5 MMA stars who were street fighters

UFC 244 Masvidal v Diaz
UFC 244 Masvidal v Diaz

As long as MMA has existed, the question of how effective it would be in a street fight has been there. In turn, the question of how effective a street fighter would be in MMA has also been posed.

There are so many variables to consider that providing a definitive answer to either question is next to impossible. However, there are a select few fighters out there who can at least give us a broad idea in regards to this topic. The following five MMA fighters all come from street fighting backgrounds.

Their respective successes in the sport of MMA have varied greatly, proving that the ferocity needed on the streets doesn't guarantee the technique needed in the ring.

Here are 5 MMA fighters who fought on the streets:

#5. Dada 5000

Dada 5000
Dada 5000

This hard hitter rose to prominence on account of the vicious videos of his street fights. Gaining some online notoriety for the no holds barred brawls he took part in, Dhafir ‘Dada 5000’ Harris used his fame to transition into the considerably more lucrative world of sanctioned, professional fighting.

Harris’ first professional MMA fight came in March 2010 when he knocked out Cedric James in the first round of an Action Fight League contest. After 11 months of laying low, Harris returned, this time fighting for the MFA where he picked up a round one TKO victory against Tim Papp.

While the power of Harris’ shots couldn’t be denied, his conditioning left a lot to be desired. With some of the worst cardio in the sport, Harris’ second break from MMA was widely presumed to be permanent. That all changed in 2016 when he took on his childhood pal turned arch rival Kimbo Slice. The two street fighters stepped into a Bellator MMA ring to settle their differences in what is often regarded as one of the worst MMA fights of the 2010s.

Never the most durable of MMA heavyweights, Harris fell into cardiac arrest that same evening and had to spend weeks in the hospital. He hasn’t fought since.

#4. Kimbo Slice

Workout/Media Day with Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano
Workout/Media Day with Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano

A much earlier example of an internet celebrity moving into the world of combat sports here. Kimbo Slice acquired a following through his status as the ‘King of the Web Brawlers’. Dealing out heavy duty punishment in filmed street fights, Slice commenced training in MMA in 2005.

In 2007, he signed with EliteXC where he won his first three fights. Following his defeat at the hands of Seth Petruzelli, Slice jumped ship to The Ultimate Fighter. Often criticized by UFC president Dana White, Slice was looking to silence his MMA critics on the reality show. Unfortunately for the street slugger, eventual series winner Roy Nelson had other ideas, picking up a second-round TKO win on Slice in the preliminary round of the show.

While Slice remained a popular personality in MMA, his reputation for poor fights and performances grew worse with age. His win over Ken Shamrock at Bellator 138 was met with a good deal of derision at the time. Worse still is his infamous final fight with Dada 5000 at Bellator 149 in February 2016.

Initially the winner via TKO, Slice’s victory was overturned on account of him testing positive for nandrolone - a potent anabolic steroid. Kimbo Slice passed away due to heart failure just four months later.

#3. Tank Abbott

Tank Abbott
Tank Abbott

Upon receiving a six-month prison sentence, Tank Abbott (10-15) was informed by the judge:

“Mr Abbott, you are a maniac. I’m surprised you haven’t killed somebody.”

His jail time came as a result of the savage beatdown he unleashed on a disrespectful customer at the liquor store he worked at. For Abbott, this was simply one violent throwdown too many.

Debuting for the UFC at UFC 6, Abbott crafted a mean-spirited, tough guy persona for himself. Like an old school professional wrestling heel, Abbott worked the crowds with his disrespectful interviews and showboating in the octagon.

While his technical skills were always questionable, the hard-hitting Abbott did a lot for the UFC. As one of their first real stars, he helped draw more fans and interest into the promotion during its challenging early days.

While the big man did have experience in wrestling and boxing, he was a street fighter through and through. Abbott himself has often claimed to be undefeated on the streets with more than a hundred fights to his name. It’s a pity he couldn’t quite replicate that winning record in MMA.

#2. Eddie Alvarez

UFC 218: Alvarez v Gaethje
UFC 218: Alvarez v Gaethje

There’s a reason they call him ‘The Underground King’. Long before he was the first man in MMA history to win belts in both Bellator MMA and the UFC, Eddie Alvarez (30-8-2) was cutting his teeth on the Philadelphia streets. By his own admission, Alvarez had gotten himself into more than a hundred fights as a youngster.

By the time Alvarez had his first professional fight in 2003, he’d already racked up more battles than most would in a lifetime. In the octagon, Alvarez has employed a diverse range of martial arts to his advantage, including boxing, catch wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s unclear just how much of that could have come in handy during his street scuffles.

He's currently fighting for ONE Championship where he’s acquired a spotty run of one no contest and a loss to Ok Rae Yoon so far this year.

#1. Jorge Masvidal

UFC 244 Masvidal v Diaz
UFC 244 Masvidal v Diaz

It seems like Jorge Masvidal (35-15) has been fighting for as long as he’s been walking. Growing up in Miami, the man with the fastest knockout win in UFC history took to brawling very quickly. Beyond a brief foray into wrestling in high school, most of Masvidal’s fighting experience growing up was street-based and devoid of the rules and sensibilities provided in MMA.

Most infamous of all was his backyard beatdown of a brawler named Ray who was reportedly Kimbo Slice’s street fighting protege at the time. Masvidal eventually moved into practicing karate and, from there, found his way into MMA.

A popular draw with MMA fans, Masvidal was stopped in the octagon for the first time in his career earlier this year. The defeat came at the hands of current UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. 'The Nigerian Nightmare' sent ‘Gamebred’ into next week with a merciless knock out shot at UFC 261.

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Edited by John Cunningham
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