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When a Loss Is Really a Win: Kimo Leopoldo Loses a Fight, Gains a Career Against Royce Gracie

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Recently our friends at Cage Potato put together a list of the "seven most triumphant losses in MMA history." Amazingly enough, four of these historical gems occurred in 2009-2010. Six occured in the TUF era and happened inside the Octagon.  All seven went down post-2000. Somehow in this rigorous screening process, "the guy who replaced Ben Fowlkes" missed the most triumphant of all losses, a loss big enough to create a career from nothing.

Before UFC 3, Royce Gracie looked invincible. Boxers, kareteka, swoll pro wrestlers with bad ass leglocks-Gracie dismantled them all.  His brother was part owner of the company and that, combined with his success, led to an announce team that verbally fellated him on PPV.

Needless to say, when he finally met stiff resistance the fans at home were shocked. Kimo Leopoldo looked like a tough guy. Covered in tats, he came to the cage carrying an enormous wooden cross on his back. He was repping Jesus, but one look at him told you he was repping his neighborhood as well. Kimo showed, if only for a minute, that size and strength do matter.  That bad intentions do matter. That the best training in the world still leaves you vulnerable to a big, strong, tough dude.

More, plus a video of the fight, after the jump.

Gracie, in the end, was just a little meaner. It was this evil streak that made Royce so great.  Others might have taken a loss here.  Royce grabbed Kimo's hair and ripped for all he was worth. It turns out the little guy with great technique can beat the bully.  He just has to be willing to fight a little dirty. Royce won the fight with an armbar, but the story of the match wasn't over.

After the beating, Gracie was unable to continue.  His corner threw in the towel before a semi-final bout with Harold Howard. Kimo and his sensei Joe Son ran into the cage to celebrate.  They were out of the tournament, but now, so was Gracie. Steve Jennum came in from the sidelines to become the first ninja to ever win a UFC tournament. More importantly, Kimo became a star.

With the muscles promoters dream of and a great gimmick, this loss to Gracie made Leopoldo. A year later his name meant enough for K-1 to bring him in as a sacrificial lamb for kickboxer Masaaki Satake. Two years later he was still famous enough to challenge Ken Shamrock for the UFC Superfight Title. Three years later and PRIDE threw big bucks at him to fight Dan Severn on their debut show. A full decade later he was back in the Octagon, still riding this big loss to big money matches with Tank Abbott and Shamrock.

Kimo never won a significant fight in his entire career.  But this loss created a career that lasted 12 years and included more than a handful of main event bouts.  Now that Cage Potato, is a triumphant loss!

ROYCE GRACIE VS KIMO (via lalete282)

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