Canseco strikes out in mixed martial arts debut in Japan

The Canadian Press

5/26/2009 9:19:38 AM

YOKOHAMA, Japan - Former baseball slugger Jose Canseco came out swinging but didn't last long in his debut in mixed martial arts.

Canseco was stopped by South Korean super-heavyweight Hong Man Choi just one minute 17 seconds into the first round at Yokohama Arena.

The referee stopped the fight when seven-foot-two 330-pound Choi knocked the 6-4, 240-pound Canseco to the mat and started punching his head.

"That's a big man," said Canseco, the 1988 American League's MVP who has written several tell-all books about his career and drugs in baseball. "I ran into one of his left jabs and that almost knocked me out. You have no idea how scary it was facing a man that big."

Canseco did land the first blow with a right to the upper body of Choi but that was all the damage he could inflict on the Korean giant.

Shortly into the fight, Canseco hurt his right knee and was unable to do much after that.

"I hurt my knee back home real bad but I didn't want to disappoint the fans," he said. "I knew that at some point during the fight my knee was going to give out and once I was down I knew I wasn't going to get up. He's just too heavy to move."

Canseco came into the arena to the song "Wild Thing" with a baseball bat on his shoulder. He took a few swings of the bat after the fight was over and was helped out of the ring by girlfriend Heidi Northcott.

Canseco, who hit 462 home runs over 17 seasons in the major leagues, has had several celebrity boxing matches since leaving baseball but has never taken on professional fighters like Choi, who improved to 2-2 in MMA.

By his acknowledgment, the baseball outcast needs the money. It's one reason why Canseco has accepted a wide variety of offbeat jobs to make ends meet.

He said he will work on getting his knee back in shape before taking on any more fights.

"I have no idea if I'll do this again," Canseco said. "I've got to get my knee better before I commit to anything like this."