Freak Fight Friday #1: Kimo vs Bam Bam Bigelow
This is the first installment of Freak Fight Friday’s. The idea is for one of these for weeks where we aren’t making picks, so you should be able to look forward to this on a pretty regular basis.
For the first edition, I’m going with Kimo vs Bam Bam Bigelow. It’s the epitome of what I picture when I think of “MMA freak fights”. Kimo Leopoldo was a legitimate MMA fighter in 1996. With the look (and name) of an 80’s movie villain, his official record was just 3-2, but his losses were to Ken Shamrock & Royce Gracie, and he was less than 5 months removed from an exhibition submission win over Kazukshi fucking Sakuraba. Yeah, THAT Sakuraba.
Bam Bam Bigelow, however, was not a martial artist. He wasn’t even a fighter, but a professional wrestler. I’ll be the last guy on the planet to question the toughness of a pro wrestler, but I’ll be the first to tell you that it isn’t exactly the best route to take into a professional MMA bout. Despite his lack of actual fight experience, Bam Bam was a fairly well known guy in one of the wrestling business’ best eras. He had already had runs in the WWF, WCW and ECW, sharing the squared circle with names like Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. He had wrestled Bret Hart in the finals at King of the Ring, been a part of Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation, and even took on NFL Legend Lawrence Taylor at Wrestlemania 11.
A one-off promotion called U-Japan was looking for a headliner for a November 1996 card, and the option they landed on was Kimo Leopoldo vs Bam Bam Bigelow. The two capped off a card that also featured guys like Dan Severn and Don Frye, but it was clear fairly quickly that it wouldn’t be a two-sided affair.
With the walkouts lasting longer than the fight itself, Kimo quickly got the 350+ lb frame of Bam Bam to the ground. He then moved himself over to the fence and, after breaking free off Bigelow’s desperate grip, postured up and landed some ground-and-pound before Bam Bam ultimately gave up his back and submitted to a rear naked choke.
Bigelow would go on to say years later that he was paid $100,000 to take a dive in the bout, making it pretty clear that the fight was a cash grab for him. Bam Bam returned to pro wrestling after the loss, with a couple of notable runs in ECW and WCW before working on the independent circuit until his retirement in 2006. Less than 3 months later, he passed away at the age of 45 due to a drug overdose.
Kimo fought sparingly over the next 10 years, retiring with a record of 10-6-1 with a win over Tank Abbott. Rumors of his death made their round on the internet in 2009, before he confirmed at a press conference that he was indeed alive.