With the announcement of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) coming to Winnipeg, June 15th, people are now prepping themselves for their own fight - to get tickets. It's incredible the command this franchise has over us! Apparently we love to watch people wail on each other! Which I guess has been a common appeal for many of the cartoons we've watched over the years. That's why this morning we're showcasing the UFC - Ultimate Fighting Cartoons. Not wrestling! We've already covered that. I'm talkin' no-holds-barred, dust-up, beat-down, hand-to-hand combat! A clean square upper-cut to the jaw in the name of fun!
We'll get to official UFC-inspired fighting later on. But before we do, we must recognize that before we even had UFC, there was only boxing, karate and World War II.
Let's start with a history of violence, courtesy of the always-manly Goofy, in 1941's 'The Art of Self Defense'.
Boxing has been consistently popular for years, and has been the subject of many a cartoon.
In this corner...Flip The Frog. Flip was created by animation legend Ub Iwerks after he left Disney. These cartoons, like many for the time, rely largely on cutesy antics and gags timed to music. Flip faces off here against one of his greatest opponents...known only as 'The Bully'. (1932)
It was hard to narrow down a Popeye cartoon to post, as the entire series was built upon a foundation of fighting. Most of them involved Popeye vs. Bluto, brawling for the affections of Olive Oyl. But here's an interesting role reversal in 'Never Kick A Woman', where Popeye takes Olive for self defense training, and lets his own defences down for a flirty fight coach, which results in a rough-and-tumble love triangle. Considering this was released in 1936, it's surprising to see women showcased this way - as the stars of the vehicle, just as fierce and funny as Popeye is. It's awesome to see Olive hitting on (quite literally) that male slut, Popeye. Which of course Popeye seems to enjoy, the pervert.
A disgruntled Daffy "Good-To-His-Mother" Duck challenges sportsman Elmer Fudd to a "fair" fight in 1943's 'To Duck...Or Not To Duck'.
Bugs Bunny takes on "The Champ" in 1951's 'Rabbit Punch'. "Champ" appears to be related to "The Crusher" who Bugs would later crush in wrestling cartoon, 'Bunny Hugged', which you can watch here again if you'd like.
Here's a fun cartoon from Paramount's Harveytoon series, also called 'Rabbit Punch'. (1955) In it, Tommy Tortoise pummels Moe Hare in the squared circle, and punches up the script a bit too.
Sylvester gets an unwanted sparring partner in Hippety Hopper, the kangaroo he always mistakes for a mouse, in 1950's 'Pop 'Im Pop!', directed by Robert McKimson.
Donald Duck is an "uncle", but refuses to say it in 1953's 'Canvas Back Duck'.
Yogi Bear practices "fisticuff stuff" for free meals in 1959's 'Prize Fight Fright'.
Roger Ramjet enlists the help of his friend Punchy Peter Everlast in convincing his nephew Doodle to get out of prize fighting and back into pig brain science.
In the 1970's, TV networks would make a cartoon about pretty much anybody in the hopes of luring children to sit in front of their Saturday morning pablum. That included Muhammad Ali, who headlined a short-lived series in 1977, modestly titled I Am The Greatest: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali. Here we get to see what Ali did when he wasn't boxing, which included space exploration and saving railroads. Ali provided his own voice for the series, which was cancelled after just 3 months. Maybe not "the greatest" after all.
Here's another celebrity who felt it a good idea to voice his own Saturday morning likeness in 1986. I hear he also animated the entire series by himself...with his mind! Try and count how many times you hear his name in the opening credits.
Speaking of karate, someone also thought this was a good idea...
None of the original cast is heard in this. There is also a distinct lack of karate, which I will apologize for on everyone's behalf, and then fight whoever was responsible.
Canadian radio fans will know of The Champ, a creaky short-tempered former fighter who is prone to "snap" whenever he misinterprets those around him. The creator of that bit, Jake Edwards (Brother Jake to those in the radio-know) tried to launch an animated series about the character back in the 90's, but ran out of money before it could become a reality. The Champ reigns on in radio bits, a new iPhone app and this clip, which was animated by the app creators, Natterjack.
Here's an epic battle in South Park between Timmy and Jimmy, in an episode entitled...ahem...'Cripple Fight'.
Interestingly, the sequence recreates a fight (and some of the soundtrack) from 1988 sci-fi flick, They Live, starring Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Peter Griffin's battles with Ernie The Giant Chicken in Family Guy are just as long as the above and always initiated by something similarly inane. Here in Season 10's 'Internal Affairs', Peter starts the fight this time by backing into the chicken's car, which results in a drawn-out battle through time. Whatever, just go with it.
Speaking of whatever, here's a fight in reverse from Season 11's 'Yug Ylimaf'.
Daffy Duck starts a chicken fight of his own in 'The Foghorn Leghorn Story' from The Looney Tunes Show.
Let's take it from the streets now and move to The Octagon.
I think I first learned about UFC from Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi, who during the mid-90's, was showcasing caricatures he had done of UFC originals like Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar, Tank Abbott, and even colour commentators like Joe Rogan.
Seriously, this man LOVES Ultimate Fighting - or "human entertainment" as he calls it. Click this if you need additional proof. In the material, John talks about how he predated Spike TV's The Ultimate Fighter, while working for them on a Ren and Stimpy revival. He also makes mention of wanting Ken Shamrock to voice Stimpy's dad!
Here are 2 clips that also very publicly revealed John's love of UFC. The first is from a special he made for Cartoon Network in 1999 called 'Boo Boo Runs Wild'. In it, Yogi Bear tries to save his friend Boo Boo by attacking Ranger Smith with a surprise barrage of MMA-style manoeuvres. On his blog, John K. says the moves were built around a combination of Royce Gracie's Brazilian jiu jitsu and Mark "The Hammer" Coleman's "ground and pound" wrestle/punch techniques. I like the fact that if you watch this closely, it initially seems like Yogi is scared to use his training on Ranger Smith, but later loses himself in the fight.
Here's a quick clip that encapsulates John's thoughts on the OTHER John's thoughts about the UFC. Back in the late 90's, Senator John McCain rallied for the banning of the UFC, denouncing it as "human cockfighting". Here was John K's response to this, filtered through his all-American, George Liquor.
By the 2000's, UFC had established itself as an official mainstream sport. You have to be mainstream if The Simpsons are paying attention. Here's an episode from Season 21 called 'The Great Wife Hope', which featured a guest spot by retired fighter Chuck Liddell.
Dana White, president of the UFC, didn't like the episode. In a 2009 interview, he said...
"Did you see that Simpsons episode? Chuck Liddell signs an autograph for somebody, and he says, 'That will be $45, please'. The sport isn't like that at all."
"Then the promoter of the show fights Marge Simpson in The Octagon, sucker-punches her in the face, and then says, 'You're the only woman I've ever hit that I didn't love'.
"That's the way mainstream looks at us and thinks of us, and I know that. I'm always arguing with everyone else telling them we're not mainstream yet. You know what the positive side of that is? That's how much room we've got to grow. This thing, as big as it is, we've got a lot more room to grow."
If wrestling's pop-culture trajectory was any indication, I take this to mean we're about 5 years away from UFC: The Animated Series. Maybe UFC Babies? Somebody call John Kricfalusi about this! Or Chuck Norris! In fact, I heard he already created the series!
Alright, time for me to tap out.