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Proto MMA History: The Day Antonio Inoki Almost Killed The Great Antonio

AJ Camacho

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Many consider catch wrestling to be the true predecessor to modern MMA. Its dynamic and brutal style of submission wrestling used to be the standard by which the world’s toughest men were measured. But as the sport became more technical the matches became longer and more stalled. Ticket sales dwindled and fans preferred spectacle and drama over technique and skill.

As less technique was needed, and catch wrestling’s interest faded, these catch wrestling legends traveled to Japan to train the next wave of professional wrestlers cast in the mold of their catch wrestling predecessors. This paradigm shift would create a stylistic divide that still exists to this day. Catch wrestling rooted Japanese pro wrestlers versus the brute melodrama of the american Pro-wrestler. In 1977, these two worlds would overlap in an awkward encounter. On one side was the freakish rotund strong man known as The Great Antonio. On the other side would be the Japanese pro-wrestling legend, Antonio Inoki.

First, some backstory… a decade prior to this match, The Great Antonio was supposed to lose in a title match against the legendary Japanese wrestler Rikidōzan. Antonio was simply a hired gaijin shill, in a time when Japanese people loved to see white people get their asses kicked in the ring. Antonio had different plans though, straying from the game plan and randomly pawing towards Rikidozan.

Confused, Rikidozan began frantically bitch slapping Antonio into the ropes muttering insults to the delusional Canadian. Frustrated and fed up with his bullshit, Rikidozan hefted Antonio up and heaved his hefty carcass over the ropes. The officials called the match and cut the event short as a win for Rikidozan before things could get out of hand. It’s rumored that after the match, Yakuza thugs jumped and beat up Antonio on his way back to his hotel. Potentially they were angered with Antonio’s attempt to manipulate the outcome of the match. None of it is surprising Considering how entrenched the Japanese mob is with sports venues, gambling, and events.

With the back story set, The Great Inoki was set to face the notorious Great Antonio. Would Antonio finally play the role he was hired for or would he pull a shoot again and stray from the plan? I grabbed my friend and former Pro Wrestler Travis Conley (A.K.A. “T Money”) to break down the match to see what really went wrong.

It’s December 8th, 1977. From one of the initial grip setups, it’s evident that something weird is happening.

TRAVIS: As the match begins Antonio is just crowding him and circling his arms at Inoki all weird, cutting off any space, no proper lock-up…so here… they come together and Inoki is forced to grip up with Anotonio’s right arm (which is wrong) trying to manipulate/work it, feel him out…this is the first indication that the match is going to be difficult.

In pro wrestling, you don’t learn moves on both sides. In order to allow wrestlers to seamlessly integrate and match with each other (with little to no rehearsal) wrestlers practice and train techniques on the same side. Antonio is attacking the wrong side.

TRAVIS: Inoki lets him grab a terrible headlock on the wrong side, again probably trying to work with him and figure out what the fuck Antonio is doing.

On the surface this looks like a generic headlock, however from a pro wrestler’s perspective everything is wrong here. Universally, a right side headlock is the wrong side. At this point Inoki is still feeling out Antonio but he is not letting go of his head. The ref jumps in, still playing along but trying to shake the match back onto the rails. Inoki wrenches his skull free from Antonio’s armpit, but he’s clearly pissed off.

TRAVIS: Again Antonio is feeding his wrong arm, coming after him, trying a shitty headlock on the wrong side, again…Inoki starts taking it into his own hands, shoots a “go-behind”/rear waistlock to gain control.

Inoki again gives Antonio the benefit of the doubt and throws a worked drop kick into Antonio’s chest. Despite all the bullshit that’s occurred thus far, there’s still no animosity here. The drop kick glances into Antonio’s chest but Antonio refuses to sell it. He is not game, he will not be a shill in this Japanese wrestler’s game plan. Inoki scrambles back up to his feet and Antonio just punches himself on his own tits, with a flaccid display of invincibility. How will Inoki wrap this match up without breaking the fourth wall and the fiction of the match?

TRAVIS: Shitty wrong side headlock again, Inoki is again probably just appeasing him, shoots him off the ropes but steps out of line because he doesn’t trust Antonio now for obvious reasons, and who knows what the fuck Antonio would run at you with?

Antonio has Inoki against the ropes and starts dropping hammer fists. One hand braced on Inoki’s neck to measure range and the other hand dropping measured bombs. But these bombs aren’t measured.

TRAVIS: Inoki lets him get one shot in, it’s ok but probably too stiff, then Antonio starts hammering at him, out of control and not protecting Inoki, let alone it looks like hes getting rough and actually trying to hurt him.

Antonio still paws at Inoki but things are real now. It’s a full blown shoot. Inoki changes levels and drops for a low single leg putting Antonio onto one knee and placing himself behind him.

TRAVIS: Inoki’s patience is worn thin, totally abandons ship, he is done trying to work a fucking match with this clown, shoots an outside single leg, goes right to the Sakuraba head kick but misses the first, connects with the second.

Antonio reaches for the ropes as a last minute escape from the assault. But Inoki beats him to it and intercepts his face with a left kick, dropping Antonio to the canvas. Inoki is unhinged and repeatedly stomps Antonio into unconsciousness.

TRAVIS: Stomping a mud hole in his ass and walking it dry. Using the ropes for leverage to smash holes in Antonio’s face with his boot for being a jackass. Thanks for coming, Antonio, add that one to your garbage bag of newspaper clippings.

Inoki would go on to become a Muslim, politician, actor, part owner of New Japan Pro Wrestling, founder of Inoki Genome Federation pro wrestling, and in 2010 was inducted into the WWE Wrestling Hall of Fame. On the other side of the world, Antonio would move on to get mediocre acting roles with notable appearances on Johnny Carson and Ed Sullivan. Later in his life Antonio would become a regional eccentric of Montreal, frequenting local donut shops and train stations where he would sell pamphlets describing his amazing life story.

At the age of 77, alone in the aisle of a Canadian grocery store, Antonio would suffer from a heart attack and pass away. Dying penniless, illiterate, and with no known next of kin; the only sole possession of The Great Antonio were two trash bags containing every notable newspaper clipping from his life. Contained within the haggard trash bags were photos of Antonio with Johnny Carson, Sophia Loren, Liza Minnelli, Lee Majors, and even a letter from the presidential office of Bill Clinton.

SOURCES:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Inoki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Antonio
http://grantland.com/the-triangle/wrestlings-greatest-shoots-volume-3-antonio-inoki-vs-the-great-antonio/

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Boxing

Manny Pacquiao Hints at Possible 2018 Fight with Conor McGregor

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Here we go again. Just when we thought Conor McGregor was set on a return to the octagon, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao has seemingly called out the charismatic Irishman with his latest Instagram post.

It appears the current senator of the Philippines also wants a trip on the money train that is Conor McGregor, as he sent out this cryptic message on his Instagram.

Happy Thanksgiving! Stay fit my friend. #realboxingmatch #2018 @thenotoriousmma

A post shared by Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao) on

The caption reads “Happy thanksgiving! Stay fit my friend. #realboxingmatch #2018 @thenotoriousmma”.

This comes a week after retired boxer Oscar De La Hoya claimed he has been secretly training for a bout with “The Notorious One.” Speaking on ‘Golden Boy Radio with Tattoo and the Crew’, De La Hoya claimed “I’m faster than ever and stronger than ever. I know I can take out Conor McGregor out in two rounds”.

After his most recent loss to Australian boxer Jeff Horn, retirement looked imminent for ‘Pac-Man’. But a shot at McGregor and the pay day his name brings, appears to be far too tempting.

McGregor loves to test himself and he loves money. So he will be licking his lips just thinking about the opportunity to get back in the ring against a high calibre opponent like Pacquiao. Not just to make money, but to prove his doubters wrong after his boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

McGregor’s immediate future looks set to be a fight with Tony Ferguson in 2018. But after that who knows what the future holds for the UFC lightweight champion.

If McGregor’s next fight is a boxing match with Pacquiao, then it could spell the end of his title reign. As Ferguson likes to say it’s ‘defend or vacate’ time.

 

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Rumours

RUMOUR: Nate Diaz vs Tyron Woodley targeted for UFC 219

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It looks like desperate times are calling for desperate measures at the UFC right now as they are still without a main event for UFC 219 on December 30th in Las Vegas.

The end of year card is often a big one, with last years main event being Amanda Nunes against the returning Ronda Rousey.

Following the pattern of big fights, it has been rumoured for a while that Conor McGregor vs Tony Ferguson would be the main event for UFC 219, but with that fight becoming increasing unlikely, it looks like the UFC has got creative.

According to Chris Taylor (@CTaylor_96) of BJPenn.com, Nate Diaz has started a fight camp and is in discussions to face Tyron Woodley at UFC 219 for the Welterweight championship.

This news was later backed up by MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, who alluded to the fact that discussions have taken place.

The rumour mill was in overdrive after Nate Diaz’s coach seemed to confirm he had started camp, only to delete the Instagram post later on. But now it appears we know his targeted opponent, in what has to be one of the biggest surprises in UFC history.

In the past, Conor McGregor has been given a lot of opportunities, but given the fact he’s the UFC’s cash cow, it’s understandable. However, this seems very left field and surprising, and may be one of the most undeserved title shots ever. But at the same time it makes sense, a Diaz fight is always a big occasion and may be exactly what the UFC needs in order to make the end of year card special. It also allows time for big players in the division like Lawler, Condit and Thompson time to get back to the top and others like Till and Covington may need a few more fights to earn their title shot.

UFC Welterweight and #3 in the rankings, Colby Covington isn’t a man that keeps his opinions to himself, so we can only imagine what fire he’s going to come out with after hearing this news.

Does this stink of desperation or is this the UFC getting creative whilst Welterweight contenders emerge and work their way back up? Let us know your thoughts.

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Conor McGregor

McGregor hints a title unification bout with Ferguson on Irish TV

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UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor made his first appearance on Irish television following his mega-money fight with Floyd Mayweather last night on the famous ” The Late Late Show” where he talked about post Mayweather, potential fights, fatherhood and promoted his movie ” Notorious” which follows McGregor from his first headlined PPV against Chad Mendes to win the interim featherweight title to the second fight with Nate Diaz in August 2016.

One of the notable talking points on the show was that McGregor stated he is currently in talks with UFC about a new contract and a potential fight with the new UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson seems likely to be his next fight to unify the titles.

McGregor has yet to defend his title since winning it in Madison Square Garden last year at UFC 205 and has come under criticism for not defending the title after moving up a weight class to capture the lightweight belt but the Irish man said he wanted to put the division right again by unifying the titles.

The host asked if a potential fight would happen on St Patricks Day in New York but McGregor dismissed the fight by saying ” Leave St Patricks day to St Patrick, I’ll have St McGregor Day”

McGregor also spoke about a potential trilogy fight with fan favorite Nate Diaz and stated that a trilogy fight between the pair would have to be contested at 155 pounds for the title after fighting twice at welterweight.

As of right now, no decision has been officially made on who or when McGregor will next fight but with the recent announcement that UFC would be holding a PPV in Boston in 2018, many have speculated that a potential return for McGregor would take place in the TD Garden as the Irish man as competed in Boston twice and been victorious on both occasions over UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway and Denis Siver.

Expect many questions to be answered by the Notorious one in the coming weeks as negotiations for his return to m.m.a seems to be on the horizon.

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