At an official size of 6’6″ and 616 pounds he was the biggest competitor to ever fight in the Octagon. Emanuel Yarbrough, whose UFC 3 loss to Keith Hackney epitomized the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, died Monday at age 51 in Richmond, Virginia of undisclosed causes.
Yarbrough compiled a 1-2 professional MMA record. He was also a Division II offensive tackle for Morgan State University and a two-time Division II and one-time Division I All-American in collegiate wrestling. He also competed in judo and amateur sumo.
In 1994 he was recruited to compete in the third Ultimate Fighting Championship where he lost to kareteka Keith Hackney by TKO.
Dave Meltzer recapped that bout for MMA Fighting.
“Yarbrough quickly ran at Hackney, and drove him into the cage, and through it, actually knocking open the locked gate with the force. But when they got back into the cage Hackney quickly landed an overhand right, and Yarbrough toppled over like a redwood tree. …
“After Yarbrough went down, Hackney landed a barrage of unanswered punches to the head before the fight was stopped in just 1:59. The win made Hackney one of the biggest early stars of UFC.”
Yarbrough never returned to the Octagon, but he fought twice more in Japan, losing to Daijyu Takase via TKO in Pride and beating Tatsuo Nakano in Shooto. He then performed as a masked wrestler in both Japan and Germany and was in the cast of HBO’s Oz.
His manager issued a statement to UFC.com.
“Emanuel’s passion was to travel. Even though it was not an easy task for him, it never stopped him from following his dreams, and bringing smiles to the faces of all he would meet. He was to be the subject of a new reality show, and would have continued to bring smiles to all those who had the opportunity to be blessed by his infectious, compassionate, loving presence. He will be missed by his millions of fans around the world, friends and family. Emanuel constantly demonstrated the need to help the obese, particularly children. And he traveled the world to bring awareness to obesity.”
Yarbrough’s mother has a GoFundMe page set up to help pay for funeral expenses and the cost of transporting his body home.
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