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The night UFC legend Don Frye got KO'd in lobby

MMA legend Don Frye got knocked out in arena lobby.
UFC legend Don Frye knocked out in hotel lobby

UFC legend Don Frye knocked out in arena lobby.

This article is part of an effort by MixedMartialArts.com to understand what really works. The focus is not on what happens in the arena, but rather what happens on the street, or in this case at the arena but not in the cage. Check out more stories on:
1. Martial Arts on The Street
2. Dojo Storms
3. Mutual Combat


The brawl between Don Frye and Sonny Westbrook generated a literally stupid number of arguments. Frye, 41 at the time, is an MMA legend. The fight with Yoshihiro Takayama alone makes Frye immortal, and that was just one of 31 fights in a UFC Hall of Fame career.

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The Samoa-born Westbrook, who was significantly older, provides security for the reality television series Dog The Bounty Hunter, and is a respected, even beloved trainer at Kona Boxing Club in Kailua, Oahu, Hawai'i.

The scrap took place at the Cow Palace Arena and Event Center, in Daly City, California, in 2007. There are competing narratives about what happened, and this was reportedly one of two fights between the pair that night. The cause of the brawl(s) is also a matter of some dispute. 

UGer Vincent Lucero, a pro fighter, was there and reported what happened.

"I was trying to break it all up," he began. "It wasn't his bodyguard, it was his boxing coach. None of the fighters here got paid so we were trying to get our money. Don Frye is drunk as hell and starts talking crap. The boxing coach, a 51-year-old man, asked him to keep cool. Don told him, 'F*** you, lets go outside.' Once outside, I tried to get in between them.

"Don reaches over me and pushes him. Sonny comes over with a right hand that dropped Frye. Frye is doing the drunk man walk, trying to get his legs. Sonny drops him three more times before it gets broken up. I will be on YouTube soon. Second time, Leland and Sonny were trying to get out the door. Frye comes running up to Sonny and Down he goes, out cold this time. Oh yeah, none of the fighters and [professional] wrestlers got paid."

The video below is of the second altercation described immediately above. To make even a modicum of sense of what transpired, it helps to know the characters:
•Frye is wearing a black shirt and jeans;
•Westbrook is wearing a black and white top with tracksuit bottoms; and,
•In the white tank top is Leland Chapman, a Dog The Bounty Hunter cast member, and long-time friend and student of Westbrook.

What Happened

As the video opens Westbrook is throwing a lead right against a retreating Frye. Then, whether because of a Frye strike obscured by onlookers or due to a slip, Westbrook goes prone. Leland appears to want to stop what's happening.

Westbrook comes off the floor punching in bunches which Frye tries to avoid, with mixed results. In the midst of the chaos, Westrook lands a clean straight left that drops Frye.

A number of onlookers intervene and separate the pair. Both appear eager to continue to engage, Frye even more so. But cooler heads prevail. The whole thing lasts just seconds.

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The Lesson

Obviously, boxing is an amazing means of self-protection. However, the altercation was hyped as a battle between MMA and boxing, with boxing proving superior. Then misguided MMA fans retorted with a variety of excuses, including:
•Frye won, as he got the first knockdown and then was held;
•Frye was sucker-punched;
•Frye was hit in the back of the head (something apparently prohibited in street fights);
•Frye was held by others;
•Frye slipped, and etc.

The entire premise of the argument is nonsensical. Westbrook had a storied amateur boxing career, but was just 1-0 as a pro. By contrast, years prior to starting MMA in 1996, Frye went 2-5-1 as a pro. And Westbrook has worked with a number of MMA fighters, including K.J. Noons. Who is the boxer and who is the MMA guy?

The real lesson here is that the single most effective thing anyone can do from a self-defense perspective, is to avoid places with drunk people. Frye conceded in a recent interview that he was drunk. He was also likely on pain pills.

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Frye has embraced sobriety, after struggling for years with addictions, and even contemplating suicide. The lesson here is not that boxing is better than MMA for street fights, it's that you shouldn't fight drunk. And if you can't handle liquor, don't drink.

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