Great Fights is a series aimed at newer MMA fans who are looking for recommendations on the sport's finest bouts.
A kickboxer and a boxer walk into an MMA ring...
Heading into their bout, Mark Hunt boasted just four professional MMA fights after a star-studded kickboxing career. Yosuke Nishijima, one of Japan's finest boxers and a former Cruiserweight World Champion, was making his professional MMA debut.
Everything pointed to a one-round decimation of Nishijima at the hands of Mark Hunt. Except that didn't happen.
The fight opens with a heavy low kick, some knees in the clinch, and a takedown to the benefit of Hunt. Bas Rutten proudly exclaims "Welcome to Mixed Martial Arts!".
Nishijima looked doomed; a professional boxer introduced the gamut of moves available to MMA fighters. But he'd go on to survive another 15 minutes, landing some big shots to the body of Hunt and an array of stiff jabs that visibly frustrated his opponent.
One of the great brawls in Pride history, Nishijima stood toe-to-toe with Hunt and ate the Super Samoan's best shots.
Every passing minute of the fight grows with excitement but nothing tops the moment where Hunt stands over Nishijima and decides to throw a pro-wrestling-esque double-knee drop. You have to see it to believe it:
While the fight does eventually end with Nishijima plastered on the canvas and Hunt with his hand raised as many expected, it'll forever be remembered as one of the best Open Weight clashes in the history of the sport.
UFC Fight Pass subscribers can watch the fight here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/33953/mark-hunt-vs-yosuke-nishijima-pride-31-dreamers
The fight is also available to watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dQ7oybO1e4