428 Date (4/28) of 2002 when Japanese fans gawked in awe at Bob "The Beast" Sapp. The 6'5" 350 lb American and former collegiate and pro football player made his MMA debut as the first fight of the night at PRIDE 20 Armed and Ready in Yokohama, Japan.
He only needed 2:44 to TKO the much smaller Yoshihisa Yamamoto. The mostly Japanese crowd loved the larger than life persona of Sapp and this victory was the beginning of a long love affair between Sapp and Japan.
He's appeared in TV commercials, been on many TV programs, was reportedly interviewed well over a thousand times, and even released a CD, It's Sapp Time. In other words he was a star. And in the ring he did pretty well too. Shortly after his MMA debut he began fighting for K-1 where he had some success in compiling a 10-6 kickboxing record through the years. In MMA he's compiled a 9-3-1 mark.
Sapp did well for himself in Japan and as mentioned, his debut came at PRIDE 20, a very solid card. It saw Quinton Jackson TKO Masaaki Satake with a slam, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira submit Yusuke Imamura, Ricardo Arona decision Dan Henderson, Murilo Rua decision Mario Sperry, Sanae Kikuta decision Alexander Otsuka, and in the main event Wanderlei Silva and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic fight to a draw.
April 28, 2002 was the introduction of "The Beast" in Japan and it kicked off an exciting event in PRIDE 20. Recently Sapp didn't have much luck when he returned to the U.S. to fight in Strikeforce on February 23 of this year. Jan Nortje TKO'd him at 1:55 of round one. Oh well, he took Japan by storm six years ago and he's still loved there!
If you'd like to see a picture of Sapp serving up a little ground and pound to famed kickboxer Jerome LeBanner or if you want to check out "Smooth Sapp" on his CD cover check out my blog Sports by the Numbers MMA. Of course you can always read other great numbers and stories there too, but sometimes it's nice to put a little Sapp in your life!