Keith Hackney is featured on Sherdog.com. See the full article here by Jason Probst.
Held on Sept. 9, 1994, UFC 3 had some notable tweaks from its two predecessors. It remained in a one-night, tournament format but with an eight-man field, instead of 16. The canvas, previously white, was replaced with a more viewer-friendly blue. It was, in a sense, a social phenomenon coming to terms with its own success, which was accompanied by an equal dose of notoriety.
Naturally, that was exactly when Art Davie, then co-owner of the UFC, made the call to Keith Hackney. It came during the peak time for Hackney’s primary business, a heating and air conditioning company he founded in 1980 and still runs today.
His background included boxing, tang soo do, five years of kenpo and a year of high school wrestling, in which he made the state tournament as a 98-pound sophomore. After Hackney responded to a magazine ad, event organizers told him the roster was full but that, perhaps, a future slot could be in the works.
“He said somebody backed out and they had a space for me. It was one week before the fight,” Hackney says. “I thought if I said no, they wouldn’t call me back in the future, so I said, ‘I don’t care. I’ll fight. Get me on a plane.’ Art said, ‘Whoa! Let me tell you who you’re competing against.’ I didn’t care. I wanted to fight.”
The lineup included two-time tournament champ Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, a terrifying muscled guy who went by the nom de guerre of “Kimo” and a 600-pound sumo fighter, Emmanuel Yarborough. Hackney flew into Charlotte, N.C, on Thursday night, and despite the UFC’s subtle efforts to trim away the rougher edges of the event, his debut reminded everyone watching that an ass kicking is exactly that.
“We had a press conference Friday. I was kinda sent to the dogs. They had a punch bowl and envelopes with our names in them in a circle,” he says. “Jim Brown was picking them out of the punch bowl at random. The first guy they picked was the sumo guy, and the second was me.”
It was on, like Donkey Kong.