Today is Thanksgiving - a day of celebrating family, thanks, and, well, turkey. Here at Bloody Elbow, we're in the holiday spirit, so are honoring the big day with our countdown of the 5 Biggest Turkeys in MMA History, starting with #5:
5. Dana White vs. Tito Ortiz
In 2007, UFC president Dana White somewhat inexplicably agreed to a boxing match with his grumpy UFC child Tito Ortiz. That's not the weird part. The weird part is that, for whatever reason, the UFC decided to film Dana training and present a Primetime-esque show. Bad Blood: Dana White vs. Tito Ortiz was to be an in-depth look at the lead up and the fight itself. But as fight time drew near, Tito was the mature one (?!) and opted out of the fight. No fight, no show, right? Wrong. Even more inexplicably, the UFC decided to STILL air the show, devoting time to watching White train for a fight that no one cared about, that never happened. Why? That's a mystery yet to be solved, though we do know one thing: this entire fiasco is most definitely a turkey.
Runner-up: Dana White (on behalf of Jeremy Stephens) vs. the Minneapolis legal system
4. Jose Canseco: MMA Fighter
Oh Japanese MMA, your weirdness never ceases to amaze me. There have been plenty of odd things in Japan over the years (how about Bob Sapp fighting a M.U.S.C.L.E. character at Dynamite!! 2008?), but perhaps nothing embraced that odd side as much as the Dream Super Hulk tournament. Featuring a who's who of bizarre fighters such as Sapp, Minowaman, Hong Man Choi, and... Jose Canseco? Yep, the baseball slugger opted to try his hand at MMA for this one off fight. When the pre-fight video package includes old Nintendo footage, you know you're in for a weird fight. Unsurprisingly, Canseco did not find success, and his MMA career has been on hold ever since. But for one bizarre day in 2009, Canseco graced the MMA world with his presence.
Runner-up: Bob Sapp. Just because.
3. Kimbo Slice on network television
Kimbo Slice was a dynamic personality, gaining a surprising degree of cultural relevance in 2007/2008. The YouTube sensation went from fighting drunks in their backyards to a very public MMA career. That public spotlight reached its height on May 31, 2008, when the shady EliteXC debuted on CBS - the first time MMA would be featured on primetime network television ever. Putting Kimbo in the main event seemed like a good idea, especially against weak-chinned James Thompson. The trouble is, Kimbo just is not that good at MMA, and it took some questionable officiating, plus the grotesque spectacle of Thompson's ear exploding, for him to win. And that was the good outing. Four months later, he was back on TV, where he was knocked out in 14 seconds by an off balance, back peddling Seth Petruzelli. His loss was so bad that it single-handedly killed EliteXC. That's bad folks.
Runner-up: Sean Gannon in the UFC
2. UFC 151
Even before the cancelation, this event was on rocky ground. When Jay Hieron is in your co-main event, you've got a real issue. Then the injury to Dan Henderson, and all hell broke loose. Lyoto Machida turns down Jon Jones, Jon Jones turns down Chael Sonnen, Dana White goes berserk, and voila! UFC 151 is gone. As the dust settles, you've got Dana very publicly burying one of the company's top stars and making a messy situation even messier. In a year plagued by injuries that showed Dana actually doesn't have the control over the UFC that he thinks he does, this turkey of a card stands out as a landmark moment, just for all the wrong reasons. One final insult: they didn't renumber subsequent shows, so the memory of this cancelled show will forever linger on with the name UFC 151.
Runner-up: The entire 2012 season of Strikeforce
1. One word: YAMMA
What else is there to say about this ultimate turkey? A 2008 revival of the one night tournament idea sounds like maybe a good idea in theory (OK, I'm being generous), but when you populate it with unimpressive fighters, give them just one 5 minute round to fight in, and then make them fight at the bottom of a bowl, you've got problems. And that doesn't even touch on the absurdity of MMA "master" Butterbean (ahem) vs. Patrick Smith as your main event. Even a pretty swank kneebar from UFC 5 veteran Oleg Taktarov couldn't save this one. So great is the awfulness of this show, that the name YAMMA has now become an MMA punchline, synonymous with terrible shows.
I leave you with Butterbean, rolling around on the ground, trying not to get killed by the 45 year old Smith.
Runner-up: It's YAMMA. There is no runner-up.
Hope you enjoyed these turkeys. Feel free to let me know what I missed. And of course, from the entire Bloody Elbow crew - Happy Thanksgiving to all!