By: Liam O’Farrell
Since 1993, The Ultimate Fighting Championship has dazzled and amazed its audience. Its initial brutal image, and hybrid style of mixing all martial arts, changed the outcourse of the sport forever. In a tournament style format, individual competeters would step into the newly designed “Octagon” to determine which martial art style was the most formidable.
A new sport has risen to power, that of MMA or Mixed Martial Arts, which is now the fastest growing sport in the world. From the UFC’s humble beginings in Denver Colorado at UFC 1, which drew 86,592 PPV buys, to the current 130 countries worldwide which regularly broadcast UFC programs. With the now blooming expansion of the UFC, its time to look back at what helped create the premier organization of MMA in the world and its greatest moments.
10. Royce Gracie vs Ken Shamrock: UFC 5
This fight demonstrated what happens when two elite fighters matchup. The UFC’s first Superfight and the UFC’s first ever rivalry between UFC Hall of Famers, Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock.
Back in 1995 the rematch between Ken and Royce was the most demanded fight of its time, with the Pay Per View buyrate at 260,000, a record which stood till UFC 52 the rematch between Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell. When the two first fought all the way back at UFC 1, Ken was the more impressive Martial Artist, having fought in Japan in the highly regarded Pancrase organization, becoming their long reigning Champion (also known as “King of Pancrase”). Whereas Royce Gracie had no fighting background, but was apart of the Gracie Family, the developers of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and the Family who introduced an entire era to Jiu-Jitsu. Without the Gracie Family, Mixed Martial Arts would not be what it is today. Royce was entered into the UFC 1 Tournament by his older brother Rorion Gracie, co- founder of the orginal tournament, with his black belt in Jiu-Jitsu as his only background.
They first met in the semi-finals of UFC 1, and Royce quickly dismantled Shamrock with a rear naked choke. Shamrock the shoot-wrestling submission specialist was caught by surprise, as he had no knowledge of Gracie or his background. Shamrock admitted, “I didn’t know who Royce Gracie was…when I saw him in his gii, I thought he was some karate guy (with no ground skills)”.
Gracie’s Jiu-Jitsu skills took Shamrock and the Martial Arts world by surprise, his slick submissions of guys 30 plus pounds heavier than him introduced the modern world to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The loss ate at Ken for a long time. Ken only entered the UFC 3 Tournament with the sole purpose of fighting Royce once again. When Royce beat Kimo Leopald in a high paced 4 minute war, he could not continue in the tournament, and had to pull out. Upon hearing the news that Royce had pulled out, Shamrock too pulled out of the tournament. Finally the two met at UFC 5, to determine the best fighter in the world.
The fight itself was not the most entertaining fight of all time, not by a long stretch, but the early media publicity the event gained helped the sport to grow in its early developing stages. The majority of the fight was spent with Shamrock in Royce’s guard with Gracie attacking off his back and Shamrock defending from on top. The fight was a back and forth chess match between two high level grapplers. The fight lasted 30 minutes, which at this point the two were stood up by referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy, for a 5 minute overtime. The two engaged on their feet for a minute of so, and Shamrock landed a right hand which caused big swelling under Gracie’s right eye. Again Shamrock ended up inside Gracie’s guard which ended one of the most important fights in UFC History.
The fight was declared a Draw due to no judges scoring the fights in the UFC at this time, but both Shamrock and Gracie seemed adamant about the Draw, probably being thankful it was over.The fight being the UFC’s first Superfight, made way for future Superfights such as, Liddell vs Couture, St.Pierre vs Penn, Liddell vs Jackson, Pulver vs Penn, Silva vs Griffin, Hughes vs Gracie and Shamrock vs Severn, as well as many more.
9. Chuck Liddell vs Wanderlei Silva: UFC 79
The fight every MMA fan wanted to see for years, the dominant UFC Champion vs the dominant Pride Champion, which finally took place at UFC 79 in Las Vegas. This fight was so highly demanded, that UFC President Dana White, put Chuck Liddell in the 2003 Pride Grand Prix, in order for Liddell to fight Wanderlei Silva. Unfortunately ‘The Iceman’ was eliminated by the man who would dethrone him and end his long reign over the UFC’s Lightheavyweight division, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. But thank God for Dana White, the fight eventually did take place, and it was epic.
Wanderlei was signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship on August 17th, 2007, after a seven year absence from the organization. Whilst being away from the current premiere MMA organizaton in the world, “The Axe Murderer” fought those years in Japans Pride organization, at that time the biggest MMA Company in the world. He reigned as their Middleweight (205 pounds) Champion for six years, beating the likes of Dan Henderson, Kazushi Sakuraba (three times), Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson twice, Hidehiko Yoshida twice, Ricardo Arona and Kazuyuki Fujita, among others. All the while he took on fighters significantly heavier than him in Mark Hunt, Mirko ‘Cro Cop’, Gilbert Yvel, showing Wanderlei’s incredible heart and willingness to fight anyone.
Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell was a force to be reckoned with once he joined the UFC, besting the likes of Kevin Randleman, Vitor Belfort, Jeff Monson, Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral, and long time rival, Tito Ortiz before claiming the UFC’s Lightheavyweight Title by knocking out Randy Couture in a rematch at UFC 52. Liddell was the most feared striker in all of Mixed Martial Arts over a period of six years between 2000 and 2007, until he got knocked out by Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, at which point the Superfight between Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell and ‘The Axe Murderer’ Wanderlei Silva was arranged for UFC 79.
When the fight initially got underway, the two commenced a feeling out process, which left everyone in a tense disposition of suspense. Wanderlei’s gameplan was to engage close to Liddell and use his Muay Thai work; clinches, knees, etc, whereas Chuck’s gameplan was to create angles, use leg kicks, and counter punch an oncoming Wanderlei. But once Wanderlei got clipped by a Chuck Liddell right hand that sent him retreating backwards, the real fight began, and all gameplans went out the window. Both men engaged against the Octagon fence, swinging with wild punches that came from every angle. From then on, the fight was an all out war between two of the greatest of all time.
Chuck took the first round by utilising his reach advantage over Wanderlei, rocking him twice, yet still a very close round nonetheless, which saw Wanderlei connecting several times. The second round began with Wanderlei throwing looping hooks, vintage aggressive Silva. He began to up the pace of the fight, continuely walking down Liddell. Perhaps the best moments of this epic clash were the constant engages against the cage, which took place majority of the fight with both men frequently throwing down. There was not one person sitting in their seats at the Mandalay Bay Event Centre during this fight. The second round was even closer than the first with Wanderlei knocking down Chuck on two occassions, but Chuck cutting up ‘The Axe Murderer’ with “windmill” like punches and elbows against the cage, causing him to bleed profusely. Again, in the thrid round both men stood in front of each other and winged punches non-stop for yet another crazy action packed round, with Liddell besting Wanderlei the entire 5 minutes. Once the round came to an end, concluding with a big point scoring takedown by Liddell, it was clear that the ‘The Iceman’ had won. Bruce Buffer announced the winner, by unanimous decesion, Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell.
8. Matt Serra vs Georges St. Pierre: UFC 69
Quite simply, the biggest upset in UFC history. After Matt Serra won the Ultimate Fighter Season 4 (The Comeback), he had cemented himself a Welterwieght Title fight against the extremly dominant, Georges St.Pierre. Serra was a 12-1 underdog coming into the fight, with next to no one giving the veteran a chance. However, Matt Serra didn’t care what the critics had to say, he was focused on his goal of shocking the world and becoming the UFC Welterweight Champion… and that’s exactly what he did.
At the time, reigning UFC Welterweight Champion, Georges St.Pierre, was considered in the top three pound for pound fighters in the world. At this point in his fighting career, GSP had only one loss to his name, that loss came in the form of past UFC Welterweight Champion and UFC Hall of Famer, Matt Hughes ( GSP later avenged this loss at UFC 65 and UFC 79 respectively by stopping Hughes on both occasions). To date, the only other blemish of his otherwise perfect MMA record was the eventual loss to Matt Serra. Coming into his bout with Serra at UFC 69, GSP had recently dismantled high level opponents such as: Frank Trigg, Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, Sean Sherk, and Karo Parisyan among others, bringing his professional record to 13-1. Having an all round MMA skill set that could best any man in the Welterweight division, if Georges St.Pierre had a weakness, it was as of yet apparent to anyone.
The MMA world believed that Matt Serra’s only chance of winning the fight was by catching GSP in a surprise submission, as Serra is a highly regarded Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In fact, he was the first American born fighter to be awarded a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Balck Belt. Up until the Ultimate Fighter Season 4 series, Matt Serra’s career was an up and down rollercoaster ride. With notable victories over Jeff Curran, Ivan Menjivar (at Lightweight) and Yves Edwards, (at Welterweight), Serra’s UFC carreer was most memorable, until that point, for being knocked out by show man Shonie Carter with a spinning backfist. Serra’s UFC carreer is now defined by his massive upset of Georges St.Pierre.
Once the fight began, GSP used leg kicks and straight right hands to keep Serra at a distance to avoid any unnesscary shots and at this point looked to much for the over-sized Serra. However, just over midway through the first round, Serra caught GSP with a looping right hand that threw out GSP’s equalibrium. A dazed and disoriented St.Pierre retreated, with Serra attacking with yet more unanswered punches which sent the champion to the canvas. Although St.Pierre was close to being finished, Serra picked his shots and landed signifcant blows to a stunned GSP. Once Serra had GSP mounted and was still landing heavy shots, referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy stopped the bout at 3:25 of the first round. UFC commentator Joe Rogan put it best, “No one expected Serra to win the fight. Phenomenal upset, perhaps one of the biggest upsets, if not the biggest in Mixed Martial Arts history”
7. Dan Henderson vs Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua: UFC 139
If you missed UFC 139’s epic battle between living legends, Dan ‘Hendo’ Henderson and Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, you missed out on arguably the greatest fight in all of MMA. Overshadowed by the UFC’s debut on FOX, UFC 139 was nonetheless a very promising card. The event boasted six former world champions fighting in the feature fights, including the long awaited matchup between former UFC Lightheavyweight Champion, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Strikeforce Lightheavyweight Champion and the last Pride Welterweight and Middleweight Champion, Dan ‘Hendo’ Henderson. A fight between two legends of the sport which was supposed to take place before Pride folded into the UFC, but watching this fight live, you ought to be thankful it had happened right then and there, as Joe Rogan put it, “You know what, actually, I think this is the right time for this fight to happen”.
The fight began with a big right uppercut from Henderson, rocking Shogun, who tried to take Henderson down, a regular occurance throughout the fight. Later in the round, Shogun came back and knocked Henderson down with a right hook behind the ear. Throughout the round, Henderson controlled the pace of the fight with his greco roman clinch work, mid way landing a nice left hook, straight right combo, followed by a big uppercut which dazed Shogun briefly.
The third round again saw Henderson dominating, as he rocked Shogun with an inside leg kick setup for his famous right hand (very reminisent of his unforgettable knockout of Micheal Bisping). At this point it looked like Shogun was out, but again Shogun came back showing the heart of a true champion, diving on a heel-hook, which was never deep, but he used it to transition the fight back to its feet. Shogun ended up taking Henderson down and landing several nice left hooks against the cage. In the third round of the fight it seemed clear Henderson would either finish Shogun or win a dominant decision, this is where Shogun came roaring back.
At the begginning of the fourth round, Shogun took Henderson down, Henderson pulled out a crucifix, which he used to take Shogun’s back and sink in a rear nake choke, which Shogun fought out of and ended up on Henderson. Henderson looked like a zombie after Shogun landed a huge uppercut that nearly put out an extremely gassed Henderson. Possibly the most amazing part of this fight was at the very end of the fourth round when Shogun tripped Henderson and transitioned straight into a full mount, causing Henderson to give up his back, where Shogun tried for a rear naked choke, which again, was reversed by Henderson, to wind up in Shoguns guard.
The Fifth and final round of this downright war was completely dominanted by Shogun, who at this point used his ground skills to mount the breathless Henderson six times, to finish out one of the greatest fights in UFC history. In the end all three judges scored the fight 48-47 for Dan Hednderson, but it was clear afterwards that there was no loser in this fight, we had all won.
6. Gabriel Gonzaga vs Mirko ‘Cro Cop’: UFC 70
When the UFC acquired Mirko Filipovic from Pride, the world thought ‘Cro Cop’ was going to wreak havoc on the UFC’s Heavyweight division. After winning Pride’s 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix by tearing through; Ikuhisa Minowa, Hidehiko Yoshida, Wanderlei Silva and in the finals, Josh Barnett, all four by knockout in the first round, Cro Cop signed with the UFC, prepared to destroy. Gabriel Gonzaga had something else in mind. Gonzaga himself had an impressive streak underway, but against opponents not as highly recognised as Cro Cop’s. Nonethe less, Gonzaga was one win away from a title shot as well. These two met in the mainevent of UFC 70 in Manchester England, the winner getting a shot at Heavyweight Champion, Randy Couture.
Coming into this bout, Cro Cop was the heavy favourite with 5-1 betting odds in his favour, as well as all MMA media predicting a vintage Cro Cop headkick knockout. Close, but not quite.
Gonzaga was known as a high level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practicionor, having won the Gold Medal in the 2006 Ultra Heavyweight division in the Mundials, considered to be the top Brazialian Jiu-Jitsu competition in the world. So for him to strike with the K-1 kickboxer in Cro Cop was considered a terrible gameplan. Once the fight began, the heavier Gonzaga used his size advantage to stalk Cro Cop continuously throwing straight right hands, the weakness of a south-paw. Gonzaga caught a hard body kick from Cro Cop and took him down and controlled Mirko from inside his guard, cutting him up with lethal elbows.
Eventually the fight was stood up by referee Herb Dean, which seemed to favour Mirko ‘Cro Cop’. That was until ten seconds left in the round, when Gonzaga shocked the world by throwing a vintage Cro Cop head kick, knocking out Mirko with one of the most brutal KO’s in MMA history. In kickboxing and Pride, Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ was famous for having the most deadly head kicks in the business, knocking out the likes of Wanderlei Silva, Igor Vovchanchyn, and Alexander Emelianenko. On this day, however, it was Gabriel ‘Napao’ Gonzaga who won the fight with an electrifying head kick.
What made this knockout even more devastating was the fact that Cro Cop fell to the ground, unconscious, and as he did so his right ankle was bent at a very awkward and unnatural angle underneath his 220 pound frame. Dana White himself even praised the knockout as “One of the nastiest knockouts you will ever see”.
5. Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen: UFC 117
Anderson Silva is the greatest pound for pound fighter in the world today, and considered by some to be the greatest fighter of all time. Before coming into his bout at UFC 117 with Chael Sonnen, ‘The Spider’ had blasted all opponents that had entered the Octagon to face him. At the time, Silva was undefeated in the UFC and had an 11 fight win streak inside the Octagon, with 6 title defenses. Silva seemed unstoppable, stopping 9 of his 11 opponents, the majority by KO or TKO. His Muay Thai and boxing skills are unprecedented, and his all round MMA skills had developed to that of legend, with help from long time friends and coaches, the Nogueira Brothers.
During his 11 fights in the UFC, there was no moment where Anderson had been in trouble, or in danger of being finished, this all changed once he fought Chael Sonnen. Leading into the fight, Chael Sonnen began a media outburst of non stop trash talking. Quotes that made all MMA fans pay attention to the Oregon native. You either love him or hate him, but either way you’re paying attention to him. Quotes such as, “I want an easy fight. Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva, either of the Silvas, ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. They all suck. Gimme a Silva,”, “[Anderson Silva’s] got a black belt under the Nogueira’s. I think a black belt under the Nogueira’s is saying, like, I got a free toy in my Happy Meal. I don’t really understand what the big deal is. One of ’em’s a punching bag, and the other one I just ignore; he’s really irrelevant.”, and “I can drag Anderson Silva out of a hotel and beat up him anytime I want. I’ve made a commitment to wait until August 7th and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure millions of people watch me do it.” And on August 7th, 2010, he got his chance.
In a shocking turn of events, early in the first round, Chael Sonnen rocked Anderson Silva, which sent him tumbling backwards. Sonnen quickly and calmly continued to connect a flurry of punches to Silva’s jaw, until Sonnen shot in for one of his famous takedowns, one of many which dictated the entire fight. Round after round, Sonnen got Silva down, advanced position, and reined down damage using huge left hands, elbows and short pitter patter punches. For 22 minutes of a 25 minute title fight, Chael Sonnen completely and utterly shut out Silva’s attack, and was able wear out the Middleweight Champion. Joe Rogan said, “This is more shots than Anderson Silva has taken in his entire MMA career.” in reference to the first round alone.
In the fifth round, again Sonnen took down Silva and dominanted him on the ground, it seemed clear that the UFC was going to have a new Middleweight Champion. That was until 2 minutes and 57 seconds into the fifth and final round where Anderson Silva caught Chael Sonnen in a triangle choke, which Silva turned into a Triangle Armbar. Sonnen tapped out at 3:10 of the fifth round, to create perhaps the greatest comeback in Mixed Martial Arts History. The comeback proved that Silva is the champion, as he was able to overcome adversity, and still pull out the win.
But still to this day, Chael Sonnen continues his outlandish remarks, “On the streets of West Linn, Oregon, if you lay on your back with your legs wrapped around a man’s head for eight seconds, that does not make you a winner.” After Sonnen victory over Brian Stann at UFC 136, it seems that Sonnen will get his rematch with Anderson Silva, sometime between early and mid 2012.
4. Matt Hughes vs Frank Trigg: UFC 52
Dana White’s favourite fight of all time; the showdown for the UFC Welterweight Championship between bitter rivals, Champion, Matt Hughes and challenger, Frank Trigg in their second meeting. The most action packed, back and forth round in UFC History.
In their first fight back at UFC 45, for the UFC Welterweight Title, Matt Hughes destroyed an outclassed Frank Trigg and sunk in the fight finishing rear naked choke at 3:54 in the first round. After the victory, the personal hatred between the two still lingered. So when Dana called Hughes to tell him his next fight was against Frank Trigg, two years after his original fight against Trigg, Hughes accepted the fight, confident he would once again submit Trigg.
Again leading into the fight Frank Trigg made comments about Hughes to get under his skin, which needless to say, Hughes didn’t appreciate. The trash talking went back and forth, until they finally fought in their rematch. Matt Hughes the UFC Welterweight Champion at the time, was the most dominant Welterweight in MMA history, his first Welterweight Title reign lasted 5 defenses and three years, and his second Welterweight Title reign lasted 4 title defenses and two years. During these reigns, Hughes added victories over the best Welterweights in the world, including BJ Penn, Sean Sherk, Carlos Newton, Royce Gracie, and Georges St.Pierre.
Frank Trigg, was a dominant figure in his own right, owning victories over notables like Dennis Hallman twice, and Renato Verissimo, and eventually would go on to defeat Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller, Kazuo Misaki, and Edwin Dewees, among others.
Once the two met inside the Octagon for the second time, the staredown was so intense that Trigg got up into Hughes’ face, actually touching it, prompting Hughes to push him back. Just over a minute into the fight, Frank Trigg accidentaly kneed Hughes in the groin, causing Hughes to cringe in pain, but referee Mario Yamasaki did not see the low blow, so Trigg took advantage of the situation, chasing down a hurt Matt Hughes, inevitably catching Hughes with big punches, dropping him and nearly knocking him out.
Unable to finsh Hughes with punches, Trigg took a disoriented Hughes’ back, catching him in a rear naked choke, (the very submission which Hughes had stated before the fight that only amateurs get caught in), but again Hughes fought out of the predicament, and in one of the craziest moments in MMA, Hughes spun out of the choke, picking up Trigg whilst on the ground himself, and running across the other side of the Octagon, with Trigg on his sholder, and slamming him into the canvas. It seemed as though a fire had lit up underneath Hughes, “That’s the first time I was actually pissed, where I wanted to hurt my opponent. When he rolled back over and didn’t give me the choke, I was actually pretty happy because I got to throw more elbows.”
After a savage beating from Hughes, Trigg tapped out to an applied rear naked choke, at 4:05 of the first round, again losing to Hughes by rear nake choke.
3. Randy Couture vs Tim Sylvia: UFC 68
Following Randy Couture’s legendary rubber match with Chuck Liddell, (which ended in yet another knockout loss to the ‘The Iceman’), ‘The Natural’ decided to retire once and for all. Or so it seemed. After succesfully retiring for over a year, it was announced that Couture was making a come back and it would be against then dominant Heavyweight Champion, Tim ‘The Maniac’ Sylvia. “Randy Couture keeps getting older, and everyboy keeps thinking his done, including myself. He just comes out and shocks and amazes everybody”, as UFC President Dana White put it, this fight with Tim Sylvia was yet another fight where Couture wasn’t the favorite as well as being considered too old to be fighting in the sport. Yet again, however, Couture proved why he is one of the greatest of all time.
Tim Sylvia is a giant of a man, standing at 6’8″ tall, weighing in at 265 pounds, he was the biggest and most dominant fighter the UFC’s Heavyweight dvision had for a long time. The two time UFC Heavyweight Champion, Sylvia had wins over Andrei Arlovski twice, Ricco Rodriguez, Wesley Correira and Jeff Monson, coming into his third defense of his title against the 43 year old former Heavyweight Champion and Light Heavyweight Champion Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture.
But with Couture being outweighed by near 40 pounds, most thought Tim Sylvia would be able to dominate the ‘old’ Couture. In perhaps one of the most suprising and intense moments in UFC history, at 8 seconds in the first round, Randy caught Sylvia with a right hand that sent ‘The Manic’ to the canvas backwards. Every person in the Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio rose to their feet and cheered for Couture. For the rest of the fight Randy was able to neutrialise Sylvia’s kickboxing, utilizing sleak head movement and pushing Sylvia against the Octagon fence, as well as using his famous “dirty boxing”, which combined short elbows, uppercuts and eventually trip takedowns. For 25 minutes Randy Couture dominated Sylvia both standing up and on the ground, with Sylvia not being able to get off any significant offense.
Once again Couture shocked the world, and after a high paced and dominant 25, Couture was awarded the victory 50-45 by unanimous decesion, to become the three time UFC Heavyweight Champion. The fight was given 2007’s Fight of the Year.
2. UFC 100
This moment is not a particular fight, but an entire event, the highly anticipated UFC 100. The event itself, 16 years in the making. From UFC 1 in Colorado, to UFC 100 in Las Vegas, history was bound to be made, and did it ever.
UFC 100 was the 2009 event of the year and had possibly the greatest MMA card to date. Pivitol matchups including; the debut of Japanese sensation Yoshihiro Akiyama vs Alan “The Talent” Belcher, The Ultimate Fighter Season 9 coaches fought, Dan Henderson vs Michael Bisping, as well as two Title fights, as Georges St.Pierre took on dangerous Brazilian striker, Thiago Alves and the rematch of one of the biggest rivalries in UFC History between UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir and defending UFC Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar.
Because it was the marquee event of the organizations career, there was extensive media coverage, even ESPN had daily coverage, covering the build up as well as predictions and analysis. With the huge build up to the event, it was near to impossible for the actual event to live up to expectations, but it did.
The Preliminary fights consisted of sleek finishes (Tom Lawlor’s 55 second submission of C.B Dollaway) and bloody wars (Jim Miller’s victory over Mac Danzig) as well as featuring significant fighters such as UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman, Stephan Bonnar and future UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones.
UFC 100’s Fight of the Night between Yoshihiro Akiyama and Alan Belcher, was an exciting back and forth slugfest. Both men were knocked down, both had been rocked and still they stood in front of each other and swung wildly, earning them each 100,000 for Fight of the Night. Akiyama ended up winning the some what controversial but close Split decesion. Next opposing coaches of The Ultimate Fighter took on each other, after a season of non stop trash talking from British representative Michael Bisping, American Dan Henderson was ready to shut his mouth, and boy did he. Midway through the second round of a relitively close fight, Dan Henderson connected with a right hand which knocked out Bisping before he even hit the canvas, Henderson followed it up with a jumping elbow to the down and already unconscious Michael Bisping. The knockout is considered the greatest knockout in UFC history. Brutal is putting it delicately.
Georges St.Pierre’s all round domination of top contender Thiago Alves was every bit evidence of GSP’s pound for pound status. As GSP won the fight by 50-45 unanimous decesion, controlling Alves on the ground and even outworking the known striker and knockout artist on the feet in the kickboxing aspect.
To top off a crazy event, was the mainevent between bitter rivals and the Heavyweight Championship unifcatiom bout between Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar. The first time these two met was at UFC 81 was Lesnar’s debut in the UFC. Coming in as a highly regarded prospect and being a huge name in the world of professional wrestling, Lesnar drew a lot of attention from the MMA world and its media. Leading into their first encounter both men spent a lot of time trash talking each other, with the verbal sparring going back and forth. When the fight ended up happening, Lesnar straight away took down Mir and smashed him, and nearly stopping the fight with punches, until Mir pulled off a fight ending kneebar at 1:30 of round one.
In their rematch, the verbal sparring began, again leading into their fight as Lesnar was increasingly annoyed but Mir’s cockiness, considering Lesnar was the Champion. But when the fight took place, Lesnar dominated every facet of the fight, and put a beat down on Mir to earn a TKO victory at 1:48 of round 2, to retain his Heavyweight Title.
1. Forrest Griffin vs Stephen Bonnar: The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale
Without a doubt, the most important fight in UFC History. Universally recognised as the fight which paved the way for MMA to be considered a legitimate sport, the Finale of Season One of The Ultimate Fighter and the showdown between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar.
The fight took place on the UFC’s debut on network television, and they could not ask for a better outcome. UFC designed a reality tv show known as ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ to bring in the best unsigned Mixed Martial Artists in the world, and pin them against each other in a tournament style format with the winner earning a six fight contract in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Whilst training under legendary coaches, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, in separate teams, all 16 fighters had to live in an isolated house together for the better part of 6 weeks.
Once the tournament had drawn to an end, both Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin remained as the two men left in the Light Heavyweight competition, and were due to fight at the Finale, to be shown on Spike TV. At the time, that night was the most important night of fights in the organizations history. Dana White-: “Im serious when I always say this about reality television, and the way that the Ultimate Fighter always goes. You couldn’t script it that good.”
It was uncanny, once the fight got underway; you just knew you were in for something special. Both men instantly threw crazy combos to each other, with neither man backing down. Both were getting clipped, but neither would stop. The fight resembled two Rock ‘em Sock ‘em robots fighting. As Stephan and Forrest engage in a war for the ages, the viewer ratings went up, as people were calling their friends telling them to watch the fight. What made the fight so intense and dramatic was that no one knew what to expect from either man, as viewers had only seen them fight in the Ultimate Fighter, not providing all that much to go off. In the first round Forrest was able to get ahead in the fight by landing more signifcant punches and leg kicks, rocking Bonnar on two occasions, as well as attacking an armbar late in the end of the round. In the second round, Bonnar broke Griffin’s nose with elbows on the ground, and was able to neutralise Griffins stand up by gassing him out on the ground for a little bit. Once the fight stood back up, once again the two engaged in an all out war, throwing hooks back and forth to close out the round.
In the third and final round the epic showdown was finalised, with 5 more minutes of action packed Mixed Martial Arts. With ten seconds remaining in the fight, it can be seen that Forrest Griffin, bloodied and bruised, said to Stephan Bonnar, “Let’s do this”, as they swung at each other to finish the most epic fight in UFC History. Forrest Griffin ended up winning a unanimous decesion in a razor thin fight, but after the winner had been announced, UFC President Dana White, was so impressed with the fight that he awarded Stephan Bonnar a six fight contract as well.
The fight will be for ever remembered as the fight which changed Mixed Martial Arts.