In the past, and even today, Bellator comes under fire, but not for in-cage antics, inappropriate occurrences, or even terrible fighting. Bellator comes under fire for fights that make no sense. Fights that are booked way too late, or fights that should never have been made. These fights are often labeled by fans as “Freakshow” fights. Now, just because these fights fit into the category of “Freakshow”, they aren’t all bad fights, some even being very good, but the fights on the list make it because of improper timing or odd matchmaking. With that being said, let’s get into it.
#5: Tito Ortiz vs Stephan Bonnar
So the first fight on the list is a fight that might actually sound really good. And at one point, this fight would have been huge. In 2006-2007, this fight could’ve been the main event on many shows, and sold well. That being said, this fight took place 7 years later, with both being on career tailspins. Ortiz had just ended his UFC run on a record of 1-7-1, winning his first fight outside of the organization against Alexander Shlemenko. Bonnar, on the other hand, had just ended his UFC career 2 years prior, leaving with a 3-4 record, losing to Anderson Silva in his last UFC appearance. Fans were shocked by the fight being made, with both being past their prime, but the fight went on and was Bonnar’s last fight. Ortiz won a split decision. Ortiz has fought three times since, going 2-1, and now continues his career in Combate Americas.
#4: The Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix
So this is kind of a cop out, but I decided to put the whole Grand Prix in as the #4 spot because the tournament was one big freakshow. In Round 1, we got the odd fights of a much bigger Ryan Bader vs. King Mo, Fedor (42) vs Mir (39), and Sonnen (42) vs Rampage (40). In Round 2 we saw the fight that would’ve made this list, if the whole tournament wasn’t used, that being Fedor vs. Sonnen. The weird thing about this tournament was the ages of the fighters. This tournament consisted of five UFC wash ups, a failed prospect, a way past his prime GOAT, and a solid UFC title contender. The tournament was eventually won by the obvious choice, with that being Ryan Bader, as he claimed the heavyweight belt to add to his light heavyweight belt.
#3: Kimbo Slice vs Dada 5000
So, I know what you’re thinking. This should be #1. But it is #3 for a reason. Sure, the fight was awful and even resulted in Dada almost dying, but there was at least a solid story. Former childhood friends turned bitter street fighting enemies. It makes sense right? Now if this list was based on the quality of the fight, this would rank as the worst, but just looking at the booking, it wasn’t the worst. Now that I have defended the fight, let’s get on to the booking. This was a horrible fight to book. Sure there was a rivalry, yet one had a mediocre MMA career, while the other was massively overweight, and had minimal MMA experience. Against anyone else, both of these men would have lost, as Kimbo was past his prime, and Dada simply wasn’t good. What was even a bigger kick in the gut though, was that this horrible fight, that ended with a Kimbo TKO, later was turned to a no contest after Kimbo failed a drug test soon after.
#2: Kimbo Slice vs Ken Shamrock
Oh hey look, its Kimbo Slice again! It what was Kimbo’s last fight before the Dada fight, this ranks higher because it had no story. It made no sense. At the time of the fight, Slice was 41, and Shamrock was 51. Do you see why this fight is higher? This was a shock announcement when it was made, not only because Bellator booked Kimbo, but booked him against a 50+-year-old man who is miles past his prime. The result was obvious enough, with Slice winning by TKO in Round 1.
#1: Ken Shamrock vs Royce Gracie 3
Gracie and Shamrock first fought at UFC 1. Gracie won with a choke in under two minutes. Two years later, in 1995, we saw the rematch, this time with the result being a draw. Their third fight which took place 2 years later. No wait, did I say 2 years later? I meant 21 years later. Yes 21 years later, the world got the fight they didn’t want, in which they saw the now 52-year-old Shamrock take on the then 49-year-old Gracie, in their third fight. When you hear people call Bellator a “freakshow fight company” this could be the fight to point to. I’m sure this fight was great almost 25 years ago now, and maybe #3 would’ve been great in 1997, but the delay lasted until 2016. The fight went as many suspected. It was very slow but lasted just over 2 minutes with Gracie scoring a TKO win. Shamrock argued the result, but after being popped for steroids not long after, his appeal was denied. The real question is, will we ever see either fight in the organization again? Will we see Shamrock/Gracie 4? Signs point to no, as Bellator is putting their “freakshows” in the past, but never say never.
Did I miss any freakshow fight in Bellator? What are some of the biggest freakshow fights you have seen outside of Bellator? Let me know @CoachCMmma on Twitter.