Today, when any respectable mixed martial artist continuously sharpens their skills in many different disciplines, the classic, style vs. style matchups that dominated the halcyon days of the sport have become almost nonexistent. While the early days of MMA were highlighted by fights between boxers and wrestlers, jiu jitsu fighters and kickboxers, et cetera, today’s fighters are well versed in all the above. It just doesn’t really happen anymore.
That said, it’s still very fun to take a trip down memory lane and take a look what happens when one martial art collides with another. Case in point: the 2004 matchup in the video at the top of this article, which shows 260-pound boxer Francois Botha taking on a Japanese judoka named Yoshihiro Akiyama. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.
Though Akiyama is a name most MMA fans recognize at this point, he had never competed in the sport before at the time of this fight. Pretty much all he had to work with was his judo. And work with it he did. The moment the match began, the much smaller Akiyama used his art to ground the fight. Once he’d succeeded in doing so, it became abundantly clear that the boxer Botha was miles out of his element. Akiyama began to shower the bewildered boxer with ground and pound, and before long, found an opening for an arm bar. The tap came at the 1:54 mark of round one.
Botha, who had already battled names like Mike Tyson, Shannon Briggs and Wladimir Klitschko in the ring, elected never to compete in mixed martial arts again after this bout.
The victorious Akiyama, meanwhile, went on to realize great success in K-1 and Dream, and ultimately make it to the UFC, where he engaged in some very memorable contests in the middleweight and welterweight divisions.
Are you surprised to learn that Yoshihiro Akiyama’s MMA debut came against an experienced boxer?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/4/2017.