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 Feitosa is a Brazilian with a kyokushin karate background. Kyokushin karate competitions usually have rules about not punching someone in the head which makes it a badass combination of axe kicks and endurance chest punching. It was developed by Koreans as a home remedy to remove a daughter's breast implants. Training in it has given Glaube an arsenal of kicks that is borderline ridiculous -- he fights like your girlfriend does when she beats you at Tekken by slapping the kick buttons.
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 is the greatest Dutch kickboxer of all time which is kind of like being the greatest anything of anything of all time. Kaman has the kind of mustache you normally only see stuck to a second one just like it and he wears trunks with a rainbow across the crotch. Why? Because he wants you to picture how badly he could kill you if you said something about it. Plus, it makes it impossible to tell whether he's going to fuck you or your wife.
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.
Japan loves to put sumo wrestlers in non-sumo situations, and it has never gone well. Sumo skills translate to fighting about as well as they do to trampoline safety. Coming into his fifth fight, Akebono had never won a kickboxing match or even demonstrated that he'd seen a kickboxing match, so it should be safe to put him against the kickboxing champion of the world, right? While I'm on the subject, Japan, have you ever made a decision when you're sober?
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.
The 2004 finals of the K-1 World MAX Tournament ended up being the fight everyone wanted -- the two best lightweights in the sport facing off. One of them was a little more best than the other, though. In the first round, Buakaw opened a Muay Thai school on Masato. Thai survivors of Japan's WWII invasion watch this and say, "Jesus, take it easy on the Japanese fella."
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.
Bob Sapp is what ancient Greeks used to protect their mazes. He's immune to catapults and fire, but he tires quickly. After his initial charge, he'll be breathing too hard to punch and you really only have to worry about him getting your cattle pregnant. Against Cro Cop he threw everything he had into a five second groping followed by a dick punch. Cro Cop survived, grumpily, and answered back with a ramrod of a cross to Sapp's right eye. Bob Sapp wasn't used to his lunch punching him in the face and his reaction to it was to turn his entire body into a cartoon.
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.
To get into the K-1 Grand Prix Finals, you have to win several zillion fights throughout the year. To win the Grand Prix, you have to beat three of the best kickboxers in the world in one night. In 2009, Semmy Schilt did that in stupidly record-breaking time.
The karate snap kick is one of the first moves they teach children, probably because you can't hurt anyone with it. It's a little flip of your knee that drives the ball of your foot straight out to let your enemy know it's safe to rape you. However, Semmy Schilt is 7 feet tall and his limbs act as natural particle accelerators. By the time his lazy jab or kick reaches you, it cracks against you like an elephant gun. And against a normal-sized human, the impact zone of his snap kick is your liver, which is somewhere between your balls and your dong on the list of places you don't want to get kicked.
In the quarter final, Semmy shut down Jerome Le Banner's nervous system with a snap kick to the liver in the first round. It was the kind of kick that makes back alley abortion doctors wince. After that, he faced Remy Bonjasky. Remy knocked him down with a jab in the first few seconds, but all that did was piss Semmy off. He chased Bonjasky into a corner and did the exact same thing back. Bonjasky struggled to his feet and over the next twenty seconds, Semmy beat every inch of him like he was Keith Moon's drum kit. A leg kick finally dropped Bonjasky with 30 seconds left in the round, and when I say "dropped," I mean knocked him screaming, wincing, and flailing into the mat. I think Bonjasky might have been trying to signal offshore Japanese boats to warn them about Semmy Schilt.
In the finals, Semmy faced Badr Hari who had actually knocked Semmy out a few months earlier. They traded gigantic shots for a minute until Semmy threw a jab so filled with hate that protest marches are still held on the remains of Badr Hari's face. Semmy went to the corner and waited for Badr to get up, watching him with the barely contained savagery of a fat person deciding on barbecue sauce. Badr got up, so Semmy kicked him in the head. Badr got up with a flying punch, so Semmy kicked him out of the air. Badr got up again and Semmy said, "fuck this" with a kick to the liver. Badr agreed, and stayed down.
When Ramon Dekkers fought Rayen Simpson, the two of them seemed to have just gotten back from sex with each other's girlfriends. They were mad, and after two rounds of feeding each other angry punches, neither of them showed any sign of being hurt. They were determined to set a world record for Most Ignored Skull Fractures.
Late in the second, they each got the idea to throw a left hook, and it was the best idea either of them had ever had. Their punches hit at the exact same time and they were both knocked out cold. The timing was so impossible that Michael J. Fox drove out of the impact and asked what year it was.
Vernon "Tiger" White is a good stand-up striker, but he's spent most of his career as a mixed martial artist. Remy Bonjasky, on the other hand, is what horny female geneticists would make if they were hired to build the perfect kickboxer. He's what Hitler draws when you ask him what he's most afraid of.
A minute into this fight, Vernon and Remy each threw a body kick at the same time. Remy got the better of it. His kick slammed Vernon into the mat. The second Vernon got to his feet, Remy jumped across the ring and threw a roundhouse that seemed to hit nothing. Which didn't explain why Vernon was horizontal and twitching. The announcers were confused, the audience was confused and you had to look at the slow motion replay to see what the hell happened. It was like a Bruce Lee urban legend -- the film was too slow to catch it. In one frame you see Remy's foot about to hit Vernon's temple, and in the next, his foot has moved three feet and Vernon's head is a horizontal smear. Remy knocked this man out with a flying Photoshop filter.
As Ernesto Hoost would put it, he is the "four times K-1 World Champion." He retired with 97 wins and 62 knockouts. That means that if he doesn't feel like driving somewhere, he can kick a road sign until it says what he wants. He was a bit past his prime coming into the 2002 K-1 Finals and only got in the tournament because he replaced an injured Semmy Schilt. To make matters worse, he was fighting Bob Sapp in the quarter final, 400 pounds of growth hormones that beat Hoost two months earlier with moves he learned watching orangutans fight beehives.
Hoost went after Sapp with beautiful leg kicks and combinations and dropped him with surgical body shots. Years from now, when Bob Sapp's organs are being harvested, one of the horse doctors will say to the other, "Whatever this thing used to be, it's paste now." Sapp counter attacked like a frat boy trying to break his bitch ex girlfriend's stereo. It didn't quite work out for him. Hoost spent the entire first round showing the audience the prettiest possible way to execute a yeti.
This continued for 2 minutes and 40 seconds into the second round until Bob Sapp finally cornered Hoost. He held Hoost there with one flipper and threw a temper tantrum against his guard. Sapp punched so much like a hysterical woman that it looked like he was setting up to collapse into Ernesto Hoost's chest and weep. And when the referee jumped in and stopped the fight, that's almost exactly what Sapp did.
Ernesto Hoost was fine. Bob Sapp was the most famous thing in Japan at the time, so when the referee saw a chance to let him win, he took it. With 10 seconds left in the second round, Bob Sapp was being carried by a freight truck to the hospital for a broken hand, and Ernesto Hoost was left in the ring to not fucking believe that shit.
Bob Sapp couldn't continue in the tournament since even yeti hands break when you throw them spastically and metacarpus first, and Ernesto Hoost was given his spot in the semi-finals against Ray Sefo. The fight didn't even make it out of the first round. I tried to make it clear that Ernesto Hoost was a badass, but you still might be shocked that 90 seconds into this fight he blocked an incoming kick and it broke Ray Sefo's leg.
The standard defense for a leg kick is lifting your leg so your enemy's shin hits your shin, not your thigh. As you might imagine, this motherfuck-sucks for the first few thousand times you do it, but eventually your shin builds up calcium deposits and you are a true man. A good leg block doesn't completely negate damage, but when the impact is bone-on-bone, at least the guy kicking you hates it as much as you do. However, if you can turn your knee out and poke it directly into an incoming shin, your opponent will instantly regret at least one decision he's made in his life.
In his first fight of the night, Ernesto let a grizzly bear pound on him until it broke its hand. Then he let Ray Sefo break his leg against him. So I figured in the finals, he would just steal Jerome Le Banner's seat belts and stand in front of his car. He was more proactive with his maiming in this fight, though. He broke Le Banner's arm with a body kick in the third round. Le Banner was in so much pain he forgot which sport he was in and called a time out. The confused ref considered it a knock down and gave Le Banner a standing 8 count. This wasn't quite enough time for his arm bones to mend themselves, so when Hoost kicked it again, Le Banner called another time out. If there's a word for it when someone is kicking you in your broken arm and you keep coming back, I want to know it so I can scream it during sex. Hoost finished the fight with another kick to the broken arm that was arguably more merciful than dickish at this point. Then he pranced into victory dance so magical that it swept through the land and undid all the terrible violence he had committed.
At the start of this match, Sefo and Hunt were trading shots like gentlemen. One would throw a punch, the other would throw a punch. One would throw a knee, the other would throw a knee. It just looked like a couple of fun guys smashing things together to see how close you have to be to a car to set off the airbag.
Special Move: Oceanic Heritage! Years ago someone told Polynesian DNA that everyone was surrounded by sea monsters and it believed them. It made humans that were immune to head injuries, fast enough to run on the highway, and big enough to use the carpool lane. Putting two of them in the same ring is like telling your local tectonic plates to fuck themselves.
In the second round, things got mean. Sefo and Hunt started throwing punches like they wanted to feast on the mana of the other's crushed remains. Hunt cracked punches off Sefo's forehead, and Sefo smiled and nodded. Sefo drove punches into Mark Hunt's chin; Mark Hunt screamed in his face! It looked like six bowling balls trying to play rugby. Then... in the middle of all that violence, love.
As Hunt moved forward, arms down, mouth screaming for more punches, Ray "Sugarfoot" Sefo had never been more flooded with love. He dropped his hands as well, leaned in, and kissed Mark Hunt on the cheek. Not in a taunting gay way; this is how two vikings might tell each other that it's time to die when there are too many charging skeletons. Mark Hunt was moved. He answered back with two punches to Sefo's face, but don't be mistaken -- this wasn't retaliation. This gesture was just as affectionate as the kiss and Sefo smiled, a wordless thanks for this generous gift of war. Then the two of them got back to unleashing Hell with their hands. This is the fight Thor closes his eyes and thinks about when a Valkyrie is giving him a blowjob. This fight is what the Alamo uses as its Facebook picture.
Neither man managed to knock the other out, which baffles skull scientists to this day. At the end of the third round, the surviving judges declared Sefo the winner, but probably because Mark Hunt was more generous when it came to dropping his hands and blocking punches with war cries. There are people that search their entire lives for the kind of chemistry that Ray Sefo and Mark Hunt have with each other's fists and skulls. It's beautiful. And Cracked Readers, I ... you've earned this: