Freelance: Rough Nights
Five of the Worst Fights or Events in MMA
5. Pick almost any UFC fight from the 1990s at random
It's tough to be harsh to the men that gave us the original Ultimate Fighting Championship (when no one called the sport they were watching MMA) because of the feeling of nostalgia. However, back then, this was not the sport of MMA but the spectacle that was "no holds barred" (NHB) fighting. The UFC really couldn't have launched without the controversy of NHB, but that's what almost killed it.
The UFC began on November 11, 1993, under the SEG Sports Corporation as a tournament with the goal of declaring the single best fighting style. What fans were given, although they loved it at the time, was a train wreck. One fight that springs to mind would be Don Frye vs. Thomas Ramirez at UFC 8— a trained wrestler vs. a cab driver.
The result of these fights put the UFC in court almost everywhere they put on an event. These fights would also lead Senator John McCain, a former boxer while serving in the military, to famously call the sport "human cockfighting."
It was not until an interview with NPR in 2007 following the boom of The Ultimate Fighter reality show and when the sport had become fully regulated thanks to athletic commissions that his opinion changed.
"They have cleaned up the sport to the point, at least in my view, where it is not human cockfighting any more...They haven't made me a fan, but they have made progress."
4. UFC 33
UFC 33 was a beautiful mess. The new Zuffa ownership had reformed MMA to get the sport back on pay-per-view and in Las Vegas, "the fight capital of the world." Held shortly after the 9/11, the crowd that showed up was defiantly patriotic and ready to celebrate America when Vegas had been a ghost town beforehand.
Then the fights happened. Every main card bout went the distance. In the main event, Tito Ortiz later admitted that he fought fill-in Vladimir Matyushenko in a tentative style to simply keep the light heavyweight championship rather than compete to win dominantly.
"UFC 33 is the only one I can remember where every fight sucked, UFC President Dana White later said. "...The worst show we've ever had."
Because every fight on the pay-per-view lasted the full time, the UFC went over their allotted time window for the event. The broadcast cut out during the Ortiz fight resulting in the UFC having to replay the finish on their next broadcast.
3. Holly Holm vs. Germaine de Randamie (UFC 208)
The main event of 208, Holly Holm vs. Germaine de Randamie for the newly created UFC women's featherweight championship, wasn't a bad fight when it was booked. A rightful participant in Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino (17-1, 1 No Contest with 15 wins by knockout) wasn't competing.
Cyborg had been provisionally suspended for a possible failed drug test (what would have been the second of her career.) She was cleared, but not in time to fight.
Add in the fact that at the end of two separate rounds de Randamie landed shots after the horn in the eyes of my fans and Holm, received no point deduction, and then won the title by split decision in what could have been a draw—and only the new champion could be happy.
2. "Kimbo Slice" vs. Ken Shamrock (Bellator 138)
The "Kimbo collection" of fights proves that some fighters just don't know when to stop. Part of the blame should get put on fans as names of the past only draw ratings for Viacom-owned Bellator because fans choose to tune in.
A power punch from former backyard brawler Kevin "Kimbo Slice' Ferguson to the now 53-year-old for UFC and WWE champion Ken Shamrock followed by a ground n' pound finish at Bellator 138 led to allegations of fight fixing.
1. "Kimbo Slice" vs. "Dada 5000"/ Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie III (Bellator 149)
Shamrock's next event— Bellator 149— featured a third bout against UFC 1 tournament winner Royce Gracie ended in controversial fashion after Shamrock allegedly suffered a shot below to the groin ahead of another ground n' pound loss.
In the co-main event, Slice originally won by TKO, outlasting the out-of-shape Dhafir "Dada 5000" Harris through an uneventful first ten minutes. Within a few while swings, Harris face-planted the canvas. The win was overturned after the 42-year-old Slice "tested positive for nandrolone and an elevated (T/E) ratio of 6.4:1."
Bellator 149 had a total live gate of $1,388,951 and set a new record for the organization's television ratings. The entire three-hour broadcast averaged 1,964,000 viewers. MMAFighting.com report at the time that the figure "beat the company's all-time record by 24 percent."
"The prior record was set on June 19, by the Shamrock vs. Slice match, which averaged 1,580,000 viewers, peaking with 2.3 million viewers live for the main event. The Slice vs. Dada fight from 11:16 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. drew 2.5 million viewers, while Shamrock vs. Gracie from 11:54 p.m. to 11:57 p.m. drew 2.4 million."
However, Harris was hospitalized for a myriad of issues including kidney failure and cardiac arrest, later telling the Dan LeBatard Show, "When I actually fell inside that ring, Kimbo Slice never touched me," Harris said on The Dan LeBatard Show. "I had a heart attack. So, when I slammed against the cage and I went down, that was just the beginning."
The fight was heralded by some as the lone worst fight ever. Although it may not have been related to the bout, Slice died from similar issues around four months later.
Yet, soon-to-retire Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort hopes for the creation of a legends' division with the following rules: No elbows, no knees, three-minute rounds, 30 seconds of ground time, a rest time between rounds of 90 seconds.
There are fans who will always watch the train wreck.