50 Fights Every New MMA Fan Must See
For the uneducated, mixed martial arts can be perceived as a brutal and barbaric sport.
However, MMA is now conducted under several governing bodies all around the world and consistently produces some jaw dropping, aesthetically pleasing bouts that will change even the most wayward of would-be fans.
Here's 50 fights that will get any newbie enamored by the sport.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler
In this lightweight scrap, then-champion Eddie Alvarez attempted to defend his Bellator lightweight title against young up-and-comer Michael Chandler, who upset the heavy-hitting Alvarez with some crushing right hands of his own and a rear-naked choke finish, which came in the championship rounds.
Joe Warren vs. Joe Soto
Former Olympic hopeful Joe Warren was looking to get his first world title when he took on then 145-pound Bellator belt holder Joe Soto.
The submission whiz began to show off his underrated boxing skills as he lit up Warren on the feet whilst fending off several takedowns.
In the second round, Warren connected on a swooping hook which set up the dramatic finish.
Scott Smith vs. Pete Sell
After two back-and-forth rounds of action, Pete Sell—who met friend and castmate of Season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter, Scott Smith—connected on a hard left hook to the body of "Hands of Steel."
Smith wilted against the fence and as Sell waded in for the finish, the heavy-handed Smith connected on a crushing right cross which sent the New Yorker crashing to the canvas, declaring Smith the winner by a come-from-behind KO.
Ryo Chonan vs. Anderson Silva
Some years ago, Anderson Silva wasn't always the invincible fighter he appears to be today.
The Brazilian met the tough Ryo Chonan under the PRIDE banner where he lit up his Japanese foe for the majority of the fight.
But in the waning moments of the bout, Chonan went for a "Hail Mary" flying scissor heel hook, submitting Silva in the process.
Roger Huerta vs. Leonard Garcia
In an epic lightweight scrap, Leonard Garcia and Roger Huerta went toe-to-toe for three rounds of action, further exemplifying why the 155-pound class was both viable and wanting.
In the end, Huerta edged the Greg Jackson product, though both men were lauded for their crowning achievement, producing one of the best fights ever to grace the Octagon.
Yves Edwards vs. Josh Thomson
Once coveted as the uncrowned king of the lightweight division, Yves Edwards set himself apart from the rest of the pack when he took on Josh Thomson, future Strikeforce champion, some years ago.
The bout was evenly contested early on, however Edwards made highlight-reel infamy when he countered an errant spinning backfist from Thomson with a head kick of his own.
Edwards knocked out the AKA product with the devastating blow, coupled with some ground-and-pound blows.
Donald Cerrone vs. Jamie Varner II
In a pivotal lightweight scrap, Donald Cerrone finally earned his rematch against bitter rival Jamie Varner, whilst the two were still under the WEC banner.
Though Varner managed to earn a victory in their initial encounter, Cerrone dominated Varner from start to finish, thanks to his improved wrestling skills and underrated punching power.
Cerrone wilted the former champion on several occasions, taking home the decision win after three rounds of action.
Robbie Lawler vs. Frank Trigg
Do you think Robbie Lawler harbored any bad feelings towards Frank Trigg? Yeah, I didn't think so, either.
Rumina Sato vs. Charles Diaz
The legend that is Rumina Sato began thanks to flashy finishes much like these.
The wily fighter cinched this incredible flying armbar on an unassuming Charles Diaz, a veteran of The Ultimate Fighter, who succumbed to the hold in seconds.
Melvin Manhoef vs. Evangelista Santos
When these two heavy hitters were pitted against one another, fireworks were guaranteed.
K-1 veteran Melvin Manhoef and PRIDE vet Evangelista Santos went toe-to-toe for over eight minutes.
Both men were fatigued heading into the second round, though Manhoef had just enough left in the tank to finish off the Brazilian in devastating fashion.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Carlos Newton
In a back-and-forth grappling affair under the PRIDE banner, Kazushi Sakuraba and former UFC champion Carlos Newton had the attending crowd at the Nippon Budokan arena on their feet thanks to their aesthetically pleasing performance.
In the end, Sakuraba managed to cinch a kneebar, yielding the incredible finish.
Nobuhiro Obiya vs. Milton Vieira
In one of the more memorable bouts to come out of the Deep organization, Nobuhiro Obiya engaged PRIDE vet and recent UFC signee Milton Vieira in an amazing, rollicking lightweight tilt which saw the Brazilian go for submission after submission.
Obiya survived long enough to take home the decision win after 15 minutes of action.
Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping
After Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson served their stints as coaches on Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter, the two met on the biggest stage in the sport's history, UFC 100.
There, Henderson recorded the most emphatic win of his career when he knocked out Bisping with a hard right hook, followed by another leaping right which sealed the Team Quest fighter the "Knockout of the Year."
Alistair Overeem vs. Todd Duffee
If anyone before questioned the striking prowess of Alistair Overeem, you need to look no further than his dismantling of former UFC prospect Todd Duffee.
The two met under the DREAM banner in 2010 where Overeem cinched the interim heavyweight title thanks to a knockout win which came in just seconds.
Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida
These two lightweight dynamos finally squared off inside the Octagon where they produced the 2009 "Fight of the Year," as Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida went through 15 minutes of hell.
After dropping Guida early with a hard head kick, "The Carpenter" came storming back in the waning moments of the fight thanks to his unrelenting pressure and wrestling skills, though in the end Sanchez edged the spitfire in a closely contested bout.
Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Antonio Carvalho
Shooto has consistently produced some of the best fights that nobody has ever heard about.
This featherweight scrap between Hiroyuki Takaya and Antonio Carvalho is one of them, as the durable Brazilian eventually succumbed to the heavy hands of the Japanese stud, who recorded the third-round knockout.
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Kenji Osawa
A product of the Shooto organization, Takeya Mizugaki first began to cultivate his striking skills overseas when he took on many notable opposition, though one of his toughest tests came against Dream and WEC veteran Kenji Osawa.
After a hard-fought first round, Mizugaki turned up the action in the second, where he devastated his fellow countryman with knees and punches, recording the TKO finish.
Mamoru Yamaguchi vs. Fumihiro Kitahara
Put Mamoru Yamaguchi against any game fighter and you can always expect him to produce a highlight-reel performance.
Yamaguchi, who owns arguably one of the greatest Afros in the MMA world, is also one of the best strikers in the game, which he proved once again when he sent Fumihiro Kitahara into unconsciousness with this head-severing kick.
Rumina Sato vs. Caol Uno I
Rumina Sato may not have always won every pivotal fight of his career, but he certainly made them all very interesting, much like his lightweight scrap against former UFC title challenger Caol Uno.
Arguably the greatest fight to grace the Shooto organization, Uno and Sato went tit-for-tat with exciting grappling exchanges, though in the end, the savvy submission wrestler edged Sato by decision.
Jens Pulver vs. Stephen Palling
In the early days of Jens Pulver, there was very few men that were able to hold a candle to the takedown defense and impressive boxing acumen of "Lil Evil," though Stephen Palling managed to keep things interesting against the former UFC champion in this lightweight scrap.
Kendall Grove vs. Ed Herman
Season 3 finalists of The Ultimate Fighter, Kendall Grove and Ed Herman engaged one another in a rollicking middleweight affair, one of the best ever to grace the Octagon.
After several hairy moments both on the feet and on the ground, the bout ended when the final horn sounded.
It was a close bout, though the Hawaiian did just enough to earn the decision win, though both men left the cage with six-figure contracts with the UFC for their efforts.
Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Bibiano Fernandes
In one of the most memorable bouts to grace the K-1 Hero's promotion, then featherweight kingpin Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto further established his legacy when he took on Bibiano Fernandes.
"The Flash" proved formidable thanks to his world-class submission pedigree, though Yamamoto eventually edged the durable fighter after three rounds of action.
Miguel Torres vs. Takeya Mizugaki
At WEC 40, Japanese import Takeya Mizugaki was looking to make a dramatic entrance into the promotion when he took on then-champion Miguel Torres in a bantamweight tilt.
Though he was a relative unknown, Mizugaki immediately put himself on the map when both he and Torres went to war for five raucous rounds of action.
Surprisingly, Mizugaki managed to secure some rounds from Torres thanks to his adept boxing skills, though the WEC champ maintained his title and took home the decision win in one of the best fights ever to grace the promotion.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Joachim Hansen
In this lightweight tilt, heavy hitters Eddie Alvarez and Joachim Hansen went to war, as the two punching studs continued to pound away on one another for 15 minutes of action.
In the end, the chin and punching prowess of Alvarez was enough to edge Hansen in a fight that will be remembered as one of the greats from the DREAM organization.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri
In the semi-final round of the DREAM lightweight Grand Prix, Alvarez took on perennial contender Tatsuya Kawajiri.
Though the Japanese stud is known for his wrestling skills, Kawajiri engaged Alvarez on the feet where both men went punch-for-punch, dropping and rocking one another on several occasions.
In the end, Alvarez earned the dramatic knockout finish and secured his spot as one of the best in the lightweight division in the process.
Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II
After Matt Hughes secured a victory over Frank Trigg in their first encounter via rear-naked choke, the Xtreme Couture product was looking to replicate Hughes' victory by cinching a submission finish of his own.
After rocking and dropping Hughes to the mat, Trigg hunted for the finish, though the resilient Hughes escaped, picked up and slammed the collegiate wrestler to the mat where he pounded away with some heavy shots.
In the end, Hughes secured the dramatic, come-from-behind finish and secured the rear-naked choke, finishing Trigg twice in their two outings.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie
In a special rules match held under the PRIDE banner, grappling aces Kazushi Sakuraba and the legendary Royce Gracie competed for over 90 minutes of action.
Both men had each other in precarious situations, though Sakuraba seemed to be putting the Gracie fighter in all sorts of trouble thanks to his kimuras and kneebars galore.
In the end, the towel was thrown in after a fatigued Gracie could not continue, declaring Sakuraba the winner in an epic and memorable battle.
Quinton Jackson vs. Ricardo Arona
In a pivotal light heavyweight encounter, Quinton Jackson took on grappling ace Ricardo Arona under the PRIDE banner.
The ADCC Submission Wrestling World Champion managed to cinch a triangle choke on Jackson, though "Rampage" responded in kind with a power bomb slam of his own, knocking out Arona instantly in one of the greatest highlights in mixed martial arts history.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson II
In one of the greatest rivalries in MMA history, Quinton Jackson and Wanderlei Silva met for a second time where "Rampage" was looking to dethrone the then-PRIDE middleweight champion of his crown.
Though he managed to rock Silva early, the Brazilian used his infamous clinch to devastate Jackson with knees, with a final blow sending the American crashing through the ropes, recording arguably the most emphatic knockout victory of his career.
Anthony Pettis vs. Benson Henderson
In the final WEC event, Benson Henderson looked to defend his lightweight title against rising star Anthony Pettis, where the winner would unify his title against current UFC champion Frankie Edgar.
In a rousing, back-and-forth four rounds, the bout seemed to be contingent on the fifth and final stanza, where the winner of the round would take home the decision win.
In an unprecedented move, Pettis wall-walked the cage and sprung off with a head kick, which dazed Henderson to the canvas in the waning moments of the fight.
Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung
There's no better way to introduce yourself to the world then producing one of the greatest fights of all time and there's probably no better dance partner than Leonard Garcia.
Chan Sung Jung and Garcia went blow-for-blow as these two featherweight dynamos swung leather for the full 15 minutes, rocking and dropping one another on multiple occasions before the final bell sounded.
The rousing performance earned both "Fight of the Night" bonuses, though Garcia took home the controversial decision win.
Chan Sung Jung vs. Leonard Garcia II
The duo eventually met in a rematch, where both men appeared much more calculated and tempered in their approach.
However, in the second round Jung managed to bring Garcia to the canvas where the "Korean Zombie" cinched a Twister submission, giving Garcia no choice but to tap with just seconds remaining in the round.
With the win, which was the first of its kind in the UFC, Jung earned "Submission of the Year" for the emphatic victory.
Jorge Santiago vs. Kazuo Misaki II
Their initial encounter was equally as exciting, but there's nothing like doing a fan-friendly bout a second time around.
Looking to defend his Sengoku middleweight title for a second time, Jorge Santiago took on PRIDE veteran Kazuo Misaki in another rollicking war. Santiago was rocked and dropped early on, though the Brazilian began to slowly come back in the later rounds.
It appeared that Misaki had the victory all but secured, that is until Santiago mounted the fatigued fighter and earned the fifth-round TKO victory in a monumental performance that will follow him for the rest of his career.
Mamoru Yamaguchi vs. Stonnie Dennis
These two striking aficionados went blow-for-blow. The game Stonnie Dennis tagged Yamaguchi early, though the Afro-adorning fighter finally connected on a crushing head kick, which sent Dennis wilting to the canvas immediately from the blow.
Takanori Gomi vs. Tony Hervey
It's a fight that nobody talks about, because frankly, nobody really knows about it.
The unheralded Tony Hervey engaged former PRIDE champion Takanori Gomi in a game, five-round affair which saw both men have their moments, though the heavy-handed Gomi eventually secured the decision win after 25 minutes of action.
Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen
In an upset, Chael Sonnen dominated champion Anderson Silva for four-and-a-half rounds in their middleweight tilt in August 2010.
After Sonnen rocked and dropped Silva early, coupled with mounting takedowns, Silva used his underrated jiu-jitsu skills to cinch the late-rally triangle choke, securing the submission win in the fifth and final round.
Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva
It was a fight that every fan wanted to see and they got their wish as two of the greatest light heavyweights ever, Wanderlei Silva and Chuck Liddell finally met in a pivotal showdown.
At UFC 79, both of these heavy hitting bruisers went toe-to-toe for 15 minutes of action, though the wrestling pedigree and range of Liddell eventually did enough to edge the Brazilian, taking home the decision win in this "Fight of the Year" bout.
Robbie Lawler vs. Melvin Manhoef
K-1 star Melvin Manhoef made his Strikeforce debut, taking on slugger Robbie Lawler.
The striking acumen of Manhoef was evident early, as the kickboxer lit up Lawler with crippling leg kicks.
As Lawler seemed to be on his way out of the bout, "Ruthless" connected on a crushing right hook, sending Manhoef to the canvas where additional blows sealed the come-from-behind knockout victory.
Nick Diaz vs. Takanori Gomi
In the breakout performance of his career, Nick Diaz put himself on the map when he took on Takanori Gomi under the PRIDE banner.
The lightweight champion rocked Diaz early with a crushing right hook, though the resilient Stockton fighter stormed back with some strikes of his own.
In the second round, a fatigued Gomi sloppily shot in on Diaz, who cinched a gogoplata, submitting Gomi from the choke in a rousing performance.
Nick Diaz vs. Marius Zaromskis
Both Diaz and Marius Zaromskis, the DREAM 170-pound champion, were looking to vie for the Strikeforce welterweight title when they met one another in January of 2010.
Diaz's boxing skills were evident early, though the Lithuanian managed to drop the Gracie fighter early with a counter left hook. Just like in typical Diaz fashion, he recovered and came back to his feet.
From there, he immediately began tagging Zaromskis with shots to the head and body, rocking him with a hard uppercut which eventually helped set up the dramatic finish, which came courtesy of a counter right hook, record the knockout win and vacant belt in the process.
Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takayama
It's the kind of fight that only happens once in a lifetime and can never be replicated again.
The legendary battle between Don Frye and Yoshihiro Takayama may not have lasted very long, though it was aesthetically pleasing for every second it went on.
Frye and Takayama immediately clinched and tagged each other with hooks to the head, like rock 'em' sock 'em robots.
In the end, Frye wilted Takayama from the blows, taking the TKO finish inside of the first round.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Bob Sapp
PRIDE had some funny ways to show how much they appreciate their most coveted fighters, kind of like when they pitted former champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira against the juggernaut, Bob Sapp.
The former NFL hopeful hoisted Nogueira in the air like a rag doll, slamming him to the canvas and pounding away with devastating blows from above.
However, as Sapp began to fatigue, the jiu-jitsu skills of the Brazilian took over, who secured the armbar finish in the come-from-behind victory.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Mirko Cro Cop
After being rocked and dropped early by K-1 veteran Mirko Cro Cop, Nogueira managed to reverse his fortunes when he finally took the Croatian to the canvas, cinching up the armbar and producing the submission win.
These kind of fights became prototypical of Nogueira, as "Minotauro" consistently came from the brink of defeat in order to claim the dramatic win.
Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Kazuyuki Miyata
In the most memorable performance of his career, "Kid" Yamamoto took on former Olympian Kazuyuki Miyata under the K-1 Hero's banner, where the spitfire featherweight flew into the air for a jumping knee.
The devastating blow connected and Miyata immediately fell to the canvas, where a Yamamoto right hand greeted him, earning the four-second knockout in the process.
Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard II
It was a fight that many people believed wouldn't exactly be called a "barn burner" as wrestling aces Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard met in a rematch for the New Jersey native's lightweight title.
However, their second outing produced the 2011 "Fight of the Year" as Maynard managed to rock and drop Edgar early, who in kind came back, storming in the later rounds.
The bout was ruled a draw in the end, though both men earned the respect of the mixed martial arts community for their memorable performance.
Diego Brandao vs. Dennis Bermudez
In the first-ever featherweight finale for The Ultimate Fighter, heavy-hitting Brazilian Diego Brandao met with collegiate wrestling ace Dennis Bermudez last December.
Though many pegged Brandao with the edge on the feet, Bermudez dropped the Greg Jackson fighter with a clean right hand.
However, Brandao answered with an armbar, which yielded the tap in the waning moments of the opening round, though both men earned "Fight of the Night" for their rousing bout.
Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar
In the Season 1 finale of The Ultimate Fighter, Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin went toe-to-toe for 15 minutes of rollicking, fan-friendly action.
The bout was largely contested on the feet, where the light heavyweights slugged it out with mounting blows.
In the end, both men were a bloody mess and despite Griffin earning the decision win, both men walked away with a six-figure contract with the UFC.
This fight has been regarded as the most pivotal in the sport's history, as it was the first live fight to air on Spike TV.
Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin
The recently dethroned light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin took on pound-for-pound great Anderson Silva in a 205-pound affair in August 2009.
The Brazilian waited for his opening and pounced on Griffin with a swooping right hook, dropping him to the canvas before the durable fighter rose back to his feet.
The TUF alumnus didn't stay upright long, as Silva sent him to the mat twice more, with the final blow coming thanks to a backpedaling jab, which secured the knockout win.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio Rua
In what has been regarded as the greatest fight in PRIDE history, both Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira met in the Middleweight Grand Prix in 2005.
In the opening moments of the fight, both men dropped one another with crushing hooks. The two striking aces went blow for blow for the remainder of the bout, but in the end, "Shogun" edged his fellow countryman and earned the decision win.
Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua
Last November, these two PRIDE legends finally met one another in a bout that only recently came to fruition. Dan Henderson was coming over from Strikeforce, where he earned the organization's 205-pound title when he knocked out Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante.
Henderson showed his punching prowess early against Rua when he rocked and dropped the Brazilian with his crushing right hand.
Rua mounted a comeback in the later rounds, making for a dramatic scene when he pounded away at a fatigued Henderson, though in the end, the Team Quest fighter did just enough in the early rounds to take the decision win in a fight that has been considered one of the greatest fights of all time.