Since the days of gladiators gracing the sands of the Coliseum and competing for throngs of cheering plebs, fight sports have always been about spectacle.
Audiences relish seeing the outlandish. In ancient Rome, it might have been watching a gladiator armed with nothing more than a net and trident take on a man-eating tiger. And as much as we might hate to admit it, our human curiosities and interests really haven't changed in 2000 years.
While MMA is tame in comparison to gladiatorial combat (no one is executed on a whim), it still operates on the same principles. Fans buy tickets and order expensive pay-per-view events hoping to witness something amazing or better yet...crazy. That's why you're reading this article.
So with that I'll end the anthropological musings and allow you to sit back, relax and read about these six fights guaranteed to satiate your appetite for crazy MMA action. These fights are brimming with so much awesomeness that they would have left our ancient Roman brethren slack-jawed.
June 24, 1998—Tokyo
This fight was flat-out ridiculous.
In one corner, there was amateur sumo wrestler Emmanuel Yarborough. At 704 pounds, Yarborough was officially recognized as the world's heaviest athlete by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2001 (via Huffingtonpost.com).
Across the ring from him stood Daiju Takase, a mixed martial artist who weighed in at a paltry 169 pounds.
Based on those numbers, this should have been the most lopsided fight of all time. All Yarborough had to do was corner Takase, fall on him and let his natural girth do the rest. Yarborough had already won a fight in this manner, submitting Tatsuo Nakano by way of smothering at Shooto: Shoot the Shooto XX.
Takase spent the majority of the fight circling away from Yarborough. He occasionally threw leg kicks, but his main goal was to tire out the larger fighter and avoid being squashed.
Then Takase inexplicably shot for a single leg and wound up with Yarborough on top of him. But what should have been a quick finish for Yarborough ended up being his undoing. Somehow, Takase wriggled free and landed a series of head strikes that forced Yarborough to tap.
This bout was the closest approximation to a real David vs. Goliath fight. David prevailed again; however, this time he used his fists and not a rock and sling to take down the giant.
And if that weren't enough, five years after defeating Yarborough, Takase slayed another MMA giant. At Pride 26, Takase became the first man to submit Anderson Silva.
Now that's crazy...
Watch Takase vs. Yarborough here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esYysktv1PQ
October 13, 2012—Rio de Janeiro
Anderson Silva jumped up to light heavyweight to take on brawler Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153.
The fight was being hyped like a Rocky movie, with the lowly underdog Bonnar taking on the best in the world. In actuality, the fight was more like watching a mouse get dropped into a snake's cage.
Bonnar didn't have much more than a puncher's chance. His best option for the upset was to muscle Silva against the cage and use his dirty boxing in the clinch.
As if knowing this, Silva purposefully planted his back on the cage and allowed Bonnar to unload on him. Silva showed a total disdain for Bonnar's stand-up and kept his hands at his side. Bonnar threw everything at him, but Silva flowed around every strike like water.
Finally, when Silva grew tired of toying with his prey, he unleashed a vicious knee to Bonnar's solar plexus, crumpling him to the canvas. A few punches later, the fight was stopped.
Without breaking much of a sweat, "The Spider" extended his UFC win streak to 16 and proved why he is the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.
June 23, 2002—Saitama, Japan
This might be the manliest, ballsiest fight ever. If you ever need a dose of testosterone, just watch this fight, and by the end of it, you'll feel amped enough to tear a phone book in two.
Don Frye is an MMA legend and might have one of the most ferocious mustaches known to man. When he met Yoshihiro Takayama at Pride 21, fireworks were guaranteed.
And right from the start, these two warriors went at each other. They clinched and proceeded to punch each other mercilessly in the face. It was a scene straight out of an action movie. Neither fighter was willing to give up any ground.
They continued slugging it out, with Takayama getting the worst of the exchanges. The referee momentarily stopped the fight to have the doctors look at Takayama's eye, which had swollen shut, but he was cleared to continue—much to the delight of those in attendance.
After the action resumed, Frye secured a takedown and pounded out the exhausted Takayama en route to a TKO victory.
Takayama's face looked like he had had an allergic reaction to shellfish or peanuts. His nose was smashed, and he had trouble seeing out of either eye.
This epic brawl was voted as the Fight of the Year in 2002. Now 11 years later, it's no surprise that it's still regarded as one of the craziest fights of all time.
March 3, 2007—Columbus, Ohio
After losing to then light heavyweight champ Chuck Liddel at UFC 57, Randy "The Natural" Couture retired from MMA, vowing he would not enter the Octagon again.
However, a year later, Couture dusted off his gloves and took another shot at glory. His first fight back found him moving up to heavyweight to challenge reigning champ, Tim Sylvia.
This fight should have been a slam dunk for Sylvia considering that he was the bigger, younger and presumably stronger fighter. At the time, Couture was almost 44 years old, making him the oldest combatant ever to challenge for a UFC title.
What should have been an easy win for Sylvia turned into a grueling one-sided beatdown. Couture's first punch, an overhand right, caught Sylvia flush on the chin. He dropped, and Couture swarmed. That one punch changed the momentum of the whole fight.
With Sylvia's will broken, Couture put on an old-school ground-and-pound clinic, showing that the old dog still had some fight left in him. It's not that crazy that Couture won, but it was surprising that he did it so easily by dominating Sylvia from bell to bell.
Couture cruised to a unanimous-decision win. The victory made Couture the oldest fighter to ever win a UFC title (43 years, 255 days)—a feat that will most likely never be matched.
And the fight also proved that when it comes to Randy Couture, age is merely a number.
December 31, 2005—Saitama, Japan
Even though it was New Year's Eve, Heath Herring probably wasn't expecting a kiss, but that's what he got when he stepped into the ring to take on Yoshihiro Nakao at K-1 Premium 2005 Dynamite.
During the referee's instructions, Herring and Nakao engaged in an epic staredown overflowing with machismo. The fighters edged closer together.
Then it happened. Nakao quickly pecked Herring on the lips. A short kiss. Herring, like most everyone else in the Saitama Super Arena, was stunned.
And how do you think someone with the nickname "Texas Crazy Horse" would respond to such an affront?
Well, after his brain processed what happened, Herring responded the only way he knew how: He punched Nakao in the face. It was a short right hook, but it was hard and connected square on Nakao's chin.
Nakao was out cold before he hit the canvas and had to be taken out of the ring on a stretcher. The "official" fight was over before it began, but that wasn't the end of the insanity. Backstage, the brawl continued when Nakao's cornermen attacked Herring.
The bout was originally ruled a disqualification for Herring but was changed to a no-contest since both fighters were deemed to have committed a foul. However, Nakao probably got the raw end of that deal.
Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ6xanxqwa0
December 31, 2008—Saitama, Japan
Japanese tastes are not always palatable to American audiences, which makes it all the more difficult to understand the fight between Bob Sapp and Kinniku Mantaro. Here's a little backstory.
Bob Sapp was a bona fide superstar in the land of the rising sun. He reached near mythic, god-like proportions. The Japanese people couldn't get enough of the bulging behemoth. Sapp made a career out of fighting anyone and hocking products on a cavalcade of Japanese commercials. He even released a music CD.
Now what's interesting about Sapp's opponent, Kinniku Mantaro, is that he isn't real. Kinniku Mantaro (or Kid Muscle in the English dub) is actually a fictional character in a popular Japanese anime, Kinnikuman Nisei. However, the fact that Kinniku Mantaro is imaginary didn't stop the fight from going on as planned.
Promising amateur wrestler Akihito Tanaka took on the role of Kinniku Mantaro. Getting into character involved him wearing a shiny superhero outfit and a lucha libre-style mask.
Basically, this was a fight between a 330-pound giant and a wrestler in a cheap Halloween costume. Words fail to give justice to the unadulterated craziness that occurred.
So on that note, just watch the fight and revel in its awesomeness.
Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54wAIiMvUlQ