MMA: 10 Fights We Wish Had Never Happened
You don't have to throw a stone very far to hit a list of the best MMA fights ever, but what about the worst MMA fights ever? What about those fights that the Powers That Be would sweep under the rug? What about the fights we wish never happened?
It's right here. These are the fights They don't want you to remember. The fights that, once seen, cannot be unseen. Because they were boring, because they lacked expertise, because it was a bad matchup, because it had a particularly unfortunate outcome. Would that we could erase these contests from the history books. Would that we might sponge away the writing on the stones!
But we can't. But we can wish. And if I had my wish, these 10 fights would be spirited away forever.
Honorable Mention: Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Gilles Arsene
It gets honorable mention because I'm not entirely sure it legally qualifies as a fight.
At Pride 23, the Frenchman Gilles Arsene employed the time-honored fighting method of curling oneself up in as tight a ball as possible. An armbar attempt from the great Kazushi Sakuraba—not the actual hold, just the attempt—finally put an end to the misery.
10. Hong Man Choi vs. Jose Canseco
"Jose's gotta circle, guys. He's got to circle."
The template is telling me I have to write more. Welp, Jose Canseco is a former baseball player who used a bunch of steroids and then snitched on his fellow steroid users and then became a reality TV fixture. Hong Man Choi is a giant kick boxer.
Honestly? Choi deserves better. Just because he's freakishly tall doesn't mean he should have to fight Jose Canseco. I'd reserve that honor for other reality stars; let birds of a feather flock together. Chyna? Mini Me? Bret Michaels? Now we're talking.
Spoiler alert: Choi won.
9. Ben Rothwell vs. Mark Hunt
Whoever thought it was a good idea to have two beefy heavyweights slug it out in the rarefied Rocky Mountain air at UFC 135 was either brilliant or brain-dead. Toward the end, these two were wheeling around the Octagon like characters in a Charles Bukowski novel. And by "end," I mean "beginning."
I laughed to keep from crying. Which is better than Ben Rothwell fared; he would have cried if the tears hadn't all dried up and been absorbed into his bloodstream for emergency nutrition.
8. Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin
Like Willie Mays on the Mets or Michael Jordan with the Wizards, Chuck Liddell was a star athlete who didn't know when to say when.
Rich Franklin, who knocked out Liddell despite fighting with a broken arm, delivered the final straw that forced the great champion's retirement.
7. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Pedro Rizzo
Interesting insider side note to the photo: as this was being taken, Fedor Emelianenko was like "aahh god, I'm sooo old." And then Pedro Rizzo was like "brraaaains." And then Vadim Finkelstein sprayed them both with the hose, which he had previously requested from M-1 Global staff for just such a contingency.
The M-1 people had to get Fedor Emelianenko one more name opponent. Jeff Monson didn't cut the mustard. Neither did that guy so-and-so he fought after Monson.
So they did what any self-respecting cynical fight promoter would do: press the magic button on your key fob and activate the corpse of Pedro Rizzo. Then after he loses, just write him a check to keep him from running amok. It's the silver bullet of MMA.
6. Mark Coleman vs. Mauricio Rua
Just two exhausted dudes rolling around breathlessly. Go ahead, make a hilarious joke. If that's the way you like to treat our senior citizens.
Bow down to the Fight of the Night bonus winner for UFC 93, or as I like to call it, the worst fight to ever receive a Fight of the Night bonus. If only it had happened like 30 years earlier.
5. Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites
Embarrassing for all involved. Thales Leites, a jiu-jitsu expert hoping to initiate action on the ground, spent the whole fight rolling around on his back with his legs up in the air like he was in labor. Anderson Silva spent the whole fight taunting him for that.
After that, Leites lost to Alessio Sakara and was out of the UFC.
4. Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski 4
You could put a lot of Tim Sylvia fights here: Ray Mercer (in which he was knocked out in nine seconds), Jeff Monson, and Assuerio Silva (ie, The One Where He Crapped His Pants) are all worthy candidates.
As are most of the installments in this endless series with Andrei Arlovski. I'll include the most recent incarnation, which took place August 31 in the OneFC promotion and resulted in a No Contest and a potential fifth meeting for these two, for reasons of timeliness.
3. Nate Quarry vs. Kalib Starnes
This is not a scientific poll, but this fight, in which Kalib Starnes danced and/or literally ran away from opponent Nathan Quarry for the duration, may be the most infamous in MMA history.
2. Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn 2
Ah, the Detroit Dance. Partly as a result of some late-breaking local anti-MMA regulations, Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn avoided closed-fist strikes, and spent much of their rematch at UFC 9 circling each other and, well, not much else.
I still think Dan Severn should have fought in long pants. And would a little mustache wax have killed him? Fisticuffsmanship!
1. Mike Bernardo vs Nobuhiko Takada
In 2001, the 2-5-1 Nobuhiko Takada locked horns with 0-0-0 Mike Bernardo (though to be fair to Bernardo, he was an accomplished kick boxer). And the two, quite simply, didn't fight. I think you can probably count on one hand the number of times they actually made physical contact with each other.
Fittingly, the result of the fight was a draw, and an immediate fast-tracking up the short list of the very worst fights to ever take place.
Follow Scott Harris on Twitter @ScottHarrisMMA.