the same as his sons. He was great technique – wise, and also in his moral character, the way he treated others, his humility, kindness, sense of humor. If the book ever gets written, a large part will be about him and the lessons he taught me.

My teachers oldest son, Tomosada. Although not as committed as his father, still one of the best I have ever seen. I have never known a human being to be able to move like him and have such explosive power, yet be so small.

Pat Militech. Although my time with him so far has been much too brief, I consider him to have done to a large degree what I envisioned I wanted to do. He has managed to take the essence of TMA and meld that with MMA. His personality, philosphy on training, character, hard work, being well – rounded, humble, acting with honor and dignity, treating others with respect, those are all things I truly believe in.

Bro

ck Larson/Jared Feirebend. These guys train in a small town in MN and are nothing but outstanding in every way. They work hard, have crazy skills, yet have all the characteristics described above.

SOme people few, if any of you, have heard of, but are friends and/or students of mine over the years. John, Erik, Curt. Hard working, no bs, and with all the qualities I value in a Martial Artist.

Brandon Crowley. Great BJJ guy who does his thing quietly with just a few people. Great way of communicating when teaching, excellent skills, top notch personality.

Got to train with some BTT guys here in KC like Busta and Carlos Barreto. Crazy skills. Busta is so fluid, smooth, and technical on the mat that it is unbelievable. The local BTT guys, here, have some outstanding talent, too.

There are probably a lot more that I am forgetting right now, and a ton more that I have met but not trained with, but would love to one day.

Respectfully:

Fred

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“Didn’t you also say you were in the USMC? Also, tell us about the other fighters. Did you know any of them prior to the UFC, personally or by reputation”

Yes, I am a Marine. I was active duty from 1973 – 1977.

I knew absolutely no one prior to UFC 2. I had heard of Royce Gracie, and read about UFC 1, but that’s it.

Respectfully:

Fred

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“Tell us your Scott Ferrozzo story!”

LOL. Okay. I was judging and EC show for Monte in the Mpls area. Ferrozo had some kind of a connection with a local fighter, Joey Clark, and was in Joey’s corner. Joey and his opponent, Sean Huffman, fought a hell of a fight. Joey has probably the best Greco you could ever see. The kid can throw people from positions where it just doesn’t seem possible. He is strong, and always in great shape.

Well, Huffman is one of those deceiving guys. He doesn’t look like he should be 1/10th as tough as he is. Joey would throw him, but then do nothing with him. Sean would hit him as much or more from the bottom than Joey was from the top. Then Sean would always either reverse him and maintain dominant position and do more damage than Joey had done, or escape. It was crazy. A judge’s nightmare. I know you hear this way too often, but it truly could have gone either way.

Well, Joey came out on the wrong end of a majority decision. Ferrozo comes unglued after the fight. He comes around the cage ranting and raving, cursing, yelling, insulting. I tried to explain to him calmly why the fight was scored like it was, but he wasn’t listenig, just yelling. I tried to explain that I actually was the judge that called it a draw (something I HATE to do, but if any fight should have been a draw, this was it), but he just said “FUCK YOU”. I can’t remember what my snappy little comeback was, but basically it was some kind of funny way to say fuck you, too.

Brock Larson was one of the other judges. He tried to talk to Ferrozo, to, but that didn’t work, either. Then Ferrozo challenged Brock to fight Joey, and of course Brock said sure, but that hasn’t happened yet. I haven’t seen Ferrozo since.

Sad thing is, I have known Joey for a long time, have always liked and respected him. I have judged a number of his fights, and quite often when they go to decision, it is hard to score. He takes everybody down, but doesn’t do enough with them after that. I hate to score against him, but I have to go with what I see at the time and score the fight fairly for both fighters. I think Joey may not care much for me anymore, and I regret that, but as a judge I have to be honest at all times. I wish him the best.

Respectfully:

Fred

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“Seriously Fred: and I mean this with all due respect- i’ve seen guys like yourself that have a choice between muay thai and tae kwon do, between bjj and hapkido, and sometimes they pick the wrong art. Then they are too proud to admit the art is not good for reality based combat because they have so much time invested already…. “

I guess I have to respectfully disagree, for the most part. To me, it depends on what you want out of an art. And also, remember how old I am, and that I started training back before the earth cooled. There was no such thing as MMA training in this country back then. I started training as a 13 year old kid back in 1969.

If you want to compete in combat sports as your primary aim, then, yes, TMA is not the way to go. It takes longer just by virtue of how it is taught, and doesn’t focus on sport at all. And although it is the best and toughest sport out there, and the athletes that compete are second to none, MMA is not self – defense, it is sport combat. True TMA is not designed for that. But neither is pure BJJ, Muay Thai, Judo, Wrestling, etc. MMA is just that, MIXED martial arts. I believe a person should have a strong base, a speciality, so to speak, that they become fluent in. From that base, they should add to it other disciplines that address areas that may not be so highly emphasized in their base. Karate can work as that base, as can BJJ, Muay Thai, Judo, Wrestling, etc.

TRUE TMA, not the type that is so pervalent in this country and even around the world, today, is much more than is given credit for. For example, in the style of karate I study and teach, we have worked arm bars, chokes, numerous other joint locks, sweeps, throws, etc. Did we work on the ground like BJJ?, absolutely not. But we did then and do moreso, now. (at least I and a few others) I also will be practicing and developing my art well into old age. I will never be able to say I know it all. There will always be more to learn. Of course as my body starts to deteriorate, I will have to alter some things, but that is inherant in this, or any other, good art.

One must ask the question, “What do I want from an art/discipline in the long run?” Answet that question honestly and then find and art and teacher that comes closest to fullfilling that.

“The art sucks, the performance and history proves it. Karate in any form HAS NOT done well in the ufc and probably never will. Why is that? Because when the rubber hits the road, Karate is an inferior style with several holes that do not translate well to a live fight vs a boxer or grappler.”

I addressed a lot of this above. I guess I feel that, again, a lot of it is that so much of what is seen today as TMA is actually a modern, bastardized, watered down version of something taught by unqualified instructors. Believe me, that bothers me more than anyone. I see fat, soft, lazy, instructors that can’t “do”, but only “talk”. I see people that hide behind excuses, myth, fantasy, and take advantage of a gullible public. True karate training should be physically challenging, involve contact work, address fighting from all ranges, and on and on I could go. Believe me, if the book ever happens, I will be on my soapbox. But for MMA, karate can only be a base, not a sole art. A karateka would definitely need to work more on the ground, more on takedowns, takedown defense, etc. For example, my wrestling sucks. I would work a lot on takedowns and takedown defense if I were to compete again, as I feel that is most lacking in me.

I could say lots more on this, but it is already far too long. To each his/her own.

Respectfully:

Fred

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Here is the Scott Ferrozo story as I related it not long after it happened:

“The article by Traci summed it up about perfectly. After the show, Ferrozo came up to us yelling and swearing, being derogatory to both Brock and myself. Not sure why he didn’t include the other judge who scored it for Huffman in his tirade, but I guess we were just lucky.

The fight was a hard fought, back and forth battle between two guys who just wouldn’t quit or let the other one keep the momentum for long bef

ore getting it back themselves. It was a great fight for the fans, but a judge’s nightmare. I have watched Joey since the beginning of his career, have talked to him often (even before this event), admire his fighting heart and skills, and have always gotten along with him.

There is no way I would ever intentionally give anyone a bad call as a judge. I know how hard these guys work, how much they put on the line in a fight, and what an L or a W means to them. That being said, I can not play favorites, either, and have to judge according to the criteria set forth by the event. Although I hate to score draws, and Monte doesn’t want draws, that is the way I honestly scored the fight. Joey had some great slams and takedowns, but he didn’t do much with the position, got reversed a lot by Huffman and then ended up mounted and Hufffman was in dominant position. Huffman tended to end the rounds stronger, especially the last round. Joey did not have much in the way of submission attempts, especially anything close, and Huffman probably had better striking.

I scored one round even, and one each for the other two. I tried to explain this to Ferrozo, but he wasn’t in the mood to listen. After hearing him carry on for long enough, I finally told him to get fucked too, since he had told me enough times that I figured why should I have all the sex and why not let him have some, too. I don’t usually communicate that way and tried not to this time, but that’s what happened.

I have seen Ferrozo at Minnesota events over the years and know that he tends to be loud and curse a lot. That’s just the way he is. He thought his guy got a bad call, and none of us fault him for that. It is the way he went about it and refusing to listen that was a bit over the top, but so what. I have been cursed at by experts since I was a kid so it’s nothing new.

And yes, Brock readily agreed to fight Joey when Ferrozo threw down the challenge. When Joey came out later to try to calm things down, Brock told him Ferrozo wanted them to fight and that he (Brock) agreed to it. Joey did not seem to have been aware that Ferrozo threw out the challenge and I have no idea where that stands now. Brock is managed by Monte, so anything would have to go through him. I do know that Brock would be up for it, but then again Brock will fight pretty much anyone put in front of him. I am sure Joey is the same way.

As for me, yes, I am 50 years old and don’t claim to be a Skip Hall. I walk around between 175 – 180, workout every day, am in perfect health, but have not fought in the ring or cage for a very long time. As for fighting Ferrozo, we’d probably have a difficult time getting that sanctioned, since he probably goes around 350 and a 175 pound or greater weight differential would be tough to sell.

Am I afraid to fight him or anyone else? Not particularly. I would have the usually nerves before fighting anybody, but I have had my ass kicked before and survived, so it wouldn’t be anything I haven’t already been through. Some things are worth fighting for or about, but most aren’t. If we are talking about in a sanctioned bout, if the money was right, who knows? “

Respectfully:

Fred

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In the past, others have been kind enough to say somethings simiilar to that, thanks, Michael. I said then and I’ll say again, if any reputable promotion has anything that they think I can do that would be a positive addition to their show, including commentating, I would almost surely say yes.

One more thing I neglected, earlier. When asked about the best martial artists I have trained with, I should have added that during a couple of visits to MFS, I was fortunate enough to have been in classes led by Spencer Fisher. The guy is great, an excellent teacher, and a really nice guy.

Respectfully:

Fred

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Fredrico, what you describe is almost exactly what I have been trying to do ever since UFC 2. I have done it with my students up in MN, and a few others. I could go on and on about why TMA falls so short, but basically it is because that in the majority of cases people are lazy, delusional, and scared. It is easier to hide behind excuses, myths, and outright foolishness (as long as there are enough people to buy into it) than to sweat, bleed, work, admit your weaknesses and limitations, pull in your ego, and address them.

One of the results of my performance @ UFC 2 was that I was ridiculed by the MMA people, and most TMA people hated me and were just as full of ridicule (always behind my back, though). Most of the time I can deal with it just fine, nowadays, but sometimes I still get pissed. That’s life. All I can control is myself.

Respectfully:

Fred

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I never really had regular internet access much before that. I had an acct. through a job for a yr fr. 1997 – 98. Friends of mine let me in on what was going on, and sometimes I would check things out on somebody else’s computer. It was very difficult for me to handle. As I said earlier, I took my performance very hard and beat myself up over it for a long time. Then, on top of that, I had all the ridicule, dumb – assed, insulting websites, prank phone calls, when I did have email I would get prank emails. I wanted to stay away from this place, because so much of the negativity was generated from here. All I wanted was to train and be left alone.

I am a proud man. Not in the sense of being egotistical, but in taking pride in doing my best at absolutely everything I set out to do. I did not even remotely come close to doing my best, so many people saw that one fight and judged me on it, and I never could get rid of the stigma. My ego has taken a beating ever since I was a kid (literally and figuratively), and this pushed me down even farther. It was very difficult to deal with and move on from.

Finally I decided to quietly start coming on here and face the demons head on (if you’re comin on, then come on! (:-), I posted a time or two on other people’s threads and it slipped under the radar. Then, for some reason, all of a sudden people noticed I was here and the floodgates opened. I tried to answer questions and comments openly and honestly, and got a great response for the most part. Been here ever since.

Respectfully:

Fred

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