David “The Boston Strangler” Hood

Record: 1-3-0
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 190 lbs-210 lbs
Born: 1970
Hometown: Walthan, Massachusetts-USA
Style: Jeet Kune Do, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Years Active: 1995-1997

Career Overview: David Hood was Boston-based fighter with a background instructing Jeet Kune Do.  Prior to making his official MMA debut, Hood claimed an undefeated 72-0-0 record in bareknuckle fighting.  Credentials such as these were often fabricated in the early days of MMA by the promoters and the fighters, although it’s possible Hood may have had some bareknuckle experience prior to his first recorded fight.  He made his official debut as an alternate in UFC 7 against former football player fighter Scott Bessac.  Interesting to note was that Taimak, the martial arts movie actor who starred in The Last Dragon, was the referee of this bout:


Bessac, a Lion’s Den fighter and Pancrase veteran with a 3-4-0 record at the time, was four inches taller and fifty pounds heavier than his Bostonian opponent.  The two met in the center of the cage, briefly exchanging strikes before clinching.  Both fighters attempted to hit each other with groin strikes before Bessac grabbed a hold of a power guillotine and forced Hood to tap out at 0:31.  It would be Hood’s last appearance in the UFC and Bessac’s last victory in MMA.

Following his defeat, Hood apparently began training with Rickson Gracie to prepare for future no-holds-barred fights.  His new skills would be put to the test a year after his UFC appearance when he fought in World Vale Tudo Championship 1 inTokyoBay.  The promotion, founded by Vale Tudo pioneer and Marco Ruas affiliate Fredrico Lapenda, featured an eight-man tournament which Hood took part in.  His first fight of the night would be against Okinawan karate stylist Todd Butler, who claimed kickboxing and wrestling credentials along with his point karate experience.


The fighters started off with a quick striking exchange before tying up against the ropes.  They struck each other with short blows while jockeying for position, with Hood showing evidence of his jiu-jitsu training by attempting several standing guillotine chokes (In the manner Bessac had finished him off in the UFC). Butlereventually brought the fight to the ground, and from this point on the match looked more like Wrestling vs. Jiu-Jitsu than Jeet Kune Do vs. Okinawan karate.  The two traded strikes from inside Hood’s guard for several minutes untilButlereventually tapped out at the 9:33 mark.  There was no finishing hold employed;Butlerjust seemed uncomfortable working from the guard and didn’t know how to stop being hit by Hood’s short punches.  He later went on to fight Olympic gold medalist wrestler Kevin Jackson in the UFC and fought Jeremy Horn twice, dropping all three fights. Butlereventually picked up a lone win against one Adam Harris in 1999. 

Advancing to the quarterfinals, Hood next took on Irish-American grappling stylist Richard “Red” Heard.  Heard was similar to Hood’s earlier opponent Scott Bessac in that he was a former football player and had a height and weight over the Jeet Kune Do stylist.  Claiming experience in Judo, SAMBO, and wrestling, he took on Hood after having submitted his previous opponent, Scott Grof, via strikes in little over a minute. 

Heard started off that match with a strong double-leg takedown that put Hood on his back.  Hood quickly climbed to his feet, however, with Heard still holding a single leg.  While Heard attempted to kick his leg out from under him, both fighters fell to the ground and rapid scramble occurred.  Hood got to his feet first and kicked his opponent in the face, bloodying the grappler’s mouth.  Hood spent the next several minutes in Heard’s guard, landing some effective ground-and-pound before both fighters slipped from the ring and out onto the floor.  The Jeet Kune Do fighter seemed slow climbing back into the ring, but when the match was restarted standing he opened up with a flurry of punches before pulling guard.  This proved to be a mistake, as Heard quickly latched on to an Achilles lock and forced Hood to tap at 4:26. 

Heard would end up winning the tournament that night by defeating superheavyweight Fred Floyd.  The damage Hood had done to him in his previous fight came into play during his championship bout, as the match had to be paused to reclose several of the cuts Heard had accrued on his face.  Despite being submitted, Hood’s training with Rickson Gracie was very evident in his performance that night.

“The Boston Strangler’s” final MMA fight occurred in 1997, when he took on wrestling coach John Bechthold in the IFC:


Bechthold started out by bulling his smaller opponent up against the fence.  Following an exchange of sideways headbutts, the wrestler took Hood to the ground with a straight headlock but quickly got his back taken.  After an armbar attempt, Bechthold escaped and managed to scramble to a dominant position.  Hood attempted an ankle lock, but Bechthold kept a stable position and landed some steady ground-and-pound until Hood relinquished the hold.  Bechthold held the top position and landed several headbutts until the referee initiated a stand-up.  The reset in position did not prove to be an advantage for Hood, who was quickly taken down and submitted via Cobra Choke at 6:55. 

Bechthold would go on to lose to Judoka Robert Lalonde later that night in his only other MMA bout.

In my opinion, David “The Boston Strangler” Hood was a quick and athletic fighter whose record does not necessarily serve him justice.  He had a solid striking game and was in the right company to make good strides in grappling.  Being more of a natural middleweight, he might’ve been more successful had he not been matched up with all of those beefy wrestlers.  The rugged grappler “Red” Heard, who only lost to Pedro Rizzo in MMA, had his hands full with the scrappyBostonfighter. 

Fighters I would’ve liked to see him up against:

–          Fred Floyd

–          Erik Paulson

–          Don Frye


Helio Gracie Vs. Tsunetane Oda EPIC “What-If” Martial Arts Battle #1

There is a good chance that I will make this a series of articles on fantasy martial arts battles. If anyone has suggestions for possible battles or just fighters (from any era) to feature let me know.  Enjoy.

Helio Gracie


Tsunetane Oda

EPIC What If Martial Arts Battle #1

Facts About Helio Gracie:

His brothers were taught by Mitsuyo Maeda (born in 1878),a Judoka from the Kodokan who was considered a ground-work expert. Helio Gracie could not practice the moves themselves because he was frail and thus relied on his ability to analyze moves. Helio found that he could know the moves in his head but doing them against a live and resisting opponent proved to be difficult. Helio knew that he had to adapt the moves he was taught or even come up with new ones in order to be successful (this is according to Gracie family lore) to his small body type.

Helio Gracie proved his abilities in grappling and Vale Tudo matches having a combined record of 10-2-7 (according to his Wikipedia page). Helio Gracie eventually co-founded the martial art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Helio’s most famous match was against Masahiko Kimura in 1951 in which he lost by a technical submission due to an armlock (reverse ude garami or Kimura lock named in his honor) Interestingly enough Kodokan records show that Helio held a 3rd dan in Judo while personal accounts by Kimura say he held a 6th dan as it was common for the Kodokan to show lower ranks for those who are foreigners.

Facts about Tsunetane Oda:

Often cited as the little known innovator of Judo ne-waza, it should be noted that at this time Judo did indeed recognize the ground aspect of Judo. However people like Judo’s founder Jigoro Kano viewed it as less important. Judo had a handful of ground proponents like Mitsuyo Maeda, but it was Oda that had the greatest impact on Judo ne-waza specifically. Oda was much like Helio a man of small stature and found that ground work was very much his strength. Although he tried to promote it as much as he could through things like the University system, Kosen Judo as it was called never quite took off in the same way that Kodokan Judo did. Oda was famous for being one of the first people to use the triangle choke or sankaku jime often. Surprisingly enough the triangle did not become a regular move used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu until many years later. One of Oda’s key philosophies at the time was that Judo should be 50 % stand-up throws or tachi-waza and another 50 % dedicated to ground work or ne-waza.

The question is who wins in this fantasy EPIC “What-If” martial arts battle? Gracie Jiu-Jitsu vs. Kosen Judo, well known martial arts badass genius vs. little known martial arts badass genius. Let’s get started with who holds the advantage in various aspects of the fight. Cue cheesy Deadliest Warrior knock-off advantages animation.


Here is an example where trying to figure out who holds the advantage is tricky. Helio Gracie proved time and time again that he could defeat men from Judo backgrounds and those who are much larger than himself. This proves that he has excellent technical ability, especially on the ground which is where he always won (with a submission usually a choke or armlock). Helio was able to devise strategies that would work for the smaller man. However I believe that Oda from watching his ne-waza videos is an equal in technical ability or possibly even superior. Still Oda was not known to showcase his technical ability in matches for there does not exist any competitive footage of him. Nonetheless it is obvious that Oda was a technical genius to come up with these moves especially for the time. It is eerie to see moves that look applicable to today used so many years ago. It’s almost like someone went back into a time machine to show them to Oda. Either way neither man seems to hold a definitive advantage in this department. Both simply have their own styles where Helio tends to favor ground work where as Oda likes to fight on the ground but spends almost an equal amount of time training his throws as well. Helio appears to be more “proven” in combat where as Oda has advantages in things like the throwing department.



Helio Gracie was a master when it came to bringing the fight where he wanted to. Helio was also not afraid to fight off of his back for extended periods of time. For a Judoka like Oda this is certainly not his modus operandi. Sure he may have excellent technique but surely his preference would be to get on top of Helio and pass his guard. Helio’s best option is to try and slow the pace of the match to a crawl so that he can eventually wear Oda down and hopefully lock in a fight ending submission. Oda I suspect though will want to employ the opposite strategy and look to push the pace early with aggressive grappling techniques. Oda’s hip movement on top looks especially impressive and it would be interesting to see if Helio could actually neutralize it.

Oda will have an advantage in the throwing department from his training with the best in Japan (including Judo’s founder Kano), though don’t under-estimate Helio either. Still chances are Oda will want to emulate what Masahiko Kimura did and repeatedly throw Helio down. Interesting to note is that Helio took on Maeda’s philosophy of combat, including the idea of distinct phases in fighting.  In fighting strategy I am going to have to give the advantage to Helio.



This I have to admit is kind of boring to break down and with both men being technicians I suspect it won’t be a factor. Although I am leaning towards Oda from the rigors of Judo training it is inconclusive. One however must not forget that Helio engaged in several very physical encounters despite his frail appearance.



Cardiovascular conditioning is such an important aspect of any fight. It can sway a battle where one person is superior technically but just can’t keep it up for long enough. Helio Gracie was renowned for his cardio, though I think this stems more from his ability to fight slow and methodically. Judging from his videos Oda relies heavily on ground movement compared to Helio who uses very little until getting the submission. This in the short term could be successful for Oda but on the other hand it could prove costly, as Oda struggles to pass Helio’s guard. Ironically guard passing could simultaneously be his silver bullet and Achilles’ heel. Helio undoubtedly will have the cardio advantage.


Although this appears to show Helio will win there are several other X-factors that must be taken into account.


Will the fact that Helio who is used to fighting much larger men than himself work in his favor (going against an opponent closer to his own size)?

TECH FACTOR (play on technology factor but actually refers to technique)

It may be a stalemate when it comes to overall technical ability but who actually has the better techniques themselves? Even though 20 years separates when these two men were born, because Japan was developing great techniques Oda chances are is the more innovative and versatile fighter (especially for his time). Helio’s techniques are incredibly fundamental in comparison. Will someone as technical as Oda fall for these techniques that he himself is well-versed in? This is the X-factor that might actually play the biggest role in the entire match.


Helio Gracie was all about ground work where as Oda trained a significant amount of time in throwing; not that Helio was a slouch standing up either. Still whose philosophy reigns supreme? It’s quite possible that Oda’s is better considering years later we see that dictating where a fight takes place is very important for any martial artist. Still that idea is almost irrelevant because this fight is guaranteed to hit the ground one way or another.

With all things considered who takes this battle? I am a little concerned that the founder of the Kosen style of Judo might not be proven enough though with reluctance I am taking him in this razor-close match. I believe that Helio will eventually crumble under Oda’s relentless top pressure. The only question remaining is who do you think would win?


Kazunari Murakami

Record: (Official) 5-5-0 (Real) 4-5-0
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 212 lbs-220 lbs
Born: November 29, 1973
Hometown: Nei District, Toyama, Japan
Style: Judo
Years Active: 1995-2003
Overview: Kazunari Murakami was a Japanese-bred fighter with a Judo base. He made his debut in the Lumax Cup, a Japanese promotion that ran from 1994-1997. Lumax Cup events were run tournament style, and disallowed the use of strikes to the face on the ground. Gi’s and Shooto gloves were also mandatory. Murakami first fought in the 1995 tournament, losing in the first round to future UFC, Pride, and Shooto star Akihiro Gono by head kick at 2:25.


Several months later, Murakami fought again in Lumax Cup 1996. He fared much better this time around, submitting Isamu Osugi with an armlock and avenging his loss to Gono by decision. He ended up being bumped off in the semi-finals by Shooto fighter Masanori Suda by armbar in the second round. Suda would go on to lose to Sanae Kikuta in the finals.

Later that year, Murakami traveled to America to compete in Extreme Fighting 3. Extreme Fighting was an early pay-per-view NHB promotion that attracted a considerable amount of media attention during the mid-90’s, comparable to the UFC. It had also introduced several innovations to the fledgling American MMA scene, such as weightclasses for tournaments and mandatory gloves. Murakami would square off against Bart Vale, a shoot-style wrestler who had been passing off his matches in Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi as real. Most notoriously, Vale claimed to have knocked Ken Shamrock out, even though it was a worked fight. Fans and promoters at the time believed his “shootfights” were legitimate, and he was often ranked amongst the top NHB fighters back in the mid-90’s. He did have two veritable fights outside of professional wrestling prior to fighting Murakami: A grueling NHB win over Kazja Patschull-affiliated fighter Mike Bitonio, and a quick defeat in K-1 at the hands of legendary karateka Andy Hug. Murakami was brought in to face Vale because the Japanese wrestling promotion Vale was under contract with at the time apparently did not allow Vale to fight “certain opponents,” and would only allow him to be matched with someone they approved of.



Murakami came out aggressive and quickly took his large opponent’s back. Vale tried to retaliate with a straight armbar (A defense I was actually taught at a Vale-affiliated MMA school), but when the fight hit the ground Murakami quickly took mount. The Japanese Judoka battered Vale with ground-and-pound, and continued to hit him after taking his back again. After a while, Vale managed to escape through the back door and attempted a standing guillotine. Vale didn’t lock the choke properly and instead tried to land several knees and punches on his shorter opponent. Murakami retaliated with a barrage of punches that put Vale on the floor, where he continued to batter him. The referee quickly stopped the fight at 4:37 in round one (Rounds were referred to as “phases” in Extreme Fighting).Murakami’s bout at Extreme Fighting 3 was actually a part of a four-man tournament to crown the promotion’s heavyweight champion. On the same card, former world kickboxing Maurice Smith did battle with Carlson Gracie black belt Marcus “Conan” Silveira to determine the second slot. Silveira was already considered Extreme Fighting’s heavyweight champion, having won the title in a four-man tournament in Extreme Fighting 1 and defended it against Carl Franks in the second event. Maurice Smith’s MMA experience prior to this fight mostly came in Pancrase, where he only managed to pick up one victory against Takaku Fuke while dropping fights to the likes of Ken Shamrock and Bas Rutten. Smith had been diligently training his ground game with Frank Shamrock, however, and was well prepared to take on the beefy jiu-jitsu fighter. Over the course of three rounds, Smith was able to wear Silveira down enough to be able to reverse the grappler on the ground and eventually knocked him out on his feet with a head kick. This was one of the earliest incidences in MMA of a striker defeating a grappler in a major championship fight.

In the main event of Extreme Fighting 4, Murakami and Smith would face off for the title:



Murakami charged Smith right off the bat and floored the world kickboxing champion with a left palm strike. Smith ate some ground-and-pound, but managed to reverse the Japanese grappler and ended up in his guard. Smith stood up, but Murakami remained on his back, prompting Smith to kick his legs. This went on for several minutes until Murakami stood up as well, at which time he was knocked out with a crisp and heinously powerful right cross. Murakami was paralyzed for two hours after receiving that blow.Following that defeat, Murakami traveled back to Japan where he would perform in the first ever Pride event. Officially, his fight with John Dixson in Pride 1 was the first fight in Pride history, when in actuality the match was a work. PrideFc was originally intended to promote a variety of martial arts events, including kickboxing and shoot-style wrestling. The match between Dixson and Murakami was widely known by Japanese fans to be a planned work, but nothing of this is mentioned in the American commentary. The fight is also listed in every database as being legitimate (The fact that Dixson has an extensive MMA record adds to the confusion).



Murakami would later fight in two legitimate Pride bouts. The first was a first round TKO loss to karate champion and K-1 pioneer Masaaki Satake, which is the only victory in Sataake’s MMA career. The second fight was also a loss, a TKO at the hands of BJJ legend Wallid Ismail. His final MMA match came in 2003, where he scored a victory over one Lee Young Gun in the inaugural Jungle Fight show. In the same year, Murakami also lost to Stefan Leko in a kickboxing match by a right high kick KO in round one.Murakami was an aggressive fighter who always seemed to go after his opponent right off the bell. He made some mistakes on the ground and looked vulnerable to being knocked out, but was definitely a tough dude who could grapple and hit when he needed to. A worthy opponent to most who faced him back in the day.