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Five MMA Fighters Who Went Out on Top

The temptation to keep fighting until you’re nothing more than a broken-down shell of your former self can be an overpowering one. Somehow, these men managed to resist it…

BAS RUTTEN

Though he’s better-known these days as the barely coherent host of Inside MMA and part-time children’s fitness coach, Bas Rutten’s legendary run as a professional fighter ended in 22 consecutive fights without a loss. After knocking off such MMA pioneers as Frank Shamrock (twice), Maurice Smith (twice), and Guy Mezger during his five-year stint in Pancrase, Rutten joined the UFC where he won their vacant heavyweight title in his second Octagon appearance (a split decision over Kevin Randleman at UFC 20). But while preparing for his next fight, Rutten suffered serious injuries to his knee and biceps, and was forced to retire from the sport.

Bas landed on his feet, though – his ongoing commentary gig for PRIDE as well as acting roles kept him busy until he decided he was healthy enough for one last dance around the cage, seven years later. Originally booked to fight Kimo Leopoldo at WFA: King of the Streets in July 2006, Rutten instead faced Ruben “Warpath” Villareal when Leopoldo pissed hot for Stanozolol two days before the fight. The beating was so lopsided that it eventually became featured in a CagePotato Video Tribute. With that last challenge conquered, El Guapo rode off into the sunset for good, an undefeated UFC champion who hadn’t tasted defeat in over 11 years. Party on, indeed.

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Five MMA Fights That Happened Too Early

TITO ORTIZ vs. WANDERLEI SILVA


When it happened:
4/14/00, at UFC 25
When it should have happened: Spring 2003
Why: Ortiz vs. Silva was an entertaining scrap between two young contenders for the UFC’s vacant “middleweight” belt. If they met three years later, it would have been a superfight. By the end of 2002, Ortiz had defended his title five times — he’d lose it in September 2003 to Randy Couture — while Silva was PRIDE’s middleweight ruler, owning a 12-0-1 record in the promotion and two successful title defenses. With Ortiz at the end of his reign and Wandy near the middle of his, it would have been an ideal moment to establish bragging rights for one of MMA’s two leading organizations.
Prediction: Depends on where the fight was held. If Ortiz had home-field advantage, he’d probably still be able to grind out a decision win. In Japan, it would be Wanderlei via soccer-kick death.

DIEGO SANCHEZ vs. KENNY FLORIAN

When it happened: 4/9/05, at the Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale
When it should have happened: Sometime next year.
Why: Kenny Florian had enough talent and heart to make it to the finals of TUF 1 as a 185-pounder, but it was only a matter of time before he was squashed by another talented fighter who was more experienced and better suited to the weight; Diego Sanchez just happened to be that dude. This year, there was talk — hope, even — that Florian could upset BJ Penn at UFC 101, then have a high-stakes rematch against his old nemesis, who had followed him down to lightweight after an impressive run at 170. Unfortunately, Florian succumbed to Penn’s trademark mata leon, and Sanchez was booked to challenge Penn for the title in December. Still, as long as Florian keeps winning, he’ll claw his way back to the Nightmare — and this time, they’ll face each other as two of the best lightweights in the world.
Prediction: Sanchez outstrikes Florian to a decision in a far more competitive match than their first meeting.

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The 10 Most Notorious Breaking Points in MMA History

Chuck Liddell Rashad Evans UFC MMA

Fighting for a living is a lot like teasing a really mean dog: you can’t do it forever without something bad happening to you.  Even the great ones get to a point where their drive becomes sluggish and their bellies are too full for them to stay hungry, and that’s usually when a particularly bad beating takes what remaining fire they have and douses it with the fury of a God pissing on your dreams.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll quit right then, even if they should, but it does mean that they’ll never be the same again.  Here now, in chronological order, are the most notorious breaking points in MMA history.

IGOR ZINOVIEV vs. FRANK SHAMROCK at UFC 16, 3/13/98

It’s hard to say that Igor Zinoviev was really on his way to being a legend of the sport, because he got stopped almost before he really got started.  The former Soviet Army commando was one of the first fighters in the early days of MMA to beat a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt when he TKO’d Mario Sperry, and he took out Enson Inoue the next year.  All this came after years of fighting underground brawls in Brooklyn warehouses following the fall of the Soviet Union, so his toughness was never in question.

When he joined the UFC the future was, as they say, wide open.  Then he came up against Frank Shamrock, who wasted no time in scooping him up and slamming him down so viciously that it shattered his collarbone and knocked him out cold.  It was Zinoviev’s first career loss, and he would never fight again after that.  We’re not saying the devastating finish served as the catalyst for Shamrock’s out of control ego over the next 10+ years, but we’re not saying it helped, either.

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Video Tribute: Cro Cop’s 5 Greatest Moments

It’s looking like MMA great Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic might call it a career and move on to a life that does not involve kicking people in their heads.  That’s sad for those of us who remember his glory days in Pride, but it’s also an inevitable fact of life.  No matter how well you do something, you can’t do it well forever.  Just ask Mötley Crüe.  But at the risk of eulogizing Cro Cop too soon, we wanted to pay tribute to his greatest moments in the ring.  Nothing gold can stay, but we’re guessing these victims will never forget their beatdowns.

#5: Cro Cop vs. Aleksander Emelianenko, Pride Final Conflict, 8/15/04

Pride.Mirko.CroCop.vs.Aleksander.Emelianenko… by gremlinusha

Some of you youngsters may find this hard to believe, but there was a time when Aleksander “Don’t Ask Me To Take a Blood Test” Emelianenko was a fresh-faced killer on the Pride scene, knocking dudes out and not feeling one way or another about it.  Then he ran up against Cro Cop, who fed him a steady diet of straight lefts and a brain-jarring high kick that effectively ended it.  Though Fedor would later win a decision over Cro Cop in a bit of reluctant revenge for his embarrassing younger bro, it didn’t cancel out the sheer brutality that left brother Aleks on his back in a mummy pose.

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The Eight Most Impressive Striking Displays in MMA History

You asked for it, and now you got it.  Cage Potato presents the 8 most impressive striking displays we’ve ever witnessed in MMA.  Please note that "impressive" doesn’t necessarily mean the best technical displays or most dominant victories.  Naw son, there’s a range.  Some are brutal, some are smoove, and some are just nice all-around displays.  All are impressive for one reason or another, and our hats go off to the purveyors of beatdowns featured below.  Enjoy…

#8: Takanori Gomi vs. Jens Pulver: Pride Shockwave, 12/31/04

Going into this fight, the conventional wisdom was that Pulver would want to stand and bang and Gomi would look to get things to the mat.  As you see, that ain’t how it happened.  Instead they traded a pleasing mix of low kicks, body shots, and power punches in a contest to see who would fall down first.  Turns out that someone was Pulver, who couldn’t stand up to Gomi’s deceptive power quite as well as he thought.  Really makes you wonder what happened to that Gomi.  He sure was something to watch once upon a time.

#7: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Gary Goodridge: Pride Total Elimination, 8/10/03

Fedor Emelianenko vs Gary Goodridge – Watch more Funny Videos

While several of Fedor’s fights could arguably make this list, his one-minute destruction of “Big Daddy” gets the nod simply because it’s one of the best examples out there of Emelianenko’s nothing-but-power-punches approach to striking.  From the moment he first unleashes his offense, Fedor hardly throws anything that isn’t a cannonball with evil intentions.  Just listen to the sound of the punches hammering Goodridge in the opening seconds and see if it doesn’t remind you of a Gallagher show.  Sure, he’s beaten better opponents in his time, and thrown more devastating one-punch KO’s, but this one really gives you a glimpse of how terrifying it must be to find yourself on the business end of a Fedor assault.

#6: Wanderlei Silva vs. “Rampage” Jackson II: Pride 28, 10/31/04 

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The 10 Most Cursed MMA Events of All Time

If it wasn’t for bad luck, Strikeforce’s upcoming “Carano vs. Cyborg” card wouldn’t have any luck at all. Despite the best intentions, some MMA events are destined to be magnets for injuries, unwelcome surprises, and other bizarre occurrences. But which events have been screwed by fate the hardest? Knock on wood, grab your crotch, and read on…

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#10: UFC 67: All Or Nothing, 2/3/07
UFC 67 event poster

The aptly-titled “All or Nothing” event was the first UFC pay-per-view in nearly a year to lack a title fight by the time it finally took place.  That’s all the more disappointing when you consider that it had two a couple months out from the event, pitting TUF “Comeback” winners Matt Serra and Travis Lutter against the champions in their respective weight classes.

The first title fight went down the drain when Georges St. Pierre injured his knee during training and had to put off the fight with Serra (and we all remember how that went when it finally happened).  Fortunately they still had Anderson Silva vs. Travis Lutter to fall back on…right?  Only Lutter failed to make weight for his title shot, downgrading his “Rocky” storyline to a “Bad News Bears” one.  Instead they just had themselves a normal old three-rounder, with Lutter holding his own in the first round before getting triangled/elbowed to death in the second. What fun.

#9: UFC 98: Evans vs. Machida, 5/23/09
UFC 98 Rashad Evans Lyoto Machida MMA poster

The event that famously launched “the Machida Era” only included Lyoto as a last resort. Originally, the card was to be headlined by the heavyweight title scrap between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, until Mir informed the UFC that he was still recovering from knee surgery. The main event was then changed to a light-heavyweight title fight between Rashad Evans and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, but Jackson — who had just gone the distance with Keith Jardine two months earlierbowed out due to lingering hand and jaw injuries. And so, the UFC decided to give a well-deserved light-heavyweight title shot to that weird Brazilian guy with the unibrow.

If you’re Rashad Evans, that would be enough to make this one of the unluckiest fight cards ever. But UFC 98’s string of setbacks extended to the supporting cast as well. Josh Koscheck pulled out of the event due to a broken toe and was replaced by Brock Larson; Koscheck’s scheduled opponent, Chris Wilson, missed the show because of incomplete paperwork. James “Born Under a Bad Sign” Irvin suffered one of his many knee injuries and was replaced by Xavier Foupa-Pokam. Yushin Okami also went down with a dodgy knee and was replaced by Chael Sonnen. And finally, hard-luck-case Houston Alexander broke his hand during training and was replaced by Krzysztof Soszynski. Later, it was discovered that the MGM Grand Garden Arena had been built on an Indian burial ground.

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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 [...]

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The Seven Most Brutal KO Slams in MMA History

#7: Matt Hughes vs. Carlos Newton
UFC 34: 11/2/01

(The Newton slam comes at about the 0:52 mark.  Then there are others.)

We’ve sung the praises of Hughes’ signature slam before, but never was it more effective than when he used it to take the UFC welterweight championship away from Carlos Newton.  Hughes’s first line of defense against Newton’s triangle choke was to pick him up and walk him over to the fence, resting him atop the Octagon while he got a second to think things through.  When that didn’t help he dropped him straight down, sending Newton’s dreads a-flyin’ and knocking him out cold.  Hughes also seemed, shall we say, out of sorts after the slam.  He also seemed like the new UFC welterweight champ.  So there you go.

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The 7 Biggest UFC Busts of All Time

#7: MAC DANZIG (Photo via Paul Thacker.) A five-time King of the Cage lightweight champion with appearances in PRIDE and the WEC, Mac Danzig was one of the most seasoned mixed martial artists to ever appear on The Ultimate Fighter, and few were surprised when he blazed past guys like Ben Saunders, War Machine, and [...]

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Never Surrender: The Eight Greatest Technical Submissions of All Time

It takes a special kind of cojones to stare down permanent injury and say "Eff it, I ain’t tappin’." Inspired by the DVD we’ve been plugging lately, we decided to pay tribute to the technical submission — that thrilling moment when a fighter is caught in a health-threatening submission hold, but is too stupid much of a warrior to concede defeat, so the referee has to do it for him. Because as a wise man once said, "Tapping out is for bitches." Enjoy…

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#8: Daniel Gracie vs. Wes Sims
IFL Championships 2006, 6/3/06

After their first chaotic mess of a bout was ruled a “Technical Draw,” Gracie and Sims met again in the IFL for another technical ending.  Though Sims has always had a hazy understanding of the rules in any given MMA bout, he got taken down too quickly to launch any illegal stomps in this one, and had to settle for giving up his back and then trying to grab on to the ropes (thankfully Stephen Quadros reminds him that he can’t do that) as Gracie stayed on him like a backpack and choked him unconscious.  There’s nothing quite like seeing a 6’10” guy drop to the canvas like somebody just pulled his plug.  Sleep well, buddy.

#7. Frank Shamrock vs. Phil Baroni
Strikeforce/EliteXC: Shamrock vs. Baroni, 6/22/07

(Choke starts at the 8:35 mark.)

Thanks to Shammy’s pioneering work in video trash talk, this fight was epic before it even began. Strikeforce’s first middleweight title fight paired two loud-mouthed badasses who would never admit defeat — but unfortunately, there could be only one champion. After battering the NYBA with punches for almost two full rounds, Shamrock took Baroni’s back, wrapped an arm around his neck, and squeezed. While most men would tap to the hold, Baroni went out like a warrior, throwing punches into Frank’s mug until he lost consciousness. Shamrock celebrated his win by shoving Baroni’s lifeless body then kicking him in the ass, proving that he wasn’t just the better fighter that night, he was also the bigger asshole.

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