The late ’90s were a crazy time in New York City. Thanks to the popularity of the UFC, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies run by Renzo Gracie, Fabio Clemente and the Machados were flourishing, but all MMA competitions were banned, so all you had as outlets were one sports bar in all of the Five Boroughs showing UFCs on satellite TV and the occasional grappling tournament. Which, in retrospect, is what made Matt Serra’s jiu-jitsu match with Babs Olusanmokun especially awesome.
In the video below, Serra – who went on to wear the UFC’s welterweight crown for a short spell – is a brown belt, while Babs is a purple belt. The rub is that Serra was Renzo’s top student and Babs was Clemente’s best, so the rivalry was strong. These were, after all, reps from the two biggest academies in New York, in a time when having anything above a blue belt meant you were a practically a master of the art (in comparison to the rest of the schmoes out there at least).
Yeah, the ’90s were cool.