The World Warrior tournament in Street Fighter asked the question “how would the best fighter in the world fight?” Mixed Martial Arts( MMA) asked a similar question with the first ever Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) with the initial purpose to find out what was most effective martial art in a real fight between competitors of different fighting disciplines.
The conclusion was that there was no ultimate martial art; everyone had to adapt in some way. Strikers had to diversify their striking tactics to deal with other strikers, grapplers had to diversity their grappling techniques to deal with other grapplers, and then strikers and grapplers had to learn how to best one another both standing and on the ground. Nearly twenty years later, we’re left with a sport that’s still constantly changing to adapt to different approaches brought by different martial arts and artists from around the world. Titles seem to change hands near constantly without single fighting system ever really dominating the sport.
True, there are systems that definitely work better than others, but the only real conclusion is that its more about the fighter, themselves, and how they use what they’ve learned both from their base system and from their experiences in combating other fighters. So if the World Warrior Tournament was real, how would these “street fighters” be able to really deal? Even better, how would these fighters fare if put into a cage for 15 to 25 minutes? Its real easy to throw a hurricane kick when your opponent is keeping their distance to pull off a similar maneuver, but what if they plan to grab onto you before you get the chance to build the momentum? Even if they pull it off, would it even be a deciding factor? Well, if this list didn’t have answers to those questions and some, it wouldn’t be much worth reading.
At first glance, it becomes very obvious why Zangief would win his share of MMA matches. He’s a really big and really strong wrestler. Zangief might as well mean man-mountain in Russian. He’s physically as big as some breeds of brown bears, and no one wants to be locked in a cage with a bear, except Zangief, anyway. That’s actually how he trains for competition; by wrestling bears in the unforgiving conditions of the Siberian wastelands in nothing but a pair of boots and a leotard. That’s how the ‘Gief rolls. No sparring partners or coaches for this guy, because it seems he only gets the satisfaction from training by slamming the second largest land predators in the world on their heads. Someone that could match a bear’s strength is someone you don’t want to grapple with.
With that said, slamming opponents on their heads in MMA is illegal, which takes away a lot of his arsenal. Zangief is also really slow, and that’s exactly what you don’t want to be if you’re that big. You’re guaranteeing a loss by decision if you can’t even match the speed of your opponent. As great a wrestler as he is, wrestlers don’t train to strike, and having a laughable striking game is going to hurt his performances in matches past the fact that he’s slow. No one is going to be stupid enough to stand in front of Zangief once he gets a few fights under his belt and people see what a guy his size is capable of. Speaking of which, there’s no way someone his size weighs anything less than four hundred pounds, which dramatically cuts down where he could fight. So even if Zangief gets fast on his feet, he’ll only make it in Japan or maybe Eastern Europe, because he won’t be able to fight in the west if he can’t make the 265 mark. Still, if he were to learn a proper guillotine, arm bar defense, and how to effectively apply a key lock for submissions, Zangief would have enough tools to go far. A guy with that kind of durability and size isn’t likely to be stopped either, and size does matter. Where ever he can fight, the Red Cyclone would be a huge draw. Just ask Bob Sapp.
Capcom’s tribute character to the legendary martial arts practitioner, Bruce Lee. In essence, Fei Long is Bruce Lee; same height and weight (5’8 and about 180lbs), and the same personality traits. We can go into a long drawn out explanation on why Bruce Lee was such a great martial artist, but unless you live under a rock, you’ve definitely heard a few stories. However, if you do live under a rock, check out his Wikipedia page. There are plenty of stories worth reading about him there.
Anyway, Bruce Lee/Fei Long was studying MMA before there was MMA, so he knows the score. His fighting style is tailor made for all around fighting, and someone of that physical aptitude and technique would have a great career. Fei-Long could, very much, be a game changing fighter in MMA. How long his career would be, however, is another issue. Fei-Long is a movie star, and a successful one at that. Money is no consequence. Fighting in MMA would only help to legitimize the choreography in his movies and his schools, and that’s past the sort of commodity in entertainment it would make him. His fighting career would stop after three to five fights, that is, unless he won a championship belt. Then Fei-Long’d probably stick around for another two at the most, and then chuck the title once it becomes an inconvenience. Overall, that’d be a one to two year career. Why risk injury or losing the fame and fortune of a summer blockbuster movie to a fight, or consistently defending a title where he’d make not even a tenth the amount of a few episodes in a television series?
“The God of Muay Thai.” Now if that doesn’t catch your attention as a fight fan, nothing will. Thai boxing is arguably the most devastating of styles in all of martial arts, which is why it’s such a popular discipline in MMA. As far as striking goes, it has everything. It utilizes striking and sweeps from long range, short range and from the clinch; making use of your fists, elbows, knees and feet from just about all of the above. Many fighters efficient in Muay Thai have stepped into the sport knowing mainly just that and have received success to a significant extent, and in that discipline, Sagat was given the title of God.
Imagine Anderson Silva with better striking, if that’s even possible. Now imagine him at an absurd seven and a half feet tall, with the punching range of most fighters’ kicks, kicks as fast as most fighters’ punches, and each of his hands large enough to wrap around your entire head. Sagat is freakishly huge for a heavyweight with near effortless knockout power in all his strikes. That aside, he’s fast. With that speed, he stands a good chance to keep distance against many a grappler. Not that it matters, because the last thing anyone with less than division one wrestling ability or a black belt in Ju-Jitsu would want to do is attempt to grab hold of a fighter that accomplished in a style notorious for its clinch.
Brazilian born, raised by his Japanese grandfather, Sean was bred into the martial arts in a place home to many a diverse styles, disciplines and fighters both up accomplished and on the rise. Like many other Brazilians, he’s naturally athletic, and shows adaptability in multiple sports. Though it’s safe to assume he has a karate base, Sean does show traces of other styles in his striking. In karate, a somersault kick is just something a karate fighter wouldn’t think to do, which is a testament to the surprises this guy has up his sleeves. Past his competent stand up game and unlike the vast majority of Street Fighter’s striker dominated roster, Sean does show ability to use take downs and ground and pound in his favor. That can prove to be huge equalizer in the event he becomes outclassed on his feet if pitted against a seasoned veteran striker.
And most veterans would give him trouble. His age and the inexperience that comes with it is his biggest drawback as a fighter. However, he’s knowledgeable. Unlike someone like Dan Hibiki, Sean’s black belt isn’t self appointed. He earned his. He knows what he’s doing and has the physical ability to win; he just doesn’t have the experience of a fighter like Ken Masters. At the same time, Sean’s biggest drawback is also his greatest asset as a fighter; youth is on his side. He’s formidable and athletic now, but still not in his prime. Sean is only going to get stronger, faster, and more skilled. By the time his skills reach his peak, Sean would have the skill and fighting experience to be a part of the main event on any card he’s featured on.
Born out in the boonies of the former Tosa Providence, Makoto didn’t have much to occupy her time with aside from Karate, and it shows, because this girl cares about very little outside of that; including her looks. If it wasn’t for her bright sports bra, you’d think she was a boy. Makoto kind of looks like Ryu, at first glance, if he was over a decade younger and spent more time in the sun. Mistaking her for him wouldn’t be that far off; in the striking category, anyway. Her storyline ending in Third Strike strongly suggests her striking is, at least, on par with the Street Fighter Tournament winner. That’s saying a lot for a girl still in grade school. If Makoto can hang with a grown man over a decade her elder and in his prime as a world class striker in a “street” fight, how well would other women in her weight class fare against her, disregarding when she reaches her full potential? Unless they have spectacular striking defense, an iron chin and good takedown skills, they’d do terrible.
People are going to catch on to that eventually, too. For all the lightning quick speed and immense power Makoto possesses in her striking, she has no grappling skills. If James Toney’s fight in MMA has showed nothing else, it was that your stand up amounts to nothing on your back. So with this in mind, why would Makoto have a long career in MMA? She’s still in grade school; not even old enough to fight on the grand stage yet. You teach her some catch wrestling, Ju-Jitsu, or just overall grappling defense, and she can take her pick of any women’s championship belt Valkyrie, Deep, Jewels, or any other Mixed Martial Arts company has to offer. She’d be like Mei Yamaguchi, but with the striking power of Mirko CroCop and much faster.
This guy embodies the phrase “fake it till you make it.” Asking him, he’s the best. No doubt about it. Didn’t ask him? He’s going to tell you anyway. Every press conference, every interview, and every time there’s a camera or microphone around him; he’s going to let the world know it. Karate has been proven in MMA, with such champions like Lyoto Machida and George St. Pierre, which would only serve reason for Dan Hibiki to boast his Saikyō-Ryū is better than the rest.
With that said, his style, though a bastardized version of seemingly long lost discipline, is still karate. Though not as dangerous or efficient as the Ansatsuken style it derives from, it’s still far from harmless. Hibiki can pull out a flurry that can do damage and switch the pace of a fight in his favor if an opponent isn’t careful. His ability to close distance, though better than his grappling (which is non-existent), is subpar at best, and he doesn’t have knock out power either, but considering the fact that his natural weight is 165, and nearly five feet and ten inches tall, he makes for a big lightweight, and a huge bantamweight that’d give many smaller guys problems.
And all that boasting? If Chael Sonnen has proven anything, it’s that fight fans eat that stuff up whether it’s warranted or not. This is not a guy you want to lose to for any reason, or even receive a black eye from, or else Hibiki will rain on your parade for years to come. If he won, you never stood a chance. If he lost, then he was cheated out of a victory, or you just got lucky. Many won’t believe him, but enough will agree with him nonetheless, and generating a buzz for just about any reason is enough to get a fighter into a lot of event cards. Though Hibiki is a mid-card fighter at best, if he were to tactfully dance around the bottom five weight classes, he has what it takes to have a good long career fighting as a gate keeper or doing color commentary for MMA. Hibiki would be a huge draw no matter what he’s doing, and maybe even become a main event once or twice by default.
Abel is a synthetic being made a real boy, just like Pinocchio. With that said, it doesn’t leave much about his background to attribute to his fighting style. The only thing really put out there is that he’s been getting by as a mercenary, and that being the case, fabricating the proper paperwork to fight in MMA wouldn’t be much an issue. What’s really interesting is Abel’s final design and fighting style was inspired directly by MMA and Sambo champion, Fedor Emelianenko. That’s shown by the blue gi top Fedor usually wears during demonstrations, and the white gloves he wears even when fighting in the United States on behalf of M-1: Global. Abel and Fedor even share the same general demeanor. The only attributes they changed to make Abel different was his blonde hair, adding Judo elements to his fighting style, and the inverting of the Russian flag colors, which made it look more like a French flag.
So, as far as how Abel would do in MMA, it’s already implied, seeing how Fedor did. Abel is literally built for combat, and though looking like a heavyweight, he only weighs roughly 185. Imagine that. Fedro Emelianenko in his prime, no smaller (somehow) that he usually would be but in two weight classes lower than the one he dominated for a decade. This man would easily run amuck in the middleweight division of any company you put him in, as long as no one conducted any real investigation on his past.
Standing at six and a half feet tall with a walking around weight of nearly three hundred pounds, Alex would be a part of the new breed of heavyweight fighters that need to cut weight to compete. And like this new breed of massive heavyweights, he’s solid and trains day in and day out. Like Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin, and Alastair Overeem, Alex is an able bodied mountain of a man with an apparent head made of granite. But Alex isn’t some meat headed gym rat. Along with the physical conditioning, he’s a student of the sport, training under military veterans, and honing his skills internationally in various tournaments. Through that, he’s become a total package with effective striking and great wrestling, but that’s not what really makes him dangerous. Past the size, strength, skill and experience advantages he’d have over many a fighter, Alex also moves with the speed and agility of a fighter half his size. This would be the greatest equalizer against a heavyweight fighter like Sagat, who would clearly be a better striker, or Zangief, who’s a much better wrestler. Alex can bring the fight where ever he wants (or keep it where ever he wants) in an instant to suit his technical strengths, leaving Alex’s opponents to either adapt or have their face turned to taco meat.
If the point hasn’t been driven home enough, I want you to imagine Alistair Overeem with the wrestling ability of Brock Lesnar, but probably stronger. Now imagine him with the speed and agility of Frankie Edgar. A youngish fighter with that sort of physical ability would own the heavyweight division almost effortlessly until he decided its time to hang up the gloves altogether.
Apart of the British paramilitary government organization known as Delta Red, Cammy’s been tested out in some exceptional combat situations. Like someone you’d expect to be a part of a government special forces unit, she is a well versed fighter that seems to prefer striking over grappling; particularly with kicks. That’s understandable, because she’s small in stature even for a woman. She’s capable of dealing big damage with an array of techniques that resemble fighting disciplines from all over the world. Provided, the grappling techniques she uses in the game would be illegal in MMA, but for her to be able to pull off a snap German suplex or huracanrana driver in the middle of a fight goes to show how far her grappling ability is. This caliber of fighter would destroy any lower or mid tier fighter almost effortlessly, and it definitely wouldn’t be farfetched to assume she could take a long run with a featherweight belt around her waist.
Being capable of so much, physically, makes Cammy quite a specimen. Despite only being a little over five feet tall and one hundred pounds even, she looks to have long toned legs that even out a fitness model’s hourglass figure. The woman’s in shape, and she’s pretty, too. The big blue eyes, long flowing blonde hair, and a sculpted backside she’s definitely not afraid to show off will catch the attention of every guy in every arena she competes in. As of right now MMA is still a man’s sport in most places, and realistically, that’s what will catch the attention of the mainstream. With her ability in the ring/cage, she has the potential to further legitimize women’s MMA in the west, which is a bigger feat than any championship title.
I’m sure I have an idea of what you may be thinking. No Ryu? Ken isn’t on this list? Where’s Chun-Li? To answer those questions simply, they’re not well rounded fighters. They’re strikers. True, striking can take you a long way, but when a fighter doesn’t have effective grappling skills of any sort, the fight’s over as soon as their opponent latches onto them or takes them to the ground. Street Fighter’s premise raised the question which martial art is actually the best. Though not directly linked to one another, in the first UFC tournaments (nearly a year after Street Fighter 2’s release, coincidentally), it was proven when the last man standing from three of the first four of those tournaments was the smallest and weakest of the bunch. That man was Royce Gracie, and he used nothing but Brazilian Ju-Jitsu to submit a boxer, a karate fighter, and a catch wrestler in Ken Shamrock. I’m not going to suggest or imply that Brazilian Ju-Jitsu is the best martial art there is, but for fighters like the ones in Street Fighter to last in the world of MMA today, they’d have to learn how to deal with experienced grapplers. Being in their early to mid thirties by the end of the series, it doesn’t seem likely characters like Ryu, Ken or Chun-Li would pick up an efficient anti grappling strategy against what the best ground fighters the world have to offer. If that wasn’t the case, an accomplished striker like Stefan Leko wouldn’t be 0-3 in his MMA career.
Then you have Guile. Aside from his hair, he looks simple and plain in comparison to the rest of the roster. Much like his fighting style, nothing stands out about this guy. Provided, he does look physically imposing, but comparing his stature to the rest of the Street Fighter characters, Guile isn’t the biggest, tallest, strongest or fastest. However, when you think about it, it makes sense. He’s about the size of Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock, or Bas Rutten, who were also never the biggest or strongest around. Still, that didn’t stop them from winning championships in multiple divisions and promotions. Guile is the one fighter in the series that went through the least amount of changes, and for good reason. He’s already a complete fighter. His striking is quick, clean and tight with no overly wasteful movement while only displaying wrestling when needed. Even when he does get flashy (no pun intended, I swear), Guile is straight to the point with dealing as much damage as possible.
Though each preferred one over the other when it came to striking and grappling, Guile would be just the same. Couture, Rutten and Shamrock’s victories were decisive, overall impressive, and in the rare occasion they lost, it still made for an incredible fight. There isn’t a credible list of the best MMA fighters of all time that doesn’t include them, but it’s beyond that. These men are iconic role models, ambassadors and authorities of MMA outside the ring, and Guile would be no different. His experience would quickly educate casual fans of the sport through interviews and color commentary, and thus, any instructional booklet or DVD with his name on it would fly off the shelves. People would want to learn how to fight like Guile, and any school he’s associated with him would fill up quickly. Just being such a high ranking field agent in the United States Air Force would open doors for him as well as MMA; from endorsement deals previous fighters would never be offered, to legalization of MMA in states previously illegal in the United States. His in-ring performances would merit admiration throughout the west, and along with his hair style, his demeanor would be well received in the east much like Don Frye is, minus the cursing and trash talking. Guile would be Captain America, and honestly, aside from the Red Skull and communists, who doesn’t love Captain America?