In the year I’ve been writing this site, I’ve watched millions, perhaps billions of MMA videos — everything from fights to highlight reels to documentaries to Chuck Liddell wasted on a morning show. Most of them I’ve forgotten as soon as they were over. Some of them may stay with me forever. The ten videos below represent the best overview of this crazy sport that I can possibly present. And I won’t degrade their brilliance by ranking them. Think of this as my personal mixtape to you…
Aleksander Emelianenko vs. James Thompson, PRIDE 28, 10/31/04
Thompson’s unbridled rage and Aleks’s sleepy stoicism combine for my favorite face-off ever — and the 11-second knockout ain’t bad either. Seriously, this never gets old.
“Sakuraba: Beautiful Day”
Maybe the most inspiring single-fighter highlight video of all time. Though Kazushi Sakuraba‘s gory losses to guys like Wanderlei Silva, Ricardo Arona, and Antonio Schembri are just as memorable as his wins, Saku at his best was MMA at its best — inventive, thrilling, and joyous.
Absolute Fighting Championship 1 Highlights
Moscow, 1995. A 32-man one-day bareknuckle tournament. A 6’8″ Brazilian beast named Ricardo Morais. Four submissions via strikes (all in under two minutes) and one rear-naked choke after a ten-minute battle with Mikhail Illoukhine. Even if the rest of Morais’s career didn’t quite live up to the promise of his fearsome debut, he was legendary that night.
“Don’t Fear Me, Fear the Consequences”
The gold standard for MMA blooper reels. This is the video that introduced many people to the lovable insanity of Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett. Also, 1:58-2:12 = classic.
“Genki Sudo Documentary Pt. 1″
While many fighters say that entertaining the fans is their top priority, nobody lived it quite like Genki Sudo. The Neo-Samurai’s ring entrances for K-1 Hero’s stole every show with their wild costumes and choreography, to the point where the fights became mere afterthoughts. Four minutes of over-the-top spectacle begins at the 0:36 mark of this video, followed by an introspective interview with Sudo, who’s now retired from the fight game. “Combat in the 3rd dimension is done, so it can begin in the 4th dimension,” he says. You have no idea what he’s talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry…you will someday.
“Bas Rutten Street Defense”
The inspiration for countless parodies, tributes, and catchphrases (“dangada-dangada!”), El Guapo’s sadistic bar-fight primer is one of the pillars of MMA’s video canon. The lesson? Never cross a man who can deliver head-butt out of nothing.
“Grand Theft Title: Saitama City”
They’re not highlight videos — they’re films. It’s hard to pick a favorite from Genghis Con’s body of work, but his GTA-themed “Grand Theft Title” trilogy is a creative high point, and “Saitama City” is the coolest of all three, with a great subject (Mauricio Rua‘s run in the 2005 PRIDE Grand Prix) and a killer soundtrack.
The Hammer House/Chute Boxe Brawl
Speaking of Mauricio Rua, his match against Mark Coleman at PRIDE 31 — and the brawl that erupted between their two camps afterwards — is one of the most unforgettable moments in MMA history. This 10-minute clip summarizes the entire incident, from the fight, to the mini-riot, to the botched apology backstage, to the Schick commercial that saw Coleman and Wanderlei Silva put their differences aside in the name of a nice paycheck.
Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takayama, PRIDE 21, 6/23/02
It was the brawl to end all brawls — Frye and Takayama hockey-punching the shit out of each-other in front of an ecstatic audience. No, it’s not exactly high-level MMA, but they can’t all be Shinya Aoki grappling compilations. Sometimes you just want to see two guys fighting to the death.
PRIDE Knockout Megamix
In retrospect, maybe I am a PRIDE nuthugger.
Keith Hackney vs. Emmanuel Yarborough (If I remember correctly, the leadoff match at UFC 3 was the first MMA fight I ever saw, back in September 1994, at my friend Josh’s house.)
Tim Sylvia on Blind Date
Bas Rutten vs. Frank Shamrock (Pancrase)
Kimbo Slice knocks a dude’s eye out the side of his damn head
“Furious Angels” by Boondock
Arianny Celeste nipple slip at Throwdown shoot
*** Oh, hey: If you dug this list, Digg it.