As 2011 comes to a close, MMA fans can look forward to one thing – New year’s Eve MMA events in Japan! Truly the best of the best when it comes to events, these super shows usually have great matches with the top talent fighting each other. In the past, we have seen some amazing cross-promotional events, such as Pride VS K-1, and great moments, such as Dan Henderson and Takanori Gomi winning their respective Grand Prix tournaments, and Fedor crushing many a man placed before him.
However, it would not be a NYE show in Japan without a few freak show fights to drag things on. That is why today, only days before the next big NYE event in Japan, we take a look at some of the worst, strangest, and weirdest MMA fights from Japanese New Year’s Eve shows! Let’s dive right in with number ten!
10. Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett vs Ken Kaneko from Pride Shockwave 2005
Ken Kaneko was a musician, a musician with a dream. Stardom was not enough for this hungry young pop star. No, he wanted to impress the ladies with his MMA skills, and stepped into the Pride ring to show off. Unfortunately for him, “Krazy Horse” was about to burst his bubble.
Bennett toyed with Kaneko through the duration of their very short and pointless match, eventually finishing his opponent with an armbar at 4:14 of the first round. Could Bennett have finished the fight earlier? Of course, but he wanted to earn his money, and do his best to let Kaneko know that he should stick to what he does best – making harmless and tame pop music for screaming Japanese teenage girls.
Hit the jump for the rest of the Top 10 Worst New Year’s Eve MMA fights in Japan!
9. Fedor Emelianenko VS Zuluzinho
The much-touted son of the man named Zulu (who had previously been quite the match for Rickson Gracie in his younger days), Zuluzino had an alleged undefeated streak of over 30 fights in Brazilian Vale Tudo, and made short work on Henry Miller in his Pride debut. It was only logical that this hulking man with an unconfirmed record would fight Fedor Emelianenko. It was also only logical that it would take Fedor 26 seconds to turn him into a pile of mush.
In his post-fight interview, Fedor apologized to Zuluzinho for beating him up so badly, but he should have apologized to the audience for forcing us to watch him beat up a can instead of a legit contender.
8. Fedor Emelianenko vs Hong Man Choi from Yarennoka – New Years Eve 2007
Then there was that time when Fedor fought the giant Korean in 2007…
To his credit, Choi had a good kickboxing record of 12-4 when he met Fedor, and was confident in his skills after an easy win a year earlier against perennial tomato-can to the stars, Bobby Ologun. Fedor had met tall fighters before like Semmy Schilt, but Choi is no Schilt, and the Russian superstar rallied up after being dragged to the canvas earlier and finished “The Techno Goliath” with a picture-perfect armbar.
7. Yoshihiro Nakai VS Heath Herring from K-1 – Premium 2005 Dynamite!!
This fight could have been one of the best fights ever at a NYE show, but things don’t always go as planned. Nakao’s nickname, “Kiss,” was more than earned when he faced off with Herring before the fight. During an intense staredown between the fighters, Nakao leaned in and planted a wet one right on Herring’s lips. Since Herring isn’t a homosexual (a plea he cried out to the audience after this happened), “The Texas Crazy Horse” slugged Nakao and knocked him right out to sleepyland. Even though the bout never officially happened, it definitely was an odd and memorable moment in NYE history!
Hope you don’t mind, but I picked a video of this fight with some background music to really set the mood!
6. Genki Sudo VS Butterbean from K-1 – Premium 2003 Dynamite!!
Genki Sudo was in the start of the prime of his career, and was a free agent since his deal with the UFC ended after Duane Ludwig beat him at UFC 42. He returned to Japan to fight for K-1, and met Eric Esch AKA the man they call “Butterbean.”
Butterbean was making his first steps into the world of MMA and professional kickboxing, and Sudo as his first opponent was an odd choice. The match is better than you would expect, or at least entertaining, as Sudo bounces off the ropes and runs circles around the bulbous Butterbean, confusing him before going in for the kill. You can also thank Sudo for beginning the freak show craze in MMA events, as this was one of the earliest mismatched size fights in Japanese MMA NYE events.
5. Choe Mu Bai VS Giant Silva from PRIDE – Shockwave 2004
You know this fight is awful when I can’t even find a video of it! I searched high and low to find evidence that this fight took place, but there were not even any photos online to prove this fight happened. Unless it was some horrible nightmare of mine, I recall this bizarre match that seemed so very out of place on an otherwise great event.
Truth be told, I used to laugh my butt off watching this fight for one very specific reason. En route to submitting Giant Silva, Choe worked his ground and pound from various positions, nailing his opponent with blows to the face and body. With each strike, Giant Silva bellowed and moaned like a beached whale crying for help, although his sounds were more like Chewbacca growling when Han Solo got frozen in carbonite. If you can find this match, watch it and enjoy the hilarity. If you can’t, you will have to take my word for it.
4. Bob Sapp VS Kinnikumantaro from K-1 – Dynamite!! Power of Courage 2008
“Kinnikuman” is a very famous manga in Japan about pro-wrestling, so much that Ikuhisa Minowa renamed himself Minowaman as tribute to this series. In honor of the comic’s 30th anniversary, Kinnikuman’s son, Kinnikumantaro (played by Akihito Tanaka) would step into the ring to make fantasy a reality. Facing off against him, a living comic book character in his own right, Bob “The Beast” Sapp.
Akihita did the best he could, especially considering he was forced to wrestle in full tights from head to toe, along with a mask that surely must have irritated him to wear. In the end, Sapp was too much for this newcomer to the sport, and sent Kinnikumantaro back into the pages of his comic to battle the likes of Warsman and Terryman, and a character in the shape of a toilet bowl. True story, look it up if you don’t believe me.
3. Royce Gracie VS Akebono from K-1 – Premium 2004 Dynamite!!
Why? Just… why? Here is the best reason that I can see this fight being made. Akebono was in severe financial stress, due to a failed restaurant and lack of money saved from his days as a world-class sumo, so K-1 offered him a chance to fight for them. After multiple losses in kickboxing shows, he decided to try his hand at MMA, and met UFC legend, Royce Gracie, in his debut. Royce was making his return to MMA, following a match against Hidehiko Yoshida a year prior in Pride, and opted to take on the corpulent Akebono.
To train for the fight, Gracie claimed he had two to three men sitting between his legs to simulate the girth of Akebono. Indeed, it was the mass of the sumo that squashed Gracie on the mats early in the fight, but it was also his undoing.
2. Shinya Aoki vs Yuichiro Nagashima from K-1 Dynamite!! 2010
Aoki is one of the most popular homegrown fighters in Japan these days, with his slick submission skills and edgy personality (‘cuz middle fingers are kewl!). The “Baka Survivor” has had some excellent fights on NYE shows in the past, including his epic hammerlock submission of Mizuto Hirota, and defeating Eddie Alvarez in record time to become the first (and only) WAMMA lightweight champion.
At last year’s NYE show, Aoki met Yuichiro Nagashima in a weird mixed rules match, with the first round of their exhibition bout begin under kickboxing rules, and the second round under MMA rules. Aoki blatantly broke the rules multiple times in the first half of the fight, mocking the kickboxer and illegally tossing him to the ground whenever he could. The crowd was completely behind Aoki in spite of this, and after he survived the kickboxing round, the Japanese audience was going out of their minds in hopes of seeing another stellar submission when the MMA round started. Nagashima had other plans, and as soon as the round started, Aoki predictably shot for a takedown, leading the kickboxer to leap into action with a knee that knocked Aoki out clean. That’s what you get for making a farce out of MMA, Aoki – a splitting headache and humiliation via an Otaku cosplayer.
1. Giant Silva vs Akebono from K-1 – Premium 2006 Dynamite!!
Leave it to Japan to book the freak show fighters to fight each other. They could not have picked two better men for the job, as Akebono and Giant Silva were given epic entrances much to the chagrin of the abnormally quiet Japanese audience. Even they knew this was crap, but they were too polite to boo, they just wanted this fight to end as quickly as possible.
The ring could barely hold these two titans, nearly falling over the ropes at the start of the fight. The pair toppled to the ground, where Silva locked up the sumo in a Kimura and graciously ended this “fight,” leaving the Japanese crowd applauding Silva for wrapping up this farce and for letting the show go on with the real fights.
There you have it, ten awful fights from what is typically one of the best MMA shows of the year in Japan. This year seems safe so far from any oddities, but there is always hope for 2012. It won’t be long before we see Kazushi Sakuraba dress up like Eva-Unit 01 and fight Todd Duffee dressed as Gendo Ikari. Actually, that would be pretty awesome… If I missed any of your favorite fights, let me know in the comments, and if you don’t like my list, Nick Diaz has something to say to you.