The least traditional of Dragon Ball’s tournaments (of which the series only had one by this point), Uranai Baba’s tournament sees Goku’s team of five competing against her team of five, all exchange for a divination. Interestingly, four of Baba’s five champions take after Universal Monsters and end up participating in some of the series’ most unique fights.
It’s also worth noting that Baba’s tournament isn’t its own story arc like many fans erroneously believe. Rather, it’s just the last act of the Red Ribbon Army arc, thematically and narratively wrapping up everything the story arc had been building up to. In turn, Baba’s tournament ends up feeling far more focused than other portions of the series—all while featuring one of the series’ most eclectic characters.
Fans of the series who revisit the Red Ribbon Army arc might find it interesting how prominent a role Upa ends up playing during the arc’s last act. Perhaps the term “prominent” might suggest that he’s more present narratively than he ultimately is, but Upa ends up being Goku’s main motivation after Bora dies.
Of course, this has no bearing on his strength, and, although Upa does get to fight unlike other non-martial artists in Dragon Ball, he’s not a strong boy. He can’t throw a punch and he’s smaller than Goku, making fight choreography virtually impossible. Upa’s arc ends with Bora asking him to live his life like Goku, but… Upa only appears twice after this arc.
Oolong's foil, Puar more or less exists to be a better version of the pig himself (and to wingman Yamcha whenever he’s around and relevant). Interestingly, while Oolong sits this tournament out, Puar actually joins and participates—working in conjunction with Upa to take out Dracula Man.
Unless one considers Puar turning into scissors to cut off Goku’s tail fighting, this is the only fight Puar participates in the series. Which only makes sense as he’s not a martial artist. His transformative abilities do lead to a creative fight, though. This also means that Puar beat an opponent Krillin couldn’t.
8 Dracula Man
With the ability to turn into a bat and suck blood, Dracula Man is quite literally exactly what his name entails—Dracula, man. Other than that, though, Dracula Man is a ferociously bland fighter. He’s a boxer by trade, but his main technique is chomping on Krillin’s head and forcing him to forfeit due to the blood loss.
It’s worth recognizing that Baba’s fighters all have talents outside of raw strength, though (with exceptions). Dracula Man’s ability to drain blood is genuinely dangerous, and Krillin would have died in a non-tournament setting because he underestimated his foe. That’s actually a little morbid to think about.
The invisible man, himself, Suke-san does seem to be a bit more physically put-together than Dracula Man. During his fight, he actually does manage to inflict some pretty heavy blows on Yamcha, to the point where Krillin has to strategically devise a plan for Suke-san to get covered in Roshi’s blood so that Yamcha can finish the fight.
In terms of endurance, it doesn’t take much at all for Yamcha to take out Suke-san, but his invisibility combined with above average strength does ensure that he puts up a hell of a fight. He isn’t as subtly dangerous as Dracula Man, but Suke-san’s toying of Yamcha does indicate that he likely would have won had the fight continued as is.
Although that’s no skin off Yamcha’s back. Keep in mind that at this point in the series Yamcha is still untrained. He only becomes a member of the Turtle School after this tournament. In fact, it’s this tournament that results in Master Roshi taking him on as one of his pupils before the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai.
Even though Yamcha is untrained and ends up losing a dismal fight to Mummy-Kun, the fact he can keep up at all speaks volumes to his talents. This is arguably Yamcha’s best tournament in terms of performance. He loses his second fight, but Yamcha does beat Suke-san— the only tournament match he ever wins.
Despite training alongside Goku for the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai, the Red Ribbon Army arc goes out of its way to ensure audiences understand that Goku is stronger and their rivalry is not equal. Which is weird since the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai ends up doing exactly that for their fight, but there are layers to how Goku and Krillin’s dynamic evolves over time.
For Baba’s tournament, Krillin, unfortunately, doesn’t get to show off his talents as he’s quickly defeated by Dracula Man. He does, however, get to use his smarts to help Yamcha defeat Suke-san. Up to this point, Krillin had mainly defined himself by his cleverness in combat, so this is a nice touch.
Mummy-Kun's bodying of Yamcha is rough regardless of medium. Of all of Uranai Baba’s fighters, he’s the one who best fits the “raw strength” moniker. His bandages ensure he can’t be rung out, making his match up one almost inherently about power. Naturally, he ends up eviscerating Yamcha, almost killing him before the bandit forfeits.
Mummy-Kun isn’t invincible, though, and Goku very quickly knocks him out. Considering how much effort Yamcha was exerting just to straight-up survive, this really puts Goku’s strength after training with Karin into perspective. It’s actually a bit disappointing that Goku knocks him out so quickly; Yamcha and Mummy-Kun had a pretty decent fight on their hands.
A two time Tenkaichi Budokai winner, Akkuman is actually the leading champion for tournament wins in the series (tied with Goku’s two wins!). His Devilmite Beam has the ability to expand the malice in anyone’s heart, killing them as the evil overwhelms their body. He attempts to use this technique on Goku, but the pure boy just isn’t affected.
Even then, though, Akkuman doesn’t need his Devilmite Beam. He’s an incredibly agile fighter who’s able to keep up with Goku fairly well. Since Goku’s so strong by this point, however, Akkuman doesn’t get to shine, as Mummy-Kun did. Either way, he puts up a well-choreographed— which is all that matters.
2 Son Goku
It goes without saying, but Goku was always going to be one of the strongest participants in this tournament. He always is regardless of tournament. Naturally, Goku is the runner-up. Although he technically does win this tournament, it’s really only because his opponent ends up forfeiting. Not that this says anything about Goku’s strength.
He’s strong enough where he comfortably could have solo’d Baba’s entire tournament leading up to the final match. If he could take out Mummy-kun in no time flat, Dracula Man and Suke-san wouldn’t have stood a chance. It makes sense, though. At this point, Goku is fresh off of training with Karin, killing Tao Pai Pai, and taking down the entire Red Ribbon Army single handedly.
1 Son Gohan
The deceased patriarch of the Son family, Gohan returns to life for one day to fight against his grandson in Baba’s tournament. He mainly uses the match to teach Goku some valuable martial arts lessons, showing him that training with Roshi and Karin isn’t enough for Goku. He needs to understand his weaknesses and grow from them.
It’s a clever fight that ends early after Gohan rips off Goku’s tail, but he’s in so much control of the match that there doesn’t seem like any way Goku could be stronger. Thematically, even less so, as Gohan is fulfilling a Roshi/Karin-esque role here and giving Goku some valuable training before the end of the arc.