Kimo vs Bam Bam Bigelow
We’re gonna start this thing off oldschool with Kimo vs Bam Bam Bigelow from November 17th, 1996. This fight ended like many fights from the early days of MMA – the guy with some basic knowledge of that magical grappling stuff taking down his opponent and ground n pounding the snot out of him. In this case, Kimo possessed the ground skills. Bam Bam Bigelow’s greatest contribution to the fight was an impressive case of terror hands…
Bigelow claimed he was paid $100,000 for his trouble and wouldn’t mind fighting again if the money was right. Alas, the big man died in 2007 at the age of 45 without ever stepping into another cage. Well, at least not an MMA cage.
Kinnikuman vs Bob Sapp
I could make a Top 10 Freakshow fight list comprised exclusively of Bob Sapp fights, but that’s no way to spread the love. Instead, let’s focus on the most clearly ridiculous of Sapp’s many ridiculous matches: his fight with cartoon character Kinniku Mantaro. Better known to children of the 80s as that guy from the M.U.S.C.L.E. show and toys, Kinnikuman is a huge manga in Japan and the geniuses running FEG decided what better way to draw younger kids into MMA than having him come to life and fight MMA.
So they stuck amateur wrestler and heavyweight prospect Akihiko Tanaka in a mask and made him fight Bob Sapp on New Years Eve. Tanaka was actually doing pretty good and controlling the fight on the ground until Sapp managed to MUSCLE his way out from underneath and get the fight back to the feet. Tanaka’s Kinniku mask was twisted over his eyes and when he tried to readjust it Sapp pounced and started unloading. Kinnikuman’s demise came seconds later as he curled up against the corner posts and had the ref rescue him.
The lesson to be learned here, kids? Don’t wear masks in MMA. The other lesson: JAPAN LOVES FREAKSHOWS. This fight was the most watched fight on the program with 19 million people tuning in.
Tim Sylvia vs Ray Mercer
One of those rare 100% AMERICAN freakshow fights, this fight pitted former UFC heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia vs 48 year old boxing champ Ray Mercer. This was Mercer’s second MMA fight – he had fought an exhibition match against Kimbo Slice in 2007, two years earlier. Kimbo dusted him in just over a minute flat, so the expectation was that the much more experienced Sylvia would do the same.
So imagine everyone’s surprise when Mercer came out and took an overweight and out of shape Timmy’s head off in 10 seconds flat. Sylvia went down like a pinewood tree and his reputation, already in tatters after an emasculating loss to Fedor the year before, never recovered.
Shinya Aoki vs Yuichiro Nagashima
The Japanese are the kings of freakshow fights and here’s the proof. Not only will they turn the matchmaking retardation up to 11, they’ll also completely change the rules of fighting to suit whatever strange idea they’ve got going. This fight pitted DREAM lightweight champion Shinya Aoki against K-1 kickboxer and cosplay cross dresser Yuichiro Nagashima against eachother in a redefinition of what ‘mixed’ martial arts is all about. Round 1 was kickboxing. Round 2 was MMA.
Considering Shinya Aoki is one of the best submission artists in the sport, everyone figured all he had to do was survive the first three minute kickboxing round. And survive he did – he spent the entire time clowning around throwing big jump kicks and basically killing time in a mockery of K-1 rules. Which made it all the more sweet when 10 seconds into the MMA round, Nagashima caught Aoki with a huge knee and put him to bed with strikes. Nagashima, K-1, and cosplay wins!
Jose Canseco vs Hong Man Choi
Japan loves baseball, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that DREAM execs decided to include a little baseball in what was known as their open weight SUPER HULK TOURNAMENT. Canseco was matched up with 7’2 Korean kickboxer Hong Man Choi. Canseco came to the ring carrying a baseball bat and accompanied by his girlfriend at the time, Playboy model Heidi Northcott. Heidi is now better known as Mrs Chuck Liddell. As for the fight itself, Jose spent most of the match running away from Choi before blowing out his knee and collapsing onto the canvas for the finish.
Canseco would later attempt to set up an even freakier freakshow fight on American soil against former NFL superstar and Strikeforce’s pet project Herschel Walker. Unfortunately, that was too freaky even for Strikeforce and the bout never happened. Another fight with Jose Canseco that didn’t happen: He no-showed a Celebrity Boxing match with Lindsay Lohan’s dad in a very unique manner – he sent his twin brother Ozzie out to fight for him.