The origins of the UFC are well known; take a group of prominent martial arts disciplines and compete to see which is supreme. While some of those arts from UFC 1 are well established (Boxing, Karate, and BJJ obviously) some were seen as jokes from the outset. But now, Sub Stars has found a way to reintroduce one of those initial martial arts back into the UFC: Sumo Wrestling.
UFC legends Anthony Johnson and Curtis Blaydes were pitted against seasoned Sumo wrestlers and former champions Yamamotoyama and Takeshi in a round robin style match up during their fight card yesterday evening. Each match would consist of two rounds, with a tie breaker if needed. The wrestlers stood In traditional mawashi belts in the temporarily constructed Sumo ring as the announcer gave a brief overview of sumo rules and traditions.
A grappling art with palm strikes, a wrestler can grab limbs and the belt in order to either force their opponent out of the ring, put them on their back, or force both their hands to touch the ground. With grappling being a huge part of MMA, both Blaydes and Johnson are familiar with many of the aspects of Sumo such as acting in the clinch or changing levels.
Round one saw the smaller Takeshi (220 lbs) quickly force Curtis(265 lbs) to the ground from the clinch. Round two however wowed the crowd even more with Takeshi hitting Blades with a hip toss for the win. Blaydes himself looked stunned at the intensity the smaller man had in the ring, with the commentators remarking the move to a judo throw.
Johnson faced a bit of a different foe however. At 600 pounds Yama is not only a large Sumo wrestler, he was announced as the largest Japanese man in recorded history. Round one had both men hunt for underhooks, but Yama wisely went for the belt grips on Rumble’s mawashi. Yama waddles to gently place UFC light heavyweight and mass monster Anthony Rumble Johnson outside the ring.
“I never had another man pick me up,” Said Johnson. Johnson came into round two with more intensity, but was laid flat as Yama sacrifice threw him out of bounds.
Then came an as of yet unheard of occurrence, two MMA legends Sumo Wrestling each other.
Johnson took round one with a quick snap down, Blaydes putting his hand down to keep himself on his feet. Round two was similarly quick with Blaydes managing to switch his hips in the clinch to send a charging Johnson out of the ring for a tie game. Round three saw the most technically impressive maneuver from the fighters thus far when Blaydes put Johnson down with an inside trip, becoming the best Sumo Wrestler in the UFC.
While a bit hokey thanks in no small art to the overbearing announcer, this exibition did a lot to introduce one of the oldest grappling arts in the world to an often jaded crowd. Here’s hoping we see more of it in the future!