The hardcore mma fan is among the most smug lifeforms on planet earth. If you attempt to engage this snobby sophisticate in conversation about the sport he has dedicated his life to viewing, be prepared for a condescending, sing-song-y rebuttal, peppered with unnecessary details about obscure fighters from Azerbaijan.
This article will arm you for verbal warfare with the savviest of fight aficionados. Drop mention of one of these 4 ‘legends’ and you will immediately shed the ‘TUF noob’ label that you are automatically assigned until proven otherwise.
Although their time in the limelight was brief, all of these men left an indelible mark on the fight game and will no doubt be included in the future Ken Burns documentary about our beloved sport.
Before GSP became the face of Canadian mixed martial arts, one man came to mind when you thought of Canadian fighters. That man’s name? Harold Clarence Howard.
The pride of Ontario first entered our hearts and minds when he debuted at UFC 3. Howard’s first victory (vs. bag of cement) would be highlighted in his pre-fight video (see below).
He drew local fan favorite – and Muay Thai specialist – Roland Payne in the first round of the groundbreaking one-night tournament. Payne would suffer the same fate as that uppity bag of cement. It only took Howard 0:46 to dispatch Payne with his unique brand of violence and silence the Charlotte crowd.
Next up, Howard would meet the only man to ever win a UFC tournament at the time, future hall of famer Royce Gracie. Howard gave credit where credit was due, calling Gracie “A good Jiu-Jitsu person” before their fight.
Gracie followed his patented Gracie train out to the Octagon where Howard eagerly awaited. Royce entered the cage, took one look across from him, and saw the 6’2” Howard bouncing back and forth like a Canadian mountain lion ready to pounce on his prey. Fearing for his health Gracie and his corner decided they wanted no part of Howard and threw in the towel before the fight began.
Now in the finals, Howard was scheduled to meet another future hall of famer Ken Shamrock. But like Gracie before him, Shamrock decided stepping in the cage with Howard was not in his best interests and declined to fight.
Then, in a move that can only be described as bull crap, the UFC matched Howard up with alternate Steve Jenum, who would get a direct ticket to the finals without ever having to fight earlier in the night. After stepping in the octagon twice already that night, Howard would be at a clear disadvantage to the untested Jenum.
Howard had a promising start to the bout, opening the action with a front flip scissors kick, but would ultimately suffer his first loss, unable to overcome the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Jenum.
Harold Howard would go on to fight 3 more times, but nothing would come close to comparing to that fateful night in 1994 when he drew a line in the sand and warned his foes “If you’re coming on, then come on!”
The UFC was having a difficult time finding a worthy opponent for the ‘Smashing Machine’’s return bout at UFC 15. They had no other choice, they had to call in The Ranger. Ranger Greg Stott that is.
Though he had no professional fighting experience, Stott was the creator of his own fighting system cleverly named R.I.P (Ranger International Performance). When asked about his upcoming fight with Kerr, Stott declared, “I’m looking forward to showing why R.I.P rules and all others rest in piece.”
On fight night, Stott’s potentially fatal fight system did not look like what he described. Stott approached Kerr in a stance best described as an intoxicated panda bear. When it came time for hands to fly, Stott would stomp on the canvas after throwing a jab – a technique never seen previously or ever used again (because it was useless).
In short (which the fight was) the match did not go as planed for Ranger Stott, as highlighted in a 2016 tweet from Dana White, where White reminisced about this infamous ‘fight.’
The tweet from Dana is only the finale of this debacle, do yourself a favor and go find this entire fight. Easter egg: keep an eye out during the intros for a cameo from the most famous UFC fan of all time.
I realize it is blasphemous to speak ill of the glory that was PRIDE FC. But, for all of it’s greatness, PRIDE’s vetting process had room for improvement.
Nothing exemplifies this promotional shortcoming like the signing of Azerbaijan's Aliev Makhmud. In defense of the PRDIE execs, Makhmud was a two time freestyle wrestling champion in his native country. However a quick session with the focus mitts would have made it painfully evident that Makhmud had no business competing in one of the world’s premier fighting organizations.
Makhmud was to fight Japanese veteran Kiyoshi Tamura, and he made his intentions abundantly clear from the sound of the bell. The hyperactive wrestler ran into the clinch and attempted multiple takedowns. Tamura was able to stuff all of the early attempts, which led to the most bizarre ‘striking’ match ever recorded to video.
I don’t want to give away too much but this fight includes, but is not limited to, the worst punches ever thrown in a fight (professional or street), simultaneous jump kicks to the groin and multiple failed attempts to quit the fight.
It was not the Japanese promotions finest moment, but it adds to the mystique and assures that ‘PRIDE Never Die!’
No man evokes the phrase WTF? More than former MMA fighter and actor Joe Son. A bible thumping hype man, evil henchmen in Austin Powers and ultimately murderer, Joe Son’s story is a John-Wayne-Gacy-like tale of a clown that turned out to be a monster.
A 24-year-old Son made his first public appearance as a corner man for Kimo Leopoldo at UFC 3. Son recited bible verses and thoroughly creeped everyone out before leading Kimo out to fight Royce Gracie.
He returned to the Octagon at UFC 4, this time as a combatant, practicing the self created martial art of “Joe Son Do.” Son was to face Keith Hackney, a man most notably known for defeating sumo Emanuel Yarbourgh despite being outweighed by 400 pounds. Hackney would defeat Son with a barrage of well deserved groin strikes. Keep reading and you will find out why Son’s sack deserved the pummeling.
Other highlights of his 0-4 mma career included fighting a bout in PRIDE wearing a leopard print thong, and being the only man to ever lose a bout via ‘terror.’
Son’s acting career included a lead villain role opposite Lorenzo Lamas in 1994’s Viper and a cameo in the easily forgettable Bloodfist V: Human Target. But the apex of Joe Son’s acting endeavors came in 1998, when he landed the role of “Random Task,” a shoe throwing evil henchmen of Dr. Evil in the mega hit Austin Powers: International man of mystery.
In 2008 Son’s story took a turn for the horrific. Son was arrested for felony vandalism and sentenced to 60 days in prison. While in prison Son’s DNA was matched to a 1990 gang rape and torture of a 19-year-old girl. He would be convicted of the charges and sentenced to 7 years to life. Less than one month into his incarceration Son beat his child molester cellmate to death and received an additional 27 years added on to his sentence.
Joe Son’s wacky in ring antics will undoubtedly be overshadowed by his heinous acts outside of the ring and leave a black eye on the sport that he attempted so poorly.