Throughout the history of MMA there have been many milestone events and iconic confrontations, which sometimes became something personal and thus only grew in scale. But there have also been fights that were not only iconic but truly groundbreaking and seminal. These bouts are what made MMA the industry it is known for by millions of fans around the world.
Takado – Gracie
The top begins with the most important fight in terms of history. The confrontation between Hixon Gracie and Nabuhiko Takada is one of the main reasons behind the creation of the once strongest promotion on planet Pride.
In 1994, Hickson Gracie won the Valetudo Eight tournament in Japan. His dominance of the tournament, coupled with his brother’s success made the Japanese question whether their wrestlers, led by Takado, were as good as they were. The wrestlers offered Gracie a scripted fight, but the Brazilian refused. The Japanese then sent their fighter into Gracie’s gym, who was to offer Hixo a fight right in the gym. Gracie was supposed to refuse and be branded a coward, but it didn’t go according to plan.
Hickson gave the Japanese fighter a very tough beating right in front of the media and said hello to Nabuhiko Takada. As time went on, the passions subsided, but Japanese pro wrestling fans were still eager to see their country’s representatives deal with Gracie.
In 1997, Takado achieved his goal. His bout with Gracie was organized and even a whole promotion called Pride was created for it, with Fedor Emelianenko reigning supreme in the future. Yakuza was involved in the organization of this fight.
Although the conflict has somewhat subsided, 47,000 people remembered it and decided to support their favorite, Takado, live. A gong sounded signaling the start of the fight. The local favorite began to openly run away from the Brazilian. This continued until Gracie caught up with his opponent and knocked him to the floor. There, the Brazilian took an attacking position and began beating the Japanese. A short time later, Hickson went for an elbow lever and Tokado was forced to tap.
The bout itself turned out to be a fairly uneventful one with a clear advantage for one of the fighters, but the conflict between these fighters and Tocado’s perseverance created Pride, which gave fans many knockouts and iconic tussles. There has been a lot of media and expert attention to this fight. Professionals will explore all the nuances of the event to find the best cricket betting odds, boxing bets, and other sports.
Gracie – Sakuraba
After Hickson’s success in Japan, to Hoysa in America, the Gracie clan firmly took over at the top of the food chain and dictated their terms to Pryde. At this time a fighter emerged in Japan capable of fighting back against the great clan. Kazushi Sakuraba emerged. In 1999 his hunt for Gracie began.
Sakuraba began by defeating Gracie’s Hoyler. As the fight progressed, he went for a painful takedown, but Gracie wouldn’t tap. It would have ended in a fractured or severed arm, but the referee decided to save Heuler from himself and stopped the fight. The Gracie clan was enraged. The brothers refused to accept such a defeat. After the fight, Sakuraba challenged Hickson, but the latter, despite the opportunity to avenge his brother, did not accept the challenge. Hoysu, who had not been in the ring for five years, had to answer for his brothers.
The fight took place under modified rules, which Gracie insisted on. The fight had to have no time limit. Only endless 15-minute rounds, at the end of which, someone had to win early. Also, the brothers insisted that the referee should not interfere in the fight. He was only allowed to do so if a fighter was knocked down, knocked out or his corner threw in the towel. The harsh and ruthless MMA of the 90s.
Before the fight, the Japanese, along with his teammates, came out wearing wrestling masks. According to Sakuraba, the only thing on his mind after stepping out like that was not to lose quickly. Gracie started the fight very actively. He tried to put the Japanese on the ground to use his strongest side, Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
The Japanese was careful to avoid fighting Gracie, but at some points, he tried to do some painful stand-up techniques himself. Sakuraba was very calm and relaxed. It felt like he was not fighting one of the best fighters in the world, but was quietly strolling through the park. At the end of the first round, Sakuraba managed to go for a leg kick but ran out of time, and the gong sounded.
From the second round onwards, the fight began to look strange. The Japanese was still avoiding a fight, while Gracie was unable to impose that fight. As a result, the fighters hugged each other on the mat for 15 minutes. In the third round, Gracie himself fell to the mat and tried to punch out punches while lying on his back. When Gracie did decide to get up, Sakuraba unleashed some scary low kicks on him that did significant damage.
On top of that came the cardio problems. It was evident that Gracie was beginning to tire. In rounds 5 and 6, Sakuraba completely outworked Gracie in the standup and still avoided the fight. After an hour and a half of the fight, the Brazilian’s corner decided to stop the fight and throw in the towel.
Sakuraba became a real superstar in the blink of an eye in Japan. He fought for an hour and a half against one of the best fighters of that era in front of his home fans and managed to get the upper hand. The world about the invincibility of the Gracie clan was shattered.
Stefan Boehner – Forrest Griffin
Today the UFC is the dominant organization in the world of mixed martial arts. All the best fighters fight there, but it has not always been that way. By 2005, the organization was losing around $36 million. Then, the organization’s president Dana White and the owners, the Fertitta brothers, went all-in and invested in a reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. The Fertitta brothers went into even more debt to get the show out.
But these were not all the problems that accompanied the executives. No channel on American television wanted to broadcast their show. Only Spike TV agreed, but on the condition that all production costs were borne by the brothers.
The coaches for the first season were Chuck Lidell and Randy Couture. They were supposed to fight in the project finale, but one bout happened that overshadowed them. We are talking about the bout between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonner. At the start of the first round, Griffin was the aggressor, taking center and punching combinations. By the middle of the round Bonner was swinging and the bout was shifting into an uncompromising chopping in the middle of the cage, where neither fighter wanted to concede.
The audience jumped out of their seats, the chopping in the center of the cage alternating with brutal punches in a Thai clinch. It was hard to see who was fighting. Spectators in the audience and on TV screens began urgently calling their acquaintances and asking them to turn on Spike, where two unknown barbarians had set up a real meat grinder.
By the end of the second round, the strength began to leave the fighters, but neither of them even thought of ending the war that had broken out in the cage. After three rounds of the brawl, the most difficult position was with the judges, who had to decide who had won this uncompromising brawl. After three rounds the victory went to Forrest Griffin.
Both warriors were taken to hospital after this fight. They subsequently became good friends and the bout was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. That same night, Dana managed to negotiate a contract extension with the channel, and the organization itself began to flourish, gaining weight and popularity. All thanks to two guys who were unknown fighters at the time of the fight. This fight is considered the most important fight in the history of the best organization in the world.
Slice – Petruzelli
In 2008, Kimbo Slice’s hype train was going full steam ahead. He predicted a great future and a bout with Fedor Emelianenko himself. Before that, he was to fight Ken Shamrock, who was 46 years old at the time. A few hours before the fight Ken got injured during the warm-up, and the organizers had no choice but to look for a replacement.
Kimbo chose Seth Petruzelli as his replacement. At the time of the fight, his record was 10 wins and 4 losses. Kimbo was paid extra for the fight on such short notice and his fee was around half a million dollars, which even by today’s standards is a very large amount that not all fighters get.
Slice, in his first attack, was met with a counter-punch that left him on the floor. Petruzelli didn’t miss his chance and finished off his stunned opponent. In just 14 seconds, Kimbo Slice’s hype train went rapidly off the rails. The audience even booed Seth as they came to see their favorite, whom the unknown Petruzelli knocked out in 14 seconds.