MMA Campfire Tales: Unsportsmanlike Conduct

| May 15, 2013 | 12:36 pm | Reply

MMA Campfire TalesMMA Fighters have thin skin these days.  Say someone hits like a girl, or that they make funny noises during a match, or that they’re legally cheating with TRT, and all of a sudden everyone has hurt feelings.  Back in the day, this was just your standard banter before the fight, and for good reason: Everyone was scared shitless. If you’re a judoka walking into a rickety cage against some monster of unknown origins and skills, you’re damn right you’re going to call him a name or three to make yourself feel better.

Sportsmanlike conduct didn’t exist in a time when MMA wasn’t really considered a sport, yet there were a few guys that could even make a blood-thirsty crowd say “Wow, that just wasn’t cool.”  You know how hard it is to give a black eye to a sport with no rules?  Let me take you back in time and show you three guys who did their best to turn some stomachs with their post-fight antics

MMA Campfire Tales Presents:

Breaking Rules When There Were None: Unsportsmanlike Blood Sport Antics

The Year: 2000

The Event: King Of The Cage 3 – Knockout Nightmares

The Fight: Chris Brennan vs. Antonio McKee:

A former rising force in the MMA world, KOTC has launched the careers of some stellar California-based fighters with names like Urijah Faber, Mac Danzig and Joe Stevenson having cut their teeth here.  Back before these guys were making waves however, you had Chris “The Westside Strangler” Brennan.  A BJJ black belt before most people had figured out how to even tie a belt, Brennan was far ahead of the MMA curve when he got started in 1996, ripping through the early competition with his evolved submission game.  Having battled the immortal Pat Miletich in nearly an hour worth of fight time across three matches, Brennan was set to be a huge draw for KOTC as they got under way.

However, Brennan was insensitive to epic proportions as well, with a fine indicator of such being his nickname.  For those unfamiliar, “The Westside Strangler” was the name given to one John Floyd Thomas Jr., who spent fifty years raping and killing women in LA, and was still at large during Brennan’s fight career.  Did I mention Brennan was from LA, which is about ten miles from several murder scenes and obviously knew about this? Brennan was a great fighter, but completely classless through and through.

Brennan’s opponent was a relatively new fighter in Antonio McKee, who spoke articulately about his life-long passions of wrestling, abstaining from alcohol, and vegetarian lifestyle.  This might be in contrast to the McKee of today, who screams about how ghetto tough he is and has more stories about kicking the crap out of drug dealers than there are drug deals in the hood.  That’s because McKee initially tried to act like a decent guy, but once he figured out people hated how he fought, he dropped the thin veneer of humility and became the guy you see now.

Temperaments aside, this was a great bit of match-making for the time and was set to be an excellent old-school fight.  The bout started with some high-level grappling, with McKee’s wrestling pedigree meshing nicely with Brennan’s strong BJJ fundamentals, leading to a closely contested first round.  Perhaps realizing that McKee’s athleticism and strength could prove a factor late in this fight, Brennan decided to change the pace a bit and came out, firing all body punches and lower body grappling, but then throwing a head kick.  This couldn’t have possibly worked any better, as McKee dropped his arms to forklift his incoming opponent and took a shin directly across the face, knocking him out cold.

As medical professionals raced into the cage to attend the badly injured fighter, Brennan began his celebration.  That in itself isn’t so bad, given he’d just won a tough fight by causing severe brain trauma to an opponent.  However, he then went for one of the biggest dick moves you could do to a KO’d fighter: He did a picture-perfect impression of the KO, falling face first onto the mat, then jumping up and screaming “WOOOOO!” in McKee’s general direction.  It was so natural that it didn’t seem intentional, and could very well have been Brennan’s inner bastard coming out, yet it set off McKee’s wife into a fit of wailing cage side and stunned the medical professionals into silence.  Pretty cruel to make fun of someone who just got KO’d, but no one would do that if they were seriously injured, right?

The Year: 1995

The Event: UFC 6

The Fight: Tank Abbott vs. David Matua:

It was 1995 and the UFC was just starting to get really good.  We had been forced to admit time and again that the karate we’d spent our lives on, thus far, was panning out to be less than effective in than our Sensei had promised. What we traditional karateka really needed was a definitive slap in the face though.  Sure, other trained martial artists were taking out the treasured karate masters of the world, but at least those people were life-long combatants as well.  We karateka are a brave sort, with souls forged in the fires of discipline, with a hammer of honor upon an anvil of dedication.

For a karate student in 1995, Tank Abbott either dramatically improved or completely ruined your life.  He was a bastard, with a soul forged in the fires of alcoholism, with a hammer of dietary negligence upon an anvil made of his neatly stacked arrest records.  Despite putting literally zero effort into a fight career, he could still somehow mop the floor with all but the sturdiest martial artists.  This fight was before the TMA shit really hit the fan however, and before we knew what we had coming our way.  On this night, we were treated to a dazzling interview from Tank, whom decided to remove his false teeth to really push the point home that he couldn’t possibly give a shit what you thought.

With that out-of-the-way, we were introduced to a mountain of a man known as David Matua.  A 400lb Islander, he was a student of Kapu Kuialua, a Hawaiian martial art that was sort of an ancient form of spec ops training.  Part of this training involved standing in the ocean for hours and punching incoming waves, so anyone picking a fight with a quintillion gallons of water is fine by me.  It also became apparent when Matua stood next to Tank and was the same size despite being 140lbs heavier, that Polynesians are indeed made of dark matter.

Bone density of the sun or not, it took four punches and eighteen seconds for Tank to make us consider hanging ourselves with our black belts.  He hadn’t just knocked Matua out, but had actually hit him so hard he was having seizures in the middle of the cage.  Everyone was concerned for Matua as he spasmed on the mat, his hands straight out like a Hawaiian mummy working his way out of a sarcophagus in search of a pig stuffed with pineapple.  Tank Abbott knew something was wrong too, but that wasn’t going to stop him from driving a point home.  Walking around the cage as medical personnel attended to the fallen giant, Tank began doing an impression of a seizure, sticking his tongue out and shaking his arms in front of him.  It remains one of the most classless things to ever happen in the cage, although you can hardly say it’s out of character for Tank at this point.  But hey, he didn’t actually hurt the guy after the fight.  No one would ever do that, right?

The Year: 1995

The Event: WCC 1: First Strike

The Fight: Renzo Gracie vs. Ben Spijkers:

That’s right, Renzo Gracie tops this list. It’s a bit surprising considering he’s always been the kindest and most level-headed of all the Gracie’s, even being fairly good-natured about that time he was stabbed by a fan during a fight in Brazil.  How did he end up as the most unsportsmanlike fighter in a time of no rules?  Let’s just say some people dig their own graves, and Ben Spijkers was a fantastic undertaker for himself.

A Dutch judoka with several medals and appearances on the Olympic and World Championship circuit, Spijkers seemed like a shoe-in for MMA greatness, and jumped in at the deep end in World Combat Championships.  WCC was what UFC 1 could have been if everyone wasn’t scared to death of being the first one to try something like this.  Where UFC was largely semi-retired and largely out of shape fighters looking for a quick pay-day, WCC had pulled together a murderer’s row of talent from around the world. Future legends and relevant talent were seen across the board, and while the oddly designed Strikers and Grapplers division didn’t make an ounce of sense, that shouldn’t have mattered much in this fight.

Even still, the world champion grappler felt he needed an edge in his bout with the relative unknown in Renzo, so he decided to pull a page from every twelve-year boy’s play book.  He prank phone called his hotel room.  Spijkers, over the course of several hours, made several calls to Gracie and made three comments that apparently stuck in his craw.

1) Gracie himself was a fraud

2) Gracie Jiu-jitsu didn’t even work.

3) Renzo looked like Spijker’s wife and he was going to sexually violate him in the cage.

As someone bravely carrying the battle standard of his family’s art for the entire world to see, and coming from a tremendously homophobic/masculine society, only a scalpel could get under the skin more than those words.

Spijker proved to be great at judo and hit a solid takedown, but judo proved to be bad at MMA and didn’t stand much of a chance on the mat.  With Gracie working through positions, he managed to take Spijker’s back in short order and started rifling elbows into the back of his head all NHB style before gi-choking him out cold moments later.  In a show of superiority and the most unsportsmanlike moment of early MMA, Gracie stood on the unconscious Spijker’s neck and used it as a stepping stone to go back to his corner.  Folks have argued to justify this for years, but considering he’d just taken an Olympian to school on the mat, it’s hard to argue Gracie hadn’t already made his point, pre-neck stomp.

Hilariously, Cecil Peoples was the referee for this bout and lost his mind at this act of intense degradation, and all sources indicate that he never got it back.  Gracie went on to apologize for the dangerous move and went well out of his way to be kind for the rest of the night, cruising to a tournament win and being the first to help everyone up after he’d finished beating the shit out of them.  You could say this was an isolated incident for Renzo, but there are two potential muggers in NYC who have seen the same dark side Spijker’s encountered and got off a bit worse for wear.

So what have we learned here?

That even in a sport with no boundaries, there’s still boundaries.  Was that profound or what? Well, you know where to find me whenever you need me to glean some more pearls of wisdom from the ole NHB VHS library. Be kind, please rewind homies.

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Category: Exclusive, MMA, Opinion

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