UFC 148 Fight Card: 50 Things New MMA Fans Need to Know
Worry no more! Bleacher Report has you covered.
Now, instead of having to explain the intricacies of groundwork and that Royce Gracie isn't pronounced "ROY-ce," you can just point them towards this slideshow—one that will bring them up to speed on the MMA world, encompassing MMA history, must-see fights and more.
So what exactly is it that these new fans need to know? Read and find out!
The section that follows will detail some basic information about mixed martial arts and the UFC, such as what the difference is between the two, and some of the rules.
First Things First: The Sport Is Called Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Not UFC
When you play basketball or football with your friends, you don't say "Let's go play NBA" or "Let's go play NFL."
The reason for this is fairly simple, the NBA and the NFL are organizations whilst basketball and football are their respective sports.
Just so, mixed martial arts is the sport that's practiced in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). You don't say "He knows/does/trains UFC." You say "He knows/does/trains MMA."
Knowing this will save you from tons of embarrassment since you will earn the ire of knowledgeable fans if you make such a basic mistake.
What IS Mixed Martial Arts?
What exactly IS mixed martial arts?
Just look at the name.
It's an amalgam of all the different martial arts. Unlike boxing, MMA is more than just punching. MMA allows punches, knees, elbows and kicks as well as all sorts of grappling techniques like takedowns, throws, joint-locks and chokes.
Typically, MMA fighters primarily train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (a grappling art), Muay Thai (think kickboxing but a little more brutal) and wrestling so that they become well-rounded martial artists. However, other martial arts like Judo and Karate do have successful representatives in the mixed martial arts world.
There Are Rules
One of the criticisms of mixed martial arts is that it's a horrible bloodsport with no rules. This is completely wrong. At one time, there were very few rules, but today there are many.
In fact, there are so many rules and regulations that they cannot all be listed. Suffice it to say that there is no striking to the groin, hair pulling or pokes to the eye, nor are there knees and kicks to the head of a grounded opponent.
The entirety of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts can be read here.
There Are Rounds
In North America, professional MMA fights are split into three five-minute rounds and title fights are five five-minute rounds.
The only difference is that in the UFC all main events are five five-minute rounds, even if they aren't for a title.
There Are Weight Classes
The main, most populated weight classes are as follows:
Flyweight: 116-125 pounds
Bantamweight: 126-135 pounds
Featherweight: 135-145 pounds
Lightweight: 146-155 pounds
Welterweight: 156-170 pounds
Middleweight: 171-185 pounds
Light Heavyweight: 186-205 pounds
Heavyweight: 206-265 pounds
Wrestling Is Very Important in MMA
Many people may not realize how important of a martial art wrestling is—and this is collegiate/amateur wrestling, not the professional "wrestling" seen in the WWE.
Wrestlers are some of the most finely conditioned and mentally tough athletes in the world. Their ability to take people down to the mat as well as avoid takedowns is perhaps the best tool in mixed martial arts, since that enables them to determine whether the fight takes place standing up or on the ground.
Wrestling makes a phenomenal "base" for MMA, meaning it's easier for a wrestler to incorporate striking and BJJ into his game than for a BJJ fighter or a striker to incorporate high-level wrestling.
Being on Your Back Doesn't Mean You're Losing
When a fighter is on his back, it doesn't necessarily mean that he is losing the fight.
In fact, a fighter who is in the guard position (on his back, with his legs around his opponent) can even damage the fighter on top of him via various submission holds (armbar, triangle choke, Kimura, guillotine choke, etc.) or reverse the position via a sweep.
The UFC Is Just One of Many MMA Promotions in the World Today
The UFC is just one promotion inside the world of MMA, but it's the most widely known and generally has the best fighters.
It's basically the NFL of mixed martial arts. Yes, there are other football leagues besides the NFL but they aren't as popular and they don't have lots of great players.
The UFC is similar. They have a majority of the world's best fighters and are by far the most popular and mainstream fight promotion.
This Guy Is Not the Sole Owner of the UFC
This is UFC president Dana White. He is the face of the UFC, promotes the hell out of the brand and the product, is very active/vocal on his twitter account and is charitable.
However, just because he's in the limelight more than any other executive involved with the company doesn't mean that he is the sole owner of the UFC.
No, the ownership of the UFC is a different matter.
The UFC Is Owned by a Company Called Zuffa
You might hear people talk about or see them write about something called "Zuffa."
Zuffa LLC is the company that purchased the UFC from its original owners in 2001 and has helped the promotion grow into what it is today.
Frank Fertitta III, Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White Are the Key Figures in Zuffa
Vegas casino moguls Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta own the majority of Zuffa, although it's Lorenzo who is more hands-on in the UFC. A portion of the company is owned by Dana White.
A small share of Zuffa also belongs to the Dubai-based company, Flash Entertainment.
The UFC Wasn't the First Mixed Martial Arts Organization
The UFC is the largest and most popular MMA promotion, but don't take that to mean it was always like that.
The UFC was started in 1993, but modern MMA had been around long before that...
A Crash Course in the Recent History of MMA
Now that you know the most basic information about the sport and the UFC itself, here's a rundown of modern MMA's history.
There Was MMA in the United States Before the UFC
The nation's very first televised mixed rules bout was in 1963.
It was a fight between boxer Milo Savage and Judo legend Gene Lebell. Lebell choked Savage unconscious, winning the fight and providing the US with a taste of what was to come three decades later.
MMA Was Immensely Popular in Japan
Long before the UFC was even conceptualized, the seeds of MMA were being sown in Japan by Japanese professional wrestler Satoru Sayam (a.k.a. Tiger Mask) who sought to make professional wrestling real and effective art.
This new style of legitimate submission wrestling was called Shooto, as was the actual promotion that showcased the matches. Shooto held its first professional event in 1989, four years prior to the UFC's first event.
Eventually, it caught on and other promotions began to rise up, one such being Pancrase. Over time, the Japanese MMA scene ended up adopting a more well-rounded rule set that even allowed kicks, knees and stomps to the head of a grounded opponent!
Pride Fighting Championships Was the Crown Jewel of Japanese MMA
Pride Fighting Championships (commonly known as just Pride) was a Japanese MMA promotion that was widely considered to be the pinnacle of Japanese MMA.
Without a doubt, Pride was definitely one of the greatest MMA organizations to have ever existed.
From 1997-2007, Pride wowed audiences with incredible fights between some of the best fighters that the world had to offer. Pride was so popular that in 2002 they had over 70,000 guests in attendance for one of their shows—a record that's still unbroken by the UFC.
Despite their success, Pride eventually fell; Zuffa (the company that owns the UFC, if you don't remember) purchased them in March 2007 and shut their doors.
But Japan wasn't the only place with roots in modern MMA.
Vale Tudo: Early Brazilian MMA
In Brazil, Vale Tudo (Portuguese for "anything goes") fights—which were analogous to the type of fighting in the UFC—had been going on since the 1920's.
In fact, the now-famous Gracie family became notable in Brazil by their success in the Vale Tudo scene.
Speaking of the Gracies...
Royce Gracie and UFC 1
The very first UFC event was in 1993.
It was a tournament that pitted various martial artists against one another to determine which was the most effective in a real right. The tournament saw the least physically imposing fighter win the tournament.
Who was this man?
Royce Gracie (and that "R" is pronounced like an "H". This is vital to know because if you pronounce "Royce" like it looks, you'll be branded a "noob" for life), the chosen representative of the famous Gracie family.
The style Royce and his brethren employed was one known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The world called it Gracie Jiu-Jitsu at the time—the Gracies, if nothing else, were great marketers—but the sport has since passed the family by.
What's important to know is that Royce Gracie managed to win because he knew how to fight on the ground and most of the other competitors didn't.
Politicians Tried to Destroy the Sport
There are rules in MMA and in the UFC today, but that wasn't always the case.
There were few rules in the early days, which made the sport look brutal, violent and deadly. This made the sport an easy target for uptight politicians looking to score easy points with voters.
The most vocal of these politicians was Senator John McCain, who infamously referred to the sport as "human cockfighting."
The UFC and MMA were nearly driven underground, but SEG—the company that owned the UFC at the time—ultimately changed the rules of the sport to make it a little less barbaric and to get back into the good graces of the athletic commissions.
SpikeTV Helped Save the UFC
After politicians attacked MMA and the UFC, the sport struggled.
The cash-strapped owners, SEG, eventually sold the UFC to Zuffa in 2001.
However, the UFC's problems didn't end here. The company was still unable to hit it big...that was until 2005 when the UFC debuted a reality show called The Ultimate Fighter (we'll get to that next slide) on SpikeTV.
The show was a massive hit, as was UFC programming on SpikeTV as a whole. The popularity of the UFC exploded in the males ages 18-34 demographic and had a visibility in the public consciousness that it had never had before.
The Ultimate Fighter Was Immensely Important in UFC History
The very first Ultimate Fighter season wowed fans—in large part due to an epic clash between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar at the show's finale—and made the UFC a household name amongst younger males.
Since the first season, the show has been an important talent recruitment and star-creation vehicle for the UFC.
The UFC Is Now on FOX, FX, and FUEL
After signing with SpikeTV, the UFC enjoyed unprecedented growth.
Eventually, the UFC product caught the attention of the FOX network who signed a deal with the promotion in 2011.
Now, new UFC programming can be seen across FOX, FX and FUEL TV. Reruns and the like will be on SpikeTV until 2013.
Now that newer fans who are reading this are up to speed, it's time to learn who the notable fighters are in the UFC today, from the champions of each weight class to the various contenders.
UFC Flyweight Champion: Winner of Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson
The flyweight division (125 pounds) is the UFC's newest division.
A tournament was held to decide the division's champion. It has yet to conclude but the final round is between Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson, the winner will be crowned UFC flyweight champion.
UFC Bantamweight Champion: Dominick Cruz
Name: Dominick Cruz
Has had title since: December 16th, 2010
Title Defenses: 2
Dominick Cruz fought in a promotion called World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) which was eventually purchased by Zuffa in order to develop the lighter weight classes that, at the time, weren't in the UFC.
He eventually became bantamweight champion in the WEC and became the UFC bantamweight champion when the UFC and WEC merged.
UFC Featherweight Champion: Jose Aldo
Name: Jose Aldo (and it's pronounced JOES-AY—the "j" is not an "h")
Has had title since: November 20th, 2010
Title Defenses: Three
Like Dominick Cruz, Jose Aldo was a star in the WEC where he demolished the competition in amazing fashion. He captured the WEC featherweight title in June 2009 and was eventually given the UFC featherweight championship in late 2010, after the WEC-UFC merger was announced.
Aldo has some of the most devastating Muay Thai in MMA today and is one of the most feared striker's in the sport.
UFC Lightweight Champion: Benson Henderson
Name: Benson Henderson
Has had title since: February 16th, 2012
Title Defenses: None so far
Benson Henderson is another import from the WEC but, unlike Aldo and Cruz, Henderson actually won the UFC belt through actions in the UFC rather than the WEC.
Henderson lost the WEC championship at the WEC's last event. But when he got into the UFC, he went on a tear, putting together an impressive three-fight winning streak and capturing the UFC lightweight title from Frankie Edgar.
Henderson is an exciting fighter who blends wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Tae Kwon Do.
UFC Welterweight Champion: Georges St.Pierre
Name: Georges St.Pierre (commonly abbreviated as GSP)
Has had title since: April 19th, 2008
Title Defenses: Six
Georges St.Pierre is one of the most widely known fighters in the UFC and one of the most dominant champions in the history of the sport.
Originally, he wrested the title from Matt Hughes in late 2006 but then lost it to the unlikely Matt Serra in April 2007. The loss made St.Pierre a more motivated fighter and he hasn't lost since. He recaptured the belt from Matt Serra in 2008 and has put together an impressive six title defenses since then.
St.Pierre is a well-rounded fighter who is a phenomenal physical specimen—his athleticism is without peer in the UFC. What is also notable about St.Pierre is that his wrestling is unbelievable yet he didn't wrestle at all while he was in school.
Despite not coming from a wrestling base, he's been able to out-wrestle much more accomplished wrestlers in the cage.
UFC Middleweight Champion: Anderson Silva
Name: Anderson Silva
Has had title since: October 14th, 2006
Title Defenses: Nine
You don't get much better than Anderson Silva.
He has the most successful title defenses in UFC history at nine as well as the most consecutive wins in UFC history at 14.
Silva has made nearly all of his UFC opponents look like amateurs; their attempts at harming him were but the buzzing of flies to him. In his fight against Forrest Griffin, Silva showed his inner Neo by dodging Griffin's punches with ease before putting his lights out.
Silva's striking is some of the best in MMA history and his submission game isn't bad either, having submitted the likes of Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen.
UFC Light Heavyweight Champion: Jon Jones
Name: Jon Jones
Has had title since: March 19th, 2011
Title Defenses: Three
Jon Jones is the youngest (non-tournament) champion in UFC history and has a bright future in the UFC.
His wrestling abilities, submissions, and eclectic striking game enabled by his incredible reach (84.5 inches) make him a fearsome opponent. His elbow strikes are the stuff of nightmares.
He earned the title by dominating Pride legend Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and, since then, has left a trail of battered opponents in his wake.
His only loss is by means of a ridiculous disqualification, so technically Jones is undefeated.
UFC Heavyweight Champion: Junior Dos Santos
Name: Junior Dos Santos (commonly abbreviated JDS)
Has had title since: November 12th, 2011
Title Defenses: One
Junior Dos Santos has amazing, technical boxing skills that have been able to stymie his opponents in the UFC.
He knocked out Cain Velasquez in just over a minute to win the UFC heavyweight championship in the UFC's very first fight broadcast on FOX.
This seems like an arcane bit of knowledge but it's important to know what an interim champion is since there are currently two interim titles in the UFC.
An interim title is created when the champion of a weight class is unable to defend his title (usually due to injury) but will return soon enough that he doesn't need to be stripped of the title.
Instead, an interim belt is created so that the division doesn't get backed up while the champion heals. When the champ returns, the interim champ faces him to unify the belts.
The UFC welterweight division has an interim champion named Carlos Condit.
The UFC bantamweight division will have its interim championship contested between Urijah Faber and Renan Barao.
Ian McCall: Talented 11-3-1 fighter with the coolest mustache you've ever seen. Recently lost to Demetrious Johnson in the UFC flyweight tournament.
Yasuhiro Urushanti: Skilled Japanese fighter with a 19-5-6 record. Currently 0-1 in the UFC, having lost to Joseph Benavidez in the opening round of the flyweight tournament.
John Dodson: A small, fearsome flyweight prospect who is currently 13-5 in MMA and 2-0 in the UFC.
Louis Gaudinot: A fighter with a 6-2 record who recently made a successful debut at flyweight.
Urijah Faber: Faber is arguably the most notable fighter in the short history of the lighter weight classes. He was formerly the WEC featherweight champion. His record is 26-5 and he's currently slated to fight for the UFC Interim Bantamweight Championship.
Renan Barao: One of the hottest commodities out of Brazil, Barao sports a 28-1 (1 No Contest) record and has dominated all opponents he's faced in the UFC so far. His interim title fight against Urijah Faber will tell how much of his rise is hype, and how much is substance.
Michael McDonald: A young, successful bantamweight. He is 21 and already 15-1 in mixed martial arts competition. His greatest victory so far was his crushing victory over former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres.
Brian Bowles: 10-2 competitor whose impressive run was recently derailed by Urijah Faber.
Chang Sung Jung: A popular Korean fighter nicknamed "The Korean Zombie" for his ability to absorb punishment and keep moving forwards. He is 13-3 in MMA, coming off three impressive victories in the UFC over stiff competition.
Chad Mendes: Powerful wrestler who was undefeated until he met Jose Aldo at UFC 142 in January. He is training partners with Urijah Faber.
Hatsu Hioki: Japanese fighter that some people believed was the man to dethrone Jose Aldo. He earned the ire of fans when he was offered a title shot at Aldo and declined. His star has faded due to a decision loss to a Ricardo Lamas—a man who was deemed lesser competition before the fight.
Erik Koch: 13-1 and 23 years old. He was supposed to fight Jose Aldo but Aldo pulled out of the fight due to injury. The fight will still take place at a to be determined event.
Dustin Poirier: Another 23-year-old. His impressive run in the UFC came to a halt at the hands of Chang Sung Jung.
Charles Oliveira: Lanky, 16-2 (1 NC) Brazilian submission specialist.
Frankie Edgar: Former UFC lightweight champion scheduled to face Benson Henderson in a rematch at UFC 150.
Gray Maynard: A dominant, heavy-handed wrestler who contested for the lightweight title on two occasions but came up short.
Nate Diaz: Enigmatic fighter from Stockton, California. He has one of the most unique and effective styles of striking in MMA, as well as fantastic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to boot.
Clay Guida: Geico cave man lookalike. Took heat for a "boring" decision loss to Gray Maynard at UFC on FX 4.
Anthony Pettis: Former WEC lightweight champion. Defeated Benson Henderson in the WEC's last event and, in that fight, landed an incredible kick that will be remembered forever in MMA history.
Donald Cerrone: Nicknamed "Cowboy". After stringing together a great winning streak in the UFC, he was destroyed by Nate Diaz. Currently, he's attempting to rebuild his success and has already won a fight since then.
Carlos Condit: UFC Interim welterweight champion. Won the interim belt in a highly controversial decision against Nick Diaz, after which Nick Diaz announced his retirement. Condit will fight Georgest St.Pierre at a to be determined event to unify the titles.
Martin Kampmann: Durable Danish kickboxer who also has quite a submission game. He is 20-5 and is enjoying a three-fight winning streak.
Johny Hendricks: Great wrestler with powerful hands. His stock has risen due to a lightning-quick KO victory over perennial contender Jon Fitch and a decision victory over former title contender Josh Koscheck.
Josh Koscheck: Ill-tempered Ultimate Fighter season one cast member with a great wrestling pedigree. Unfortunately, he has hit hard times recently and is only 2-2 in his last four.
Jon Fitch: A controversial wrestler. The controversy stems from his fighting style that emphasizes outworking opponents through wrestling and positional dominance rather than finishing the opponent via (T)KO or submission at all costs. Some critics say Fitch's style is boring.
Rory Macdonald: 23-year-old training partner of Georges St.Pierre. He is 13-1 and is set to face UFC and MMA legend BJ Penn.
BJ Penn: Former UFC lightweight champion, former UFC welterweight champion. Recently came out of retirement to fight Rory Macdonald.
Chael Sonnen: An outspoken, flamboyant wrestler who is Anderson Silva's kryptonite. Sonnen gave Silva the worst beatdown he's received so far in the UFC back at UFC 117. Sonnen's trash talking is legendary and his upcoming rematch with Silva is arguably the most anticipated rematch in the history of MMA, especially since Sonnen lost the rematch in the closing minutes after dominating Silva for the entire fight.
Mark Munoz: Heavy-handed wrestler who has made a mark on the division. He is facing fellow wrestler Chris Weidman on July 11th. He is 7-2 in the UFC and 12-2 overall.
Chris Weidman: Highly accomplished wrestler and submission grappler from Long Island, New York. A fighter who went from prospect to legitimate contender in a short time through several impressive wins in the UFC. He is currently undefeated at 8-0.
Michael Bisping: Trash-talking British striker who fought Chael Sonnen to a close decision earlier this year.
Vitor Belfort: Youngest tournament champion in UFC history (won the UFC 12 tournament at 19 years old). Has phenomenal boxing skills and lightning fast hands. He's also a skilled grappler.
Brian Stann: Legitimate war hero, having won a Silver Star. Heavy-handed striker with a burgeoning submission skills.
Hector Lombard: Cuban MMA fighter recently signed by the UFC. It remains to be seen if his 31-2-1 (1 NC) record is demonstrative of amazing skills at fighting or at choosing opponents.
Light Heavyweight Contenders
Dan Henderson: Former Pride champion. MMA legend. The only man to have two major MMA titles in different weight classes simultaneously. He's a wrestler but, more recently, he's been using his striking game to earn victories. His signature move is his right hand, nicknamed the "H-bomb" for its ability to annihilate opponents. Will fight Jon Jones at UFC 151.
Rashad Evans: Rival and former training partner of Jon Jones. Fought Jones to a decision at UFC 145 in a losing effort. Former light heavyweight champion in a fight to Lyoto Machida.
Lyoto Machida: One of the few high-level Karate practitioners to achieve success in mixed martial arts. Training partner of Anderson Silva. Former light heavyweight champion, lost the belt to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua: Former Pride champion and a living legend. Skilled Muay Thai fighter. Former UFC light heavyweight champ who was dethroned by Jon Jones.
Ryan Bader: Once talked about in the same way as Jon Jones was...until Jones smashed him. Recently though, Bader has put his career back together with wins over Jason Brilz and the charismatic Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
Alexander Gustaffson: Swedish prospect with a 19-1 record. He has won his last five fights in the UFC. His only loss in the UFC came to Phil Davis.
Phil Davis: Physically gifted wrestler whose rise was halted by Rashad Evans back in January. His record is now 9-1.
Cain Velasquez: Former UFC heavyweight champion who lost his belt to Junior Dos Santos. He defeated Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and earned a rematch that will take place at UFC 152.
Alistair Overeem: Kickboxing champion who is also skilled at grappling. Overeem was formerly a light heavyweight but bulked up to epic proportions. Overeem was supposed to face Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146 but failed his drug test and is currently serving his suspension.
Frank Mir: Former UFC heavyweight champion and submission specialist who has the distinction of breaking the arms of two opponents in high profile fights. Mir was smashed by Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146.
Fabricio Werdum: Arguably the most decorated submission grappler in the UFC today. Werdum was made famous when he felled the legendary Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko. Werdum is on a two-fight win streak in the UFC.
Shane Carwin: Former UFC interim heavyweight champion. He has incredible knockout power and works as a civil engineer outside of MMA.
Roy Nelson: A man who is far more skilled than he looks. His unkempt hair and beard as well as his large belly make him look like an untrained bum but he's a skilled fighter who is also a unique personality.
Travis Browne: Undefeated heavyweight prospect.
Stefan Struve: 6'11" Dutchman with dangerous striking and submissions.
Important Fights to Watch
From reading the previous slides, new fans now know basic information about the sport and the UFC, the abridged history of the sport, and who the current big names are.
The remainder of the slideshow is important fights for new UFC fans to watch.
These fights are meant to either inform and educate, or just to purely entertain and to get new fans hooked.
Royce Gracie vs. Art Jimmerson
If you or someone you're dealing with has no idea what MMA or even grappling is, this fight will help.
Royce Gracie vs. Art Jimmerson teaches the fundamental lesson that the American martial arts world was (and some would say still is, for the most part) ignorant that ground-fighting/grappling is real fighting and knowing it is necessary for success.
No boxer could contend with a skilled grappler—Royce Gracie vs. Art Jimmerson shows this fact. The fight also gives the prospective fan a grounding in MMA history, since it took place at the very first UFC event.
Marco Ruas vs. Paul Varelans
While the final fight from UFC 7 may not be the most exciting in the world, it demonstrates that the true strength of a skilled martial artist can manage to beat the raw power of a large/strong yet unskilled opponent.
It also serves to showcase the effectiveness of techniques that new fans may not be aware of, such as the leg kicks and foot-stomps, which made their UFC debut in this fight.
Royce Gracie vs. Matt Hughes
Why show Gracie dominating but then show him getting dominated?
Seeing Royce Gracie, the man who effortlessly dispatched hapless striker after hapless striker, get humbled so badly is a perfect fight for new fans to see so that they can observe how the sport evolved from its first phase (style vs. style) into its second phase (fighters who excelled in one aspect in fighting but were proficient in the others).
This fight will also acquaint new fans with UFC legend Matt Hughes.
Matt Hughes vs. Georges St-Pierre II or III
Either of Matt Hughes' losses to current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre will finish the lesson about the evolution of MMA.
The sport started with style versus style (Gracie), then moved to fighters who had one discipline as a mainstay but cross-trained in the others (Hughes), and then finally fighters like St. Pierre who excelled in every aspect of fighting took over the sport.
The fight will also showcase how great of a fighter St. Pierre is to a newer fan.
Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar
The first season of The Ultimate Fighter was a success, but it was the final fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar that made it legendary and put the UFC on the map.
Griffin and Bonnar battled it out for 15 hard-fought minutes until Griffin was awarded the decision victory.
The fight created thousands of fans when it first aired; now that it's been released for free on Youtube, it can create more.
Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takayama
If this doesn't get your friends hooked, they need testosterone injections.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic
Reading about Pride Fighting Championships isn't enough, a new fan must experience it!
There aren't many fights that match the importance sheer epic scale of Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic; it was the No. 1 heavyweight in the world versus the No. 2 heavyweight in the world.
Not only will this fight entertain a new fan and get them to want to watch more MMA, it'll teach them about who Fedor Emelianenko was and that Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic was actually an incredible fighter before his sad last days in the UFC.
Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva
New fans may not be able to appreciate the importance of Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva, but it's a fun fight to watch and an important part of MMA history for them to experience (albeit after it's already happened.)
Both Liddell and Silva have several other fights that are just as exciting, but this fight was essentially the last fight where each legend was at his best, making it mean that much more.
Kimbo Slice vs. Seth Petruzelli
Of all the fights to choose, why this one? To show that appearances can be deceiving; the more threatening-looking fighter doesn't always win.
Kimbo Slice was a muscular, bearded, scary-looking fighter and Seth Petruzelli was a less muscular fighter with tufts of pink hair and a tramp stamp.
If you asked new fans to pick who would win based on appearances only (which is how those uneducated on MMA usually pick fights anyway), almost all of them would've picked Slice.
Learning that appearances and muscles don't count for as much as conventional "wisdom" dictates is an important lesson to teach.
This fight could easily be replaced with Todd Duffee vs. Mike Russow but Slice-Petruzelli is also important because it dispels any notion a new fan might have that Slice is/was actually a top-level fighter.
Gina Carano vs. Christiane "Cyborg" Santos
It would be a crime to not educate someone new to the sport about women's MMA.
There are several great women's fights to show, but Gina Carano vs. Christiane "Cyborg" Santos takes the cake because it's the most high-profile women's fight in the history of women's MMA.
Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard III
What's more satisfying than seeing an underdog succeed before your very eyes? Nothing.
That is why Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard III is such an excellent fight to show a prospective MMA fan.
In addition to teaching the lesson of "it's not over 'till it's over" due to Edgar's incredible comeback, it also shows that size doesn't always matter. Despite being the inferior physical specimen, Edgar pulled through and knocked out Maynard.
Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen II
This fight will be part of MMA history.
It's arguably the greatest rematch and greatest grudge match of all time. What a better event to call your first?