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The Seven Most Insanely Dangerous Combat Sports Ever Invented

(Two brave athletes battle for the X-FENCE welterweight title, previously vacated by Ash Williams.)

By Jonathan Shrager

Over the past two decades, Mixed Martial Arts has evolved from a no-holds-barred freak show to a heavily regulated, network television ready enterprise that is accepted by a large slice of the general public. But even with the sport’s modern improvements and safeguards, there are still detractors who contend that MMA is nothing more than low-bred street-fighting operating under the guise of an organized competition.

In honor of the upcoming DVD release of Arena — a truly insane modern-gladiator flick starring Samuel L. Jackson and Kellan Lutz — we thought we’d give the MMA critics some perspective by presenting a list of the most brutal and dangerous combat “sports” ever invented. From shock-fighting to bear-baiting, they defy logic, celebrate gratuitous violence, and remind us just how far the human race has come. Enjoy…

Irish Bare-Knuckle Boxing

(Tip of the day: Don’t ever fight pick a fight with anyone who requires subtitles in their own language.)

Irish/Gypsy/Traveller/pikey bare-knuckle fighting, or whatever you choose to call it, is the missing link between a pub brawl and the Marquess of Queensberry rules. Bare-knuckle fighting is unregulated and implicitly raw. While boxing is often described as “beautifully brutal,” bare-knuckle boxing is just brutal. There is no designated area in which a Gypsy fight occurs. Boxing has a square-ring, MMA has a cage — gypsy boxing simply has an abstract “space” that can include barn-doors, tractors, livestock, and fellow gypsies. And the sound of raw knuckle against skull is something that few people can get used to.

This style of underground street-fighting was most recently popularized by Internet sensation Kimbo Slice. Kevin Ferguson’s version of backyard brawling is a direct descendant of Irish bare-knuckle boxing, and the underlying concept has remained identical, right down to the lack of medical professionals on hand. The only discernible difference is that Kimbo staged some of his throw-downs in a boat-yard, thereby enabling himself to take his buddies out on the water after the ‘bows had been thrown.

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kintverbal- September 1, 2012 at 8:33 am
"Though Man vs. Animal contests have largely become a thing of humanity’s dirtier past, bullfighting remains deeply ingrained within the cultural fabric of Spanish society. An annual event that illustrates an even lower regard for human life is the Pamplona “Running of the Bulls,” which draws hundreds upon thousands of foolhardy participants — and has resulted in 16 fatalities since 1910, most recently a 31-year old American named Aleks Merilo."

Well if Americans are killed, it can't be completely useless, right? Just kidding. But really, 16 people dead since 1910? That's less than a US high school shooting...
kintverbal- September 1, 2012 at 8:28 am
Dog Brothers... that's one of those things which make you weaker. How? Don't you get tough from those fights? No. You get injured and slowly lower your ability to fight. Sure, if you are good, you will lose less than your opponents, but versus the rest of the world, you all lose. It's like saying Russian roulette makes you stronger. It doesn't.
dog howir- October 27, 2011 at 11:58 am
So don't just sit in front of your cage. COME FIGHT WITH US. For more info go to www.DogBrothers dot com. Tell 'm Dog Howie sent you if u want.
deco08- October 5, 2011 at 1:09 pm
Hey what about Rio Heroes?? That was absolutely brutal. Like some of the bove plus mix gender fights
RSparrow- October 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm
Felony fights is pretty fuckin crazy too... a dude will be knocked out cold and a guy will jump directly on his unconscious head with his knees for like 45 seconds afterwords. There's also a dude named straight jacket who will bite the fuck out of your face. What's wrong with us? At least I know I got some homies out there into the same shit, some of by buddies are like what the fuck Sparrow? Pussies.. nothings better. (Well there's a couple things) Anyone see 8 girls 1 cup? Way better.
skeletor- October 4, 2011 at 8:01 pm
@Noizy - Irish gypsy's do not follow your logic.
noizy- October 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm
On a purely factual note, boxing with gloves is more dangerous than bare knuckle boxing. The reason being taht hitting someone's face with your first will break your hand; so people tend to hit the body in bare-knuckle drawls. With gloves you can just pummel someone to death.
Bighouse- October 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm
Did I see a "Showtime" batton swing in that stick fighting video?
CheechFace- October 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm
CrushCo and skeletor.
Nice one guys, thought it wasn't released yet. That's Wednesday night sorted.
GistoftheFist- October 4, 2011 at 9:37 am
If you send this article to, you might get paid $50 for it.
jimbonics- October 4, 2011 at 9:28 am
This.. is.. my.. BOOMSTICK!
skeletor- October 4, 2011 at 8:47 am
I was able to stream it here without download. It only lets you watch the first 72 minutes of the documentary until it asks you to sign up for the premium package. Or after the first 72 minutes you wait 60 minutes and don't have to sign up and then you can watch the remainder of the film. The total run time is just over 90 minutes.
RearNakedSpoon- October 4, 2011 at 8:44 am
Ok I was shocked at shock fighting, then when the video ends the next video on youtube's list is "breast feeding at 8..."
Too much shock!!!
MMAposeur- October 4, 2011 at 8:31 am
@humperdinkal - Also didn't see the end of first year spanish did you...? fyi - jai alai, if you want to pretend to know something about something, you should probably be able to spell it.
CrushCo- October 4, 2011 at 8:28 am
@CheechFace: I've "Saved" it on Netflix, which said that it's not currently out on DVD. Though I thought I saw somewhere that it was out Sept. 5th.
CheechFace- October 4, 2011 at 8:23 am
Where did you get to see Knuckle? I thought it wasn't out yet. I'm from Ireland and I recognise a few of the faces in the trailer.
Looking forward to seeing it.
El Famous Burrito- October 4, 2011 at 8:22 am
No Road Rash?
humperdinkal- October 4, 2011 at 8:16 am
oops, sorry, didn't see the title "Combat sportss" My bad
humperdinkal- October 4, 2011 at 8:10 am
What about HighLie?
FightZen- October 4, 2011 at 7:56 am
Strangely, the related video on the Shock fight vid was "Breastfeeding... at 8". It's inspired me to start my own fight league where large breasted women attach flame throwers to their boobs to fight off hordes of milk hungry tweens. I think I'll call it "Fire Bags".
Fried Taco- October 4, 2011 at 7:53 am
I thought I had rented Knuckle, only to find out it was MooseKnuckle instead. Not bad if you're into that sort of thing.
NomadRip- October 4, 2011 at 7:46 am
Going to go watch Knuckle shortly.
Todd M- October 4, 2011 at 7:29 am
@ Skeletor, Sweet I hadn't heard about it till now, I'm going to check that out, looks bad ass.
DangadaDang- October 4, 2011 at 7:28 am
Any man who mentions "Over the Top" is a friend of mine. Excellent article.
ByrneDout- October 4, 2011 at 7:25 am
I remember once watching a mma style fight with more then one opponent like three people in the cage all at once does anyone remember that and/or have a link? I was hoping it would be on the list.