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Old School MMA Must-See: Igor Vovchanchyn Owns the Mr. Strong Guy Tournament

Coming off a weekend where an MMA event aired live on network TV to millions of homes, it’s worth remembering that it wasn’t so long ago that the sport was still in its dark ages.  Perhaps nothing illuminates that more effectively than videos of Igor Vovchanchyn‘s victories in the one-night "Mr. Strong Guy*" tournament in Minsk, Belarus back in January of 1996.  "Ice Cold" fought three times that night, once against a guy who appears to be wearing street shoes, and all three times in a pit covered by a wrinkled tarp.  The footage is in black and white and we can only assume that it’s because color TV hadn’t made it to Belarus yet, or else it had and they simply thought it frivolous.  And the music?  Well, obviously it’s nothing less than an inspired, though somewhat risky choice for a bare-knuckle fighting tournament.

We post these not to suggest that any MMA that comes out looking better than this is beyond reproach, but rather to remind ourselves that complaining about watching the world’s best heavyweight for free on CBS, even if it did thwart the DVR technology that didn’t even exist in 1996, is a very recent luxury for MMA fans.  That’s all.  Well, that and the fact that this whole tournament seems pretty damn fascinating in a weird way.  The other two videos of Vovchanchyn’s victories are after the jump.  There’s really no way for you to not watch them and still call yourself a fan.   

* Some people say the name of the tournament actually translates to "Mr. Powerman SEKAI," but that’s more confusing and not quite as funny as "Mr. Strong Guy," and is therefore the inferior translation in our eyes.


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Sully- November 10, 2009 at 3:45 pm
"* Some people say the name of the tournament actually translates to "Mr. Powerman SEKAI," but that's more confusing and not quite as funny as "Mr. Strong Guy," and is therefore the inferior translation in our eyes."

I always read through this site but I've never posted a comment. But I've decided now is a good time to tell you that both your cheese dick translations suck. Sekai, which is written on that big ass yin yang on this middle of the mat, means world in Japanese. So, obviously, the coolest translation is "Mr.Strongman World". I love this warm pretentious feeling that's growing inside me right now. Either way, I'm a huge Igor fan, the guy makes great cookies.
Bob Reilly- November 10, 2009 at 6:03 am
Anyone see Fedor's twitter today?
busted_cranium- November 10, 2009 at 5:44 am
The losers were probably taken out back and shot.
the glza- November 9, 2009 at 8:47 pm
i love the polite clapping in the second movie, and i get the same feeling watching this guy as i do watching rocky marciano. dunno if they're similar in some way or if it's the black-and-white.

i'd never seen this guy fight before -- always heard the name never checked him out, but these fights are great! thanks for posting
honkey_kong- November 9, 2009 at 8:28 pm
I think Igor ko'd that last guy with his forearm. dude's got sick Popeye forearms. that first guy's guard was a joke. Looks like the scoprion isn't an effective form of defense afterall. lol.
halfbreed23- November 9, 2009 at 7:26 pm
All I know is that I could beat a few professional fighters in that fighting arena. It's huge! I have the cardio to run from them long enough to gas em out. I want you Bob Sapp!
Kevin Marshall- November 9, 2009 at 6:20 pm
Awesome. Thanks for posting this.

True story: Pride is what brought me in to Mixed Martial Arts, and Igor was my first "favorite fighter."
Oroborus- November 9, 2009 at 6:10 pm
yo yo guys what up guys/gals... im new to this site, i like it!

i gotta say that ring is fkin badass ala Bloodsport style
Kimbos Bread- November 9, 2009 at 6:02 pm
Vovchanchyn was an early Russian prototype of Fedor. In fact, Fedor has stated that ICE COLD is his main role model.
One Two- November 9, 2009 at 5:52 pm
Vovchanchyn was a bad ass, wasn't he in that other crazy tournament where the big dude Alex beat won?
KillDozer- November 9, 2009 at 5:23 pm
more like Mr. Strongman SEKAI
nice to see young Igor cro-coping random guys in his early days.
K.E.G.- November 9, 2009 at 5:12 pm
Is this like a one knockdown and you're out tournament?
Miles- November 9, 2009 at 4:48 pm
he looked like the only one that wanted to be there