"When Worlds Collide" by EatonBeever


The Beginning
As the talk of Roy Jones Jr versus Anderson Silva might become a reality, it signifies two worlds colliding, the world of Boxing against the world of Mixed Martial Arts.  To understand the signifigance and interest of this match, we must be reminded of the giant history of combat sports and how sometimes they collide. On December 2nd, 1963 in Salt Lake City, Utah - the very first televised mixed martial arts match happened when 'Judo' Gene LeBell accepted a thousand dollar challenge against middleweight journeyman, Milos Savage.  This marked the first MMA televised bout in America.  Gene Lebell claimed Savage used brass knuckles under Milos' boxing gloves.  The fight was a challenged issued by Milos Savage claiming no Judo fighter could defeat a professional Boxer.  The fight ended when Gene throw him and eventually sinking in a choke.  Since 'tapping out' wasn't really known at the time, Milos went to sleep.  Gene won, but the audience had no idea what even happened.  On June 26th, 1976 in Tokyo, Japan - another mixed martial arts fight was held with a better boxer - the infamous Muhammad Ali against Pro Wrestling's Antonio Inoki.  The two camps had miscommunication about the fight, wheather or not it was to be a real fight or a worked bout.  Ali feared Inoki would turn it into a shoot fight, so there were new rules placed before the fight.  Ali did not want to grapple and Inoki did not want to trade strikes with Ali.  The result came to a 15-round draw where Inoki threw leg kicks and butt scooted the entire fight.  Ali landed only 6 punches but suffered major leg damage.  Ironically, the ref was Gene LeBell.

Mixed Martial Arts
These two fights marked history as the fights would later be known as a 'mixed martial arts' fight.  They featured two fighters from different styles competing to see who is the better fighter or which style would win in an actual mixed fight.  Brazil featured many 'vale tudo' fights which means anything goes.  Brazilian Jiu jitsu gained nationa wide popularity due to the Gracie Family who were the founding fathers of the sport in Brazil.  The son of the famous Heilo Gracie came to United States and met with a Hollywood producer and made some connections which eventually led to the formation of the "Ultimate Fighting Championship", which was a 8-man tournament designed to have 8 people represent their style to see which style would win.  Another son of Heilo, Royce Gracie, gained nation wide attention as he won the tournament even as the smallest man in the tournament and not winning by traditional knock outs as most Americans expected due to Boxing's popularity in the country.  The UFC was a 1993 pay-per-view which gained attention which led to more UFC tournaments.  Early on, besides Royce Gracie, other big names became big within the UFC creating other superstars besides Royce Gracie.  After UFC 5 (which held Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock rematch in a superfight), Rorion and Art Davie sold the UFC to SEG.  Without a Gracie family member, a new wave of fighters started to gain victories.  The dawn of the American wrestlers took over when Royce left UFC.  Dan Severn went to the finals at UFC 4 where he lost to Royce Gracie in the finals by triangle choke.  However, his wrestling skills led him gain a fanbase.  At UFC 5, he won the tournament and even won the Ultimate Ultimate 1995 which featured 8 UFC champs and superstars.  Don Frye was a wrestler / boxer hybrid who seemed to be one of the first well rounded UFC fighters as well as Marco Ruas, a freestyle fighter from Brazil who did not represent Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but represented a more well rounded style 'Ruas Vale Tudo'.  Other stars such as Tank Abbott, Gary Goodridge, & Russian Sambo Oleg Taktarov were made famous during the first ten UFCs.  At UFC 10, Don Frye once again got to the finals of the tournament to meet a new challenge, pure American wrestler Mark Coleman who defeated Frye.  Suddenly a new star was born.  Over the course of UFC 11 to 20 , MMA evolved.  At the time, the sport was labelled 'No-Holds Barred' fighting or NHB for short.  UFC 12 featured weightclasses and as UFCs progressed, more weight classes and more fighters were added to the events.  UFC 20 to 29 were known as the 'dark ages' of UFC.  Politicians fought against cage fighting and many pay per view outlets decided against putting Ultimate Fighting.  As UFC , the main representative organization of MMA at the time was declining in America, MMA in Japan bloomed and all the top fighters could only make big money if they fought in Japan.

While Pro Wrestling blossomed in Japan, UFC's American popularity made its way to Japan in the 90's.  After many successful MMA shows in Japan promoted by pro wrestling people, Royce's older brother, known as the family champion, Rickson Gracie signed against popular pro wrestler Nobuhiko Takada in an organization called Pride Fighting Championship.  The show gained an extreme popularity in Japan and featured UFC fighters such as Dan Severn, Oleg Taktarov, Gary Goodridge, and Kimo.  Even featured a kickboxing match with the first K-1 WGP winner Branco Cikatic.  The show also had many various martial arts fighters and japanese pro wrestlers.  The very next year, Pride 2 took place which originally featured the unstoppable UFC juggernaunt Mark Kerr against the UFC icon, Royce Gracie.  However, Royce withdrew from the event, leaving Mark Kerr to take on K-1 WGP fighter Branco Cikatic.  Pride continued to hold shows and a new company bought Pride before the fifth event.  Pride eventually surpassed UFC's popularity as UFC was facing many problems in the late 90's before the Zuffa purchase.  A lot of the best fighters left UFC to PrideFC.  In 2000, Pride held a 16 man World Grand Prix featuring Royce Gracie return to MMA as well as the most popular fighters in the world.  Mark Kerr, Igor Vovchanchyn, Mark Coleman, Kazushi Sakuraba (the first man to defeat a Gracie family member in 1999 by ref stoppage), Gary Goodridge, pro wrestler Kazuyuki Fujita all made the final 8.  Eventually Royce could not avenge his brother's loss and lost to Sakuraba sending Sakuraba to iconic status in the world of MMA.  However, Gracie family rules stated that they would enter the tournament if there were no time limits or judge's decision, which backfired as Royce had to throw in the towel after 90 minutes of fighting.  The heavy favorite to win Igor Vovchanchyn did make it to the finals to lose against UFC 10, 11 and 12 superfight winner Mark Coleman, who made the biggest comeback after a recent losing streak.  Pride held four more giant Grand Prix tournaments that spanned to three events in 2004. 
Pride eventually emulated K-1 MAX when it formed Pride Bushido for the lighter weights and featured some HW matches occasionally.  Bushido held two Grand Prix tournaments as well.  Pride started as a MMA organization which was ran by pro wrestling figures, which even threw in worked bouts similar to shoot style pro wrestling which did not sit well with the hardcore fans that wanted all real fights.  However, Pride evolved with the times and eventually left the pro wrestling status to a more superbowl of Mixed Martial Arts and all real fights to determine who the best fighter in the world was.  They even created two belts at Pride 17 to determine the "HW" champ (which was Minotauro Nogueria by beating Heath Herring) as Wanderlei Silva (who beat Kazushi Sakuraba in a rematch) as the "MW" champ which is LHW by today's standards.  Bushido added its own LW belt which Takanori Gomi held. And a "WW" title which was by today standards a "MW" 185, which Dan Henderson held. First idea of Pride was to feature the best fighers against Japanese Pro Wrestlers who were respected for their warrior never quit attitude.  But Pride evolved into finding who the best fighter on the planet was.  This seemed to be answered as the first Pride HW champion Minotauro was defeated by Russian Fedor Emalienenko.  Fedor went onto defeat every single opponent in Pride even if it seemed like he was in trouble from losing.  Nogueira rematched him and lost again.  Fedor was the king of the world and is still to this day currently known as the greatest MMA fighter of all time. Eventually, all good things come to an end.  Pride was dealing with the Japanese mafia behind the scenes and the television network dropped Pride FC as they didn't want to be associated with the Yakazu (Japanese mafia).  So the network dropped Pride FC which killed the company.  Pride was sold to Zuffa (owners of UFC) who by 2007 already had a mainstream grip in America to give the sport of MMA exposure.  Pride wanted to be sold to the number one MMA organization and UFC wanted the Pride contracts and all the big names. 

Zuffa's Ultimate Fighting Championship
After SEG was failing to make money off of UFC, a man by the name of Dana White was a manager of fighters of the UFC.  He had some childhood friends who owned casinos in Las Vegas named the Fertitta brothers.  He convinced these two brothers, the Ferritia Brothers, to buy the UFC and try to turn it around to make it into profit similar to Boxing where the UFC would focus on title fights, getting sanctioned fights by athletic commissions, vegas betting odds, making contenders like a sport rather than a fight or a martial arts event like those in Japan.  UFC 30 marked the first UFC ran by Zuffa with Dana White as its President.  The company went onto lose money, however, things were picking up as they signed a super fight Tito Ortiz vs. UFC 1 vet and former pro wrestling WWF fame Ken Shamrock at UFC 40, they even managed to strike a deal with Fox Sports Network to air a fight on cable tv.  They used Fox Sports Network to promote UFC 40 by putting Tito and Ken Shamrock on Best Damn Sports Show in 2002.  The fight happened in November of 2002 and did well.  However, the following events couldn't surpass UFC 40 and it seemed another losing battle for the UFC.  However, UFC decided to air a reality tv show in 2005 on Spike TV called 'The Ultimate Fighter'.  Reality tv was popular and reality tv people became celebrities and famous.  UFC used that formula and even was able to use the 'coaches' of the show to battle at a UFC PPV, which promoted the ppv while using the show to gain exposure to UFC.  It was a success and the UFC 52 - Liddell vs. Couture 2, the coaches of TUF, was a massive success and UFC then had a formula to use to make money.  As time went on, the UFC became more and more popular with mainstream America.  UFC 66 - Ortiz vs. Liddell 2 became the number one ppv of 2006, surpassing Boxing's number one pay-per-view of that year - Oscar De La Hoya vs. Ricardo Mayorga. 


The UFC is now worth a billion dollars.  After many unsuccessful MMA events were trying to compete to capitialize on MMA's growth and popularity, eventually it was Zuffa's UFC which had the most financial backing and good business decisions which brought MMA to mainstream media.  Organizations like "IFL" which tried to focus on MMA being a team sport, Elite XC which tried to promote a popular mainstream real life boogie man to the casual audience, Affliction which tried to focus on PrideFC-like superfight cards from top to bottom - all of these did not last and Zuffa modeled won the competition with their own formula of reality television program called The Ultimate Fighter which helped their success in 2005, promoting trash talking, ripping off HBO 24/7 calling it 'Primetime', as well as using 10-9 round by round scoring similar to boxing which lead them to continue to reign as the number one MMA organization in the world.  They were able to sign a deal with Fox to hold events on Fox Saturday nights, Fox Sports, FX, and Fuel TV to gain exposure for its product.


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu / Grappling
The roots of Mixed Martial Arts & UFC are without a doubt Royce Gracie.  Without the Gracie family, there would be no UFC.  As the original idea of the UFC was to represent a martial arts style, Graice Jiu Jitsu reigned superior and it became known that real life fighting would most likely end up going to the ground.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was the art of ground fighting and using submissions to defeat opponents and even using technique to defeat larger opponents as Royce Gracie showed the world in 1993.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Gracie Jiu Jitsu became extremely popular as that was the style that won the early UFC tournaments.  In Brazil, vale tudo matches and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was already popular among its population.  Even a rival martial arts style, Luta Livre fueded with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which eventually led to the Gracie family champion, Rickson Gracie getting into a vale tudo fight with the leader of Luta Livre, Hugo Durate on a beach in Brazil which was captured on video camera.  Eventually, many members of each martial arts went into vale tudo fighting and sometimes even on a bigger scale - UFC or PrideFC.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu remained the ultimate basic guideline for ground fighting, which was so important in a real fight.  Judo was popular in the olympics, but the rules limited their sport where as BJJ seemed to be more practical submission fighting which led to MMA.  After UFC popularity in 1993, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu also become more and more popular in Brazil.  Carlos Graice Jr, the leader of the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) held the first ever World Brazilian Jiu jitsu Championships in Brazil called the Mundials in 1996.  This competition led to champions which sometimes even entered MMA competition.  In 2000, BJ Penn became the first American to win a BJJ world championship. Some names that became famous from Munidals alone were the Riberio Brothers, Royler Gracie, Jacare, Amaury Bietteti, Fabio Gurgel, Robson Moura, Marcio Cruz, Marcio Feitosa, Marcelo Garcia, Joao Roque, Bibiano Fernandez, Braulio Estima, American Robert Drysdale, Werdum, Andre Galvao, and after Rickson Gracie retired in 2001, a new Gracie Family champion was crowned - Roger Gracie.  Roger won a record 10 Mundial titles, the second place only has 6. As Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was popular in Brazil, the sport of submission wrestling or grappling was also a world wide interest as the Gracie Family promoted its form of fighting. 


In 1998, the country Abu Dhabi held a no-gi submission wrestling featuring its own rules, the orgnanization was called the Abu Dhabi Combat Club's ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship. The competition was created by Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the son of the former United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.  The Sheik also was a student of BJJ, his instructor was Nelson Monteiro.  The idea was that there would be five 16-man tournaments by different weight classes in the course of two days plus an absolute division.  The winner of the absolute division would fight the winner of the superfight the following year.  1998 to 2001 , the event was held in the Sheik's country of Abu Dhabi, however it started to become somewhat of its own Olympic sport, held every two years in a different location.  2003, ADCC was held in Brazil, 2005 in California, 2007 in New Jersey, 2009 in Spain, 2011 in United Kingdom and 2013 being held in China.  The tournament featured not only BJJ practioners, but American wrestlers, UFC fighters, dutch grapplers - basically the best grapplers in the world!  Many members of the Gracie family participate in ADCC.  Many tournament winners were already famous from other arenas of combat sports.  Ricco Rodriguez & Mark Kerr from American wrestling gained many ADCC wins, Renzo & Royler Gracie had much success in their respected weight classes, American submission and MMA fighter Jeff Monson, Saulo Riberio, BJJ sensation marcelo Garcia, Alexandre Riberio, Ricardo Arona, Leo Vieria, and Jacare all shared much success.  Out of 60 tournaments - all Brazilian won their division except for 13 tournaments were won by non-brazilians, thus proving Brazilian Jiu Jitsu translates very well to no-gi submission wrestling, which also can transition well into MMA combat.  Gracies still dominate submission wrestling and brazilian jiu jitsu despite the overwhelming number of people that participate these days as MMA expanded.  The Gracie family champion, Roger Gracie also went onto win two divisions in 2005 ADCC competition, his weight class and then the absolute division.  Interesting enough, the former Gracie family champion Rickson Gracie had two sons that excelled in BJJ competition at an early age.  Sadly, the older son, Rockson died in a motorcyle accident which some believe Rickson lost his desire to comepte in MMA competition.  The other son Kron went onto follow in his father footsteps and enter a bigger number of competitors, yet still success at a young age.  In 2013, Kron won the ADCC 77Kg as well as submitting popular Japanese Grappler and top ranked MMA LW fighter Shinya Aoki in a Gracie produced grappling event in America called Metamoris 2.

As the UFC , the organization of the sport Mixed Martial Arts was evolving from 1993, America's number one financial combat sport was and still is Boxing to this day.The history of Boxing to Americans goes back to the early 1900's as each decade saw a champion who made the sport popular.  Jack Dempsey won his first championship in 1919.  Joe Louis in the 1930's.  Sugar Ray Robinson in 1940's & 1950's.  Floyd Patterson & Sonny Liston in 1960's.  And then Boxing peaked with Muhammad Ali in 1960's & 1970's along with Joe Frazier & George Foreman.  In the 1980's came Larry Holmes, The Fabulous Four (Duran, hagler, hearns, and leonard) and Julio Caser chavez.  The late 80's to 1990's , Iron Mike Tyson which brought back the success of mainstream Boxing attention with his fast and furious power.  90's also saw Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Riddick Bowe, Oscar de la Hoya & Roy Jones Jr.  Early 2000 featured more Oscar de la Hoya success as well as some new talent that captured people's attention, Antonio Tarver, the Klitschko Brothers & Bernard Hopkins. Late 2000 had a new height of popularity of Boxing as Floyd Mayweather Jr & Manny Pacquiao became mainstream.  Boxing is a sport that the organizations promote the boxers to sell its show.  MMA organizations were more focused on promoting the name brand and the fighters became a part of the organization where as Boxing was different in that aspect that the organization and promoters were irrelevant as the fight in the main event was what drew the crowd.  MMA organizations had big names throughout the cards making it more of a Martial Arts event where as Boxing, the superstars in the main event is the only thing that mattered and the undercard, the promoters, the location - all didnt matter.  Mike Tyson drew a crowd.  Ali.  Lennox Lewis.  Another interesting difference between Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts was the fans of the fighters differed from the two sports.  In MMA, the fans connect with the fighters with the style that the certain fan connects with.  In MMA, it is not uncommon for an American MMA fan to be a huge fan of a fighter from Brazil or Russia.  Where as in Boxing, the fans of the fighters come from their hometown or country.  Countries support their fighters.  Mexicans love their hometown mexican fighters.  Fans of a top ranked Polish fighter will travel from Poland to see its fighter compete overseas.  The fans support their hometown fighter because that is how those fans connect with the fighter.  Now, this is all subjective and not the case in every fan, but in terms of majority & casual fans.

Early 2000 to mid-2000 saw a lot of decline on the mainstream fighters.  Mike Tyson & Lennox Lewis were getting older.  Oscar De Le Hoya was past his prime and Roy Jones Jr lost to Antonio Tarver who seemed to take his soul in that fight which Roy Jones never recovered.  Great fighters of early 2000 such as Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Joe Calzaghe, Mikkel Kessler - all great fighters,  but only appealed to their respective country, never gaining world wide or American mainstream attention.  Arturo Gatti fought Mikey Ward in an epic trilogy which garnished alot of respect and attention in the boxing community. However it seemed since there was a lack of American HWs in the Boxing world in the 2000 decade, many casual sports fans weren't interested in Boxing and wanted that 'Mike Tyson' or 'Ali' back in the ring to make people talk.  While Boxing was on the decline because of certain fighters were getting old, UFC captialized on this by giving casual sports fans a new taste of their action and excitement with superstars such as BJ Penn, Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, and the biggest name of all - Brock Lesnar who fans knew from another arena - Professional Wrestling.   It seemed like a trend of Boxing declining with casual fans and the UFC taking over for their combat sport fix.  However, the tables turned once again as Brock Lesnar left the UFC back to pro wrestling and two names in Boxing started to make people talk.  Those two were Manny Pacquiao of the Phillippines & Floyd Mayweather Jr out of the United States.  Pacquiao became a hometown hero of his country and making waves in America by beating legends with his speed and power.  While Mayweather had the skills & attention whoring to bring his own name to the top of the game.  Mayweather was also interested in making himself as much money as he could, so he began to turn his skills into a marketing tool - creating 24/7 , an HBO production to document his life leading up to a big superfight.  His association with celebrities to put his name all over the internet.  Even went as far as signing a deal with Vince McMahon of the WWE to a match at Wrestlemania 24.  Mayweather suddenly became the number one highest paid athlete in sports.  However, like Tyson, Mayweather had issues outside the ring not staying out of trouble.  His legal problems also became headlines, which helped his fame ironically.  Pacquiao meanwhile was dominating his opponents and also starring in the 24/7 series.  In 2007, Mayweather beat Oscar De La Hoya to gain a 2.4 million ppv buyrate - the largest in history.  While in the following year, Pacquiao also beat Oscar de la Hoya.  Suddenly Pacquiao was beating Mayweather's opponents faster than Mayweather and the question of a mega dream superfight loomed - Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.  However, the deal was talk, but nothing materialized, but this didn't stop people from watching their fights.  Suddenly, in America, Boxing was back on top where as the UFC ratings were on the decline due to lack of mainstream superstars, bad match making decisions, lack of dream match ups, and overall horrible judge's decisions due to the judges not being educated in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. 

The talk of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao eventually stopped when Pacquiao lost a decision to Timothy Bradley which was controversial , then a KO loss to his former rival, Juan Manuel Marquez (who Mayweather defeated in 2009).  So the idea of Mayweather vs. pacquaio wasn't a discussion due to the overwhelming majority believing that Mayweather would beat Pacquiao.  Mayweather signed a 6 fight deal with Showtime, causing him to make around 50 million a fight.  After beating the impressive Robert Guerrero, Mayweather's recent fight had him defeating the young undefeated Canelo Alvarez in a spectacular fashion proving Mayweather not only is the best boxer today, but possibly of all time.  As America was fascinated with Mayweather & Pacquiao - in Europe, Boxing never declined, in fact it grew!  Worldwide, Boxing in the most successful financial of all combat sports.  The Klitschko Brothers are world wide famous in Europe and Russia areas.  They are Ukrainian born, but fight and live in Germany and each of their fights sells out the arena and watched by millions of people.  The older brother is also interested in politics of his country, the same way Pacquiao is of Phillippines to gain more exposure.  The Klitschko also are extremely large fighters that have a reach which no boxer can fight weaknesses.  They've had their rare losses in the past, but eventually all their losses were avenged by one of the other, except for Lennox lewis who defeated Vitali Klitschko and then retired before the younger brother, Wladimir had a chance to avenge his brother's loss.  To this day, the two dominate the HW boxing scene and take on all challengers, as they do not duck a single fighter no matter what the record is.  Histoy was also made when a promising loud mouth blown up crusier weight named David Haye made a name for himself by working his way up the HW latter and eventually believing his own hype and creating a public fued with the Klitschko brothers.  But after various deals were never materialized and even a cancellation on Haye's part, finally - Wladimir Klitschko met David Haye in the ring breaking all kinds of records.  Wladimir defeated David Haye in what was the biggest fight since 2002, Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson.  However, many critics of the Klitschko brothers feel they are not exciting as the former 90's stars such as Tyson, Lennox, Bowe and Holyfield.  Despite their style, the two brothers have created a legacy in European Boxing and have yet to be truly dethrowned by any other Heavyweight.


K-1 Kickboxing
As UFC & Boxing rule America in combat sports, many people do not realize how popular kickboxing was in Japan in the 90's to the late 2000 decade.  Kickboxing is always considered a popular activity and sport, but in America, not many casual fans have a clue about history of kickboxing or the superstars which dominated the sport.  There were always sections of kickboxing all over the world, however there was no profitable organization to promote the sport and its stars.  There was no global network of the sport, just events here and there.  Some organizations were semi-sucessful in the world of Martial Arts like the ISKA, but there was nothing that brought all the kickboxers together until 1993.  In 1960 in Japan, Kickboxing orginated and became successful, followed in America in 1970.  However Boxing dominated the combat sports scene in America, while Japan also had Boxing, but its Pro Wrestling roots were more mainstream and considered 'combat sport' to their culture.  In 1993, Kazuyoshi Ishii, a Karate specialist, formed "K-1", which became the actual global network and mainstream success Kickboxing needed to thrive. "K" stood for the various stand up martial art forms such as Karate, Kickboxing, Kung Fu, Kempo and others (the website also states 'King') and the number "1" meaning the number one fighters of the world.  Ishii put together a tournament in 1993, much similar to the UFC, only K-1 tournament was months before the UFC.  There were 8 fighters, fighting in one night to determine who would win.  Ishii called it the "World Grand Prix".  Netherlands and other surrounding European countries were very much into practicing kickboxing.  A lot of Dutch fighters went onto become famous within the K-1 promotion.  K-1 also dominated the kickboxing scene and eventually expanding into 24 events all over the world including in the United States, where it was headed by future Strikeforce promoter - Scott Coker.  On April 3rd, 1993 - the 1993 K-1 World Grand Prix winner was Croatia's Branco Citivac.  There were seven K-1 events held in 1993 in Japan.  The following year, in 1994 a K-1 event was held in Netherlands, home of a lot of Kickboxing champions.  In 1995, K-1 went to France & Switzerland as well.  Europe was very much interested in Kickboxing as was of course Japan, home of K-1.  Each year, K-1 would hold it's World Grand Prix which would be looked at as the winner would be the best kickboxing fighter in the world!  Each K-1 World Grand Prix winner would instantly become a superstar and a huge draw in Japan.  The second World Grand Prix in 1994 as well as 1995 was won by Netherland's Peter Aerts.  Switzerland's sensational Andy Hug won in 1996.  Ernesto Hoost solitified himself as one of the greatest K-1 kickboxers of all time winning in 1997, 1999, 2000, & 2002.  A former Pancrase and UFC vetern giant, Semmy Schilt entered in 2005 winning the Grand Prix as he used his height and reach to his advantage.  He went onto win 2006, 2007, & 2009 as well making him a four time winner along with Ernesto Hoost.  Remy Bonjasky, known for his flying knees and exciting style won in 2003, 2004 and a controversial win in 2008 where he won the finals by his opponent, explosive superstar Badr Hari getting disqualified by stomping Remy on the ground. K-1 became known to a lot of critics as a freakshow when they introduced large fighters who had little skill, but giant size into their organization.  Former NFL player Bob Sapp, sumo legend 400 pound Akebono, pro wrestlers - anyone who would draw an audience was put in the ring, sometimes with K-1 Gp winners to make it interesting, yet hurting the credibility as it became more of a show or a spectacle rather than a sport.  Ishii ran into tax problems and the ratings began to drop in late 2010. 


2010 marked the last World Grand Prix under FEG (the company that owned K-1).  There were reports of K-1 not paying its fighters and K-1 was eventually sold to a Japanese real estate firm, which sold to another company.  K-1 put together a MMA organization called Romanex in 2004.  That eventually led to K-1's MMA organization called Heroes.  Eventually, after PrideFC was sold to the UFC, Heroes & former Pride employees merged to form 'Dream'.  Some would argue that K-1 MAX was even more exciting than K-1 itself, which featured the lighter weights.  Superstars such as Masato, Andy Souwer, Buakaw Por Pramuk, Giorgio Petrosyan were featured in K-1 MAX , which also held its own K-1 MAX world Grand Prix.  After K-1 was sold, K-1, K-1 Max, Dream was also passed to the other company.  Since K-1 was having trouble, a promotion that has been around for quite sometime called 'It's Showtime' was gaining more and more exposure and gaining former K-1 fighters to their organization.  Semmy Schilt, Badr Hari, Melvin Manhoef, Gohkan Saki, and others fought in It's Showtime.  Eventually, It's Showtime merged with United Glory organization and Golden Glory in Netherlands to form GLORY, the premiere kickboxing organization replacing K-1 as the number one kickboxing organization.  K-1's new company did return in 2012 to form a new K-1 World Grand Prix tournament.  It was quite interesting because Glory also held it's own version of a World Grand Prix.  October of 2012 in Japan, K-1 held the world Grand Prix opening round featuring Mirko Cro Cop, Singh Jaideep, Ben Edwards, Hesdy Gerges, Samedov, &  Paul Slowinski - which is a pretty impressive list of WGP participants, however GLORY signed the bigger former K-1 names for its own version of a WGP in December 31st, 2012 called "GLORY 4 - 2012 HW Grand Slam".  Glory 4 event featured four time WGP winner Semmy Schilt, three time winner Remy Bonjasky, three time winner Peter Aerts, Errol Zimmerman, Daniel Ghita, Saki and even former PrideFC and Strikeforce fighter Sergei Kharitonov!  Semmy Schilt won the tournament KO'ing Daniel Ghita in the finals.  The Finals of the K-1 WGP 2012 was held in Croatia in March of 2013 and even added one of the most popular Kickboxers of the world - Badr Hari to the tournament.  As K-1 legends grew old, Hari represented the new generation with his bad boy personality and his Mike Tyson-like personality in and out of the ring.  Trouble with the law outside the ring and an explosive KO machine in the ring.  In the end,   Cro Cop, a living legend won the 2012 WGP in his home country.  So today we have GLORY being the best Kickboxing organization in the world featuring all the big names to continue the sport.

Professional Wrestling
The four main combat sports (MMA, Boxing, Kickboxing & Grappling) has its champions, its superstars, its great matches, its skilled warriors - there is a different form of sports entertainment that somewhat intersects with real fighting from time to time.  Professional Wrestling.  Pro Wrestling is somewhat confusing to be associated with MMA, Grappling, Kickboxing or Boxing because of the nature of the matches, it is not real competition.  However, pro wrestling provides a form entertainment to the fan of combat sports or a younger audience.  Pro Wrestling is somewhat of a combination of fighting & a live soap opera.  Pro Wrestling glorifies athleticism and provides scripted storylines to entertain the audience.  Where real life, there are shades of grey.  There isn't necessarily a good guy or bad guy in real life fighting.  Just competitors.  There may be someone the audience connects with more than the other occassionally, but its all subjective.  Pro Wrestling provides a Hollywood spectacle that provides the audience someone that is a good guy and someone that is a bad guy.  The audience decides who they want to cheer for.  Even though Pro wrestling is scripted, the people that participate have to be talented in athleticism in order to perform in from of a live audience.  They are actors and they are stunt men, but they provide a service for an audience.  Unlike real fighters who train in a martial arts to perform to their best of their abilities, pro wrestlers perform with the script and talent they are given.  The result can either be entertained by combat sport fans or disliked by combat sport fans.  Some fight fans who weren't exposed to the larger than life characters at a young age might be turned off by the idea of fake fighting to entertain an audience.   However, those people who caught pro wrestling at an early age seemed to enjoy the characters, the talent, the entertaining matches and the overall package of Professional Wrestling.  It's a live soap opera designed to target sports fans.  The pro wrestlers have to be in shape and tough in order to perform in a pro wrestling match.  Therefore, if one is tough and in shape with atheleticism, then that could translate into real fighting.  Some of the pro wrestlers have amatuer wrestling backgrounds.  Since amatuer wrestling is not a profession where they could make a living do it (not coaching it), then professional wrestling  seems to appeal to those as a legit money making career.  Kurt Angle was a 1996 olympic gold medalist champion and eventually signed with the WWF in 2000.  Brock Lesnar was a gifted amatuer wrestler who also made a good transition into professional wrestling.  The idea is that the performers would work matches in order to entertain the audience. 

National Wrestling Alliance
The roots of Pro Wrestling go way back to the 19th century.  It started out as a carnival exhibition where professional wrestlers would travel with a circus.  In the 1950's, television promoted pro wrestling by using Gorgeous George as a main attraction to capture an audience's attention.  He was known as a 'heel' or a bad guy, where people would tune in to see him get beat up.  What happened was that each 'territory' would have its own wrestling promotion.  This lead to the formation of the 'NWA' - the National Wrestling Alliance.  It was a truce of wrestling promoters that they would all own their own territory and recongnize one world champion which would travel to each territory to defend its 'World Championship'.  Each territory would have its stars.  In the 1960's, there were many people unhappy with the NWA.  With many individuals with massive egos and a very political system, two organizations left the NWA.  The AWA in Minnesota with Verne Gagne & Vincent K. McMahon Sr. of the W.W.W.F. in New York.  The NWA recongnized Lou Thesz as the world champ while AWA promoted Verne Gagne the champion (Verne always wanted to be the champ because it was his company and him as the champ would make sure the champion would stay with the company), and Buddy Rogers for the WWWF.  Bruno Sammartino was a big figure in the WWWF as well as was Nick Bockwinkle for the AWA.  NWA was still strong promoting Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk, & Harley Race in the 1970's.  1980's featured the Nature Boy Ric Flair as the NWA champ which was strongly promoted in the south - Carolina, Georgia territories.  The 80's was a very important time in pro wrestling as the business changed.  While Ric Flair carried the NWA legacy, Vincent K. McMahon sold his promotion to his son, Vince McMahon Jr.  Vince McMahon was a revolutionist and had visions of taking pro wrestling on a national scale and then international level.  While the NWA was ran by old timers and stubborn old men who did not like change, Vince McMahon decided to take pro wrestling to mainstream media along with the rock and roll of MTV, celebrity participation, traveling over seas.  In order for him to take on mainstream and make his way across the country, he needed a superstar that would attract attention.  AWA was the number one wrestling promotion in America.  They featured several famous wrestlers and even made a hollywood movie.  Some of the wrestlers would become known on a global scale like Shawn Michaels, Jesse Ventura, Andre the Giant, Scott Hall and much more.  However, their main attraction was Hulk Hogan.  A larger than life good guy who the fans always supported. 


Slyvestor Stallone needed a pro wrestler for his third Rocky installment due out in 1982.  He chose Hulk Hogan and Hogan played Thunderlips - the Ulimate Male.  It was a scene that mimicked Andre the Giant vs. Chuck Wepner pro wrestling match where a boxer took on a wrestler.  Hogan now had a national audience and his stock rose.  However, he was working for WWWF at the time, Vince Sr - who fired Hogan for taking the role in Rocky 3.  AWA signed Hogan to work with their promotion where the Rocky 3 exposure helped Hogan thus helping the AWA as he became their top star.  Hogan however felt he was bigger than what Gagne was paying him.  They didn't have exclusive contracts back in those days, so even though Vince Sr fired Hogan, Vince Jr was very interested in signing Hulk Hogan.  Hogan left Verne Gagne to work with Vince's new WWF promotion in New York.  Vince signed other top AWA talent to his organization as he had a better business plan - to travel to all territories of the United States and make deals with tv companies to gain exposure.  The plan worked from a business stand point - however the NWA as well as AWA felt very threatened by Vince McMahon's business moves and hated him for it.  WWF even held shows in Minnesota where AWA was established.  Verne Gagne fought back by trying to expand to New York in a retaliation, however AWA did not work there.  The NWA was dying as well as the territory system they've established simply wasn't working anymore.   The promotion of superstars, action figures, tv programs, t-shirts, traveling to big cities across the nation, and creating a giant super show which featured celebrities called 'Wrestlemania' was the right formula to take pro wrestling to a whole other level.  Suddenly, WWF was on the map as the premiere wrestling organization.  Vince not only took AWA top talent, but signed the NWA talent as well.  Vince also bought out smaller organizations and took their tv time slots.  This angered so many of the NWA older promoters.  Vince with Hulkamania drew millions of dollars.  Vince made his way to Georgia and in 1984 worked with Ted Turner and bought Georgia Championship Wrestling to gain the TBS time slot with his WWF.  Jim Crocket had Crocket Promotions promoting its organization until he hit bankrupcy.  After a dispute with Turner, Vince left TBS, and Turner wanted a pro wrestling show on his network because it drew ratings so in 1988, he bought Crocket's promotion, calling it WCW, thus the future main competitor of Vince's WWF.

World Championship Wrestling
WCW was owned by Ted Turner and Turner's corporation had absolutely no idea how to run a wrestling promotion - so they hired experienced people like any normal businessman would do.  The problem was the experienced wrestling people were too old school to compete with Vince McMahon.  They spent early 90's trying to promote NWA Champion as well as WCW champion making things confusing to people.  Ric Flair ended up becoming NWA champion and after a dispute with the WCW higher ups, Jim Heard - Flair signed with WWF, even making waves by bringing the NWA title on WWF television (blurred out to avoid a lawsuit by the NWA).  NWA was dying, but Ted Turner had enough finances to back WCW to keep it on his network for the ratings.  So WCW behind the scenes was a marry-go-round of presidents of the company.  Bill Watts was hired but was extremely old school and made the program boring.  Ole Anderson, Dusty Rhodes all tried their go at it, but all failed to compete on a national level.  It wasn't until they hired a young former AWA commentator, Eric Bischoff that really turned WCW around.  Eric Bischoff was younger and had a business mentality, yet also was a wrestling guy.  He had a background in pro wrestling but wasn't just a 'wrestling guy', the way the rest of them were.  He had visions of how to make the company MONEY, which is what it was all about.  Bischoff made some changes that seemed to favor his company.  He moved the arena to MGM studios where they had better lighting, saved money by producing several shows in a week.  It was two things that really made WCW boom - signing of Hulk Hogan, the biggest wrestling superstar the world has ever seen in 1994.  And to really make it great, sign him right away against Ric Flair who came back to WCW from WWF.  Ted Turner then had a meeting with Bischoff and asked how WCW could compete with WWF and Bischoff replied, give me primetime television time - and that is when WCW went head to head with WWF on Monday night.  WWF had Monday Night Raw, a program established in 1993 and in 1995 WCW held its first WCW Nitro program.  To make matters even more interesting, WCW signed Lex Luger who was on WWF tv the week prior, but because he was working without an exclusive contract, Eric signed him to a deal thus showing up on Nitro without anyone knowing about it.  It made the audience look at Raw and then be interested in Nitro at the same time. 


In 1996, WCW signed two of WWF's top talent - Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.  They were posing as 'outsiders' or WWF invading WCW, but Vince quickly filed a lawsuit to prevent WCW from using his company as a storyline to draw money.  Vince even replied to this by replacing Diesel and Razor Ramon with two other wrestlers to use those two gimmicks, thus proving Vince owns the characters of Diesel and Razor - but the fans were smarter than that in 1996.  Fans were tuning in WCW to see what would happen next as it was Live where as Raw was taped.  WCW started signing established WWF superstars who started appearing on WCW to create a major interest.  The biggest thing that happened was that Nash and Hall wrestled WCW's Sting, Luger & Macho Man at Bash at the Beach 1996 pay-per-view.  The 'Outsiderrs' claimed they had a third partner for the match and it turned out to be Hulk Hogan - who turned into a bad guy.  The three formed the nWo - The New World Order.  The idea was nWo would invade WCW to take it over.  nWo represented the new talent to defeat the older WCW guys.  The storyline was brilliant and WCW Nitro defeated WWF Raw ratings for two years...

World Wrestling Entertainment

By 1980's Vince McMahon along with Hulk Hogan dominated the pro wrestling scene in the United States.  The remaining territories tried to team up to try to at least complete with the WWF, creating three 'Super Clash' wrestling cards featuring all the organization's big names, but the pay-per-view failed.  WWF had a more cartoon gimmick style entertainment.  They never tried to play it off like it was a real sport.  They admitted they were not a real sport and furthered angered the oldschool NWA types even more.  Wrestlemania was the biggest gamble Vince McMahon ever took.  They used celebrities and main event featuring Hulk Hogan and celebrity Mr. T against Piper & Mr. Wonderful with Muhammad Ali as a special guest enforcer.  The event was a success.  Wrestlemania 3 broke audience attendence records and further helping Hulk Hogan's Hulkamania fanbase when Hogan battled Andre the Giant in the main event.  It was a historic match that will never be forgotten.  Vince did things no other promotions did.  He even featured a match with a babyface (good guy) against another babyface on the biggest wrestling stage in North America - Wrestlemania 6.  Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior which Warrior pinned Hogan clean thus trying to attempt to do something new rather than Hogan winning every main event, trying to create a new superstar and Warrior was popular with the WWF audience, even though in real life was a complete nutcase asshole.  Hogan became so big that he had a chance to get into movies and film, which he felt he would like to do.  Hogan left WWF in 1993 to do television shows, Thunder in Paradise.  Since Hogan left, ratings droppped in early 90's.  WWF had to focus on a new champion to carry the WWF torch.  Back in the 80's, larger than life wrestlers dominated the main event.  Steroids ran wild in the locker room and it seemed the bigger you are, the more chance you had to get to the top.  With wrestling being so associated with illegal steroids, it was time to focus on something new.  Vince McMahon turned to Bret Hart, a second generation wrestler who focused his wrestling techniques rather than his physic.  Hart was a great wrestler, not much charisma, but was the champ most of the time from 1993 to 1996.  Hart wasn't overly big, but he was talented and had the fans support.  Another wrestler his size named Shawn Michaels was a kid from Texas who had the skills of Bret Hart, but with a little more charisma.  he could play an excellent villain or even a great babyface.  Mid-90's showed a turn of the WWF and the business itself where fans were sick of the good guy vs. bad guy aspect and wanted something new.  Therefore, they focused on cheering for the evil villain bad guy Steve Austin and boo'ed Bret Hart. 


Vince was smart enough to recongnize the change of the fans and went with it.  At Wrestlemania 13 featured Bret Hart versus Stonecold Steve Austin where Hart finally turned heel and Austin became the anti-hero.  The fans loved it.  Wrestlemania 13 still featured the gimmick Undertaker vs. Psycho Sid as the main event as they weren't yet willing to change everything.  But as time progressed, the 'attitude era' began where the characters changed and the matches changed.  WWF became more edgy, the Howard Stern of wrestling.  No more family programming and cartoon gimmicks.  Instead, it would be a more attitude.  The women divas would strip to almsot nothing and even posed in Playboy.  The matches became bloody and even featured a hardcore championship.  Shawn Michaels and his best friend HHH formed D-X, not a nWo rip off, but a more of a rebellious teenage like group of wrestlers to wreck havoc.  Rather than 'taking over', their mission was to create anarchy.  In 1997, Bret Hart represented the old school traditional wrestling of good guy vs. bad buy - but because he took this stance, he was known as a villain.  The Anti-old school traditional wrestling was Shawn Michaels, who was edgy and did things that would entertain rather than do a normal wrestling match night after night.   Hart & Michaels did not like each other in real life.  Their onscreen characters began to carry to backstage and the two did not like each other.  Hart was the champ and Vince did not feel the money he was paying him was worth it.  Hart signed with WCW and Vince wanted him to drop the belt to Shawn Michaels in November of 1997 at a pay-per-view called Survivor Series.  However, Bret Hart took wrestling business seriously and hated Shawn Michaels.  Also, the match took place in Bret Hart's home country - Canada where some speculated he refused to drop the belt in his home turf.  Hart refused to drop the belt and because of a stupid contract stipulation, Bret had creative control in the last 30 days of his employeement.  Bret decided to exercise this contract stipulation but Vince disagreed with Bret's decision.  Bret's last match was with Shawn Michaels before he wasn't under contract with WWF and if he had the belt, could walk on WCW Nitro with the WWF championship, which I'm sure played into what Vince McMahon decided to do.  Vince and Bret agreed the contest would end in DQ and Bret would come back on Raw the following night and drop the belt, even though he wouldn't be under contract but felt he was owed this request because of all his years of hard work and dedication.  Vince decided to protect his company and along with Shawn Michaels, referee Earl Hebner, HHH, and a few others decided to screw Bret Hart over and when Shawn put him in a submission, Vince ordered the bell to be rung and declare Shawn the winner.  This was known as the 'Montreal Screw Job'.  Hart was livid.  Vince was a guy that stood by his actions and accepted responsbility for his actions.  He decided to confront the angry Bret Hart despite of Hart's emotions.  Bret Hart punched Vince McMahon in the eye and Bret Hart left for WCW.  Sadly, WCW had no clue what to do with Bret Hart and he could not gain that success he had in the WWF due to politics keeping Bret down in WCW.

The new competitor WCW kept growing and became Vince McMahon's number one competitor.  1995, the two companies went head to head on cable network.  WCW Nitro on TNT & WWF Raw on USA Network.  WCW dominated the ratings in 1996.  Vince McMahon had to fight back somehow.  The only thing to do is focus on a new generation of superstars.  He had the established Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker, but lost Bret Hart to WCW. Shawn Michaels was off and on again wrestling due to injuries, but it wasn't until a former WCW wrestler Steve Austin came into the company that changed the tide back to Vince McMahon.  Labelled 'Stonecold' Steve Austin, Austin was presented to the audience as a villain.  but the more dirty and bad he got - the more the fans loved him.  The writers tried hard to make him a bad guy, but the harder they tried - the more cheers Austin got.  The audience was changing.  And Vince knew it...  Rather than trying something different, Vince threw out the cartoon gimmicks and storylines and let the wrestlers put more of their personality with the volume turned up and let the audience decide who they liked.  He didn't need Bret Hart anymore because he knew he had a new generation that could help his company.  Austin became a huge sensation.  While WCW main events featured over the hill wrestlers like Ric Flair, Hogan, Piper, Macho Man - Vince was promoting new talent with Stonecold Steve Austin, The Rock, and Mankind.  Austin and Rock were the new generation which gained so much fan support by their characters and charisma.  It was truly amazing the talent these two had and even the chemistry they had in their fueds and matches, which led to great Wrestlemanias.  In 1998, Vince did something interesting - he signed Mike Tyson (a year after he bit Evander Holyfield's ear) to Wrestlemania to enforce the main event WWF championship match - Stonecold vs. Shawn Michaels.  This created a buzz around the WWF. 


After Michaels had to leave due to back injury, McMahon decided he would fued with Austin, making a wrestler going against his boss, the owned of the wWF, thus making Vince a bad guy.  Vince McMahon's character as the 'boss' was perfect and in a raw main event, Austin vs. McMahon was the Raw that actually turned the tide and beat WCW Nitro in the ratings.  Suddenly WCW was more focused on beating Raw than worrying about their product.  As ratings decreased, backstage politics increased and WCW was in turmoil.  In 1999, they fired Eric Bischoff, replacing him with WWF former creative writer Vince Russo.  vince Russo did not have a Vince McMahon to filter his creative ideas - so the result was a giant clusterfuck mess of a show that even crowned goofy comedic actor David Arquette as WCW champion which was a disgrace according to hardcore wrestling fans.  The company went to hell.  The Rock & Stonecold along with early 2000 new wrestlers Kane, HHH, Trish Stratus, and signed some younger WCW talent to promote them properly including Chris Benoit, Eddy Guerrero, The Big Show, and one of the biggest and best signings was Chris Jericho.  Jericho was gaining tons of fame in WCW as a mid card talent, but WCW higher ups refused to promote him because of guys like Hogan, Nash, Hall, Savage, Sting, Luger and even DDP always had to be on top of the cards.  Old talent wouldn't get out of the way and so the awesome talent would be stuck going nowhere except a mid card match.  There was one guy that did catch on to become a main event star - Bill Goldberg.  He was a guy who's gimmick people just loved and caught on with the fans.  Goldberg chants would start during non-Goldberg matches and even in the main event when he had nothing to do with the storyline or fued.  The fans decided Goldberg was a WCW superstar and he quickly became WCW champ beating Hulk Hogan on a Nitro (just so WCW would beat Raw in the ratings rather than making big money on a PPV with Hogan vs. GOldberg).  Eventually, WCW was going under.  Ted Turner decided the best person to sell the company to was in fact Vince McMahon because he knew he would not tarnish the WCW name and not forget about the company. 


On March of 2001, Vince held the last Nitro which featured a duel televised program where Raw and Nitro would be the same feed at the last 30 minutes of the program.  On Nitro, it featured Shane McMahon entering the ring to announce a fued with his father, thus creating a WCW vs. WWF fued on WWF programming.  The fued wasn't spectacular, WWF couldnt sign the big names like Hogan, Goldberg or anyone.  Eventually, all the big talent came across to WWF, which in 2003 became WWE due to World Wildlife Foundation successfully suing Vince for the name.  WWE was all by itself, with no competition.  A small organization from Tennesse called TNA debuted in 2002 and have some mild success eventually signing a very old Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff to try to rehash the Monday Night Wars, but it did not work as well without Ted Turner funding..  The WWE continued to produce wrestling events to this day and even Raw broke records for being the longest ran weekly television program.  HHH became the champion after Stonecold and Rock left, and then WWF promoted a new superstar named John Cena to carry the torch that was carried by Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Stonecold, The Rock, and HHH..  Another new wrestler made some waves with the fans, CM Punk is doing well with the company, but the ratings were not as great as it was in the late 90's , early 2000 decade - but is very popular among the younger kids.  WWE now is more geared toward family entertainment since Ultimate Fighting got popular with teenagers and adults which carried the similar fanbase.

The Worlds Collide
With the previous different types of sporting events, it is no surprise that there is an interest in seeing a representative of one combat sport enter another combat sport.  It's what made UFC 1 fun.  The idea of that unpredictablity that leads up to the fight.  I suppose you could say its the 'Mixed' part of Mixed Martial Arts.  Mixing it up to create a unique and interesting bout of style vs. style.  What if you took a K-1 Kickboxer and put him against a MMA fighter in a MMA ring or what if the MMA fighter had to fight a K-1 fighter in a kickboxing ring ?  What if a boxer took on a Pro Wrestler ?  What if a Boxer took on a former UFC champion in MMA ?  As the talk of Roy Jones Jr versus Anderson Silva is on the horizon in a Boxing ring, it is interesting to discuss the history of when the Worlds Collide!  Starting with the Gene LeBell vs. Milos Savage bout that I mentioned in the beginning of this article, to the more infamous Inoki vs. Muhammad Ali 1976 bout. Those are the Boxers against other styles, but it didnt stop there.  Once MMA and Kickboxing became popular, the two collided as well.

Pro Wrestling & Boxing
Japanese Pro Wrestlers were known in their home country as not just actors or steroid stuntmen like many believed here in United States, but they were warriors and very highly respected in Japan.  Many of the Japanese pro wrestlers also trained in a 'shoot style' which means they learned how to really fight to put on a better performance.  Antonio Inoki became the Hulk Hogan in Japan.  The fight was suppose to be a work or a publicity stunt, but turned real at the last minute.  It marked a cross over - a Pro Wrestler versus an American Boxer.  The idea was very unique and interesting.  15 Rounds went by with not a lot of action as Inoki did not want to engage with Ali and played it safe, using a kick where Ali couldn't hit him and he would fall on the ground, butt scooting most of the fight to avoid being punched by the 'Greatest of all time'.    In 1985, Muhammad Ali returned to Pro Wrestling, however to participate in the first ever 'WWF Wrestlemania' being a special enforcer outside the ring.  Ali admired pro wrestling and the characters.  It is said that Ali even mimicked 'Georgeous George' who was a king of trash talking.

The Ali-Inoki fight became extremely popular and a somewhat of a 'sequel' to Inoki vs. Ali would occur in 1986 - but not a real fight nor Ali, but the man who beat Ali - Leon Spinks.  Leon Spinks, father of Cory Spinks and older brother of Michael Spinks, took a paycheck to fight Antonio Inoki in a worked bout.  Spinks wore boxing gloves as did Inoki and the fight ended with Inoki winning by pin.  Leon Spinks also participated in other pro wrestling bouts as well.

In very early 90's, Japan Pro Wrestling promoters once again used former Boxing champions to put them against their prime champions in a 'mixed bout'.  Trevor Berbick was famous for being Ali's last opponent and lost the championship to Mike Tyson.  Famous and future PrideFC star Nobuhiko Takada took on Berbick in a mixed worked bout in a Japanese pro wrestling event UWFi organization, but Berbick had some confusion about the bout  .  It is believed that Berbick intended on winning thinking it was a type of american kickboxing match with special rules, but Takada was told to turn the worked bout into real pain, so Takada began to kick Berbick's legs.  Berbick was extremely angry about kicks below the belt and argued with the ref.  In a strange turn of events, Berbick jumped out of the ring and left.  Berbick claimed he was doublecrossed.  Also in the same year, a future PrideFC MMA fighter former pro wrestler, Kiyoshi Tamura took on Matthew Saad Muhammad in a real Boxing vs. Wrestler match.  Tamura made quick work, taking him down and securing a quick submission.  Muhammad did a lot of trash talking saying he wold easily KO the japanese wrestling superstar.  He wore boxing gloves and Tamura won in 34 seconds.  Masa Funaki was a shoot style pro wrestler who eventually founded Pancrase, one of the longest running MMA organizations.  Funaki fought in early Pancrase shows which showcased a shoot style system of fighting which early MMA legends began their careers including Ken and Frank Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Maurice Smith, Guy Mezger, Yuki Kondo, Semmy Schilt, and others.  Roberto Duran was extremely popular as one of the Fabulous Four Boxing 1980's middleweights.  Duran was famous for defeating Sugar Ray Leonard due to his mental breaking down Leonard to defeat him.  In 1992, Duran was overweight, past his prime and not the fighter he once was, but his name could draw attention and Masa Funaki took on Roberto Duran in a special real fight where Funaki would only get 8 seconds on the ground to submit him, otherwise the fighters would have to stand up.  Duran did considerably well, but eventually lost by neckcrank.  Duran was able to land some body shots and a younger Duran would have been interesting to see what that fight would have been like.  There wasn't too many more Boxing vs. Pro Wrestler fights, worker or real, due to the popularity of other sports like K-1 & Mixed Martial Arts, however in 2003, Inoki held his annual 'Inoki Bom Be Ye' New Years Eve Show.  One of the main draws was a famous pro wrestler known as someone who embodies Inoki's spirit named Kazuyuki Fujita.  Fujita was a good amatuer wrestler and has a unique body where he has a thick skull and very powerful body structure.  He was able to defeat Mark Kerr at Pride 2000 GP which was at the time a huge massive upset and the first fighter to take Kerr down.  Fujita, like Sakuraba, Funaki, Suzuki, & Tamura was able to cross over from Pro Wrestling worked bouts to a real legit dangerous fighter.  He also beceame one of the best Japanese HW fighters.  Inoki Bom Be Ye 2003 featured Fujita vs. Imamu Mayfield in a special bout where Fuijta would have 20 seconds on the ground before ref stood them up.  Fuijta was way too powerful for Mayfield and even managed to put him in a choke standing up.  Mayfield went to sleep and Fujita won the bout. 


In WWF 1999, Vince held real boxing bouts between pro wrestlers and the winner would take on Butterbean at Wrestlemania 15.  The result ended badly as Butterbean viciously KO'ed Bart Gunn at Wrestlemania event. WWE also featured Evander Holyfield in a worked boxing match with superstar Matt Hardy.  WWE also featured Ricky Hatton in a small Raw appearance.  But WWE really connected with the Boxing world when they signed Floyd Mayweather Jr against Big Show at Wrestlemania 24.  The match was a David vs. Goliath match and featured Mayweather on several Raw programs leading up to the match.  Buster Douglas was a special guest referee at a wrestling event as well after his successful Mike Tyson KO victory.


Pro Wrestling & K-1
In Japan, pro wrestling and K-1 dominated the ratings.  In K-1's third year in 1995, Kiyoshi Tamura took on Patrick Smith who was already famous for his UFC fights, but had a huge upset KO over Andy Hug in K-1.  Similar to Tamura's previous wrestler vs. boxer match, Tamura was able to submit Patrick Smith with a heel hook in 55 seconds.  It wasn't until years later in 2001, where Ishii teamed up with Inoki to produce a Inoki Bom Be Ye 2001 - K-1 vs. Inoki.  Earlier in the year, Croatia's K-1 WGP 1999 Finalist Mirko Cro Cop took on Kazuyuki Fujita on August 2001 - Andy Hug Memorial K-1 Show.  Cro Cop shocked everyone as the combat sports fans were used to always seeing a striker get taken down by a grappler and easily submitted.  However, Cro Cop managed to land a superior knee to Fuijta's head as he went in for the take down, prompting Fujita to bleed all over the place.  The fight was stopped and Cro Cop won his first MMA fight.  Cro Cop entered Pride 17 to take on Japanese Pro Wrestling legend Nobuhiko Takada for a five round draw as takada avoided any kind of fight and mostly butt scooted in a very boring fight.  Inoki Bom Be Ye 2001 also had Cro Cop return to take on WCW and Japan Wrestler Yuji Nagata in a MMA fight.  Cro Cop was able to win by KO head kick.  The event also featured Mike Bernardo taking on Takada in one of the MMA's most boring matches of all time.  If the fight did not end in a finish, it was declared a draw.  K-1's Jerome Le Banner lost to Tadao Yasuda by a simple forearm choke from the mount.   However, there were more Pro Wrestlers not just from Japan to enter the world of Kickboxing.  Former WCW wrestler Sean O'Harie fought Japanese K-1 fighter Musashi where he lost by KO.  O'Haire also lost his next three K-1 fights.  K-1 Australian Sam Greco was interested in going the other way, signing with WCW and making a brief appearance , however Greco eventually did not wrestle in WCW.  Bob Sapp was a giant mamoth former NFL football player who decided to get into the world of fighting.  First, he beat Refridgerator Perry on a Toughman competition.  He then made a huge name for himself in Japan.  He fought one Pride MMA fight and was invited to compete in K-1 where he was DQ'ed in an insane match with a lighter japanese K-1 fighter.  The fight led to other K-1 matches and Bob Sapp also entered the world of Pro Wrestling in Japan.  His name was huge in early 2000 decade.  Former WWE and WCW star Dr. Death Steve Williams battled prime K-1 fighter Alexey Ignashov and lost badly by KO.


K-1 & Boxing
As K-1 grew famous, the company was interested in putting Boxing stars in the K-1 one.  Boxers have a better chance in the K-1 ring due to the fact that they don't have to worry about wrestling aspect and technically is a striker vs. striker match.  Around 2003-2005 featured numerous Boxers entering the K-1 ring.  K-1 really wanted their biggest draw Bob Sapp to go head to head with Mike Tyson who was coming off a loss against lennox lewis and a win against Cliff Etienne.  At a US K-1 GP event, Bob Sapp defeated MMA star Kimo and then called out Mike Tyson.  Tyson entered the ring and did not exactly 'play along' the heated situation.  It seemed K-1 wanted to start a giant brawl involving Sapp and Tyson and people held back Sapp, however Tyson was not really angry and was smiling the entire time.  Tyson wasn't interested in the heated exchange with Sapp and it came across as K-1 was trying to make something happen to create a buzz, but it didn't work.  Tyson never did fight in K-1, but K-1 did manage to get Mike Tyson's proclaimed half brother Cliff Couser who also was a boxer, not nearly as good as Tyson though.  Couser lost a decision to Miyamoto Masaaki.  Butterbean was a famous boxer known for his power, not a big contender but famous for his heavy hands.  Butterbean entered K-1 winning his first match against Fujimoto, but then competing against a top ranked K-1 fighter, Mike Bernardo where he lost by KO, low kicks in a very entertaining fight.  Vince Phillips was a former champion, the first to beat Kostya Tszyu in 1997 for his championship.  Tszyu only lost to Phillips & Ricky Hatton.  Two huge HW boxing names, near the end of their career however still very dangerous fighters - Frans Botha and Shannon Briggs entered K-1.  Botha lost to Cyril Abidi in his first fight by punching him on the ground getting dq'ed.  Cyril won the rematch.  Botha went 2-10 in K-1, upsetting the famous Peter Aerts & Jerome Le Banner which made his way to the semi finals of the K-1 WGP 2004.  Shannon Briggs had one K-1 bout against Pride and UFC vetern wrestler Tom Erikson.  Shannon Briggs knocked him out in the first round.  Many people were hoping Briggs would enter more K-1 competition, but he went back to Boxing even getting a match against Vitali Klitschko.  Speaking of Vitali Klitschko, Vitali actually had kickboxing matches before entering Boxing world.  He was successful in Kickboxing.  A very old and aging Ray Mercer who was a former champion with fights against the biggest names in boxing entered K-1 and fought Musashi & Remy Bonjasky, losing to both of them.  A very unknown fight was japanese K-1 fighter Musashi defeating the grandson of Jack Dempsey, Josh Dempsey.


K-1 vs. MMA
With Inoki associated with PrideFC and many legit MMA promoters, K-1 and PrideFC collided in what was to become 2002 most interesting combat sports storyline.  Pride and K-1 were the biggest combat sporting events in Japan and the two were interested in working together to put the fighters of Pride against the fighters of K-1.  It was a fantastic concept that created a lot of interest.  The first true K-1 vs. Pride fight actually happened in 1999 when Pride HW top ranked fighter Igor Vovchanchyn (known as a MMA striker) took on K-1's best Ernesto Hoost.  This would be an interesting match, but it was in K-1 ring, so Ernesto Hoost was able to kick Igor's leg for a KO victory as Igor could barely stand up after the beating to his leg.  Pride 17 held Cro Cop vs. Takada (who was mainly a pro wrestler) and Tom Erikson submitting K-1's Matt Skelton by a strangle choke.  Pride / K-1 Dynamite!! 2002 also known as Pride Shockwave in the US featured K-1 fighters & Pride fighters in various forms of competition.  Ernesto Hoost fought Semmy Schilt which ended in a draw, ironically Schilt transfered over to K-1 to win four K-1 WGPs.  But before that he was primarily known as a MMA fighter.  Pride journeyman Daijro Matsui lost to kickboxing Jerrel Venetiaan who also fought in MMA.  Gary Goodridge defeated K-1 Lloyd Van Dams.  In the most entertaining MMA fight of all time, K-1 superstar Bob Sapp fought Pride HW Mintoauro Nogueira.  Minotauro wore him down and submitted him in the third round in a thrilling fight.  The main event featured Mirko Cro Cop who had success fighting and beating pro wrestlers against Pride's MW icon Kazushi Sakuraba.  Cro Cop managed to defeat the smaller MMA fighter in his own game by upkicking him and breaking Sakuraba's orbital bone.  Don Frye also did a reverse by taking a top K-1 fighter with K-1 rules, even though he was a pure mma fighter.  Jerome Le Banner brutally KO'ed Don Frye.  Don Frye however did defeat K-1 Cyril Abidi in Inoki Bom Be Ye 2001 a few months before in a MMA fight.  The K-1 vs. Pride matches continued throughout 2002 with MMA fighters competing in K-1 and vice versa.  Pride's Quinton Jackson took on Cyril Abidi and defeated him by KO in a shocking upset.  On the same card, Pride MMA fighter kickboxing Gilbert Yvel lost by KO to K-1 superstar Ray Sefo.  This fued didn't just profit both Pride and K-1 organizations, it didn't just create a superstar - it created a legend, Mirko Cro Cop.  Cro Cop having success in MMA from being a pure K-1 kickboxer and using those skills to win MMA matches really impressed the audience.  After beating Sakuraba, he fought Wanderlei Silva at the Pride 20 main event with special rules.  The fight was declared a draw.  Cro Cop then fought legit HW contender Heath Herring, KO'ing him.  Cro Cop was smart and skilled enough to learn how to sprawl to avoid the ground game.  His ground game consisted of ways to get up to his feet where he could use his kickboxing skills to win MMA matches.  It seemed he was a true Martial Artist who could win both MMa and K-1 matches making him without a doubt one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet.  Cro Cop continued to win HW matches against top ranked fighters, thus making him a top three HW fighter.  His first loss came against Minotauro Nogueria when he lost in the second round by armbar, however Cro Cop managed to do extremely well and nearly KO'ed Minotauro in the first round.  Cro Cop continued a new career from K-1 to MMA.  Then in 2005, the dream match happend, the Pride HW champion and future greatest of all time MMA fighter, Fedor Emalienenko signed against Mirko Cro Cop at Pride GP 2005 Finals.  The fight was exciting and known as one of the biggest super fights in MMA history!  Fedor won by decision, but Cro Cop was already established as one of the greatest of all time.  Cro Cop signed with UFC after Pride sold to UFC.  His success was not as impressive as he was getting older and bad match ups caused Cro Cop to lose some momentum.  However, he returned to kickboxing world and ended up winning the 2012 K-1 World Grand Prix. 

Other interesting match ups occured even after 2002.  Kid Yamamoto, an amazing LW mma fighter entered a few K-1 matches as well as Genki Sudo.  Shinya Aoki in 2009 competed in a mixed match up where one round was k-1 and the other mma.  A similar bout happened in 2004 with Bob Sapp and K-1's Jerome Le Banner which ended up in a draw, very interesting concept even though it was bashed by hardcore 'sport' fans of MMA considering it a freakshow, although the fight was entertaining and interesting.  Le Banner even entered MMA competiton and did extremely well being the first to beat Judo Akiyama by KO. He won his next two MMA fights.  Peter Aerts fought twice in MMA beating a sumo wrestler and losing to a Japanese MMA fighter.  K-1's Ray Sefo transitioned to MMA after a long and hard career of K-1.  Two K-1 World Grand Prix winners Mark Hunt & Alistair Overeem gained a lot of success in MMA.  Alistair had a MMA background who went to K-1 to gain success due to his gain of muscle mass.  Alistair went from losing as a LHW to the big names to defeating the top HWs in K-1.  He managed to beat Peter Aerts, Badr Hari, Ben Edwards, Gokhan Saki, Tyrone Sponge and Texieria in K-1.  He was expected to lose against Badr Hari in 2008 K-1 fight and the plan was to have K-1 match versus Hari and then Hari to rematch him in MMA, but since Hari lost the K-1, the plans for a MMA rematch dissolved quickly. He then went back to MMA after K-1 was having trouble and ended up winning MMA with his second phase of his career - the HW Alistair Overeem.  He defeated everyone in Strikeforce including Brett Rogers, Werdum rematch, and even beat Cro Cop and Mark Hunt in Dream.  Mark Hunt had a very interesting career as well.  After winning K-1 WGP, he fought MMA against Yoshdia losing to him, but then returning to pride to beat Wanderlei Silva and Mirko Cro Cop in 2004 and 2005 NYE shows.  He lost to Fedor and then went on a major losing streak, but somehow rebounded winning his UFC fights creating exciting fights.  Cro Cop vs. Hunt marked the very first fight that was a MMA fight rematch from a K-1 competition.  There was talk of a possible Jerome Le Banner vs. Mirko Cro Cop in MMA, but never materialized.

Pro Wrestling & MMA
The two go hand and hand in Japan.  In America, they are separated a little bit more , but pro wrestling has a popularity and some MMa promoters will use pro wrestlers to attract attention to their show, but not adding the pro wrestlers to the card, but for example Bill Goldberg as a commentator.  There were two big names in WWE - Brock Lesnar & Bobby Lashley.  The two had former amatuer wrestling backgrounds and after a successful run in WWE, the two decided to switch to MMA.  Bobby Lashley did not sign with the top organizations as he wanted to work his way up the MMA latter from the bottom, fighting on the lower level shows.  Lashley did rather impressive performances, but too much association with WWE, some hardcore anti-pro wrestlign people were waiting to see him lose. He had a win over Bob Sapp and Wes Sims, but did lose two fights in his twelve fight career, which is not bad.  Brock Lesnar was a main event WWE superstar with a size that was a freak of nature.  Similar to Bob Sapp's fame in Japan, Brock actually had more of a wrestling background and more skills to exceed in Mixed Martial Arts.  He had his MMA debut in K-1 Dynamite mma card where he won in the first round.  The fans were already talking and then the UFC signed Brock Lesnar to fight former UFC HW Champ Frank Mir at UFC 81.  Mir won by kneebar and it seemed Lesnar was just a pro wrestler not cut out for the big leagues just yet. 
However, his next fight provided a more interesting twist on his MMA career.  He signed to fight Mark Coleman at UFC 87, but replaced by Heath Herring.  He defeated Heath Herring, a Pride vetern and former top ranked HW fighter.  Brock's size and athleticism created a major buzz and attracted pro wrestling fans to the UFC which helped its ratings.  Rather than feed Brock lesser known names, shockingly, Brock was scheduled to face UFC posterboy and legend Randy COuture at UFC 91.  He surprisingly defeated Couture for the title and was the UFC champ at 2-1.  This caused a lot of MMA skeptics to criticize the UFC by claiming a 2-1 fighter can become a world champion.  Brock rematched Frank Mir for the title at UFC 100 with an all star undercard.  Brock avenged his only MMA loss by TKO'ing Mir and even disrespecting him after the fight due to the amount of shit talking from Mir.  The UFC 100 broke all UFC ppv records making it the highest grossing UFC ppv of all time.  It seemed rather than UFC getting credit for the high ratings, fans pointed to WWE and Vince McMahon which created the superstar and the UFC are just reaping the benefits, however Brock had a level of skill and massive size to really attract an audience.  His next fight, he defeated the very large Shane Carwin.  Carwin was winning the entire first round, but gassed out and Brock was able to submit him with a triangle arm choke, with his massive size would be a scary submission to be in against him.  Brock then took on Cain Velasquez at UFC 121 where Cain was able to stop his takedowns and destroy him with his heavy hands.  The next and last fight was Brock Lesnar versus K-1 WGP 2010 winner and former Strikeforce HW champion, Alistair Overeem who also had a huge buzz surrounding him from the hardcore MMA fans due to his massive size increase from his LHW former self.  Alistair seemed to be destroying people in K-1 or MMA, it was impressive to say the least.  He managed to break Peter Aerts ribs in their fight and even upset the K-1 golden boy, badr hari.  He then went onto to win the K-1 WGP 2010.  So this fight was a mega fight.  Alistair easily handed Brock his final loss by TKO'ign him with vicious knees and rib shots.  Alistair was not afraid of Brock Lesnar's power what-so-ever and even managed to stop his takedowns.  However, there was a significant fight long before the Brock Lesnar Reign - that was a small MMA japanese show called U-Japan which featured a lot of former UFC veterns taking on Japanese Pro Wrestlers.  Wallid Ismail, Dan Severn and others.  UFC 3 vetern Kimo took on the very famous WWE wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow in the main event.  Kimo was able to take his back and sink in a rear naked choke. 
As Mikro Cro Cop was the icon of someone that made the best transition into another arena of fighting, the said could be said the Ken Shamrock.  Ken Shamrock had a tough man boxing background and was trained in professional wrestling by japanese shoot style wrestlers.  They taught him how to really fight as well as wrestle.  After success in pro wrestling, Ken Shamrock was invited to participate in real fights in Pancrase, founded by fellow shoot wrestler - Masa Funaki.  Ken Shamrock was very well trained in submissions and with his striking made a big name for himself and won the King of Pancrase.  Shamrock then trained younger brother Frank Shamrock who also became a legend in MMA.  Ken Shamrock then entered UFC 1 where he easily submitted kickboxer Patrick Smith, but losing to Royce Gracie by rear naked choke.  Ken Shamrock later admitted he was over confident and thought no one would be able to stop him in UFC because of his real fighting background in Pancrase and his sheer size.  Ken Shamrock then focused on MMA and was nearly obsessed with a rematch with Royce Gracie which he did end up getting at UFC 5 where the two fought to a draw.  Ken Shamrock fought more, but then was offered to participate in Wrestlemania 13 as a special referee in the Bret Hart / Austin match.  Ken SHamrock then ended up wrestling for Vince McMahon for several years before leaving WWE to comeback to MMA to have an eagerly anticipated fight with Tito Ortiz.  Afterwards, he then fought an equal UFC legend Don Frye at Pride 19 which some considered a dream match up even if slightly past their prime.

Boxing & MMA
After LeBell vs. Savage, Art Jimmerson vs. Royce Gracie marked the first true modern day MMA fight of a Boxer vs. Martial artist (MMA fighter).  K-1 had contracts with their boxers and another MMA organization under their banner called Heroes, Romanex, and Dynamite.  Frans Botha did enter one MMA fight against Judo sensation Yoshihiro Akiyama.  Akiyama made quick work of Frans Botha submitting him.  A year prior - Genki Sudo , a LW exciting well rounded fighter and legend took on the giant Butterbean in a David vs. Goliath match.  Genki was a showman and made the fight entertaining by running around him, jump kicks, and even eventually took the giant down to submit him with a heel hook.  Ray Mercer shocked the world as he looked unimpressive in his two K-1 fights went onto to defeat former UFC HW champion TIm Sylvia by KO within 9 seconds.  Two years before, he lost to youtube famous Kimbo Slice, the real life boogie man who trained grappling before entering the fight.  Kimbo Slice was marketable and was smart enough to get connected with professionals to prepare himself for a real MMA fight rather than a backyard Miami bare knuckle fight against nobodies.  Heilo Gracie challenge Joe Louis when he came to Brazil, but nothing ever materialized.

  James Toney was a huge name in boxing HW division and has fought Roy Jones Jr, Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman, and others.  Toney became interested in the Boxing vs. MMA debate and began to run his mouth about how he would destroy a fighter in the UFC.  Dana White decided to sign him against Randy Couture in a Boxing vs. MMA match at UFC 118, despite fan's complaints about how a 0-0 fighter in MMA would go against a legend of MMA, however the fight did happen and it did go as expected, Randy Couture took him down and Toney didn't land a single punch.  Randy then submitted him with a triangle arm choke.  The fight was fun and much more entertaining than the real title championship borefest - Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn main event.  Although there had been several MMA fighters against Boxers, none of those will have the drawing power of UFC posterboy and longtime MW champion Anderson Silva fighting past prime however a legend who still can fight - Roy Jones Jr.  This will without a doubt be more interesting because unlike the previous fights mentioned, this is a MMA fighter going into a Boxing ring rather than the other way around.  It will answer many questions about an experience boxer against a MMA prime champion in the Boxing ring under Boxing rules.  Most fans would like to see a prime MMA champ against a prime Boxing champ in the boxing ring, but this is going to be as close as it gets.