Royce Gracie vs Sumo Champion Akebono

One of the greatest David vs Goliath matches ever!

Promoters aiming at a weight difference of more than 300 pounds just can’t do without sumo wrestlers. For this prestigious clash on New Year’s Eve 2004, Japanese promotion Fighting & Entertainment Group didn’t just sign any sumo wrestler to compete. They got Chad “Akebono” Rowan.

The 6-foot-8, 484-pound behemoth, better known as Akebono, was the first foreign-born wrestler to reach Yokozuna — the highest rank in sumo. After a longstanding rivalry with fellow sumo grand masters Takanohana and Wakanohana, the Hawaiian by birth attempted to steamroll UFC legend Royce Gracie.

An outstanding Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, Gracie had ensured the breakthrough of his martial art by winning three of the first four UFC tournaments. Before his bout against Akebono, however, he had just turned 38 and had fought only three times in the previous eight years, going 1-1-1.

After being buried under the humongous measurements of the legendary sumotori for the majority of the match, Gracie seized perhaps his only chance of winning the fight by applying a shoulder lock. His shoulder trapped in the legs of the slight Brazilian and his left arm twisted backward, the giant Akebono was forced to submit.

While it wasn’t Gracie’s greatest victory, it came against an opponent whose sheer size would have caused most fighters huge problems.