MMA is one of the toughest sports in the modern world. World class athletes are facing off against each other in bouts which are reminiscent of ancient gladiators. They are the product of countless hours of hard work, advanced scientific training and supplementation. Take a look at some of the most prominent MMA camps and you’ll find it full of university educated trainers, nutritionists, physiotherapists and coaches. This begs the question of how they would fare against ancient fighters they are emulating? Here are three ancient fighters we think would give any modern fighter a run for their money, whether in terms of brutal efficiency or raw entertainment.
3. Melankomas of Caria
Melankomas of Caria was an Olympic boxing champion and the winner of the 207th Olympiad in AD 49. Melankomas was a very special kind of fighter, undefeated in his career with two very special accolades to his name. He never took a single clean hit, and he never threw a single punch. I know what you’re thinking, how can you become a champion without ever throwing a punch?
Melankomas is possibly the greatest defensive boxer in recorded history, putting the likes of Floyd Mayweather and even the great Muhammad Ali to shame. The man was so skilful he was able to avoid everything his opponent threw at him until they gave in. Presumably they either collapsed due to fatigue or were pushed over in a boxing maneuver reminiscent of Homer Simpson but with less CTE.
Melankomas was reportedly also an incredibly attractive man, never getting hit will do that for you. I’m sure his victories had nothing to do with his supposed lover, Emperor Titus though…
2. Arrhichion of Phigalia
Arrhichion of Phigalia was an ancient champion pankratiast, winning both the 52nd and 53rd Olympiads. (Pankration was basically MMA in 650 BC)
But Arrhichion was not just a two time champion. Oh no. He also won the 54th Olympiad in 564 BC, despite the massive handicap of being dead at the time. This right here is proof that no matter who is UFC Heavyweight champ, or double champ, Arrhichion is indisputably the baddest man on the planet.
The story goes that during his final fight for the Olympic crown, Arrhichion’s opponent managed to take his back and secure his legs around his waist in a body lock. He then proceeded to wrap his forearm around Arrhichion’s throat and begin choking him. Unable to escape but refusing to submit, Arrhichion took the drastic measure of breaking his opponent’s ankle/toe (the verdict is still out on that part). The opponent submitted due to the pain but by that point Arrhichion was already dead. However as it was his opponent that gave in and not him, it was still ruled as a victory for Arrhichion, the living embodiment of “tap, nap or snap”.
1. Nai Khanomtom
The story of Nai Khanomtom just goes to show how brutal and effective Muay Thai can be, or in this case the ancient style of Muay Boran.
According to the stories, in 1767 the capital city of an ancient Siamese kingdom was invaded by Burmese troops. During the sacking of the city, many of it’s people were taken back to Burma as slaves including a good number of Thai boxers; Nai Khanomtom among them.
Several years later, the king of Burma decided to hold a seven day festival in honour of Buddha. One of the attractions the king decided on was testing one of the Thai boxers against a Burmese Lethwei fighter. Nai Khanomtom was chosen as the Thai fighter.
Nai Khanomtom performed his Wai Kru (A ritual in which a student gives respect to their Muay Thai master) before the fight and then proceeded to beat the ever loving Buddha out of his opponent. The Burmese thought his Wai Kru was some form of black magic and had him fight again. Nai Khanomtom systematically broke down and destroyed man after man before the Burmese king sent their champion, a kickboxing instructor to face him. Nai Khanomtom once again beat him down with vicious kicks and brutally knocked him out, making him the tenth and final victim of the night.
Following this the Burmese king granted him his freedom and a boon. Some versions of the story have him requesting the freedom of his people, but personally, my favourite is his request for two Burmese wives to take home. The man came, saw, conquered and left with two wives of his own. You can’t tell me that’s not Champ business.
Honourable mentions to Milo of Croton and Mongolian wrestler Buri Bokh.