Halloween is all about the uncommon and shock factor when it comes to all of the attractions for the season. In MMA, while most fighters come from some kind of combat sports background, there are some who come from uncommon martial arts, non-combat sports or even just bizarre sports altogether. This list covers those athletes who come from such weird sports that transitioned into the realm of MMA. So here we go:
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Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino
Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is known as one of the most dangerous women in MMA. Since her MMA debut which is also her only career loss, Justino has basically dominated all of her opponents going 12-0 with one no contest. She’s also undefeated in both of her kickboxing fights which she also won in dominating fashion.
However, her original sport before walking into the Chute Boxe gym may come as a shock. Justino was a team handball player on the national level in Brazil before she went into MMA.
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Sarah Kaufman made history when she became the first Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion (then called the Women’s Welterweight Championship) and the championship that Ronda Rousey would eventually posses to become the first UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion). While she is primarily a kick boxer, she performed probably one of the most spectacular women’s highlight when she performed a Rampage style slam on Roxanne Modafferi in her only successful title defense (something Modafferi would suffer again in her first match in the house for The Ultimate Fighter).
Though she initially didn’t make the transition into the UFC from Strikeforce, one fight with Invicta FC gave Dana White the reason to offer her a contract and a debut fight against Jessica Eye. For some seeing her fight in the Octagon, it would probably be a surprise to know that she involved in a more graceful art. Kaufman was a dancer starting at the age of two and was actually part of a dance company when she signed up for a kick boxing class in the same building that her dance company practiced in. Needless to say she got hooked on it.
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Mariusz Pudzianowski, or simply Pudz, before December 2009 was a successful strongman. He actually set a record of five World’s Strongest Man titles. He also attained many other titles in strongman competition in notable tournaments. After that he decided to pursue his fighting background roots in karate and boxing and compete in MMA. He has done surprisingly well, going 6-3 with one no contest, mostly for KSW.
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Henry “Sentoryu” Miller
Henry Armstrong Miller was known in sumo by his shikano (sumo name) Sentoryu Henri (play on St. Louis and Henry) and competed from July 1988 to November 2003. During that time he became the first mainland US wrestler in sumo to make it to the makuuchi division.
Following his retirement from sumo he give MMA a try, having had a wrestling background before sumo. While he doesn’t have the best record in MMA at 6-16, he’s had more success then other former sumo wrestlers. He also competed in kick boxing against fellow sumo wrestler, Wakashoyo.
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Paulo Cesar da “Giant” Silva
Paulo Cesar da Silva, also known by his stage name Giant Silva, has primarily been a pro wrestler where he earned the stage name. However starting in late 2003, Silva gave MMA a try and fought primarily in the now defunct Pride Fighting Championships.
His record wasn’t all that impressive at 2-6 and his only two wins were against former sumo wrestlers Henry “Sontoryu” Miller and Akebono Taro (in a Dynamite event). However, he was noted for training with members of the Gracie family but his original sport before pro wrestling is probably one of the most interesting facts about him. Giant Silva was originally a member of the Brazilian National Basketball Team and competed in the Olympics.
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Bob Sapp’s original sport is in that of football. He had a successful college career wherein he played at the University of Washington on a football scholarship at guard position. From there he played with the Minnesota Vikings from 1997 to 1998 before being released and not being able to find work in the NFL.
His first attempts in pro wrestling were for the now defunct World Championship Wrestling promotion and was recruited by Pride FC and then K-1 to fight for them. While he had an initial success in MMA at 10-3-1 his records now stands at 11-18-1.
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Not much is known about John Matua other then what his MMA record shows. One thing that is known is the fact that he practiced the Hawaiian art of bone crushing called Kapu Kuialua. As far as anyone knows he’s been the only practitioner of this martial art present in MMA as it apparently isn’t that common of a martial art.
John Matua appeared in the early days of MMA back when it was still style versus style and got a one sided beating at the hands of David “Tank” Abbott in both men’s MMA debuts. Matua would fight another four times winning only once.
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“Wakakirin” Shinichi Suzukawa
Out of the three sumo wrestlers on this list, “Wakakirin” Shinichi Suzukawa is the most disgraced. Suzukawa had a mediocre sumo career from 1999 until 2009 when he was found to be part of a larger scandal in sumo. He was arrested for cannabis possession and shortly after that the Japan Sumo Association dismissed him from the sport.
After that he did pro wrestling before having his only MMA match to date against Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic at the Inoki Bom-ba-ye 2012 show. The fight ended when Filipovic pulled an arm bar on Suzukawa.
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We all know Jose Conseco as a longtime Major League Baseball player. His home run numbers place him within the top forty home run hitters of all time in the league. Unfortunately he’s been the subject of much controversy with his admitting to taking steroids and accusing other former teammates of having done so as well.
However surprisingly after all of this, with having done one pro boxing fight against former child actor Danny Bonaduce, he decided to give MMA a try and enter Dream’s Super Hulk Tournament against Choi Hong-man. The match ended in the first two minutes with Conseco submitting to punches.
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Akebono Taro, originally born Chad Rowan, competed in sumo and attained the highest rank of Yokozuna. During his time in sumo he won 11 tournament titles and engaged in a rivalry with the brothers Taka Nohana and Waka Nohana. He also has the distinction of being the first foreign yokozuna.
After an injury following his eleventh tournament win, he decided to go out on top and retired from sumo. Mostly motivated from financial problems he was having, he moved into K-1 kickboxing and from there MMA, only successfully winning one kickboxing match.