MMA Campfire Tales: MMA Cop-outs

| February 23, 2012 | 8:25 am | Reply

UFC is back in Japan huh? I don’t see what the point is. Unless you’re holding a tournament with Sakuraba and Tank Abbott in the same weight bracket, I’m not interested in what’s going on in the land of the rising sun. Back in my day, the only reason you fought in Japan was to avoid an athletic commission. Who’s to tell two men they can’t fight with razor blades strapped to their foreheads? It boggles the mind it does. The men of old school MMA weren’t afraid of anything though, and you couldn’t keep them out of a thumb-tack filled cage if you tried. There are, of course, a few bad apples in the bunch though.

Sometimes this whole “No Rules, No Time Limits, No Referees, No Medical Staff On Standby, No Right To Sue The Promoter” cage fight gig is too glamorous to pass up. Once that cage door closes and the announcer screams “There Is No Escape!” you realize: Son of a bitch, there really is no escape! Let me tell you a story about some of the men of early MMA who didn’t quite know what they were getting into, but instead of just being beat into a living death, they found the most embarrassing ways out possible.

Three Worst Cop-outs of Early MMA

U Can’t Touch This

The Event: Pride 5

The Year: 1999

The Fight: Enson Inoue vs. Soichi Nishida

PT Barnum’s Circus was popular because it had “Something for everyone”. If you don’t like the elephants, you’ll like the clowns, and if you didn’t like clowns, you’ll like the acrobats. Pride ran with this idea for its first several events in an attempt to appeal to a sometimes fickle Japanese audience. If you don’t like MMA, you’ll like kickboxing, and if you don’t like that, you’ll like nymphomaniac she-devils fighting indestructible sex bots with poisonous chainsaw penises. That’s just how Japan rolls dammit!

This fight marked the debut of the tough-as-nails fighter Enson Inoue, who had already made a name for himself in the Pancrase and Shooto world. Walking that thin line between fearless and suicidal, Inoue’s hallmark throughout his career was that he’d rather die than give up, and if you’ve seen him fight, you’d believe it. This is a guy who screamed bloody murder when they stopped his fight with Igor Vovchancyn, despite the fact he was dragged back to his corner and covered in ice packs. If he thought he could gain an advantage in a fight by skinning himself alive, he’d be sharpening a filet knife right now. Coming off the greatest win of his career with an armbar submission against Randy Couture, Pride expected big things out of Inoue and decided to give him a tough match. Having him come in as a heavyweight despite weighing in at only 210lbs, he was set to take on the 316lb Soichi Nishida.

Soichi Nishida was a pro-wrestler with a bare-knuckle karate gimmick, and looked vaguely like Baby Huey.

Come on, they even have the same stance!

He came to the ring wearing MC Hammer pants in an effort to squash rumors that he was no longer too legit to quit, but unfortunately the following sequence of events would prove otherwise. Enson Inoue rushed across the cage and engaged Nishida with a three punch volley, his fists tearing through the Tokyo air like a pair of katana. The impact sent shockwaves of agony through Nishida’s skull and drove him to the ground, where he was easy prey for the John Lewis trained BJJ black belt.

Upon review of the video though, it turns out Inoue had completely air balled all of his punches, yet Nishida had taken his cue from pro-wrestling and sold the shit out of it. I suppose when your career is built on exaggerating how badly someone is beating the fuck out of you, it might be hard to turn that off. Oddly enough, despite the fact that Nishida clearly bailed out of this fight at his earliest opportunity, these two would rematch five years later to settle whatever kind of score you could possibly have over a phantom punch.

On Second Thought….

The Event: Reality Superfighting 7 – Animal Instinct

The Year: 2002

The Fight: Wes Sims vs. Mike Paduano

Reality Superfighting was proving to be a growing force in American MMA, with a roster that included Forrest Griffin, Seth Petruzelli, Rory Singer, and Din Thomas; Fighters who would go on to create the backbone of early TUF era UFC. The sport was still young though and upstart promotions needed to keep the new fans interested as MMA found its footing, so RSF looked to establish strong cards from top to bottom, with stellar main event bouts.

Now, we’d been raised on early UFC main events. These were between two non-athletes that had glued their facial wounds back together so they could tap to exhaustion a minute in, and these guys were almost always heavyweights. There was a new force in the Heavyweight division though, in the form of Wes “The Project” Sims. Ok, he wasn’t a force yet, and never would be, but you have to understand how exciting the idea of a 6’11” fighter was. In our day, Heavyweights were just Welterweights that loved fried chicken and Miller High Life. The concept of someone who was a fit and massive heavyweight was such a novel idea, he was immediately thrown into RSF’s main event with a record of 0-1.

His opponent was one Mike Paduano, who would be making his debut against Wes Sims, likely as a sacrificial lamb for the soon to be Quadruple Intergalactic Heavyweight Champion Of The Universe. I’m not entirely sure Mr. Paduano knew he was set up to fail until he saw the gigantic frame of Sims approaching the cage, and while some fighters would crack their knuckles and willingly wade into battle, Paduano took a different direction. As he stood across the cage from the looming figure of Wes Sims, he said to the referee “I don’t want to do this.” and promptly refused to fight. When the cast of Caged can refer to you as “undedicated to their fight career”, you know you’ve hit rock bottom. Thus, Reality Superfighting Seven’s main event ended via forfeit, spring boarding Sims onto bigger and better things, and Reality Superfighting became a household name in MMA. I’m just kidding, they went bankrupt after refunding everyone’s tickets, never to hold another show again. Way to be a team player Mike.

The Smashing Machine vs. The Narcoleptic Warrior

The Event: Pride 4

The Year: 1998

The Fight: Mark Kerr vs. Hugo Duarte

This fight takes the cake for someone finding an out in the world of early MMA. The reason being, Duarte had a three-year and six fight career under his belt already, and knew very well what he was getting involved in. What he was getting involved in was our old friend Mark Kerr, who had already cleaned out the UFC and was beginning his domination of the Asian MMA scene. Sure, he’s a terrifying opponent, but Duarte had just as many fights and a better chance of taking out The Smashing Machine than Dan Bobish and his faulty eye sockets, right? Very very very wrong, and Duarte damn well knew it.

I’d like to imagine Duarte watched Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn 2 for days before stepping into the ring, and dammit, he did those men proud. Duarte put more effort into avoiding violence here than every French leader combined. He pulled guard so many times; Mazukazu Imanari called him a pussy. He frantically hunted for closed guard like he spent his training camp with Xeina Onatopp from 007 Golden Eye. If this wasn’t odd enough, he spent the majority of his time while clamping down his guard screaming “BAAAAA!” at the referee and begging for a stand-up, but would then fall backwards as soon as the fight resumed standing. He feinted injury from the tiniest incidental headbutt, and when that didn’t work, he leapt like a salmon out of the ropes and pretended to fall asleep. He fought like a man who bet his mortgage on a Hugo Duarte by DQ prop, but hedged with Mark Kerr by Decision.

Mercifully, the referee declared a TKO in favor of Kerr when Duarte escaped side control by performing a corkscrew headbutt on the outside ring apron, thereupon promptly falling asleep again. Thus ended perhaps the largest turd to ever grace an MMA card, and the most ridiculous cop-out in early MMA history.

So, while MMA was built on no-rules bloodbaths and the gritty fights of legend, a few motherfuckers can always sneak in and ruin a good thing.  Yet, through the purity of combat, the truth always comes out in the cage. That’s all the stories I have for today, but feel free to check back in with me again some time when you get sick of HD PPVs. I’ve got a box full of VHS treasures right here sonny.

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