You could make the argument that every fight in the first few years of the UFC was a freakshow fight. After all, the action was raw and unhinged, the concept itself unpredictable and unprecedented.
For years, the sport of MMA felt underground, and in many ways it was.No one in the mainstream wanted the UFC to succeed, causing the promotion and its fans to adopt an "us against the world" mentality. In the midst of a campaign against violence on television and in the movies, in the middle of a campaign for "family values," the UFC was unrepentantly violent—and we loved it.
Eventually what started as spectacle became sport, complete with weight classes, a multitude of rules and even professional-level athletes. But back in the day, it wasn't just about finding out who the best fighters were.
Sometimes you had to know the answer to simple questions. Could a man beat a giant? Okay—what about Butterbean? What if that giant was Korean and trained as a kickboxer?
The fights that resulted from these questions aren't always the most sporting. But occasionally they rise to the level of performance art, combining primal violence with whimsy in a way that was mesmerizing and downright fun.
Those days are long gone. MMA has become a big business and eliminated the freakshow fight almost entirely. Some call it progress.
Me? I'm not so sure.