New Year's Eve and Day are the biggest days of the year for fight fans. In Vegas, Gray Maynard is challenging Frankie Edgar for the UFC Lightweight Title, and in Japan they're finding out how many pounds of cats it takes to defeat a light heavyweight trapped in a bag. To celebrate this, I'm counting down the baddest ass moments in kickboxing history. I'll even include some helpful tips so you can spend 2011 kicking ass at home.
Glaube's sweetest weapon is a gator kick he calls the "Brazilian Kick." It's an attack that looks like his thigh and shin can't agree on what they're doing. It starts low so your opponent's elbow comes down to protect his body, then your kneecap dislodges and your foot swings over his gloves and into his betrayed face. You can't trust Glaube's leg. Glaube's leg will invite you over for sex and then sell you Amway. Poisoned Amway.
Musashi is also a karate fighter, and in his prime he was a mix of twitchy reflexes and Japanese unkillability. This was not his prime. This was towards the end of a tough career of being 40 pounds lighter than every opponent. Plus, as a Japanese hero, biased judges always sent his fights into extra "tie-breaking" rounds. Musashi could get pummeled into an amublance and the judges would chase after it to tell him he still has an extra round to fight. If you punch Musashi in the eye, the Japanese judges write that down as "Musashi sternly gazes at opponent's honorless fist: 75 points." When Musashi dies, Japanese ringside teams will exhume his body for a tie-breaker round against the robots that killed him.
When the two fought, Musashi wasn't doing much. He's a counter fighter, but you can't counter fight against a guy whose kicks taunt you seven different ways before knocking a tooth out. Counter fighting against Glaube Feitosa is like playing catch with hot soup -- it only ends quickly and stupidly. But it's not like it mattered -- no one would have been ready for the video game combo that Glaube unleashed.
Feitosa backed Musashi up with punches, threw a Brazilian Kick, then a front kick to the face. Musashi awesomely blocked and dodged all of this, but he was out of room. He bounced off the ropes just as Feitosa went into the air with a flying knee. Geologists can't explain why the ground shook for a moment, but wise men say that it was the erections of ancient war gods raging under the Earth. Glaube's knee smashed into Musashi's head like a Gallagher punchline. Then, as Musashi flopped into a heap Japanese poets might describe as "a tie," Glaube kiiYAI'ed into a karate trophy pose. Feitosa kicks ass like a 9-year-old in his imagination.
Rob Kaman's leg kicks hit hard enough to knock the polio vaccine out of your body, but he's also a genius at setting them up. He'll punch you twice in the face and while you're concerned with that, he'll kick your undefended leg in half. And if you try to get clever and keep your leg up to block it, he'll kick the other one out from under you. Every fight with Rob Kaman comes with a free lifetime limp. Kaman was the godfather of this modern Dutch system of Muay Thai that involves more punching than traditional Thai kickboxing. When you look at upper body of the top fighters from Holland and Thailand, you'll see the reason for this might be less cultural and more physiological.
In 1992, Kaman faced Polish fighting legend Marek Piotrowski for the I.S.K.A. Oriental Rules Light Heavyweight Title. "Oriental Rules" was a vaguely racist way of saying you can kick each other in the legs. Early in the fight, Kaman broke his shin open on Piotrowski. His corner taped it closed, but there's a reason they don't make tampons out of duct tape -- it doesn't work. His shin wouldn't stop bleeding and he wouldn't stop smashing it into Piotrowski. You could tell he hated it, but Rob Kaman doesn't care -- he will beat you with his own open wound just to teach you both how weak you are.
The fight went for seven rounds. And these weren't seven rounds of jabs and high fives. They were pounding on each other. Then finally Kaman landed the kind of mind-crippling right hand that makes Polish jokes tragically unironic. Piotrowski's legs quivered like a screen door on a submarine and the ref jumped between them. Piotrowski collapsed to a knee, swinging the whole time. Then this crazy bastard wobbled back to his feet only to have the referee stop the fight. Why? Because Piotrowski was completely god damn asleep. Rob Kaman shattered the part of his brain that tells your body when it's in a coma. The referee held his unconscious body, but he was holding it more back than he was up. Which is a pretty ballsy thing to do to a guy who just turned into a zombie right in front of you.
For two rounds Remy Bonjasky punched and kicked Akebono as he helplessly shambled in a tiny circle. Chocolate rabbits have more natural defenses than Akebono. I didn't know if Remy was toying with him or waiting for the ice cream inside to melt just to see what would happen. It was so embarrassing that I think the Japanese subtitles tried to trick the audience into thinking they were watching a panther kill a bean bag. Then, in the third round, Remy landed a head kick. Akebono looked so dead that local restaurant owners panicked. To this day, it's the most violent thing ever done to butter. They say that if you watch this fight while you're cooking, your cream sauce will break.
Most Thai fighters like to go slow in the first round and feel their opponent out. So if a Thai fighter spent the first round beating you like you were filled with candy, terrible things are in your future. Buakaw hunted Masato in a way that no behavioral forensics investigator would call human. At one point he boots Masato into the ropes, spins him around, and kicks both legs out from under him. Masato was so confused where he was, he had to spit to figure out which way was up like an avalanche victim.
In Muay Thai, the push kick is used in the same way a boxer uses a jab. It can hurt, but it's mostly there to create distance. It is most definitely not normal to see someone use it to stomp on a man's face while they're both standing up. Buakaw is the DEA and you are a meth lab door.
After this one-sided fight went the distance, it seemed pretty easy for the Japanese judges to pick a winner -- the awesome guy without all the footprints on his face. But on the other hand, Masato is Japanese. So they called it a tie and made them fight a fourth round. Coincidentally, four is the same number of years this insane decision took off Masato's lifespan.
The extra round went like the others. Buakaw filmed a How To Break A Man's Will With Muay Thai instructional tape all over Masato's legs, body, and head. Masato kept clinching to try and rest, but Muay Thai doesn't use the clinch for resting. As soon as any hug started, Buakaw either kneed an organ to death or spiked Masato into the mat like a football. After that, the judges didn't send it to a fifth round, probably because Masato's life insurance didn't cover suicide.
In comical slow motion, Sapp bent down and contorted his face in pain, surprise, and 8 emotions only buffalo have names for. He looked like he was trying to act out Total Recall for a deaf person. Shrieking louder and louder, he lowered himself to the mat. Something in his skull broke and it was taking a very long time for all the pain signals to reach the twin brains located in buttocky clusters of muscles in his calves. As it would be explained to him later at the minotaur clinic, Cro Cop broke his orbital bone. Then they of course asked him to leave. His doctor didn't go to 12 years of minotaur school to treat a filthy cyclops.