The 5 Worst Heavyweights in MMA History
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I'm not sure why heavyweights so often serve as punchlines in MMA. Wait, yes I am.
A large man with a prodigious beer gut earns a judo brown belt, a black belt in the school of hard knocks and a job bouncing drunks, catches an MMA fight on late-night TV, and the rest is history.
This is especially true in the Wild West days of MMA. That's really the golden age of hilariously bad heavyweights. Yes, of course there are many great heavyweight athletes. It's just that the boundaries of fitness are a notch or two looser in the biggest division. For every Cain Velasquez or Cheick Kongo, there's a guy puffing around the cage like a minor character in a James Joyce novel.
Awful heavyweights, for all you do, this little slideshow here is for you. What follows is the Mount Rushmore of the worst MMA heavyweights of all time. Except there's five of them instead of four, and no mountainside could ever hold them.
Three simple ground rules. First, you need at least three professional MMA fights on your record. Second, you need at least one professional fight after the introduction of formal weight classes. Third, you need to have fought in a major league promotion; the more major league you were, the better.
Oh, and one more thing: Can we not tell any of them that this list exists? Wonderful, thanks.
Wesley "Cabbage" Correira
Eric "Butterbean" Esch
5. Mariusz Pudzianowski
Most recent promotion: KSW
The five-time World's Strongest Man is a hero in his native Poland, but Mariusz Pudzianowski is more of a goat inside the actual cage.
Don't get me wrong, I want to give the man credit—especially in case someone sends this to him and he comes looking to pull my entrails out of my mouth, which is something I don't want.
It's not easy to change careers in your 30s. As it stands, the muscleman not only has cardio issues, he can barely move around in there.
But hey, if he needs to transition again, he always has a future in music—as you can see in the video here.
4. Kimbo Slice
Most recent promotion: UFC
Sure, there are guys with worse records than Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson, but that record is just a bit padded. Plus, the guy hit the big time for going viral on YouTube. And he fought accordingly.
Slice/Ferguson himself actually seemed to take the whole thing pretty seriously. However, because he could never develop anything resembling a skill set, no one else ever really could.
3. Giant Silva
Photo credit: FEG Inc.
Most recent promotion: K-1
Mainly a professional wrestler in Japan and elsewhere, Paulo Cesar "Giant" da Silva was billed at 7'2" and 385 pounds. The mountainous man never transcended sideshow status, thanks in some part to an almost eerily fragile chin.
I will say this for him: the Giant Silva Kimura might be the very, very last MMA move I'd ever want done to me.
2. Bob Sapp
That's Bob Sapp on the bottom. (Photo credit: Sherdog)
Most recent promotion: OX MMA
You know this list is pure Murderer's Row when Bob Sapp only makes No. 2.
Feel free to fashion your own theory for why the monstrous, hulking Sapp is a church mouse in the ring or cage. Each theory is more distasteful than the last. And yet, here he is, still plugging along, still somehow making a living. No one this side of Savion Glover gets paid more for tapping.
1. Akebono Taro
Akebono Taro (left) fights Royce Gracie in 2004. (Photo credit: ESPN Brazil)
Most recent promotion: K-1 World Grand Prix
He was a man of many parts. Part sumo wrestler, part pro wrestler, part kickboxer—and, yes, part MMA fighter. However, the big man formerly known as Chad Rowan could never get over the hump, from his first fight in 2004 when he tapped to Royce Gracie through to his last in 2006 when he tapped to Giant Silva.
I guess he eventually got the message, and the first non-Japanese person to ever attain sumo's yokozuna status is now back on the pro wrestling circuits.
To me, he'll always be the worst heavyweight in the history of mixed martial arts.
You can't see me, Akebono. But I'm on my feet. And it's pretty damn dusty in here right now.
Scott Harris is a featured columnist and unrepentant slideshow writer for Bleacher Report MMA. He likes to talk about MMA and sometimes make jokes at its expense. Find him on Twitter @ScottHarrisMMA.