10 Great Freak Matches: Part 2

By Jake Rossen May 11, 2009
Hello Kitty contact lenses. Corn on pizza. Slices of octopus on pizza. Square watermelons.

Japan is an eccentric country, which is acceptable when modifying the genetic code of produce but quickly becomes troublesome when that mirth is applied to dangerous occupations.

Five (actually, four) more Japanese prizefights that should’ve been declared no contests long before the bell rang:

5. Gary Goodridge vs. Yoshiaki Yatsu (Pride 16, 09/24/01)

Debate continues over the technical prowess of Goodridge -- or perhaps it doesn’t -- but the Canadian possesses one indisputable quality: he hits people very, very hard. Opponents that didn’t slip his punches often begin staring in miscomprehension at their toothbrush.

Naturally, Pride management though he’d make a perfect opponent for debuting 45-year-old professional wrestler Yatsu. “But he made the Olympic team in amateur wrestling!” you say. “He’s got real skills!” True. He did make the Olympic team -- in 1976.

Predictably, Goodridge tore into him like the match was being filmed for a National Geographic special. Minus one takedown or two, he was in no danger whatsoever. Yatsu’s corner eventually threw in the towel.

Why label this a freak show and not simply a mismatch? Because Goodridge first met Yatsu in 2000 for a more sustained beating (eight minutes vs. three) -- this 2001 contest was a rematch.

A freak display worthy of Todd Browning.

4. Paulo Cesar Silva vs. Ikuhisa Minowa (Pride Bushido 10, 04/02/06)

At 7-foot-2 and nearly 400 pounds, “Giant” Silva looks like a slightly less handsome version of Rondo Hatton. That tends to limit career options to professional wrestling or scarecrow. We know MMA isn’t a viable choice; at 2-6 in competition, it’s clear that his dimensions can’t compensate for his geriatric offense and agility.

That fact becomes downright depressing when he faced Minowa, a man of normal proportions who immediately took down Silva, gained side control and then delivered a series of knees to the poor giant’s helpless frame.

Silva’s on-camera disposition paints him as a gentle man who is far too apathetic about fighting to really belong in a ring. Watching him suffer is not easy viewing.

Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Silva blasted Iwasaki.
3. Wanderlei Silva vs. Tatsuya Iwasaki (Pride Shockwave, 08/28/02)

This fight covers so many territories of sadism that it’s become a catch-all for lists of all types: most egregious mismatch, most morally reprehensible promoting, biggest waste of spectator’s time since peeling paint, etc.

All you need to know is that Iwasaki was a fixture on the Kyokushin karate circuit, which forbids punches above the shoulders; Silva, in contrast, has punished more faces than psoriasis.

The result? Iwasaki’s MMA career lasted a total of 76 seconds.

2. Bob Sapp vs. Akihito “Kid Muscle” Tanaka (K-1 Dynamite, 12/31/08)

Having exhausted their supply of actors, pituitary cases, amateurs and the handicapped, Japan turned to the last unmolested demographic for its New Year’s Eve spectacle: fictional characters.

Facing behemoth Sapp, credible freestyle wrestler Tanaka appeared in press conferences and in the ring dressed as Kinniku Mantaro (“Kid Muscle”), a popular manga/anime figure best known to US audiences as a member of the M.U.S.C.L.E. line of little pink wrestling toys from the 1980s. Kinniku, who hails from planet Kinniku, is said to grow more powerful when agitated, though this was not a trait exhibited during his fight with Sapp. Despite having an early advantage, he was bullied into a corner and pummeled until he dangled over the ropes like drying laundry.

Absurd, but not a mismatch: it could be argued Sapp himself is also a cartoon character.

1. Tommy Morrison vs. John Stover (Worldwide Fighting Championship, 06/09/07)

Here’s proof that Japan doesn’t hold the monopoly on promotional perversity. As if the participation of HIV-positive boxer Morrison wasn’t enough for a grimy Camp Verde, Ariz., show, the make-it-up-as-you-go organization told opponent Stover he couldn’t grapple with Morrison. An hour before the bout, they told him he couldn’t knee or kick, either.

All that was left was the morbid curiosity of seeing the infected Morrison mix it up in five-ounce gloves. He broke Stover’s nose, ending the fight early. Celebrating the idea of a deadly, blood-communicable disease entering into the equation of a potentially bloody prizefight is a new level of immorality -- a carnival of sport at its loathsome worst.

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