This weekend there is a title fight for the UFC Strawweight Women's Championship between champ Joanna Jedrzejczk and challenger Jessica Penne. A title fight to determine the best competitor in a division of the sport? Sounds cool, but that is not the hottest fight to talk about this week. Bellator, the closest thing the UFC has to an actual competitor, has a main event this weekend which I guranatee will attract more viewers than the UFC's offering. A heavyweight fight between Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock.
Yes, that Ken Shamrock, the same Ken Shamrock whose last fight came in 2010 against the unknown Mike Bourke... and lost. Sure it was from a hamstring injury, but Shamrock should not be having competitive fights with guys named Mike Bourke.
And yes, that Kimbo Slice. The same Kimbo Slice who became an internet sensation for beating the beejezus out of men on the streets of Florida. The same Kimbo Slice who after crashing and burning with the UFC went into pro boxing where he posted a record of 7-0 against no name boxers.
AND YES! I am excited as hell for this fight. Is it going to be a showcase of technical savvy? No, but I am a huge mark for Ken Shamrock (both his WWE and MMA work) so I'm very curious to see how he does against a guy like Kimbo Slice at the age of 51. Having said that, I know full well that this is a freak show fight, no doubt about it. Instead of skirting around the issue though, let's instead celebrate the most absurd fights in MMA history by taking a look at the top freak show fights. These fights are not going to be ranked on their actual martial arts drama. Instead, they will be ranked on one simple factor: when you look at them, you say what a freak!
10 Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie: UFC 60
When he's not making ridiculous comments of how Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is enough to survive in the current MMA landscape, Royce Gracie enjoys his reputation as being one of the most important martial artists of all time. Back when MMA was only style versus style, Gracie was the best. This however, was a much different time.
At UFC 60 Royce Gracie, the winner of the first UFC tournament, fought the UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes. Unlike Gracie, Hughes was a well rounded fighter who could handle himself in any area of MMA. As a result, Hughes outgrappled, out-struck and out-wrestled Gracie for the better part of five minutes before Hughes back mounted Gracie and pounded him into Brazilian meat for a TKO victory. Pretty freaky showing, but we haven't seen anything yet.
9 Hong Man-Choi vs Fedor Emelianenko: Yarennoka!
A man who somehow defeated the legendary kickboxer Semmy Schilt, Hong Man-Choi has been a part of several freak show fights, as we will see below. In the first of these freak show fights I give you Hong Man-Choi versus the greatest heavyweight of all time, Fedor Emelianenko.
Let's look at the tale of the tape: Fedor Emelianenko, longtime heavyweight champion of PRIDE and black belt in Sambo and Judo. Hong Man-Choi? An giant 7-foot-1 Korean with an average kickboxing record. The fight wraps up in two minutes after Fedor quickly submitted Choi with an armbar. If there's any positive from this, it's the memorable image of Fedor hanging on to Choi's arm like a monkey hangs from a tree branch.
8 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Bob Sapp: PRIDE Shockwave
The somewhat competitive nature of this fight makes me question if I could truly consider this a freak show fight. Then I'm reminded that Bob Sapp is involved. Ergo, it's a freak show.
At the time of this fight (2002), Sapp was an unknown entity in the MMA landscape but as soon as he showed up people took notice. Literally appearing like a black Incredible Hulk, Sapp possessed enough power to give men immensely more talented than him problems. This of course, would lead to his fight with Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira.
Right off the bat Sapp picked up Nogueira at the waist and executed what I could only describe as a mixture of the pro wrestling moves the piledriver and the pedigree. This set the tone of the match as a simple one: Sapp was stronger than Nogueira, and his entire gameplan hinged on that.
Even as Sapp continued to punch, Nogueira survived. When the giant started to tire Nogueira used his phenomenal BJJ skills to reverse Sapp and submit him with a textbook armbar. A rare competitive freak show fight.
7 Randy Couture vs. James Toney: UFC 118
Probably the most well known freak show fight to casual MMA fans, former boxing heavyweight champion James Toney began to talk a lot of crap about MMA and the UFC in 2010 and Dana White had enough of it (while also seeing the potential for money at the same time). White needed a hero of MMA to shut up Toney's marble mouth. Enter Randy Couture, former UFC Light Heavyweight (x2) and Heavyweight (x3) champion and UFC Hall of Famer.
I remember as a 16-year-old MMA noob (UFC 118 was the second event I watched) that I actually thought Toney was a threat to Couture. How wrong I was.
Less than 20 seconds into the fight Couture landed the easiest ankle pick in combat sports and for the next three minutes "The Natural" embarrassed Toney by moving into mount and battering Toney with punches. Couture, deciding he had enough of Toney's blubber body, slapped on an arm triangle choke and tapped out the boxer at 3:19 of the first round. Good riddance.
6 Tim Sylvia vs. Ray Mercer - Adrenaline MMA 3: Bragging Rights
Oh hey look, another former heavyweight champion boxer who though he could do this MMA thing no problem. Ray Mercer made his MMA debut back in 2007 but lost to Kimbo Slice by guillotine choke. That alone should have been a red flag that MMA wasn't for him but Mercer fought again two years later against former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia for the Adrenaline MMA promotion. Sylvia should put this guy easy right?
PLOT TWIST!!! After throwing an inside leg kick, Sylvia made the horrible mistake of plodding forward with his jaw bolted upright. As many others made him pay for that so did Mercer as the boxer cracked a overhand right that toppled Sylvia like a tree. Next time we need a MMA rep, be sure that we send Couture and not Sylvia.
5 Butterbean vs Zuluzinho: PRIDE 34
Butterbean is one of the most recognizable boxers in the world and it's easy to see why. Despite his, umm, fatness, Eric Esch has posted a record in boxing of 77-10-4 and held the IBO Super Heavyweight Championship for several years. Who do you find to face this fat sensation? The huge Brazilian landmass known as Zuluzinho.
At PRIDE 34, the Japanese promotion threw these two in the ring together, presumably as some sort of science experiment. After some back and forth haymakers along the ropes, Esch took Zuluzinho down and worked him over in side control before finishing him off with an americana. We quickly saw the difference here: one fat man had talent, the other didn't.
4 Giant Silva vs. Ikuhisa Minowa: PRIDE Bushido 10
Known as Minowaman, Ikuhisa Minowa has made an entire MMA career of facing men who are outrageously bigger than him yet somehow manages to beat a fair amount of them. If I have to pick only one of these freak shows though, you have to go with his PRIDE Bushido 10 encounter with fellow pro wrestler Giant Silva (real name Paulo Cesar de Silva), a wrestler notable only for being a part of one of the weirdest stables in WWE history, The Oddities (ironically, the gimmick was they were a freak show) .
Sporting some Carrot Top style hair, the massive Silva lumbered across the ring while Minowa waited for his opportunity to roll (literally) into a single leg takedown which somehow worked. Once down, Minowa eventually broke the giant's grip enough to knee him until he tapped to strikes. For a giant, Giant Silva is kind of a pushover.
3 Emmanuel Yarborough vs. Daiju Takase: PRIDE 3
There's fat, and then there's Emmanuel Yarborough fat. A gargantuan 600 pound former sumo wrestler, Yarborough is surely the only mixed martial artist who can claim to win a match via belly smother. Yes, he actually won with that.
In his final pro fight Yarborough took on Daiju Takase, a man who weighed over 400 pounds less than he did. Despite the fact that Yarborough could eat Takase, Takase decided that it was a good idea to shoot for a takedown on Yarborough and that went about as well as you could expect. As announcer Stephen Quadros screamed "This is like Jaws!", Takase worked his way out of the black abyss and punched Yarborough enough times to get the big man to quit. Just like every other monster movie, the monster is defeated and the protagonist is the hero of the town.
2 Jose Canseco vs, Choi Hong-man: DREAM 9
The list of people who wish to punch Jose Canseco is a long one, but only one man was able to live out the fantasy, our old friend Choi Hong-man.
In the now defunct Japanese promotion DREAM promotion's Super Hulk Grand Prix (I love Japan), Jose Canseco made his MMA debut against Hong-man in the opening round. Allegedly a tae kwon do and karate black belt, Canseco threw out some straight kicks in between bursts of running away from the Korean giant. After seemingly blowing his knee out, Canseco went down from Hong-man right hand and tapped to strikes a short while afterwards. What the hell did I just type?
1 Bryan Fry vs. Kyle Maynard: Auburn Fight Night
I've had a lot of fun on this countdown making fun of the fights but this is one is just as sad as it is bizarre in my eyes.
First the stage (as described by Sherdog.com's Brian Knapp and Jose Valenzuela): "The setting was far from ideal. Partially enclosed by a steel skeleton, the “arena” came complete with a dirt floor peppered with straw, a wooden press box and bleachers, a hot dog stand, a row of portable toilets and a live band. Sexual enhancement fliers were passed out to the crowd before the first fist flew, and cigarette smoke choked the air, as Maynard and Fry -- the ninth and final bout on the card -- competed in a square cage of black chain-link."
Kyle Maynard is a congenital amputee, meaning he was born without limbs. Despite this, he has managed to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and compete in collegiate wrestling. However, MMA is a sport which kind of requires the use of hands and feet to punch and kick. How the hell do you compete without those? You have a freak show pity fight.
Bryan Fry was faced with this task to fight a quadruple amputee. You can't tell me with a straight face that this isn't a freak show. The entire match consists of Fry dodging takedown attempts from Maynard and threatening to punch him but never doing it.
Seriously guys, I'm not hating on Kyle Maynard. He seems like a really cool dude, but let's not delude ourselves here. This is the number one biggest freak show fight in MMA history.