There are a lot of fighters, shows, and even single moments in time that stand out in my memory, events that have crystallized in my consciousness. These are the things that make me a fan, the most memorable, for good or ill, moments in the history of MMA. Every week I will share one with you here, with input from the people who made them happen. Fighting is a sport with no off-season. It's a never ending grind, but I hope we can take the time to look back on the 17 years of history and find some pretty spectacular people, spectacular knockouts, and amazing submissions. There are moments in MMA history that stand out. The ones that make you jump out of your chair in amazement, excitement, or horror. These are those moments.
This first entry features on of my all-time favorite fighters, Yves Edwards. Bahamian born, the Texas Gunslinger developed a style all his own, with a name only he could have created: Thugjitsu. Edwards combined incredible standup technique with an aggressive submission game to become one of the best lightweight fighters in the world at the beginning of the Zuffa era. I talked a bit about his journey in a story for the Houston Chronicle earlier this year:
Edwards has watched the sport grow, from high school gyms and backyard extravaganzas where he started out, to the big arena shows in Pride. He even had the opportunity to open the show at UFC 33, Zuffa's first shot at nationwide Pay Per View.
For Edwards, it was just one in a dozen twists and turns in a very tumultuous career. When he steps into the cage for Moosin MMA Friday it will be the twenty-eight different promotion he's fought for in his 12 year run as a professional. Along the way he's had great experiences, "especially in Japan. One of the reason Japan was so fun was because of the fans," Edwards remembers. "They were educated. The American fans understand what it going on now, but six, seven years ago they didn't really understand what was going on. Especially when it hit the ground. Or anytime really."
But Japan wasn't home to Edwards most memorable moment. After the jump we'll here from Yves with a BE exclusive as he remembers a kick that will live on for years.
When Edwards fought Josh Thomson at UFC 49, he was on quite a roll. After losing his first two in the Octagon, Edwards had won five in a row. Only a decision loss to Tatsuya Kawajiri in SHOOTO kept him from being perfect in his last eight fights. In Thomson, Edwards faced another in a string of tough tests. "The Punk" was undefeated, including a win over the tough Hermes Franca. Undaunted Edwards did what Edwards does: knocked a fool out in one of the all-time highlight reel KO's.
What does Yves think of the kick? I've just watched it 75 times. How many times has he seen it?
I've seen it a few times, but honestly, I don't watch a lot of my fights. I've seen it on my highlights of course, but I don't really get to watch my own fights on television. I was watching SPIKE's Best of Pride recently and they showed a fight of mine and I thought 'that's cool.' I heard my name and I came in to check it out and they showed my fight with Mishima. I hadn't seen that fight since the year that it happened.
The thing about the Josh knockout, I went with a friend of mine recently when he was fighting in the UFC. They have this big intro video (editor's note: the famous ""Baba O'Riley" video put together by WEC matchmaker Sean Shelby) and that headkick of Josh is still on there. I saw that in the arena, and they were playing "Teenage Wasteland." It's the big introduction to the show starting. Now that-when you see it in that atmosphere-feels really, really spectacular. It gave me goose bumps and made me really, really wish I was on the card that night.
Edwards continues to fight all around the world. He recently lost a controversial decision to Mike Campbell at Moosin: God of Martial Arts. If Yves continues to fight at that level we'll see him on another big show soon enough. But no matter what is in front of him, he'll always have this singular moment to show his family, friends, and future grand kids. One of the 52 moments that made me a fan for life.