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MMA’s 10 Most Insane Freak Show Fights

Ah, the freak show: Where honest competition meets the insatiable human desire to see something weird, typically in Japan. We thought we’d take a look back and count down the ten craziest, most outlandish freak show fights in MMA history. Some are bizarre enough to be fun. Some are just horrible. At least one is actually kind of good. All are totally insane. Enjoy.

#10: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Zuluzinho
Pride Shockwave 2005, 12/31/05

Zuluzinho (real name Wagner da Conceição Martins, which explains why he goes by Zuluzinho) got his shot at Fedor for two reasons: 1) he is the son of the now legendary Zulu, the Brazilian beast of a man who should be familiar to anyone who has seen “Choke,” and 2) because at 6’7” and nearly 400 pounds, he’s a big, scary-looking fat dude.  What he isn’t is quality competition for Fedor, and that’s why he got the fight on December 31.  Everyone knows Fedor loves to beat a freak’s ass to ring in the New Year, the bigger and freakier the better.

Just in case there was any doubt that this was an almost criminal mismatch, Zuluzinho erased it by going down with the second punch thrown in the fight.  We like to think that as he was falling time slowed down like in the movies and Zuluzinho allowed himself to wonder just for a moment, ‘Is there a chance that the Pride matchmakers haven’t been taking me seriously?’

#9: Oleg Taktarov vs. Mark Kerr
YAMMA Pit Fighting, 4/11/08

YAMMA’s inclined pit gimmick was ridiculous enough — but the ill-fated fight club achieved true freak-show status with the inclusion of a pair of “Masters Division” fights, in which old UFC stars were trotted out for nostalgic value. UFC 6 tournament winner Oleg Taktarov (age 40) and UFC 14/15 winner Mark “The Smashing Machine” Kerr (age 39) faced off in the first of these, and though his once-proud physique had turned to middle-aged mush, Kerr showed that he could still nail a single-leg takedown. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to defend the kneebar that came just before the fight’s two-minute mark. It wasn’t exactly a marathon battle, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at the two veterans, who were too exhausted to get to their feet afterwards. Since that night, Kerr has fought (and lost) three more times; Taktarov has been wise enough to leave the pit-fighting to the youngsters.

#8: Ikuhisha Minowa vs. Butterbean
Pride Bushido 12, 8/26/06

Once he was satisfied with his work grossing out the world of boxing, Eric “Butterbean” Esch headed on over to MMA just to see if anyone was making a sufficient mockery of it yet.  When the nation of Japan discovered him, we assume it was love at first sight.  Never one to shy away from a freak show bout, “Minowaman” lived up to his reputation as a straight-up entertainer by beginning this one with a flying dropkick.  When that didn’t result in something horrible, he did it again.  Ultimately he’d have to wriggle out from beneath Butterbean’s pale, soggy flesh to secure an armbar, and even then he looked confused by the dimensions of the man.  You and his wife both, brother.

#7: Kimbo Slice vs. Tank Abbott
EliteXC: Street Certified, 2/16/08

In terms of passing the torch from one generation to the next, Kimbo vs. Tank was like a ghetto-ass version of Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie. You had the modern-day backyard brawler, who’d gained notoriety through a new invention called the Internet, facing off against his heavy-handed ’90s precursor, who was street-fighting back when the prize was going to jail. No, this wouldn’t be a high-level display of mixed martial arts. It was just an old-school slobberknocker — a backyard brawl held inside of an arena. In the end, the fight delivered exactly what it promised. Tank took his fourth-straight loss, and Kimbo was on his way to stardom. Though he would soon discover that the fame that comes with being a street-certified sideshow is sadly fleeting

#6: Ikuhisa Minowa vs. Giant Silva
PRIDE Bushido 10, 4/2/06

Giant Silva vs. Ikuhisa Minowa – Watch more Funny Videos

Standing 7’2″ and sporting a droopy nest of yarn-like hair, Paulo Cesar da Silva looks like an escapee from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop — a gentle giant too weird for this world. And while it was always kind of sad to see the former pro-wrestler whaled on in his PRIDE appearances, there was something classic about this particular beating. As usual, Minowaman didn’t let his opponent’s size rattle him. Instead, he lulled Silva into a false sense of security before executing an unbelievable somersault-takedown, then moving to side-control and unleashing a barrage of knees that made the big man tap. Sadly, Silva had to be put down after this match, but his memory lives forever.

#5: Jose Canseco vs. Hong Man Choi
DREAM.9 Super Hulk Tournament, 5/26/09

If you look up the word “whore” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of Jose Canseco posing with the money he made from publishing a book accusing former teammates of steroid use then getting his ass kicked by a Korean giant. The former baseball MVP’s participation in DREAM’s Super Hulk Tournament was nothing but a desperate cash-in, which ended in a suspiciously convenient knee injury. But judging from the first 20 seconds of the fight, Canseco actually had a chance of beating Choi if he only had some MMA training before the match and a gameplan that didn’t rely so heavily on tae kwon do-style side-kicks. Sorry, Jose — you are not Japan’s Next Top Super Hulk.

#4: Bob Sapp vs. Kinniku Mantaro
Fields Dynamite!! 2008, 12/31/08

Don’t ask us to explain Japanese entertainment. All we know is, the organizers of Dynamite!! 2008 thought it would be a good idea to have cartoonish super-heavyweight Bob Sapp face off against an actual cartoon character at their most recent New Year’s Eve show. Playing the role of “Kinniku Mantaro” from the beloved Kinnikuman/M.U.S.C.L.E. cartoon series and toy line was Akihito Tanaka, who’s actually a very decorated amateur wrestler. And while that gave the match some measure of legitimacy in theory, it was just a big sloppy shit-show in reality. As it turns out, fighting while in costume can be challenging. Watch Mantaro take a moment to adjust his mask at the 6:06 mark and pay dearly for it. Good times. We hear this year’s Dynamite!! New Year’s Eve show will host a superfight between Gina Carano and Dora the Explorer.

#3: Royce Gracie vs. Akebono
K-1 Dynamite 2004, 12/31/04

Hawaiian-born sumo wrestler Akebono definitely takes the prize for the jiggliest MMA fighter ever; the guy sneezes and it takes thirty seconds for his boobs to stop swaying.  K-1 tapped him to fight Royce Gracie probably out of sheer nostalgia for the good old days when Gracie fought guys who were much, much bigger than him and also much, much more ignorant of the ground game.  Instead of exploiting Akebono’s sloth-like movement on the feet, Gracie’s game plan here was to bait the big man into charging him like a bull, then sort of flop into guard.  As bad an idea as that sounds, it worked.  Gracie worked his way out from underneath the colossal waterbed of a man and locked on an omaplata that Akebono didn’t even bother trying to escape.  The submission defeat marked his seventh career loss in non-sumo pro fighting.  He would go on to lose five more, finishing with a career record of 1-12.  So fuck you, Nobuaki Kakuda.

#2: (tie) Hong Man Choi vs. Fedor/Cro Cop

Yarennoka!, 12/31/07 & K-1 Dynamite 2008, 12/31/08

(The more interesting/quicker of the two bouts.)

As far as ratio of freak show fights to total fights, it’s hard to beat Hong Man Choi.  His size, hair, fighting style, and even his comical aspirations as a hip-hop artist all make him a guaranteed freak show attraction no matter who you put across from him.  That said, his encounters with the world’s greatest heavyweight and that Croatian guy who once also fought the world’s greatest heavyweight stand out as moments of rare freakish glory even for Choi.

Against Fedor he actually managed to escape one armbar before being caught in another, which is now considered a genuine highlight for him.  Against Cro Cop he managed to do exactly dick before giving up due to leg kicks.  But a Hong Man Choi fight is like a donkey show.  You don’t go because you’re curious what the ending is going to look like.  You really already know.  You go for the sheer spectacle of it all, and to feel gross and sad afterwards.

#1: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Bob Sapp

Pride Shockwave, 8/28/02

(The slightly abridged version.)This is perhaps the only freak show fight in MMA history that later served as a testament to what a bad-ass the non-freak participant was.  Outweighed by more than 150 pounds, Nogueira got manhandled in the early going of this fight.  Sapp spiked him into the mat with a piledriver, pounded his face with hammer fists, and jumped up and down on Big Nog like a spoiled eight-year-old on a trampoline before finally succumbing to the armbar/terrible cardio combination that we have since come to expect from him.The Sapp fight went a long way toward establishing what we’ll call The Legend of Nogueira.  The guy could take tremendous punishment and yet somehow he’d keep climbing out of the fire and coming after you.  Though successive outings would teach us that Sapp isn’t quite the monster he appears to be, at the time he was 2-0 and a win over him despite his size advantage was significant.  If only we could have known that one day he’d be fighting dudes in masks and possibly working fights.  We would have been mildly surprised.

Cagepotato Comments

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eGo-T- February 23, 2012 at 1:23 am
Great post!
Buy Facebook Likes- October 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm
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enema_enthusiast- April 10, 2010 at 6:30 am
That was sobering, robby-baby. You clearly have great insight. And fatty-franky has a potty mouth, doesnt seem to be terribly bright.

Dont be jealous, small-minded and pathetic-rebuttal writers, someday you too will have the ability to not only understand humor, but also to string more then just a handful of words together in an attempt to sound like grown-ups.

Actually, I might have spoken too soon. Presumably you are both already adults, so this is about as bright as you'll ever be. A pity.

But hey, you sissies didnt even congratulate me on my future engagement! Cmon butt-boys, get in the spirit! I suggest the fat boy and the rump-ranger-rob get together and have some good 'ol fashioned Spartan-style boy/boy fun. It's a hell of a lot easier then attempting to match wits with those whom you are having a great deal of difficulty understanding.

Bye darlings, love and kisses.
fatbellyfrank- April 6, 2010 at 12:05 am
@enema enthusiast, you truly are a fucktard of the highest degree, now fuck off back to watching Ellen, fucking idiot
robthom- April 5, 2010 at 11:18 pm
Look at me, look at me!!

I'm so miserable and I need everybody to pay attention to me.
enema_enthusiast- April 5, 2010 at 10:52 pm
Hong Man Choi is pretty sexy. If I were gay, I'd probably let him toss my salad.

Course....only after he got done cleaning the dining room floor and sweeping up the backyard (it gets so messy and leafy). Then he would have to make me breakfast in bed... after a romantic evening. I suspect we'd spend afternoons shopping and eating at quaint little boutique shops in trendy parts of town. We might even take a trip up to the wine country.

After the requisite amount of time had passed, he would of course propose. And I would happily accept! I would be Mr./Mrs. Enema Choi! Oh the joy! Boy-on-boy! My very own Choi-Toy!

We would have a grand wedding, and I would wear both a Tux, and also two western-style flowing beautiful gown, and I just adore costume changes!

Those would be our salad years. We'd be giddy from all the fun, joy, man-love, fun, shopping, fun, and partying backstage after his fights. I'd even get to meet Fedor, and my husband Hong would introduce me as his hubby-wife, which of course in his native tongue is called Yokis Bok Moogwe (loosely translates to "man-intruder"). I'd say something frightfully clever like "you might have beaten my husband way-back-when, but only I beat him now"....hahahahaha! Fedor would laugh at my cute girly humor...but then later his pudgy Russian ass would be staring at my shapely backside whilst I was removing the chunks of salad from Hongs face (he eats really messy). They might even get into a fight over me! I would protest, but deep within my girly heart I would be aroused at all the cro-mag testosterone being flung to-and-fro over me. Oh the drama!

Course, I aint gay, so all of this is hypothetical. And if you are still reading...presumably to see what sort of happy and/or romantic ending it had, you are totally and legitimately gay!!!! You filthy uber-queers!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have MMA to watch!!!

...after I paint my toenails.

HAL_13- May 29, 2009 at 2:46 pm
Dubbayoo- May 29, 2009 at 2:07 pm
@ Lysol: u are right.. shamrock/clifton certainly qualifies, but maybe it's better that it's not included.. So that we can forget it ever happened...
olyhighgerl2007- May 29, 2009 at 1:03 pm
Thats what I was thinking! That fight should so be on the list!
ace328- May 29, 2009 at 12:25 pm
Bob Sapp should be on TUF when they do heavyweights. Awesome!
Dubbayoo- May 29, 2009 at 11:29 am
You know what probably hurts? Getting kicked in the balls by Crocop.

Talk about paying it forward. That said, Choi should've ro-sham-bo'ed Canseco. Who deserves it more than that guy.
Frank Mur- May 29, 2009 at 11:01 am
You gotta give it up to Royce, I would have tapped the second Akibonos tit touched my face.,
Frank Mur- May 29, 2009 at 10:56 am
Is it just me or does "Sap jumping on Nog" kinda resemble something you'd see in a Donkey Kong video game?
One Two- May 29, 2009 at 10:49 am
thanks for that sapp nog fight it never gets old.
Lysol- May 29, 2009 at 10:29 am
No mention of Shamrock vrs. Clifton?

The "I really need to break this 8 fight losing streak so I could set up a gimmick fight against Tank Abbott to cash in off of"?

For that matter, Tank Abbott vrs. Bourke has to be Top 20...
Old_Bald_and_Irish- May 29, 2009 at 9:52 am
Giant Silva vs Heath Herring?

Pretty much ANYONE vs Giant Silva is a freakshow...
Old_Bald_and_Irish- May 29, 2009 at 9:43 am
"In terms of passing the torch from one generation to the next, Kimbo vs. Tank was like a ghetto-ass version of Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie."

That's the best analogy I've read all week! I must admit, at the time I didn't see this as a freakshow fight, but looking back, was.
Richard Tucker- May 29, 2009 at 9:42 am
Kyle Maynard vs. Bryan Fry!!!
NECROPHYTE- May 29, 2009 at 9:40 am
Tito vs His Ego?
Jeffro- May 29, 2009 at 9:37 am
Genki/Butterbean should have been 2 or 3. That was a great one.

I really miss Pride.
Kimbos Bread- May 29, 2009 at 9:31 am
That Minotauro/Sapp fight was EPIC.

Anybody who thinks big Nog still has it is fucking delusional.
BM2- May 29, 2009 at 9:31 am
No Genki Sudo vs Butterbean?
First- May 29, 2009 at 9:19 am
Hong Man Choi is extremely bizzare.