This is a Tag Team (get it?) effort between Matt aka ThisRedEngine and I to educate the masses about old school Mixed Martial Artsts and Athletes that would have done well in MMA. I'll be focusing on Pro Wrestlers over the next month or two. This week the spotlight is on Tonga Uliuli Fifita, most notably known as "Haku" in the WWF and "Meng" in WCW. Numerous Pro Wrestlers and industry insiders have called him "The toughest man that they've ever met" due to his imposing demeanor and violent reputation.
It's hard to decipher the facts from the fiction when it comes to Fifita. He's like the Rickson Gracie of Pro Wrestling when it comes to brawls. I've both read and heard tales of his inhuman feats of brutality. They range from somewhat believable to being outright ridiculous.
Just a few of these include him lifting Brutus The Barber Beefcake 2 feet off of the floor while choking him over an in ring dispute, gouging Jesse Barr's eye out during a backstage brawl, yanking a mans teeth clean out of his mouth during an altercation at a bar, and biting a mans nose off. From those accounts, I'd say he's not to be fucked with. Of course I take these stories with a massive grain of salt, but rumors tend to have a bit of truth to them. And I'll vouch to him having an imposing presence, as I saw him before a WWF event when I was a kid. He was a scary ass dude.
Anyway, here are the facts....well let me not say facts because there is no concrete info on him. So, I'll muster up what I can about him and let you decide what you want to believe. Apparently he was sent to Japan to learn the art of Sumo (by the King of Tonga) as a teen but was forced to retire in his 20's due to some sort of dispute. Before retiring he would reach the rank of makushita. Shortly after this he entered into the world of Puroresu and would eventually make his way stateside with the WWF. And the rest is history as far as that aspect is concerned.
So why do I think he'd do well in MMA? I'll admit that he'd probably get eaten alive by todays crop of well rounded Mixed Martial Artists. But back in MMA's infant years when Vale Tudo was legal and UFC PPV events were little more than semi-controlled street fights, I think he'd have thrived. His size (6'2, 250-300lbs), strength, athleticism, training in Sumo, and reported aggression would have made him a handful for even the most skilled Martial Artist. And if there was one ethnic stereotype that full contact sports has proven true, it's that Polynesians are inhumanly durable. It doesn't matter if it's Rugby, Boxing, Kickboxing, or MMA. You can expect them to take an insane amount of damage without flinching and then try to short out your nervous system by trying to open your skull, with their own head.
These days Mr. Fifita is the Manager at a Toyota Car Spa in Florida. No longer is he the wild haired Tongan that struck fear in the hearts of his competitors and fans alike. But a mild mannered citizen that has made a good living for himself after his Pro Wrestling Career. Would he have made it big in MMA? Who knows. But I do know one thing. If I ever get my Car detailed at David Maus Toyota in Sanford, Florida. I won't be complaining if they do a bad job. Because I'm not trying to get my ass kicked by the manager.