Abbott was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California. Abbott began practicing amateur wrestling when he was nine years old, and continued through high school where he also played football. He then continued wrestling in college, where he was a NJCAA All-American. He then attended California State University, Long Beach where he graduated with a degree in History. During this time he was trained in boxing by Noe Cruz who also trained world champion boxer Carlos Palomino at the Westminster Boxing Gym.
However, Abbott was mainly known for the many street fights that he has engaged in, rarely losing. While working at a liquor store to help pay for his college tuition, Abbott encountered a “smart-ass” customer. Abbott beat the customer severely, and the customer, who turned out to be a son of a detective, pressed charges for assault. Abbott was sentenced to six months in jail, the judge saying “Mr. Abbott, you are a maniac. I’m surprised you haven’t killed somebody.”
Mixed martial arts career
Abbott started his career in mixed martial arts when he applied to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for its event UFC 6 Clash of the Titans in Casper, Wyoming. He was promoted to the UFC management by his future manager Dave Thomas, who credited him as a veteran street fighter who lifted 600lbs in bench press and had knocked out four men in his last brawl. Upon this description, the management compared him to the character “Tank Murdock” from the 1978 Clint Eastwood movie Every Which Way but Loose, which encouraged them to give David the nickname of “Tank Abbott” and bill him as a “pit fighter” with over 200 street fights.
According to Abbott, this wasn’t the first time he applied to UFC. Inspired by Kimo Leopoldo‘s participation in UFC 3, he had tried to enter the promotion as soon as September 1994, but the UFC management only allowed him to fight from UFC 6 onwards, after Royce Gracie had ceased fighting in UFC. Art Davie would confirm the Gracie family certainly used its input in the management to limit fighters with amateur wrestling background, like Abbott himself, from entering the first events.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (1995–2003)
Abbott made his debut at UFC 6 in July 1995 as scheduled. He actively cultivated the tough character he had been given, firstly by giving a rude interview in which he derided martial arts and then by knocking out the Hawaiian Kapu Kuialua fighter John Matua, who weighed 400 lb, in the first 18 seconds of his opening fight. Abbott further solidified his reputation by mocking Matua’s convulsions after the KO while the ring doctors rushed the cage. Abbott advanced to the next round and was pitted against a similarly heavier adversary, Paul Varelans. After returning to the cage in midst of strong cheers, Abbott knocked out Varelans by ground and pound and knee strikes, all while smiling openly to his opponent.
At the finals of the tournament, Abbott faced the Russian Oleg Taktarov in a fight that the announcers touted as a “skill vs. power” bout. Just as described, the match saw Abbott blocking Taktarov’s artful grappling attempts and damaging him in turn with hard punches and uppercuts. With both men becoming increasingly tired due to their previous fights and the high altitude of the location, the action moved to Taktarov’s guard, where Abbott avoided multiple submission attempts and punished him further. The fight was restarted standing, which would give Abbott the advantage, but by this point he was exhausted enough for a slightly better conditioned Taktarov to pull him down and lock a rear naked choke, thus winning the fight at the 17 minutes mark. Both men collapsed in exhaustion after the fight, and Taktarov had to be carried out of the cage. Although Abbott had failed at winning the tournament, referee John McCarthy considered him the next big star of the promotion after Royce Gracie.
Abbott returned the same year as part of the Ultimate Ultimate event, which saw runner-ups and champions from the previous UFC tournaments gathered together. He first fought UFC 3 winner and ninjutsu practitioner Steve Jennum, whom he outweighed by 80lbs. Although Jennum proved capable of avoiding Tank’s strikes, Abbott submitted him with an improvised neck crank. However, his next opponent was Dan Severn, UFC 5 champion and a much more decorated freestyle wrestler than Abbott himself. Tank initiated the action strong, but he was overpowered and eventually kept on all fours while Severn rained elbows and knees on him. After fifteen minutes of absorbing strikes, Abbott managed to free himself, but Severn kept dominance until the end of the fight, which gained him the judges’s unanimous decision.
Abbott’s next UFC apparition would be in September 1996, at UFC 11. Accompanied by a young Tito Ortiz and dragging a knee injury without its adequate surgery, Tank climbed the cage to fight professional boxer Sam Adkins in the first round, an affair he ended quickly by forearm choke against the cage wall. This tournament venture was cut short, however, by Scott Ferrozzo, a contender from Don Frye‘s entourage who was billed as a “pitfighter” like Abbott himself. Ferrozzo was also fresher, as he came to replace Jerry Bohlander, who had got injured in the previous round. The two fought evenly in the clinch for minutes, with Tank coming closer to a stoppage by opening a cut in Scott’s face, but Ferrozzo eventually gained the advantage with knees to the body and a heavy uppercut. At overtime, now with the crowd cheering unusually for Ferrozzo, the latter controlled the action with knees and punches to win the judges decision. According to Abbott, Ferrozzo had to go to the hospital after the match, while he did not.
As the first time, Abbott was invited back to the next edition of Ultimate Ultimate at December 1996. His first opponent was Cal Worsham, a former U.S Marine whom Tank disposed of swiftly via wrestling and punching. A short brawl happened after the bout when Worsham suddenly tried to attack Abbot, as Abbott had kept hitting him while the referee stopped the bout. Abbot’s next fight met an even more brutal ending, as his opponent, Steve Nelmark, fell against the fence upon being knocked out and got his neck folded in a dangerous position. Despite the incident, Tank remained calm, and he was later quoted as “If that man weren’t in the octagon, I would have kicked him about five times in the face. And I have, and I’ve done it many times.”
At the end of the event, Abbott met his final adversary in Don Frye himself, with the winner of the fight gaining a title shot against Dan Severn. Despite Frye being a superior wrestler like Severn, Abbott caught him with a hard left jab and dominated the match onwards with wild strikes, appearing as if he could win by KO at any moment. However, by capitalizing on a punch in which Abbott overcommitted and slipped down, Frye managed to capture his back and lock a rear naked choke, winning the fight. Abbott claimed he made a mistake by letting Frye got his hooks in, as he would have been planning to use them to snap his ankles. For his part, Frye praised Abbott, going to say the match featured the hardest hits he received in his entire career.
Ultimate Ultimate 1996 was the last UFC tournament in which Abbott partook, as around the same time the UFC began switching away from the tournament format. Abbott’s fortunes declined with the arrival of better trained mixed martial artists, who posed a much bigger challenge than the previously inconsistent opponents from the earlier UFC events. His debut in this new format was at UFC 13 in May 1997 against Vitor Belfort, whose fast-hitting boxing style Abbott had criticized while doing special commentary at UFC 12. Abbott scored an early takedown, but he moved back to trade hits with Belfort standing; this proved to be an error, as Vitor immediately overwhelmed him with punches and dropped him to all fours. The Brazilian kept attacking Abbott until the match was stopped.
At UFC 15, Abbott replaced Dan Severn in four days notice in a title match for the UFC Heavyweight Championship against Maurice Smith, a circumstance he described as literally “falling off the barstool into the octagon.” Trying hard to press the action, Tank shockingly dropped the kickboxing champion with an early shot, but Smith controlled him through his defensive guard and a Kimura lock attempt. The action was restarted standing, but by this point Abbott was exhausted and offered little resistance to Smith’s low kicks, prompting the referee to stop the match.
Abbott bounced back from his losses with his performance at the first UFC show in Japanese ground, UFC Japan, where he was pitted against shoot-style wrestler Yoji Anjo. The American dominated the match with takedowns and right hands, avoiding submission attempts with short bursts of ground and pound every time they hit the mat, which eventually gained him the unanimous decision win. The event featured a tournament format, but Abbott forfeited due to a broken hand acquired while punching Anjo.
Back in United States, at UFC 17, he followed with an impressive victory over renowned luta livre fighter Hugo Duarte, who was famous for his vale tudo fights against Rickson Gracie. Duarte had previously criticized Tank and his fighting skills, and he came close to proving himself right by almost locking a rear naked choke and an armbar on the first few seconds. However, Abbott blocked them successfully, captured Duarte’s back, and landed heavy punches from there, completely knocking the Brazilian out. At the same event, Tank was suspended by UFC for verbally fighting with Allan Goes, which according to Abbott happened because David had cheered for the opponent of Goes’s teammate Wallid Ismail at UFC 12.
In October 1998, Tank visited Brazil next as part of UFC Brazil, facing another luta livre fighter, Pedro Rizzo, who came on a 5-0 record. The Brazilian proved to be a dangerous opponent when he stopped Abbott’s early barrage with several hard rights, but Abbott answered with a counterpunch that opened a cut near Pedro’s eye. Rizzo then adopted a more evasive approach, avoiding Tank’s overhands and grinding him with low kicks and his own counterpunches, which Tank counteracted himself again by taking him down and besieging his guard. However, the match had drained Tank’s energy, and Rizzo was able of dominating him with strikes from the bottom and more kick and punch combinations while standing. At the end, the Brazilian knocked Abbott out for the win, becoming the first opponent to do so. Abbott praised Rizzo after the match, although he claimed to believe the cage canvas had been greased to hinder the footing of wrestlers like him.
After his match with Rizzo, Abbott retired from MMA.
Abbott waged an unsuccessful UFC comeback in the mid-2000s, losing fights to Frank Mir, Kimo Leopoldo and Wesley “Cabbage” Correira and was released from the promotion. Following his release he defeated Cabbage by KO in a rematch in what is in fact the only time Cabbage, who is famous for his chin, has ever been knocked out. Abbott would lose several more matches in regional shows.
His next fight against former PRIDE veteran Mike Bourke on February 13, 2009 at The Selland Arena in Fresno, California—was a part of the Valentine’s Eve Massacre Event. Abbott controversially knocked out Bourke with a punch that inadvertently landed in the back of Bourke’s head, securing a victory for the first time in nearly four years.
In 2011 Abbott participated in an unsanctioned “backyard brawl” with Scott Ferrozzo, whom he previously fought at UFC 11. The match ended without a winner, but Abbott dominated almost its entirety by pinning Ferrozzo on the ground and punching him for fifteen minutes.
At King of the Cage: Fighting Legends, on Saturday, April 13, 2013, Abbott was defeated by longtime veteran Ruben “Warpath” Villareal by way of a 2nd round TKO. After the loss, his first sanctioned fight since 2009, Tank said that he was not sure if he would fight again but he had trained seriously for the first time in years, felt great, and had a lot of fun stepping back in the cage. He thanked Warpath and the two men shook hands. As he was leaving the cage Tank said that he was “starting to feel a little old”.
Abbott was expected to face fellow MMA veteran Dan Severn for the upstart UR Fight promotion on March 20, 2016. The contest was cancelled the day prior to the event as Abbott could not pass the required medical tests per the Arizona Fight Commission.
Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tank_Abbott