By: Albert Cameron – Happy New Year everyone! May the upcoming year bring you more joy and success than you know what to do with. We’re kicking off 2016’s first Friday Five with a fun one. It’s common knowledge that the ultimate competition in combat sports began on November 12, 1993 in Denver, Colorado. Two years before that, in the land of the rising sun, Street Fighter II hit the arcades. Over nearly two hundred UFC’s and five versions of the Street Fighter franchise, there are a lot of parallels to be drawn. This week’s Friday Five: Five MMA Fighters and their Street Fighter II counter parts.
Note: the criteria for this week’s Friday Five is that the fighters selected had to have had at least one pro bout. There may be other fighters in other sports (boxing or kickboxing) that would be better fits, but we’re focusing on MMA.
- “Merciless” Ray Mercer / Balrog – Admittedly, this one is a little bit of a stretch. In the Japanese version of Street Fighter II, Balrog was actually M. Bison, Bison was Vega, and Vega was Balrog; M. Bison was meant to be a direct correlation to M. Tyson (Known to the public at large as “Iron Mike Tyson”). When the game ported over to the United States, the main villains of the game had their names rotated to avoid any potential legal complications. So, while Mike Tyson would be the perfect fit for Balrog, he has not competed in professional MMA. Fortunately, “Merciless” Ray Mercer has. Mercer himself was an Olympic boxer (Tyson was not), a professional boxing champion, and has a one punch knockout victory over former UFC Heavyweight champion Tim “The Maine-Iac” Sylvia.
- Chad “Akebono” Rowan / E. Honda – Akebono (Japanese for “Daybreak,” the chosen surname of Rowan) was the first non-Japanese sumo wrestler to obtain the rank of Yokozuna, and was a very dominant one at that. While Akebono prides himself on being a professional wrestler in his post-sumo career, he does have MMA credentials: bouts with “The Predator” Don Frye, Royce Gracie, “Giant” Silva, and a recent bout with Bob Sapp at the Rizin Fighting Federation’s inaugural event. Like his Street Fighter II counterpart, Edmund Honda, he is the most successful sumo to compete (in MMA anyways).
- Ruben “Warpath” Villareal / T. Hawk – When it comes to the most prolific First Nation fighters, two come to mind: superheavyweight “The Chief” Andre Roberts and Ruben “Warpath” Villareal. Villareal was chosen for this week’s Friday Five because of his “all challengers welcome” approach to fighting. Warpath has been a mainstay on a lot of King of the Cage (KOTC) cards, Gladiator Challenge, and even welcomed “El Guapo” Bas Rutten out of retirement for an evening during the World Fighting Alliance’s “King of the Streets” event. T. Hawk, like Warpath, is a physically imposing individual with remarkable power behind his shots and a formidable adversary in combat.
- Sage Northcutt / Ken Masters – Pop quiz: I’m thinking of a blonde haired Karataka from the United States. Am I thinking of Sage Northcutt from the UFC or Ken Masters from Street Fighter II? That’s why Sage and Ken were chosen as counterparts. Northcutt seems to be the UFC’s media darling, getting a ton of exposure in the cage and in the media. As a karate fighter, Northcutt is adapting extremely well for the world of Mixed Martial Arts; learning and evolving his grappling ability to compliment his striking style. Prior to Northcutt, the most visible Karataka has been Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida; Machida’s style is defensive, where Northcutt’s style has been active and aggressive. Like Street Fighter II’s second most popular character, Northcutt has been visible, capable, and surely on the fast track to being champion.
- “All American” Brian Stann / Guile – This is the thought that got this week’s Friday Five rolling. In the Street Fighter II game, Guile enters the World Warrior Tournament to find his fallen comrade. The developers of the game gave Guile the exaggerated flat top to make him even more “American.” When we think of proud American fighters, it’s extremely hard for “All American” Brian Stann to not come to the forefront of thought. Stann was a proud Marine and the WEC’s great middleweight hope. Brian Stann was brought into the UFC’s middleweight division during the winter of his career, after the WEC had been enveloped into the main roster. “All American” Brian Stann fought for our entertainment, but most importantly, our American freedoms. For that, we are grateful.
That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! Again, a very Happy New Year to you all. Surely, there will be a part two to the MMA / Street Fighter counterparts; who do you think should be included on the list?
Until next time!