Throwback: When UFC featured a 200 pounder that knocked out 600-pound opponent

During its early days, UFC fight nights were like the Wild Wild West. Fixtures resembled street fights – there were no time limits, weight classes, or rounds.

Unsurprisingly, you would see mismatches like the fixture between the 200 lbs. Keith Hackney and the 600 lbs. Emmanuel Yarbrough at UFC 3.

Emmanuel Yarbrough became the World Amateur Sumo Champion in the early 90s. He was one of the most famous non-Japanese sumo wrestlers at that time. On the other hand, Keith Hackney was making his combat sports debut at UFC 3. His first opponent was the sumo champion.

Hackney took the initiative and struck Emmanuel Yarbrough with his palm. This knocked the 600 lbs. fighter down since he lost his footing. Yarbrough retaliated by pushing Hackney out of the ring.

Once the bout resumed, Hackney kept moving around the ring to tire out the sumo wrestler. Unsurprisingly, Yarbrough lost his balance again and was on the ground. Hackney didn’t attempt a chokehold due to Yarbrough’s larger frame. Instead, he targeted Yarbrough’s head and shoulders with a flurry of punches.

Emmanuel Yarbrough tapped out eventually.

Though Hackney won the bout, he didn’t take part in the next round since he injured his wrist during the fight. Keith Hackney would have faced MMA icon Ken Shamrock in the next round.

Till UFC 10, the promotion followed a single elimination bracket format. All the fights would take place over the course of one event. The winner of the knockout tournament received $60,000.
This format was punishing for the fighters since they had very little time to recover in between fights. But it rewarded fighters who worked on conditioning.

Many commentators feel UFC had to resort to similar gimmicks to increase viewership. But fans seem to wish that the promotion went back to that format. One fan wrote on Instagram: “0 gloves 0 armour 0 mouth guards 0 safety = best ufc era”