There have been plenty of guys that just do not belong inside an MMA octagon or ring.
But two stand out in my mind, for they were both hailed as something good before their respective fights... and both were miserable.
One is American, fought in the UFC, while the other is French, fought in Pride FC. Whenever I think of these two I cannot help but smile, sometimes laugh.
Let us start in Japan. Enter Pride FC 23, Championship Chaos 2. A star-studded event, 52 thousand inside the Tokyo Dome, Wanderlei Silva defending his Middleweight crown, Heavyweight champ Minotauro Nogueira in a non-title fight, gold judo medallist Hidehiko Yoshida making his MMA debut, Don Frye coming to the ring wearing a GI, Fedor and Heath Herring battling for the #1 contender spot for Nogueira's belt, Ricardo Arona and Murilo "Ninja" Rua in a BTT vs Chute Boxe rivalry, Randleman's flying knees from hell, and even the announced last fight of Takada's career (that's always good news).
In the middle of what was an astonishing event, we also had the return of Kazushi Sakuraba. He had lost twice in a row, to Wanderlei Silva and to Mirko Cro Cop, his orbital bone being broken in the process.
What about his opponent? Funny thing is that, at that time, I had watched the PPV extravaganza Pride FC Shockwave 2002 with French commentary. The man doing the color commentary for that show was a certain Gilles Arsene, supposedly a grappling wizard. This guy was Jerome LeBanner's BJJ coach and, in return, LeBanner was his striking coach. Nobody is going to learn striking overnight, but having LeBanner as a coach certainly helps (LeBanner knocked Don Frye out that evening in devastating fashion, by the way).
Some months later, there he was, making his Pride FC debut and representing France, Gilles Arsene! I then read some things about him; we are talking about France's BJJ champion. He also participated in several world BJJ championships in Brazil; he didn't win any of those, but just being there is a good sign.
When I saw the guy I thought: good BJJ, maybe some striking, and he looks physically strong.
When the match started it was obvious the guy didn't belong. Sakuraba, not exactly a master at striking, started punching him. What did Arsene do? Defend his chin and strike back? No, he crouched, standing, covering his head. I kid you not.
The commentators yelled "knee! knee!". But Saku was never a violent fighter. He punched a little more and Arsene fell to the ground.
And then I thought "let's see Arsene's BJJ in action, this should be good". Sakuraba passed the non-existent guard and went to side control... with Arsene covering his head. In disbelief, Saku started to slap and hammerfist him; he slapped him 2 thousand times, like a parent does to his kids; all while looking for a submission. But he could not get it, an armbar or kimura, because Arsene was always covering his head.
At the end of the 10-minute first round, Arsene's face was red... from the slaps!
Second round and more of the same. Arsene didn't attempt any submissions, no elbow or hip escapes, didn't try to pull full guard, no sweeps, nothing. And Saku continued to slap him, until deciding to finally armbar him in the third and last round. Quadros and Rutten were continuously saying things like "stop toying with him, submit him already".
My conclusion: Gilles Arsene wasn't ready to fight in front of 50 thousand, was in awe of Sakuraba (already a living MMA legend by then), wasn't ready to get hit, wasn't ready to fight without a GI. Probably all of these factors played into one of the worst MMA showings ever, for a guy that everyone expected to be good. A sad day for France indeed.
Let us shift gears to the US and the UFC.
Everybody knows the Kimbo Slice story. Street fighter turned MMA wannabe, later exposed by Seth Petruzzelli.
But while Kimbo had his run with EliteXC, the UFC gunned for someone else.
There is a police officer that goes by the name of Sean Gannon. He is a Boston police officer that also has his share of street fights. Yes, a police officer that also fought in several unsanctioned slugfests. In the most famous of them all he beat Kimbo. He is supposedly the only man ever to beat Kimbo in a street fight (it is a good thing Petruzzelli only does legit MMA, right?).
The video of the fight between Sean Gannon and Kimbo quickly won internet and youtube notoriety. While the good folks of the Boston Police were not amused, Zuffa decided to give Gannon a shot. After all, he was also 1-0 in MMA. What could go wrong?
As he was already known, let him also fight in the main card, instead of the undercard. Give him an average opponent, in Branden Lee Hinkle, and this should be good. Right?
Wrong. Branden Lee Hinkle ("The Iron Lion", what a nickname!) has an MMA record of 14-9. He is average, plain and simple. Probably the biggest win of his career came at UFC 55, against our own Sean Gannon.
Hinkle got the takedown and proceeded to ground and pound Gannon to a bloody pulp. Elbow after elbow after elbow and Gannon wasn't doing anything to get out of there, to protect himself.
The fight was eventually stopped and the TKO win awarded to Hinkle. Gannon was a bloody and bruised mess.
I swear: I have never seen someone inside the UFC octagon in such a bloody state; the octagon was filled with Gannon's blood. Gannon was drenched in his own blood. It was a mess, I tell you.
To round things off, two things about this police officer: his nickname is "The Cannon" and he is totally, completely, out of shape.
Two guys with a fair amount of expectations surrounding them, only to be posterized into jokes.
What other big jokes have surfaced in the MMA world? Opinions, please.