Beating a man is the universal way to express your disapproval. A vicious attack clears up any confusion, and it's still the only way to tell an inflatable doll that you've broken up with it. But sometimes violence isn't enough -- sometimes you need to add some mockery, trash talk or taunting pantomime to really tell a person how you feel. Whether they were used tactically or only to add insult to injury, here are the most outstanding taunts in MMA history:
Brandon Vera vs. Thiago Silva
At UFC 125, Brandon Vera was coming off two straight losses. One to Randy Couture and another to supernatural crimefighter Jon Jones who elbowed a crack into his face. He didn't do much better against Thiago Silva. Silva threw Vera into the mat and beat him like he wasn't human. Which, according to the post-fight urine test, he wasn't.
The first two rounds looked the same-- like an inhuman monster violating the warranty of a Real Doll. Then late in the third round, Thiago got Brandon Vera's back, shoved him down, and pounded him until his knuckles were bored. By this point, the chunks of Brandon Vera's nose had decided to go in several different directions, so his fighting strategy was covering his face and hoping to live long enough to get home and delete his Internet history before he bled to death.
Thiago moved on to throwing volleyball spikes to the side of Brandon Vera's head, now the location of many head parts that were supposed to be on the front. To Brandon Vera's credit, he still wasn't dead.
Thiago eventually ran out of legal places to hit, so settled back and started rhythmically slapping Vera's back. For a second Brandon probably felt this tender pawing and thought he'd crossed over to a place beyond pain. But, oh man, was he unhappy about it when he realized it was actually some asshole playing him like bongo drums.
Did it work?
There is a science behind taunting. For example, getting kicked in the balls hurts so many more ways if it happens right after you've heard how tiny they are. However, this was a case of a taunt being nothing more than a dick move. And it worked. Thiago Silva looked like a dick. Which was only logical, since the urinalysis showed that at the time his blood was 70% bull penis. Vera survived to the final bell, but after emerging from a humiliating beating with most of his nose missing, it was an easy decision for the judges. Vera lost his third straight, and as is UFC tradition, his job.
Vera's story has a happy ending, though. After Thiago tested positive for steroids, the loss was changed to a no-contest and he was rehired by the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Unfortunately, the doctors who handled Silva's pee had to be shot when they broke free from their restraints.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie
PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Finals
Six months before this fight, Kazushi Sakuraba almost snapped the arm off Royce's brother Royler (see right). Royler never submitted, but the referee stopped the fight before he was yanked into two parts. This pissed the Gracies off-- they see limb removal as elective surgery. If you want to let someone disassemble you, who are these referees to get in your way? That's why Royce demanded a revenge fight against Sakuraba with fewer of these bullshit "regulations."
Since Royce Gracie is sort of the most important martial artist who ever lived, Pride Fighting Championships agreed to a bout with no time limits and modified rules. Sakuraba responded by offering to bring a diaper.
On the night of the fight, it was clear neither of them was going to finish things any time soon. Royce kept pushing Sakuraba against the ropes and nudging him in the leg with knees. Sakuraba defended this by making faces at the camera and trying to pull Royce's pants down. There was a little bit of confusion about the new rules, and while the strange embrace went on, the Japanese referee tried to separate them for inactivity. Royce explained to the ref in two languages that were not Japanese, that the fight was a special occasion and he could hug all he wanted. So now we have three people huddled together: an angry one trying to fight, a confused one trying to break it up, and a third one trying to tear off the angry one's pajamas. In Texas, they call this a "wedding."
As the fight went on, Sakuraba got more and more creative, combining his taunts and his attacks into an entirely new martial art. He pulled Royce's gi over his head and beat him like a hockey player. When Royce was on the ground, Sakuraba grabbed his pants and reverse-wedgied him up to drop him on his head. He snuck attacks through Royce's defenses with two-handed karate chops. In one fight, Sakuraba recreated the entire evolutionary process that led to monkeys being able to crack open palm nuts.
Did it work?
Kind of. Sakuraba wasn't disrespectful so much as he was just trying to entertain himself. He looked like a five-year-old forced to go to the laundromat with his parents. And like that poor bored child's day, this fight went on for fucking ever. For six 15-minute rounds, Sakuraba put on a violent improvisational comedy show with only one prop. And finally, after 90 minutes of leg kicks and decortication, the legend Royce Gracie could no longer stand. His corner threw in the towel. He lost what was and will always be the longest MMA fight ever, but Royce made his point: if a man is going to lose a fight it should be from defeat, not from some asshole judge or referee's decision.
Once again, Royce Gracie had changed the face of mixed martial arts. At least until three months later when his cousin Renzo Gracie got caught in an elbow-tearing armbar and a grossed out referee stopped the fight before he tapped. I'll give you one second to try to guess who Renzo's opponent was in that fight. Holy shit, you were right: Kazushi Sakuraba.
Gary Goodridge vs. Amir Rahnavardi
PRIDE FC 3
Gary Goodridge was first seen in blurry video footage recovered from a massacred Tobagonian research team whose final words were, "It took all their sorcerers to entrap him! What hubris it was to unseal the casket!" Coming into this fight, he punched so hard that bomb squads had to use a special robot to wrap his hands. Amir Rahnavardi, on the other hand, was forty pounds lighter, coming in with a professional record of 0-0, and took the fight on one day's notice. Sorry if that spoiled the ending for you.
And speaking of spoiling the ending, this fight featured commentary from Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten pretending to be live at ringside. They actually recorded it months later in a studio, and what happened to Amir Rahnavardi in this fight was so insane that Stephen Quadros started telling a story about it. He suddenly realized what he was doing, panicked, and blurted out that Amir lost. Amazingly, it was left on the DVD release. Here's a transcription:
Stephen Quadros: "Amir, when I was working for editor of Kickboxing Ring Report, used to, was calling me from Japan, telling me, 'Hey. I took a fight with Gary Goodridge.' I said, 'Oh my god. tt! Okay.' OH, LOOK AT THAT RIGHT HAND!"
"And then Amir called me after the fight was over and... he uh... told me... that..."
"That he had lost the fight."
Bas Rutten: "Okay, they have to cut it out. You're right here, man."
So now the people watching at home knew that Amir lost, and that he did it in a way so horrible that simply thinking about it caused a fight commentator to forget where the fuck he was. It all started with Amir's takedown attempt. He got close to Gary and tried a basic judo hip throw. Gary countered it by ignoring physics and falling right on top of him. The hip throw went so unaccording to plan that Christian scientists show it to their students to disprove levers.
While on the bottom, Amir started throwing strikes. Gary said the last three things you ever want to hear from the man you're punching in the jaw. See below:
Did it work?
Only as a portend of the obvious. Gary Goodridge wasn't letting out little "WOO"s like Ric Flair; he was belting them out. When you hit a man as hard as you can ten times and it only makes him sing like Little Richard, there aren't a whole lot of Plan B's. At that point, all you can do is hope that your mortuary makeup artist has a good Before picture and a lot of spackle in your color.
After giving something for Amir to see every time he closed his eyes ever again, Gary Goodridge grabbed his left arm, pulled it behind his back, and dropped the kind of punch that stimulates neurological job growth. His unfrozen Trinidadian caveman fist bounced Amir's head off the canvas and one of the impacts knocked him out cold with his eyes open. The next three punches didn't do anything to help him wake up, but they confused the shit out of Tokyo seismologists.