FIGHTS That Shouldn’t Have Been
3 Gross Mismatches in Kickboxing & Muay Thai
There’s no denying that a fight is a roll of the dice. Sometimes one punch or kick is all it takes to win- no matter how low the probability to land. Few things inspire quite like an underdog story. The big vs. the small, the old veteran vs. the fresh face, the contender looking to dethrone the dominant king. Who doesn’t love an upset from time to time to shake up the rankings and shock the world?
But if you’re looking for an underdog story, the article presented today might disappoint. We’re going to be taking a look at the times when harsh reality rears it ugly head- mismatches. Fights with gross inequities in skill and ability, size and strength. Fights that make you wonder what matchmakers were even thinking. and we are left with some gross mismatches in Kickboxing / Muay Thai that make us wonder what match makers were even thinking.
These are not dark horses beating the odds, they are fights that should never have been made.
#1: Akebono Rowan vs. Remy Bonjaski
K-1 World Grand Prix 2004 Final Elimination | September 25, 2004 | Tokyo, Japan
Upon first glance at this matchup on paper, a hopeful (and I mean, really hopeful) soul might give the mammoth Akebono a chance. He did have a couple things going in his favor:
- He was resilient to body shots.
- He had explosive strength from sumo wrestling.
Against a lesser foe, the titanic sumo was evenly matched, but his opponent was no mere mortal; he was a violent god- Remy Bonjaski.
Leading up to the fight, Remy had 35 kickboxing fights to his name, plus a K-1 World Grand Prix championship title. He TKO’d famous names like Ray Sefo and took decisions against killers like Melvin Manhoef (with his legs still intact, I might add). Highlight reels of Remy feature “The Flying Gentleman” obliterating his opponents with aerial attacks that sent them into a stumbling mess.
Akebono, on the other hand, managed to collect precisely zero wins across his four professional kickboxing fights up until that point. It’s true Akebono had a successful sumo pedigree, but effectively transferring that skill set to kickboxing proved to be difficult. After Akebono’s fourth consecutive loss, there should have been some indication that something needed to change. Counterintuively, he signed up to fight a world champion kickboxer.
In the fight, Akebono’s found mild success (I’m using this term loosely) when he would charge Remy into the corner and land a couple of shots. However, Remy simply circled out to pepper Akebono with shots that varied low to high. The end result was Akebono plodding forward, absorbing shots until Remy landed a thudding right kick head kick that sent the gargantuan wrestler crashing to the mat in the third.
#2: Lerdsila Chumpairtour vs. Jacob Hebeisen
Lion Fight 36 | April 28, 2017 | Mashantucket, Connecticut
Jacob Hebeisen is an MMA fighter who aimed to test his mettle in a different sport, making his pro Muay Thai debut at Lion Fight 36 earlier this year. (Editor’s note: Also where co-host of TMTG, Paul “The Reaper” Banasiak, took down Brett Hvalchek, which he discusses here!) One could successfully argue that the skills of an MMA fighter can successfully overlap with other combat sports to a certain degree- just look at McGregor vs. Mayweather.
Normally this would be a decently even fight. Only Lerdsila boasted a record of 200+ fights and at one point in his career, was on a 100-fight winning streak (yes, you read that correctly). Other notable achievements included being the Rajadamnern Champion across three different weight classes. Chumpairtour was, on that night, as legit as they come. Conversely, Hebeisen came in with a 7-4 MMA record and zero kickboxing or Muay Thai matches. To top this all off, Hebeisen was a late replacement. Given the situation and stats on paper, the matchup starts sounding less like a fight and more of a crazy experiment to see if death via leg kick is a thing.
Thai fighters are notorious for using the first round to feel out their opponents and test the waters. Lerdsila did not follow this trend for this particular fight. He pressed forward with his hands down, shrugged off shots, and smiled the whole time as Hebeisen darted in and out of range. By round two, Lerdsila decided that he still might be able to make it home to watch his favorite Thai drama on TV if he wrapped it up, so he went ahead and did just that. Lerdsila backed Hebeisen to the ropes and ended the fight with a brilliantly nonchalant lead roundhouse kick that truly lived up his moniker- “Mr. Lightning.”
#3: Rico Verhoeven vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva
October 14, 2017 | GLORY 46 | Gangzhou, China
This weekend, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva makes his kickboxing debut at GLORY 46. No, this fight has not yet occurred, but it has all the makings of a sickening mismatch.
Bigfoot will be looking to make his debut against none other than Rico Verhoeven. Rico has a combined kickboxing record of 62-10. He is currently the GLORY Heavyweight champion on a seven-fight win streak. Other special mentions include Verhoeven fighting several times in a single night against the likes of Gokhan Saki and Daniel Ghita to claim the GLORY World Heavyweight Tournament.
Bigfoot Silva, on the other hand, has not looked competitive in years in MMA. His most recent win out of his past 10 fights was back in 2015. His recent fight earlier this year ended with him getting knocked out. In fact, he’s actually been stopped by strikes in seven of his past 10 fights. It’s going to be a tall order for Bigfoot who has never competed in a kickboxing to take on Verhoeven successfully without even so much as a tune-up fight. It’s also safe to say that unless we start seeing the Bigfoot of old turn up, supporters and fans will have to count on a sudden game-changing punch or kick to shock the world. Could it happen? Absolutely!
Will it happen?