The old school days of the early UFC gave us the gift of no weight classes. This meant that a giant sumo could fight a tiny karate fighter (and hey, that did happen). Combined with little care for skill level, you could have a person that has been fighting professionally for years taking on a guy that just stepped out of the gym for the first day, or even be an arm-wrestler and get a shot in the octagon.
Here at the OSMMA Review, we love our mismatched fights, whether it be size or skill. We know you do, too. It took the UFC thirteen events before they gave in and added weight divisions, and even longer to really start having some level of skill involved to join the promotion. Today, we celebrate those old events and their lack of care to size and skill.
Here are the nominees for Best Mismatched Opponents:
Keith Hackney VS Emmanuel Yarbrough - The first ever David VS Goliath match in the UFC has remained one of the few old school fights that continue to generate hits from mainstream audiences.
Although he was listed as weighing 600 lbs. for his debut at UFC 3, producer Campbell McLaren has stated that Emmanuel Yarbrough actually weighed a whopping 720 lbs! An American Sumo wrestler, as well as Division I college wrestler, Yarbrough mainly used his size advantage against 200 lb. Kenpo Karateka Keith Hackney, shoving his opponent so hard that it actually broke the octagon door. Unfortunately for Yarbrough, he was not too good at defending punches, and after eating a strike that dropped him on all-fours, the smaller fighter pounced like a pitbull and blasted away at the huge sumo until Yarbrough tapped out. In the first true David VS Goliath match in the UFC, Goliath had lost, but has stayed with fans forever thanks to his bizarre highlight-reel worthy fight at UFC 3.
Keith Hackney VS Joe Son - While Joe Son was not a sumo that weighed a quarter of a ton, the mismatch here comes in terms of skill level. You could argue that it means that Art Jimmerson VS Royce Gracie should be a nominee then, but at least Art Jimmerson had already had a few dozen boxing matches and was actually good at what he did. Joe Son, however, was not good at much of anything.
At UFC 4, Joe Son and Hackney met in the opening round. Son, who weighed in at around 250 lbs. and stood at 5' 4", came wearing a skintight red speedo and touted his style of fighting as JoeSonDo. In the battle of JoeSonDo VS Kenpo Karate, it's easy to figure out which one won. The other major mismatch was attitude, as Joe Son came in cocky and arrogant, while Hackney was humble and exhibited the true spirit of martial arts. Moreso once the fight began, as Hackney was ready to throw down and Son was just ready to be thrown down. Several punches to the testicles later, Son gave up and thus ended the UFC career of the only master of JoeSonDo.
Dan Severn VS Anthony Macias - With a career of over 120 fights before he retired, Dan Severn had to start somewhere. That start was UFC 4, when he took on "The Mad Dog" Anthony Macias. It was a classic striker vs grappler match, with Severn representing wrestling and Macias using Muay Thai. However, it was probably the size difference that really made a difference here along with skill. At 6' 2" and 260 lbs, Severn outweighed his opponent by nearly 100 lbs., besides being four inches taller than him. Severn whipped Macias around the cage, suplexing him twice in the process, until he slapped on a rear naked choke to get the win. A David VS Goliath beatdown that rarely gets talked about for the difference in size and more on the suplexes, this was an odd choice for Severn's first fight but it worked out well for him in the end.
Mark Coleman VS Julian Sanchez - At UFC 10, Mark Coleman crushed everyone that stood across from him in the octagon, which included veterans Don Frye and Gary Goodridge. At UFC 11, it seemed like events would unfold in a similar way. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to match the best fighter in the event against a virtual unknown - Julian Sanchez. Weighing in at 300 lbs. with an alleged record of 27-2 in street fights (at least he was humble enough to include a pair of losses on his fictional record), the doughy and barely mobile Sanchez offered little resistance to the Division I wrestler with hands of steel and unstoppable takedowns. It took 45 seconds for Coleman to beat Sanchez, and he probably used more energy walking to the cage than he did in squashing Sanchez.
Thanks to June M. Williams for our Awards graphics.
Place your vote by writing in the comments, and let us know why you made your decision. Best answers will get read during our OSMMA Review Award Show episode!
"The OSMMA Review Awards, Volume 1" only represents UFC 1 through Ultimate Ultimate 1996, so remember that when placing your vote, as anything other than what was listed in the categories will be ignored, and the voter shall be promptly flogged. Stay constantly vigilant as more categories become announced, or take a peek at the stream to make sure you placed your vote in all twelve categories!