Mixed martial arts is an unpredictable sport, but most times you can count on one guy kicking the crap out of another guy. The following are 10 of fighting history's greatest exceptions to that rule.
Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites UFC 97UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva is widely regarded as the best striker to ever fight in MMA. He dodges punches like he's in the Matrix and holding a NES Advantage. In the time it takes you to tell your foot to kick, he's circled behind you and built a bear trap under it. It's suicide to attack him. However, there's one problem with being Anderson Silva: everyone knows that you're Anderson Silva. Everyone who fights him is scared to death to get close. Let's try to attack the problem logically.
Paulo Filho vs. Chael Sonnen WEC 36Chael Sonnen has a reputation of being a "lay and pray" fighter. This refers to a mixed martial artist who lays on you and prays no one gets a boner. Sonnen once called fighters "lazy" for trying to knock people out. To those unfamiliar with competitive sports, this is like a coworker hauling a tuba into the office because getting music from radios is lazy. Actually, it's a little crazier than that. Let's upgrade the analogy to being like a coworker microwaving bowls of his own shit because it's lazy to use the city's sewage treatment. Coming into the fight, Paulo Filho was the WEC Middleweight Champion and had good reason to be worried about Chael Sonnen. Chael may sometimes mistake hugs for combat, but he kicked Paulo's ass the first time they met. In this rematch, Paulo formed a two step plan to keep his belt. First, he came in fat. You can't take a champion's belt unless they're fighting in that weight class, so it was now a non-title fight. Note that Paulo Filho uses a grappling hook to climb stairs, so for him to come in above 185 pounds surely involved some type of anabolic burrito. The second step of Paulo's plan was apparently psychoactive drugs. Lots of them. He wandered around the cage and seemed only vaguely aware that he was getting jabbed in the face. In fact, he spent most of his time chatting. Chael said later that Paulo was asking to lay down and rest for a bit. It was either the world's strangest time for a nap or the world's dumbest trap, so Chael said no. Paulo didn't care. By that point he was having conversations with people no one else could see. The fight literally turned into one person mumbling to nearby spirits while another person gently punched them. Like the movie ghost if Demi Moore sort of hated Whoopi Goldberg.
Harold Howard vs. Royce Gracie UFC 3Harold Howard was a walking police sketch. He was a crazy-eyed hillbilly with a mullet and his idea of fitness seemed to be funnel-filtered light beer. Now keep in mind that back at UFC 3, we still thought that a black belt in tae kwon do made you a badass. We were all sure that any day, some 90-year-old Shaolin monk would hear about this "U.F.C." and show up to magically fireball everyone to death. But even in our naivety, we took one look at Harold Howard and knew that this is a man who takes karate with 3rd graders; a man with a 0-and-35 record against local law enforcement and 7 no-contests against his wife.
Sakuraba vs. Gilles Arsene Pride 23Japanese fighting legend Kazushi Sakuraba was at a rough point in his career. After being legally killed twice by Wanderlei Silva and then getting his eye socket broken by Crocop, he needed a nice easy match against someone who wasn't a gorilla or a cyborg. This is what's called a tune-up fight. They throw you in with a fighter past his prime or someone doesn't match up well against you. Well, Pride Fighting Championships was taking no chances. Pride put him in the ring with Gilles Arsene, a man who emasculated the French population worse than World War 1. He had no right to be anywhere near a professional fight. He fought like he was washing a delicate load of panties, and knew just enough about grappling to hide like a bitch. Which is what he did. He spent the entire fight in a fetal position while Sakuraba slapped at him and sat on him and tried to think of different ways to pantomime how sorry he was to the crowd. Otters watch this fight to learn how to face off against clams. While a polite Japanese audience waited, Sakuraba took 17 minutes to finally pry a tiny French arm out, and Gilles tapped before the submission was even locked in. France has a history of surrender, but not like this. This would be like France surrendering to Hitler's mother before she even fucked the goat that got her pregnant. Sakuraba needed to get his career back on track, but this guy wasn't fit to ask Sakuraba to open a jar for him. Gilles Arsene isn't tough enough to cry at a sunset without spraining a fallopian tube.
Takada vs. Mike Bernardo Inoki Bom-Ba-YeKickboxer Mike Bernardo made his MMA debut against the massively defeated former pro-wrestler Nobuhiko Takada. With nearly one win between the two of them, we knew this matchup would be explosive.
Heath Herring vs Yoshihiro Nakao K-1 Dynamite!!! 2005As Heath Herring and Yoshihiro Nakao met in the center of the ring on New Year's Eve, the pre-fight staredown began. This is an an important part of the fight drama-- a final opportunity to either offer your opponent respect or to measure his dick against yours. Tonight things would go in a much different direction. Nakao stepped in as if to intimidate. Then he, surprise, sweetly kissed Herring on the mouth. Herring hated it. He let the rage build for a moment and unleashed it with a tiny punch against Nakao's chin. Nakao went out cold, probably more from a broken heart than a rattled skull.
Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia UFC 112Demian Maia is one of the many people smart enough not to attack Anderson Silva. In fact, if that was the measure of intelligence, Demian Maia might be the smartest man alive. He stood almost perfectly still in front of Silva for almost 25 minutes, but he's not the villain in this story. This is the fight where Anderson Silva earned his black belt in High School Bully. Once he saw that Maia wasn't doing anything, Silva teased the fellow Brazilian with little dances and Portuguese racial slurs. It looked like two children playing video games with Anderson Silva being controlled by a racist little brat and Demian Maia controlled by a kid whose Internet kept going out. This wasn't a fight. This was a boy jamming fireworks into a helpless cat while a crowd booed. Despite the slow pace of the fight, it seemed like 15 minutes of making fun of white people and doing The Macarena was too much for the champ. He spent the last 2 rounds retreating in a circle and catching his breath. And while Silva didn't find the time to throw many attacks during this dance recital, one of the shots still fractured something near Maia's eye. When this happens and you blow your nose, your eye swells shut like an air mattress. Demian Maia blew his nose. That meant that for the rest of the fight, Demian had to watch this shimmying dickhead taunt him through an eye that looked like a body builder's vagina. At the risk of inventing an Internet fetish, his entire field of vision must have looked like Chyna giving birth to a boxing glove.
Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie II UFC 5: Return of the BeastWhen casual UFC fans describe grappling as two dudes slow dancing on the ground, this is probably the fight they're talking about. Back in UFC 5, there were no judges. So when Ken Shamrock held Royce Gracie down in a loving embrace for the full 30 minute time limit, they had no idea what to do. Release scorpions? Buy them something from their registry? Someone finally decided to stand them back up and give them five more minutes to fight. As if I need to tell you, this almost immediately turned back into a hug and the five minute overtime slowly crept up to six minutes as the time keeper passive aggressively refused to end the damn fight. To the people that were still awake, the fight was a draw. Any student of the game will tell you that the technical subtleties of the Gracie-Shamrock chess match are difficult to describe, but luckily they're easy to illustrate:
Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn II UFC 9: Motor City MadnessAt UFC 9, two guys spent 30 minutes trying to get out of each other's way in a Turkish bath. We found out later that this was actually a rematch between Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock. Click here to enjoy this terrible fight.
Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki June 26, 1976If Ric Flair and John Wayne combined their DNA and the result was played in a movie by Bruce Campbell, that would be the American equivalent of Antonio Inoki. He was a wrestling superstar in Japan and in 1976, he challenged Muhammad Ali to a wrestling vs. boxing shootfight. Ali's people immediately saw that the rules were ridiculous. Ali had to wear boxing gloves and Inoki would be bare-handed and be able to kick and grapp--