(Bro, you need a male nurse.)
After spending last week’s roundtable discussion paying tribute to the most foul people associated with our sport, this week we’ll be focusing on great comeuppances — cases when a fighter got too cocky and karma caught up with him mid-match. Some of our picks are knockouts, some are submissions, and all are extremely satisfying to relive. Read on for our picks, and please continue to send your ideas for future CagePotato Roundtable topics to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s one of the most well-known (and feared) unwritten rules in baseball: You never jinx a no-no. When a pitcher has gone a few innings without giving up a hit, you shut the fuck up about it. Teammates aren’t supposed to acknowledge it in the dugout, broadcasters aren’t supposed to mention it on air. These days, you’re not even supposed to tweet about it. If you even so much as whisper the words “no hitter” into your sleeve from the bleachers, the baseball gods will smite you for your hubris and it’ll all come crashing down.
MMA offers all kinds of painful penalties for celebrating early, and you’d think that everyone would have learned the lesson by now. But every once in a while, some asshole comes along and claims that he’ll achieve some lofty feat way before he has any right to. Call it a jinx, call it karmic retribution, but those fighters tend to fall on their face, while the rest of us revel in their defeat. You shouldn’t have tempted fate, buddy. You should have stayed humble. You shouldn’t have jinxed the no-no.
If you’ve been following the UFC for a long time, you might remember a former lightweight champion by the name of Benson Henderson. (He was the guy who held the belt between Frankie Edgar and Anthony Pettis? Long, curly hair? He could do all things through Christ who strengthened him? Does any of that ring a bell?) Anyway, this Benson Henderson guy was known for edging out very close decision wins in title fights — the kind of fights that could have gone either way, but kept falling in his favor. He got a reputation as a point-fighter who never went in for the kill, who only took risks involving toothpicks.
Henderson put together three straight title defenses and was about to face his old WEC nemesis Anthony Pettis, when he decided to run his mouth off one day, claiming that he was going to break Anderson Silva’s record for consecutive title defenses sometime in the year 2016. Silva, of course, had put together 10 consecutive middleweight title defenses over the course of a 16-fight UFC win streak in 2006-2012. Henderson was saying that he would beat Pettis, then defend his belt seven more times in what is arguably the most talent-rich division in the UFC, using a fighting style that left every single outcome to the judges.
Why, oh why, couldn’t Henderson keep this prediction to himself? Didn’t he know what would happen? Couldn’t he see that he was already doomed?
Henderson walked out to the Octagon at UFC 164 wearing his gi, to remind everybody watching that he’s a BJJ black belt. Most likely, he had mentally prepared himself for another fast-paced five-rounder, in which he would slightly out-work Pettis in every round. Barring any last-round miracle kicks, he’d have this one in the bag.
Pettis, a BJJ blue belt better known for his flashy kicks, arm-barred him in the first round and took his title. Finally, we had somebody exciting in charge of the lightweight division. And Benson Henderson? Well, you don’t hear too much about him these days; he’s just another washed-up ex-champ who will probably die penniless, buried in a communal grave for paupers. And you have to wonder if Henderson will one day realize how terribly he screwed up. Looking past your opponent is bad enough. Looking three years past your opponent, at some hypothetical future in which you’re the greatest UFC champion in history…and then saying it out loud, in an interview? What did you think was going to happen, dipshit?
Honorable mention: Brandon Vera claims he’ll be the first UFC fighter to hold belts in two divisions simultaneously, wins no belts whatsoever.
There are any number of convenient knockouts or submissions in the annals of MMA history — someone says something disdainful or cocky, and then proceeds to eat crow by losing in some manner that parodies their previous braggadocio. It’s amusing, maybe even somewhat rewarding to see these unfold, but to be frank, there isn’t all that much to distinguish them. People talk trash in the fight game and act like assholes; invariably, these people end up looking like fools from time to time.
However, there is one particular instance that transcends this relatively mundane context. In 1994, Keith Hackney entered the Octagon against a then-unknown fighter by the name of Joe Son, a practitioner of the aptly named “Joe Son Do.” What no one was aware of at the time was that Joe Son had raped a woman in 1990 in one of the most heinous ways imaginable. Eventually, after his UFC career and his 15 minutes of fame as Austin Powers’ “Random Task” had expired, he was caught and convicted on related charges in 2011.
But the universe was evidently unwilling to wait quite that long to dole out some retribution. Whether through cosmic coincidence, divine intervention or simply a moment of frustrated inspiration, Keith Hackney, locked in a front headlock and unable to extricate himself, decided to test the limits of the pre-Zuffa UFC’s “anything goes” policy. Clenching his fist, he proceeded to deliver blow upon righteous blow to Son’s testicles. They didn’t quite end the fight, but allowed Hackney to escape the headlock and lock in a choke of his own to finish the fight. And while justice didn’t fully catch up to Joe Son for another 17 years, this brief taste of karmic vengeance is still the most deserved comeuppance — whether people knew it at the time or not — in MMA history.
MMA is a sport for beasts — both inside the cage and out — it’s a sport for lions and dinosaurs and hippos. If you think many of the very real storylines in MMA have a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention. That’s why when something in MMA does work out the way we believe that it should — as if Karma were a real thing dispensing justice inside the cage — it’s memorable and epic; it’s burned into the sport’s history.
One such of these moments, an instance where a fighter was on the receiving end of karmic justice, was UFC 162’s title fight between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman. Anderson Silva deserved to become an unconscious, goofy-looking husk, and here’s why.
Silva frequently talks about “hespect” and many of his fans claim that the record-setting former champ is the living embodiment of budo. This is wrong on about 1,000 levels. Old-school Pride Anderson Silva might have sported respect for everyone, but it’s difficult to make that claim with a straight face about Silva from 2008 until now.
Let’s start with the Patrick Cote fight. Fans paid money to watch Silva destroy a polite Canadian. The fight didn’t deliver. What was supposed to be a highlight reel trouncing was instead Silva dancing around like he was on the same drugs Eminem took recently, leading to, strangely enough, Cote injuring his knee and Silva winning. Maybe Silva had an off night?
If he didn’t do the same bullshit again versus Thales Leites, then perhaps we’d be willing to assume so. He refused to take Leites as a serious threat, and in doing so gave fans 25 minutes of awkward gesticulating and weird faces.
Then, of course, there’s Silva’s infamous fight with Demian Maia at UFC 112 — a performance so bad that Dana White threatened to fire Silva if he ever pulled shit like that again. In case you don’t remember, the fight consistent of Silva doing shitty breakdancing and goading Demian Maia. It was fucking awful and an embarrassment to MMA.
But yeah, Silva’s a respectful martial artist! I mean he BOWS TO PEOPLE so he can’t be a dick, right?
Wrong. People were sick of Silva after this fight. Thankfully for Silva though, people forgot all about his bad behavior after his feud with Chael Sonnen. Silva was a hero again — MMA’s Neo — and he was proving it by continuing to completely disregard his opponents by goofing off (only after the Sonnen feud Silva decided to finish his opponents once he was through embarrassing them).
Then came Chris Weidman.
Silva acted in the same bullshit “why are you in the same cage as me?” manner against Weidman, who Silva himself regarded as no more than a child. In the first round, Silva’s usual antics seemed like they might work. Save for a takedown, Weidman didn’t seem like much of a threat. Things changed very quickly in the second round. Silva was trying to re-enact his fight against Forrest Griffin when he got tagged. He pretended to be hurt and then Weidman dove in with a flurry. Silva tried to dodge, and failed. He paid for his superlative arrogance with his consciousness and his title. Silva deserved to be unconscious on the canvas with his eyes glazed over.
At UFC 162, Silva went into a professional mixed martial arts bout against a trained fighter and acted like he was fighting a bum — the same thing he had done against Maia and Leites and Cote. Only this time, Silva got his comeuppance. Weidman humiliated Silva like Silva humiliated so many others.
Can there be a greater comeuppance than that?
“Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein.” – Proverbs 26:27
Forget “Greatest Comeuppance,” this might be my favorite fight of all time. All the elements are there: a hopelessly outmatched unknown taking on a heavy favorite and winning; a mixed rules bout; bad blood; dirty, underhanded tactics; and a bet that ends in Frank Trigg wearing a pink wig and lipstick (although I have been told that the fallout from Trigg’s embarrassing defeat somewhat outweighed the hilarity of it).
The story goes like this: After DREAM champion and noted asshat Shinya Aoki was unable to secure a rematch with Gilbert Melendez, he agreed to take on Yuichiro Nagashima in a special rules exhibition bout at Dynamite!! 2010. Why? Because the Japanese love freak show fights more than Udon and torture porn. The first round was contested as a three minute kickboxing match (with the second being a standard MMA rules round), over the course of which Aoki shamelessly flopped, clinched and broke every rule imaginable in order to run out the clock. “Tobikan Judan” was repeatedly warned by the referee for his acts of cowardice but received no penalty. Why? Because Japanese MMA promotions are shady as shit and, let’s be honest, everyone from the referee to the DREAM/K-1 execs probably had money riding on Aoki.
Now, you might be asking yourself, “If Aoki was seemingly unable to throw a punch without pissing his multi-colored spanx, why would he agree to a mixed rules bout, or become a mixed martial artist in the first place for that matter?” I cannot answer for sure, but I do know that Aoki enjoys dressing up like the world’s ugliest schoolgirl in his spare time.
Aaanyway, Aoki’s brief foray into the Miami Heat School of Acting was met with such ire that the crowd in attendance showered their own fighter with boos. It was the first time in MMA history that a Japanese crowd reacted to a fight with anything other than courteous applause (which is a compliment, right?). While Aoki should have done the honorable thing and committed seppuku in between rounds (I seriously cannot stop, you guys), he decided to answer the second bell. In retrospect, I applaud Aoki for this critical error in judgment.
Before Michael Schiavello could even start yammering about shrimps on barbies or strangers named Irene that he watches sleep at night, Aoki closed the distance and immediately shot in on a telegraphed takedown because what did he have to lose at this point? The answer was his consciousness, which he was righteously separated from via flying knee less than five seconds into his safe and secure MMA rules round.
I rarely wish physical harm on a fighter not named Josh Koscheck, but watching Nagashima deliver those hammerfists on an already unconscious Aoki was my definitive Emperor Palpatine moment. What can I say? There’s just something about seeing karma work its magic in such an immediate, transparent fashion that brings out my vengeful side.
In the classic Hollywood script, the protagonist takes on the antagonist and inevitably the “good” guy comes out on top in dramatic fashion while the “bad” guy loses in a humiliating manner. It is formulaic — and most of the time it is cheesy — but that hasn’t stopped movie studios from following this recipe ad nauseum. Daniel Larusso versus The Cobra Kai or Maverick versus Russian MiGs or Lincoln Hawk versus Bull Hurley or Sensai Seagal versus Who Gives a Shit, it is a modus operandi that will continue forever.
Every once in a while something in real life imitates art and the masses stand up to cheer for the demise of the evil villain. Nothing fit that bill more than when Dan Henderson drove Michael Bisping’s face into the canvas like he was pounding home a railroad spike. It has already been discussed that Bisping is a pretty despicable person with the ridiculous rants and vitriol he spews. He truly is one of the few legitimate villains that populate MMA, but he was at the peak of his douchbaggery when he coached TUF season 9 opposite Hendo.
It was Team U.S. vs Team U.K. and the patriotism lead Bisping to be at the top of his craft as a dickhead. His high-pitched rants permeated throughout each episode while he would consistently try to talk trash to Henderson. Hendo would routinely just give Bisping a little smirk and shake his head as he let the Brit dig his own grave. Because Team U.K. was vastly superior to Team U.S. there was a lot of gloating — and even more unbridled dipshittery — coming from Bisping’s piehole.
It culminated at UFC 100 where Bisping cut some pretty absurd promos attacking his foe’s age and diminishing skills. Hendo remained calm and reserved. The first round was fairly uneventful with both competitors feeling each other out. But in the second round, IT happened. Much like Daniel-son’s Crane Kick or Mav’s “hit the brakes and he’ll fly right by” moves, Hendo landed a right hook for the good guys that starched Bisping. Then our protagonist leapt in the air to deliver one of the most violent finishing punches in UFC history (and one of our favorite pictures of all time). We all stood and cheered as justice was served.
Think back to the awesome Pulp Fiction scene when Vincent and Jules were talking about how Antoine gave Marcellus Wallace’s wife a foot massage and got his ass thrown off a balcony, through a glass motha-fuckin’ house in response. Jules took the position that foot massages are no big deal and that Marcellus overreacted. Vincent, despite being a violent, anti-social dope-fiend, offered an amazingly coherent analysis of the situation, telling Jules, “I’m sure Antoine didn’t expect Marcellus to react the way he did, but he had to expect a reaction.”
That’s the whole game when it comes to action/reaction. A response is inevitable. The severity of the response is dependent on the individual doling it out, and includes a multitude of factors: basic retribution, hierarchical status, public humiliation aspect, psychopathic tendencies of the reactor, etc., etc.
When you kiss another man, in public, even in jest, a forceful response is to be expected. For one, he must reclaim his “manhood,” which by societal masculinity standards had been taken from him. It must be reclaimed at any cost. Then there’s the public humiliation factor. A violent response is the only reaction a reasonable person should expect. For the offender, this should be known. But that isn’t always the case.
This is exactly what happened on New Year’s Eve 2005 during a K-1 Dynamite event in Japan. Heath Herring was to face Yoshihiro Nakao. As the fighters made their way to the center of the ring for the staredown, Nakao apparently couldn’t resist Herring’s come-hither eyes and decided to give him a kiss. On the mouth. In front of 53,000 people. Well, evidently Herring was none too pleased with that act, so he delivered a short uppercut that dropped Nakao like a morning deuce.
Some may feel that Herring’s response was unnecessarily harsh. But keep in mind, an uninvited kiss is a sexual crime in most areas. Not sure how they roll in Japan, but in Texas, where Heath is from, that’s an offense punishable by lynching when it comes from another man. Herring can even be heard repeating, “I’m not gay” in the video, as if in his mind the knockout alone wasn’t enough to reaffirm his heterosexuality. To many men, this is some serious shit.
Vincent’s sage commentary holds true in this instance as well. Nakao probably didn’t expect Herring to react the way he did, but he had to expect a reaction. It’s arguable what that expectation consisted of. Maybe he was just trying to mess with Herring’s head. Maybe he was just looking for a hot date for after the fight. Or maybe he just wanted to provide a memorable moment in an otherwise forgettable fighting career. Who the hell knows what he was thinking?
The bottom line is that if you plant an unwanted smooch on another man you’re in the wrong, unless he’s like totally dreamy, like Zach Morris or A.C. Slater — Zach if you prefer preppy blondes, Slater if dimples and jheri curl is your thing. Regardless of your perverted sexual desires though, comeuppance is the only logical recourse. I know it. You know it. And Nakao should have better fuckin’ known better.
Both fighters were determined to have committed fouls and the fight was ruled a no-contest. Well, the fouls and the fact that minutes after Herring slugged Nakao he was still tits up on the mat, so the fight could not go on. See what happens when you kiss a 6’4″, 250-pound Texan? Comeuppance, baby. Heed this lesson should you ever feel the need to do some stupid shit like this.
The last thing that I want to do is be too hard on Dave Herman. He seems like a decent enough human being (dude knits scarves in his spare time, so how terrible can be really be?), and let’s be honest, there’s a very real chance that he was high as balls when he spit out the comments that earned him a spot on this list. But leaving Dave Herman out of a discussion about great comeuppances in the history of sports would be like leaving Brian Scalabrine out of a discussion about the greatest bench-warmers to ever live — it’s a move that would strip away whatever’s left of my credibility. And as a self-proclaimed hack journalist, I would certainly never want that.
Dave Herman — despite riding back-to-back knockout losses — was feeling pretty damn confident before his fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 153, and decided to talk a little smack. Okay, no harm, no foul just yet; like George said, that’s pretty common in MMA. Had Herman simply left his comments at “I’m going to beat Nogueira because he’s the world’s oldest thirty-something taking a fight on short notice despite getting his shoulder mangled by Frank Mir in his last outing,” there’s a chance that the gods of MMA may have blessed him with a victory. But instead of just targeting Big Nog, Herman decided that he’d rather piss on an entire system of martial arts, claiming that jiu-jitsu is useless and that it simply does not work against him. I’d write that his comments were Toney-esque, except that James Toney is genuinely ignorant about MMA, while Dave Herman had over twenty victories in the sport to his name before spewing his nonsense. The MMA gods were not amused.
Needless to say, UFC 153 saw Dave Herman get his ass kicked for two rounds before Big Nog — despite suffering from a broken rib — armbarred the man who claimed that jiu-jitsu didn’t work on him. But his comeuppance didn’t end there. Herman was given one final completely undeserved shot in the UFC against jiu-jitsu black belt Gabriel Gonzaga back at UFC 162, and was knocked out in less time than it took me to type this sentence. Herman immediately received his walking papers. While I have no idea what he’s been up to ever since [Author Note: Okay, maybe *one* idea], I do know that he has wisely decided to keep his opinions on other combat sports to himself.
Have an honorable mention that you’d like to nominate? Let us know in the comments section.