Here is a quick look at some examples of accomplished strikers competing in MMA that I posted over at Head Kick Legend.
As this blog and others have noted, Gokhan Saki has recently talked a fair amount about his desire to compete in mixed martial arts. The K-1 standout certainly possesses the sort of striking that could be a nightmare for opponents and a catalyst for excellent fight film. As we all know though, Saki would not be the first accomplished striker to venture into MMA - certainly not the first to highlight the divisions in the fan base's beliefs on what martial arts provide the best base and certainly not the first to spark another mind numbing argument about what a real striker could do with those tiny gloves.
In fact, I would like to take a look at some examples, past and present, of accomplished kickboxers who have also plied their trade in MMA. While I suppose there is an inherent emphasis on those who first made a name for themselves outside of MMA, we can't help but include some names that may have established themselves in MMA earlier or perhaps even in both sports concurrently.
As I'm sure most of you are aware, high level strikers have had mixed results in MMA. Many of these examples are going to speak directly to that. The reason would seem two-fold: the evolution of mixed martial arts (itself, a separate though intersecting issue) has often left strikers at a seeming disadvantage, and even as MMA has progressed into what many are referring to as its third wave, stand up artists have often remained one dimensional.
I would like to believe that Gokhan Saki, if he is honestly committed to the notion of giving MMA a try, could offer some results that would highlight the evolution of the sport. There have been rumors out there about how he may be engaged in some varied training - that's definitely something any fan should be excited about.
P.S. This list is going to be far from exhaustive. Mostly because I can't bear to go through all that, and also because I'd be glad to hear you guys throw some names out there and offer some opinions.
Let's take a quick look at some examples after the jump.
Semmy Schilt: Hightower began fighting in Pancrase well before he made it to K-1. Regardless, Schilt has won the K-1 World Grand Prix four times and his list of victories is about as impressive as you could hope for. Whatever may be lacking in the way of technical refinement, Schilt has been more than able to use his physical characteristics to dominate a number of opponents. Not to mention, the man was a pretty solid full contact karate competitor back in the mid 1990's.
The crazy thing about Schilt? In his MMA career, he has submitted nearly as many opponents as he's knocked out. Sure, he always came up short against top competition, got submitted a number of times, and was knocked out by Sergei Kharitonov and Gilbert Yvel. Even so, you have to give Schilt some respect as a former King of Pancrase.
Mirko Filipovic: Croatia had Branko Cikatic, then they had Mirko CroCop. In his first K-1 bout, CroCop defeated Jerome Le Banner to qualify for the 1996 K-1 World Grand Prix. He was summarily defeated in the tournament by Ernesto Hoost. In 1999, the Croatian stopped Mike Bernardo to again qualify for the WGP, and stopped both Musashi and Sam Greco before Ernesto Hoost hit him with that nasty body shot in the finals. At the 2000 WGP in Fukuoka, Mike Bernardo got his revenge on Filipovic by stopping him in the first round.
After a number of other solid wins in K-1, Filipovic turned his focus to Pride. As we all know, he left a path of destruction amongst heavyweight competitors who just could not match him standing. His four losses while fighting under the Pride banner were the submission loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria, the upset against Kevin Randleman, the Ali-Frazier-esque bout against Fedor Emelianenko, and a split decision dropped to Mark Hunt. In Pride, Mirko stayed standing and dominated. Following the Overeem debacle, CroCop made his way to the UFC and the rest is history.
Melvin Manhoef: The Surinamese-Dutch fighter, who has been with Mike's Gym for more than half a decade at this point, began both his kickboxing (well, Muay Thai early on) and MMA careers back in the mid 1990's. In kickboxing, Manhoef has often been at a distinct size disadvantage and has certainly taken his share of defeats. Even so, his powerful striking has allowed him to maintain a record that includes some impressive victories. Manhoef is currently the It's Showtime 85kg. champion, and I don't think any of us would be surprised to see him in there for the promotion's vacant 95kg. title as some point in the near future. While that weight class may seem more a stepping stone for heavyweight fighters than a fleshed out division, I believe it would be interesting to see Manhoef operate at that weight.
Manhoef's MMA career has certainly been an interesting one, and speaks to many of the challengers facing strikers that we all know are out there. 23 of Manhoef's 24 wins have been on stoppages. He had an epic brawl against Evangelista Santos while defending his light-heavyweight Cage Rage title. He knocked Mark Hunt out while backing up. Yet, he has five submission losses on his record. His three other losses are all stoppages, the first two coming early in his career against Bob Schrjiber and Rodney Faverus, while the third is that infamous knockout loss against Robbie Lawler.
If you want to see the rest of the fighters I mentioned, or just tell me how terrible it is that I didn't mention your personal favorite, head on over to Head Kick Legend.