Sherdog Catches Up With UFC Pioneer Keith Hackney

By Mike Fagan

Things were different back in 1994. Ace of Base and Boyz II Men dominated the charts; hockey players and pro wrestlers brandished non-ironic mullets; and men fought each other in an octagon-shaped cage for an organization which allowed any technique short of eye gouging and biting.

Keith Hackney was one of those men. Where most fighters go an entire career without being involved in an iconic moment, VHS tapes immortalized Hackney twice during MMA‘s infancy. Sherdog‘s Jason Probst caught up with Hackney to reflect on his short-lived fighting career.

Hackney made his debut at UFC 3 after getting a call from then UFC co-owner Art Davie a week out from the event. He drew a 600-pound sumo fighter by the name of Emmanuel Yarborough in the first round. Probst summarizes the fight:

What ensued was something that simply cannot be replicated today, its potent combination of freak-show violence and small-man budo compressed into 1:59 of chaotic scrapping. Hackney’s destruction of Yarborough was a first in the modern annals of David versus Goliath-style beatings, and he became an instant fan favorite by toppling a man who weighed three times more than him — and was 6-foot-8, to boot. Since then, the sport has provided countless moments to remember, but Hackney-Yarborough remains one of those gems that seems impossible to replicate. You could not un-see it.


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