This was originally published in NOCAUTE Magazine in 2008.
Countdown: 10 slaps that marked the fight world
10) Renzo Gracie before the fight with Wallid Ismail
For someone who was just a kid and wasn’t even thinking of becoming a reporter, much less about fights, what most marked the Jiu-Jitsu challenge between Wallid and Renzo in 1993, at Flamengo gymnasium in Rio de Janeiro, were the moments leading up to the classic, like the warm-up and stare-down. For someone who never witnessed a Jiu-Jitsu match, seeing Renzo warm up for the match taking resonant slaps to the face from a brother was more noteworthy than the half-hour match itself.
9) Royce and his victims
Notice that in the first fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, in 1993, the guys didn’t know how to show they were giving up and would slap the canvas. Worse for them, as pioneer Royce would just squeeze harder on their necks, elbows, shoulders…
8) “Hit me harder!”
It came from boxing and became a tradition. As soon as the guy gets hit in the ring, he slaps his own face to show he can handle another one just like it – even if he doesn’t really plan on eating another punch. The gesture is seen in nine of ten MMA fights, especially in Brazil. It doesn’t always work out.
7) Cro Cop versus Minotauro
Of all the sonorous blows from the Croatian star, few marked Brazilian fans more than these three slaps, when Mino popped his elbow, in 2003.
6) Slap fighting
Born in the olden days in Jiu-Jitsu academies, the old method of training for fight situations produced a generation of MMA stars. In the days of Carlson Gracie, Ivan Gomes and Euclides Pereira, a lot of events forbid punches, just open-handed slaps – which hurt like hell…
5) Randy Couture on Tito Ortiz
After hearing every insult in the book from cantankerous bad boy Tito Ortiz, Randy said in a 2003 press conference, “I’m going to spank him.” Said and done, and at the end you can see, while he dominated Tito, Randy smacking him, to the crowd’s delight.
4) Sakuraba against Nino Schembri
The Japanese showboat loved it: every now and again he would come up with something flashy, during the days of Pride, like the “telephone”, two open-handed slaps to both ears of his opponent simultaneously. He quit the habit when “Elvis” reciprocated with a knee square on his nose, knocking out the pro-wrestler in orange shorts.
3) Wand on Quinton Jackson
Silva was recovering from a knee injury, and Rampage thought he could play with fire. He took the mic after knocking out Randleman, challenged the champion, and got slapped on the chest. The scene at Pride, in 2003, marked the beginning of one of the biggest rivalries in MMA history.
2) Rickson on Hugo Duarte
In a classic video on Youtube.com, Rickson and his then-rival from luta livre met on the beach, and didn’t think twice about getting in the way of the group playing paddle ball.
1) Ricardo Arona at ADCC 1999
An exchange of grips a bit too hard was enough to put him off. Arona (shaved head) didn’t like it and gave the Russian a resonant slap to the neck. If it weren’t for several peace keepers, the crowd at the ADCC may have witnessed an MMA fight instead of the submission grappling they were expecting. Despite the incident, the match eventually played out to the end.
0) Bonus Slap
Keeping with Japanese tradition, Antonio Inoki tries to knock out Lyoto Machida, who takes it like a man.