Later, in 1995, Paulson took part in a MMA tournament similar to UFC, World Combat Championships, which divided its participants in "strikers" and "grapplers" in order to pit them against each other in the finals. Again, a Gracie participated in the event, Renzo, but this time Paulson got green light to take part in the tournament. Unfortunately, Paulson was put into the striker block, in which rules prohibited submission finishes, and it took away Erik's best field. Moreover, his long hair played against him, as he couldn't cut it due to his role as a film stuntman. His first match, against muay thaiexponent Sean McCully, evidenced both disadvantages, with Paulson having to endure hair pulling and a significant punishment in order to finish him by ground and pound. At the second round, he faced kickboxing champion James Warring, heavier and better rested, and this time Paulson's hair weakness took dramatic proportions; Warring grabbed the cage in order to avoid being taken down and literally dragged Paulson around the cage by the hair, making his corner throw the towel. After returning to the Gracie academy, Rickson expelled him without explanation and forbade him to train Brazilian jiu-jitsu again, but Paulson simply moved to train it with the Machado brothers.
Paulson still competed in Shooto, being sent as a representative to the Vale Tudo Japan event, where he was submitted in 0:41 by Canadian grappler Carlos Newton. He retired shortly after, focusing in teaching as opposed to fighting, though he came out of retirement in October 2007 to headline the first HDNET MMA fight card. Paulson took on Jeff Ford in the main event of the night. Paulson made quick work of Ford, winning by spinning armbar in the opening minutes of the first round.
Erik is the founder of Combat Submission Wrestling, and STX Kickboxing. He runs the CSW Training Center in Fullerton, California, where he trains MMA fighters such as Josh Barnett, Ken Shamrock, Renato Sobral, Cub Swanson, and James Wilks. He is closely affiliated with Sean Sherk and Brock Lesnar of the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy. As well, Paulson was the striking coach for Team Lesnar on The Ultimate Fighter: Season 13, and he is the coauthor of a book along with American Combat Association president Matthew Granahan and JD Dwyer on the History of American Submission Wrestling
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