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So while there are many MMA fighters who down through the years have been involved in street fights. Not that many actually grew up fighting their way to the top. So the question arises as to what street fighters went on to become MMA fighters?
At the very top of the pile, there are several names that stick out when it comes to what street fighter turned to MMA. This non-exhaustive list includes Tank Abbott, Eddie Alvarez, Ken Shamrock, Dada 5000, Lee Murray, Jorge Masvidal and Kimbo slice to name a few.
So let’s take a close look at some of these guys. With some street fights as well as training footage. All mixed in with some rare one on one interviews you may not have seen before.
David “Tank” Abbott was one of the original bad boys of the UFC. A bonified street fighter with some wrestling skills, Tank brought a tonne of experience after being in over 100 street fights throughout his life.
And so when he came to the UFC he knew he could easily break his hand if not protecting them using some gloves. A move that led the heavy-handed puncher to knock out many of his opponents with one punch without damaging his hands.
Many fans may not even realise that he also fought in PRIDE Fighting Championships, EliteXC, Strikeforce and Cage Rage. And while if judged by today’s standards he was really not that good.
It was his destructive punching power that was the great equaliser. However, if an opponent could get past the first round they would soon find the big man’s gas tank wanting.
The original Kimbo Slice, Tank wore the mantle of brawler better than anyone. And it is still remembered fondly today’s as one of the sports original big names.
Nicknamed the Underground King, Eddie Alvarez hails from the tough streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And before he was ever an MMA fighter, Eddie was a brawler on the tough city streets.
Yet another fighter who says he had some 100 plus street fights, before eve donning a pair of gloves. His story is one of a guy that was going nowhere. To one of the most successful mixed martial arts fighters in the world.
A two promotion 4 x time world champion in both Bellator and the UFC. Eddie used what he learned at a young age to catapult himself to the top of the MMA world. Always involved in something or actively looking for someone to test himself against. it was those early life experiences that led him to where he is today.
Known to fans as The Worlds Most Dangerous Man. Before becoming a legend in the sport of MMA Ken Shamrock led what you might call a volatile life.
Ken ran away from home as a kid and ended up living on the streets. He was in endless fights, stabbed and eventually ended up in a home for boys. Making money as a bouncer at a nightclub, Ken would often be challenged by punters who wanted to test themselves.
So as Ken said, once the club had closed, they would go out the back in the car park a duke it out. With Ken regularly taking home an additional $300 – 400 for dealing with the challenger.
He gained the nickname “One punch” Shamrock, as he became known for knocking guys out with a single punch, putting one man in a coma.
His street fighting experience would serve him well in the world of mixed martial arts. Setting up one of the first MMA gyms in the US, the Lion’s Den. Before going on to be crowned UFC Superfight and Pancrase champion.
Dada 5000 was one of those guys who was deep into street fighting. Originally into his powerlifting, Dada was from the same neighbourhood as infamous street fighter Kimbo Slice.
And when he was invited to become Kimbo’s bodyguard. Dada realised there was more to this fighting business and he wanted a piece. So Dada had several underground street fights, which according to him were never released.
But he would later go on to establish the backyard fight league. An illegal street fighting promotion was used in the documentary Dawg fight. So through the airing of the documentary and his close association with Kimbo Slice.
Dad would. go on to have just three mixed martial arts fights. With his final fight coming against his former boss Kimbo Slice at Bellator 149.
Lee Murray may have only competed in the UFC one time. But the British born MMA fighter is undoubtedly one of the most famous mixed martial artists to have ever competed in the sport.
And long before he became known for masterminding the biggest bank robbery in British history. Murray was a gangland member on the tough streets of South London. Lee built a reputation as a street fighter who was not someone to be messed with.
In 2005 he was involved in a street fight outside a London nightclub, where he was stabbed a number of times. The result of which saw him having his nipple reattached.
Just one week later he was in yet another fight outside the exact same nightclub and was stabbed yet again, but this time much worse. Rushed to the hospital, he died four times on the operating table where he underwent open-heart surgery.
A year later Murray would rob some $90 million from the Securitas Depot in Tonbridge Kent.
Back in the day when Kimbo Lice ruled the backyards of Miami Florida. There also appeared on the scene a young guy with long black hair by the name of Jorge Masvidal.
And Jorge being Jorge he was always willing to take a gamble. Which he also did in the form of fighting at a moments notice. And already having been in too many street fights to remember, for him it was fun.
While some might jet the jitters pre-fight, the only thing Masvidal worried about was someone else doing something stupid at the fight. Of course, he has gone on to be a top contender in the UFC.
But behind the fastest KO in UFC history, behind the classic one-liners and often blase attitude. Lies the heart of true street fights, from the very beginning, Gamebred.
Back in the early days of YouTube when the videos of one Kimbo Slice began to emerge. People were aghast at the pure violence they were witnessing.
Kimbo was the king of the streets in his home city of Miami. And now with his newfound internet fame, he soon became king of the backyard brawls. Something which would lead him into the next part of his life and career.
Known for brutalising his opponent, often knocking them out cold. Slice was regarded as the toughest street fighter around. And so a move in the sport of MMA seemed like a logical decision.
Winning three of his first fights, all by KO or TKO. The Kimbo train was derailed by Seth Petruzelli when he stopped Slice in 14 seconds. However, the UFC still signed the street fighter as they looked to cash in on his fame.
But with a record of 1 -1 with the promotion, he was soon let go. where he move dot Bellator MMA to fight Ken Shamrock and his former bodyguard and fellow street fighter Dada 5000. A fight which a steroid fuelled Kimbo won, while Dada reported that he died twice while inside the cage before being resuscitated.
Let’s Wrap It Up
So I hope you enjoyed my take on some of the toughest men the streets have known. Streetfighters who turned to the sport of MMA to try and build a longer and more profitable career.
And while some excelled, some others did not quite live up to their billing. More suited to bare-knuckle no holds barred rather than sanctioned bouts with rules.
Now, with the recent rise of bare-knuckle, some perhaps were unlucky to be active at the wrong time. Missing their opportunity to compete on a national stage, doing what they do best. Nonetheless, some of the toughest men on the planet. Who has added in their own special way to the history of combat sports and more specifically MMA.
Image courtesy of latimes.com
Hi, I’m Ross, at 40 years plus, I have been involved in the Martial arts for most of my life. Along with my first pet Collie dog named Tyson, RIP. My journey in the world of Martial Arts is something I want to share. So that others too can learn from my experiences.