MMA fans are a unique demographic. Some of are practioners and avid followers of combat sports. Others are traditional sports fans who appreciate the elite athletic skillsets and compelling storylines of the fighters. Even more have crossed over from professional wrestling because of certain elements both sports share.
There's a great deal of common ground between all three types. So I'm not saying you're one or the other but most likely a combination to some degree. We all have defining moments where we went beyond being casual spectators and crossed the threshold into fandom, and for
many 99% of the BE community, fanaticism.
It all started for me like so many others, watching grown men and women, (and sometimes animals, children,and the elderly) engage in recklessly staged combat. I am a complete and total mark for death defying stunts,thrills,chills and beautifully choreographed violence. There is no plot so bad or lines of dialogue so poorly delivered that will stop me from watching some dude kick another dude through a plate glass window.
You see, I am the fan of MMA I am today because of one overiding factor: MARTIAL ARTS IN CINEMA.
I am in no way ashamed to say I worshipped at the altar of many onscreen bad asses through the years. This is my short list of some of my favorite fake fighters.. This isn't an absolute list, but one just off the top of my head. I left off some obvious names, of course. Feel free to name your favorite %$#@ fake fighters. Gifs and links welcome!
1. SPENCER TRACY
Ok, so you're thinking either I've lost of my mind or better yet who the hell is Spencer Tracy? While he was old as shit, and probably was drunk for most of this particular film,Tracy remains one of Hollywood's greatest actors from the Golden Age. Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) was, in my opinion, a seminal Neo-Noir and one of the first American films to showcase it's newly found appreciation of eastern martial arts, in this case Judo. Tracy plays a WW2 vet with a crippled arm trying to find the Japanese father of a soldier who died while saving his life in combat.
2) JACKIE CHAN
The greatest action film star of all time. Period. While probably some will be shortsighted and focus on the latter part of his career, they shouldn't. From the late 70s to the early 2000s, there wasn't an action star who was more affable,down to earth and willing to put his own life on the line to excite the fans. His body of work as a whole is amazing, with some of the most thrilling stunt work and fight scenes put on film. Like below, where he stands toe to toe with Benny "The Jet" Uriquidez.
3) SONNY CHIBA
Born Sadaho Maeda, Chiba rose to prominence in the early 70s and reigned as the greatest of all Japanese action stars for 20 years. A gifted athlete and 4th degree KyoKushin Karate black belt under Mas Oyama, Chiba has enjoyed a long career in cinema, working with two of my favorite directors, Takashi Miike and Quentin Tarantino, somewhat recently.
Of course he is probably most notorious for 1974's The Street Fighter, which managed to get an X rating for violence. And yes it's that bad, or good if you dig that kid of stuff. Chiba plays Takuma "Terry" Tsurugi, quite possible the most badass motherfucker ever put on the screen. An anti-hero for anti-heroes, Tsurugi is a brutish, sexist grouch with an incredibly redeeming virtue of destroying fools. At one point in the film he castrates a rapist with his bare hands.
If you don't know Scott Adkins, you probably will soon enough with upcoming Expendables 2. The veteran British actor/stuntman has an impressive body of work, and has always delivered the goods even if the his movies are pretty much standard fare. His work with director Isaac Florentine especially stands out, with Undisputed 2 and 3 my personal favorites. Adkins plays the self proclaimed "most complete fighter in the world" Yuri Boyka to perfection. I would love to see a stand alone Boyka feature. Also any chance to be reunited with Michael Jai White and/or Marko Zaror would be boss.
5) Cyril Raffaelli
If you're a fan of parkour like I am, then you've seen District B13 at one point or another. Along with parkour legend and good friend David Belle, Raffaelli made one of the best on screen action pairings in recent memory. Actor/stuntman/choreograper Raffaelli has been linked to director Luc Besson for a while, and had a memorable fight scene with Jet Li in Besson's Kiss of the Dragon. I would love to see this guy make his way into Hollywood as a fight choreographer with his particular background.
6) SPIKE SPIEGAL
Alright, let's get fake here, I mean REALLY fake. Like 2D even. I'm not a giant anime fan by any means but I just had to add this guy to the list. Cowboy Bebop was easily one of my favorite tv shows of all time. Blade Runner inspired backdrop? Check. Well written, likable characters with tortured pasts? Check. Awesome sountrack that complemented the action perfectly? Check and check. But enough about that. Spike was the long lost reincarnation of Lupin, with a healthy dose of Bruce Lee all wrapped up into a lanky, impulsive goofball. Who just happened to be a complete badass with a sweet ride.
oh and for the WRESTLING FANS ; ....only because it's the greatest fight EVAH.