Hall Of Famer
A number of news outlets reported this evening that former UFC competitor Paul "The Polar Bear" Varelans, who fought billed as a "Trapfighter", passed away due to complications of COVID-19 after testing positive last month. At one point, Varelans, 51, had been placed on a respirator but had been removed and was said to have made some positive progress before succumbing to the disease. Varelans had described COVID as similar to fighting someone who never stopped delivering kidney punches.
Varelans debuted for The Ultimate Fighting Championship in July 1995 at UFC 6, knocking out Cal Worsham in just under a minute with an elbow. He advanced to the second round of that night's tournament, losing via TKO to Tank Abbot. Varelans returned in UFC 7, going to the finals of that night's tournament, winning two bouts before losing to Marcos Ruas. Varelans competed in several more UFC events, including losing to Dan Severn at the December 1995 Ultimate Ultimate, trapping out to a triangle choke.
Varelans also had a short run in the original Extreme Championship Wrestling as a foil for Taz to build his legitimacy as a shooter and badass during hbuild to eventually facing Sabu in the main event of the first ECW PPV. In June 1996 at an ECW Arena event, Varelans was sitting ringside (where he was immediately recognized by fans the second he was placed at ringside) right before Taz, who had been undefeated for months at that point, defeated Jason Helton, a Canadian wrestler who had some MMA experience in a "shoot fight." Taz recognized Varelans and called him out, leading to a huge pullapart.
At that point, Varelans worked a few ECW live events, beating Helton before facing Taz the next month in what was again billed as a shoot fight. That night, possibly to insure that Varelans went along with the plans, a number of ECW heels including some legitimately tough ones, came to ringside for the match even though they were not aligned with Taz.
The match went all of three or four minutes, which included Perry Saturn coming off the top with one of the nastiest dropkicks you could ever imagine to the back of Varelans' neck (allegedly without Varelans knowing the spot was coming), before Taz dumped him with a Tazplex and choked him out. Varelans was never seen again in ECW, but the win did greatly help add to the aura of Taz at the time.
To the best of my knowledge, the only other pro wrestling work Varelans did was a loss to Yoji Anjo a year later for the Kingdom promotion in Jaoan, losing via KO in July 1997. He did continue to compete for a number of other MMA groups, including IFC in the Ukraine (a show that was released on home video here in the United States), Rings: Holland, Pancrase and U-Japan in Japan and Extreme Challenge here in the States. He last fought in 1998.
On behalf of everyone at PWInsider.com, we'd like to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Paul Varelans.
Last edited on Sun Jan 17th, 2021 04:03 pm by srossi
This thread was great before AA ruined it.