CagePotato Roundtable #32: Who Is Your Favorite Fictional Fighter of All Time?

Demian Maia

(Woah, they got constipated Ryu as a secret unlockable character in this game? Count me in!)

The inclusion of Bruce Lee in EA Sports’ derpy-looking UFC game over actual fighters like bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw not only enraged the CP staff to no end, but got us thinking about other characters that should’ve been included in the roster. That’s right, the CagePotato Roundtable is back, and with special guest Sydnie Jones of WomensMMA! This week’s topic: Who is Your Favorite Fictional Fighter of All Time? 

Nathan Smith

“If he dies, he dies.”

Those iconic words were delivered in a callous monotone shortly after this fighter beat Apollo Creed to death in an exhibition boxing match. You can blame Rocky Balboa for not throwing in the towel (and I am sure Creed’s wife still does) or you can blame Creed’s advanced age, but the fact remains, this pugilist made sure the only Apollo Creed appearances in future Rocky movies would be via flashback sequences. That is how I was introduced to the greatest fictional fighter of all time – Ivan Drago.

Weighing in at 261 lbs. and standing 6’5” Drago looked like the epitome of a living, breathing action figure. He had it all. From the chiseled physique to the thousand-yard-stare, Drago accompanied those characteristics with a hair cut that would make Iceman jealous and a punch that measured 1850 psi.

According to Wikipedia, the Rocky movie franchise has grossed $1,271,222,322 (HOLY SHIT) and throughout the six installments, Balboa has lost a boxing match three times. Creed beat him in the original film, Clubber Lang beat him in the third chapter and Mason Dixon sent Balboa to ultimate (?) retirement in the films latest stanza, but we all know who did the most damage. It wasn’t like Balboa was going to be joining Mensa in the future, but thanks to the beating Drago put on The Italian Stallion, brain damage was diagnosed shortly thereafter, leaving Rocky a quivering mess.

Drago compiled an amateur and professional record consisting of 131 victories, ALL by knockout. Drago was an Olympic gold medalist, an infantry Captain in the Soviet Army who received the Hero of the Soviet Union award, and HE KNOCKED OUT 131 MOTHER FUCKERS! If that résumé doesn’t impress and you (idiotically) choose to agree with the other contributors to this roundtable that picked pixilated video game individuals or cartoon characters or other Hollywood movie goons, I will leave you with this one last piece of evidence: Can any of them do THIS?

Matthew Saccaro

There’s no fighter on the face of any fictional earth more HAM (hard-ass motherfucker, for those not in the know) than Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z.

Seriously, this dude’s toughness is legendary.

Lots of people praise Rocky for training his ass off in the Siberian wilderness. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t come close to what Vegeta does. When he’s not training in a gravity room set to several hundred times the earth’s gravity, he’s training in a magic chamber that slows down time (so he can do a year’s worth of training in an hour) or in the MIDDLE OF SPACE blowing up asteroids and going apeshit. He’s so bad-ass he doesn’t even need to breathe, apparently.

Furthermore, Vegeta is of unparalleled mental toughness. He was a warrior since the moment he was born. And the murder of his father and of his nearly his ENTIRE SPECIES only served to harden his heart and sharpen his resolve.

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Yes, Vegeta has lost fights before, but when that happens, he doesn’t get all emo. Instead, he trains 100x harder. That’s pretty much all Vegeta does, in fact. He just trains, fights, and occasionally bangs his wife Bulma. And he’s a Super Saiyan. How could you not like a Super Saiyan?

Vegeta doesn’t fight for money or fame. He fights for the pure love of it. For that reason, and all the others above, he’s my favorite fictional fighter. He’s also got kick-ass theme music.

Seth Falvo

“Broome County is just visibly upset by this disgusting display … so come on down and get your seats for the next home game! Bring the kids! We got entertainment for the whole family!”

If you did not immediately recognize that the above excerpt is from Slap Shot, then we can not be friends. And if you have an issue someone bringing up the Hanson Brothers – one does not simply pick just one – when discussing the greatest fictional fighters, then I do not even know what to say to you, person who does not exist.

What makes the Hanson Brothers so special is that they’re the photo negative of every worn-out, tired sports cliche in existence. They aren’t world class athletes. They wear thick glasses. Their goofy demeanors clash wonderfully with their otherwise violent tendencies. Most importantly, they sure as hell aren’t trying to turn hockey into a morality play or a metaphor for how to live. They’re scrawny geeks with straggly hair who enthusiastically punch anyone dumb enough to get in their way.

Watching the Hanson Brothers, faces bloodied and glasses broken, smile at the fans as they’re being dragged off of the ice captures everything great about fighting. Screw the formalities of the hockey game, this is competition in its purest form – something that even dimwits like the Hanson Brothers can comprehend. Hell, why even bother waiting for the game to start before throwing a few punches? And there’s no need to pretend that the violence is somehow unacceptable, even though it’s clearly what the fans are paying to watch, which is one reason why “I’m listenin’ to the fuckin’ song!” is my favorite line in the movie.

Of course, the Hanson Brothers abandon their roughneck ways before the final game of the season in order to (*begins jerk-off hand gesture*) win the game with honor and integrity and good triumphing evil by sportsing harder than the forces of evil can sports through Old Time Hockey™ (*ends hand gesture*).  For all of one period. Like everyone watching Slap Shot, the fans boo every second of the “clean,” “professional” Chiefs, so as soon as the team learns that NHL scouts are in the arena to watch the toughest team in the minors, the Hanson Brothers are right back to brawling. Piss on Old Time Hockey™; we value spectacle over sportsmanship, and who are the Hanson Brothers to deprive us of that?

It’s fitting that the game wasn’t won by one of the Hanson Brothers – or even by anything related to hockey – but by a striptease from Ned Braden. The Hanson Brothers don’t need to score goals to be the greatest fictional fighters of all time. Scoring goals is for hockey players.

Jared Jones

Question: What is the only thing more badass than a ninja? Did you say a resurrected zombie ninja with hellfire-breathing capabilities and spear-shooting hands? Because if so, I think we just became best friends (Ha! Just stole your friend, Falvo!).

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There’s a multitude of reasons that Hanzo Hasashi a.k.a Scorpion from the Mortal Kombat series is not only one of the most iconic video game characters of them all, but one of the only MK characters to appear in every incarnation of the game; dude’s more ruthless than Robbie Lawler, more horrifying than Rick Story, and capable of bringing the heat on a level Karo Parisyan only dreams of while crying himself to sleep beneath an overpass. Not to mention, Scorpion is the owner of the greatest taunt in video game history — “Get over here!” is essentially the “Come at me, bro” of its time, only Scorpion had the tools necessary to physically force you to come at him, bro.

To many, Scorpion is just the less powerful, less popular brother of Sub-Zero. But to those who follow the mythology of Mortal Kombat, he’s essentially the Walter White of the series, an anti-hero who often does terrible things for (mostly) justifiable reasons. While most of the MK characters fall firmly into either the “righteously good” or “pure evil” sides of the fence, Scorpion is a bit more ambiguous. He has no sympathy for the plight of other characters, good or evil, and exists only to carry out his own agenda: avenging the death of his family and destruction of his clan, the Shirai Ryu.

With his silent, unflinching mannerisms and allegiance to no one but himself, Scorpion is truly the lone wolf of Mortal Kombat, and in a universe that already has a guy named Nightwolf, no less. Also, he’s f*cking immortal and can transport you to the Netherrealm for all eternity in a flash, so there’s that.

Sydnie Jones

Over at, we deal exclusively in cold, hard facts (and also my subjective, unapologetic editorializing), so I’m just going to tell it like it is. I don’t know why anyone would pick any fictional fighter besides Buffy Summers, the very Buffy to which ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘ refers. Mere humans are so fragile and present such little challenge that she usually doesn’t bother with them. She dispatches demons with ease, and has, to date, been victorious over ALL of them.

In fact, she handles them so masterfully, she doesn’t even keep track of how many vampires and other demons she’s killed. At this point, it’s probably in the thousands. And her industriousness and ingenuity is unmatched – who else could get a vampire to unwittingly drink holy water? Or disregard the ‘no weapon forged’ bit of lore about the Judge and use a rocket launcher to largely disintegrate him?

Buffy has slayer strength, heals quickly, and sometimes has premonitory dreams. That’s all very impressive, especially compared to the other choices here, but the clincher is that she dies all the time and was ultimately totes whatevs about it. The first time, she drowns and is resuscitated via CPR. She gets up and is like, “I feel strong. I feel different…let’s go.” No panicking or neurotic introspection about how close she came to just being dead for good. Only ass-kicking. I think I’d probably want to take a freak-out-preemption nap, at least. And then it culminated in Buffy throwing a super old, powerful vampire through a skylight onto a broken piece of wood below, staking him. That is some serious precision.

I mean, later, she turned the Master’s bones to dust for no reason other than emotional release, but she handled dying remarkably well. Especially for a 16 year old girl. I was a 16 year old girl once. I did not handle much of anything with that degree of  magnanimity. One time, when I was 16, my brother suggested my boyfriend and I might not be right for each other and I cried for an hour. She dies twice more in the series (I’m counting the time at the end of season six), and the thing that unsettles her most is coming back to life, not that she was dead. That’s corn to the core, for sure.

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Also, despite being just 5’4 and maybe 120 pounds, Buffy saved the world multiple times over, against a variety of foes and prophecies and other terrible things. Sometimes against multiple foes, at the same time. And sometimes sacrificing herself or her loved ones so everyone else can live. Once you’ve run your boyfriend through with a sword in order to stop the apocalypse, it’s not like some Soviet relic more than twice your size is going to present much of a challenge. I guess Drago is a good choice…if you’re too afraid to go with the only real contender, solely because she’s a girl.

Since Buffy’s the clear choice, I can’t think of any other reason you wouldn’t choose her over the others besides that you’re being a puss. The hockey bros are endearing, but there’s just no way they could save the world all the time. The world isn’t covered in ice, friends So let’s keep it real – we all know who the best is, regardless of whether you can own up to it. It’s the one who has a flawless track record of staving off the apocalypse, no matter the cost.

Ben Goldstein

Created by Nintendo designers Genyo Takeda and Makoto Wada in 1987, Mike Tyson from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! remains the greatest video game boss in 8-bit history. In comparison to the game’s tiny, Caucasian protagonist, Tyson was a gigantic, black, human Death Star, sporting a gap-toothed sneer and a line shaved through his hair. He looked mean, he hit hard, and defeating him meant you had legit skills on the B’s and A’s.

Despite all my hours spent on the NES back in the day, I never managed to pull it off, and you’re talking to a guy who ran through ContraCastlevania II, and the entire Ninja Gaiden series. (Apparently, beating Tyson was kind of easy if you knew the trick to doing it, but shit, nobody ever told me.)

Outside of Mario the Plumber, no video game character has ever captured the public’s imagination like “Iron Mike,” who inspired a Fresh Prince song, the Drederick Tatum character from The Simpsons, and an army of barely-disguised video game imitators, including Mark Tyler from Power Punch II, and Balrog from Street Fighter II. Even today, three decades after the release of Punch-Out!!, Mike Tyson is still an object of tribute and parody…

A hulking slugger with the voice of a toddler, who raised pigeons and threatened to eat your children. Too bizarre to actually exist, and too iconic to ever forget.

[Note: After further research, I’ve learned that the appearance and voice of Mike Tyson were actually inspired by a dancer and spoken-word artist of the same name, although there’s no evidence that the real Mike Tyson ever boxed professionally.]

Honorable mention: Abobo from Double Dragon. Love that guy.

Who is your favorite fictional fighter of them all? Give us a shout in the comments section.