Some mixed martial artists are well-rounded specimens and some are, well…rounded specimens. Before being fit was posh for heavyweights, these four groundbreakers made fight fans believe that big was beautiful. Maybe that’s a stretch. But mark my words, here’s 2000 pounds of man that broke the MMA mold.
4. ERIC “BUTTERBEAN” ESCH
GIRTH: 420 LBS.
Composed of 98 parts butter and two parts bean, Esch is the highest-profile professional boxer to crossover into MMA and have success. However, the most impressive Butterbean tidbit—aside from locating enough fabric to make his American flag shorts—is that more than half of his MMA wins came via submission. That’s why in some very small MMA circles, he’s known as the “American Royce Gracie.”
3. TEILA TULI
Tuli’s MMA career was only 26 seconds long, but he holds the claim to fame of participating in the very first UFC fight. He also holds the claim to fame of having his teeth round-house-kicked out of his mouth courtesy of Gegard Gordeau’s right foot. Commentator Jim Brown’s poignant remark following the kick: “Awesome.” If you’re having Tuli deprivation, you can catch him on Hawaii Five-0.
2. CHAD “AKEBONO” ROWAN
GIRTH: 514 LBS.
Hawaiian-born Akebono reached the pinnacle of sumo in 1993, becoming the first foreign-born wrestler to attain the rank of yokozuna. However, he couldn’t parlay his sumo success into an MMA megahit, losing to Royce Gracie, Bobby Ologun, Don Frye, and Giant Silva. The winless wonder was dubbed “Makebono” (meaning “lose”) by Japanese pundits.
1. EMMANUEL YARBOROUGH
GIRTH: 600 LBS.
If big is considered beautiful, Yarborough is Miss America. The Guinness Book of World Records’ “Largest Athlete” put his blubber to use in his lone MMA win, securing victory via belly smother over Tatsuaki Nakano in 1998. You read that correctly—he won by putting his belly over Nakano’s face. Only an exceptional athlete has that kind of move in his arsenal.