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The 10 Best Pay-Per-View Cards in UFC History

Jonathan SnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterJanuary 16, 2017

The 10 Best Pay-Per-View Cards in UFC History

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    UFC 149, dreadful on paper, was just as bad in the cage. All but one of the fights on the main card went to a decision, and not of the fast-paced, action-packed variety.  UFC President Dana White was typically blunt after the event.

    "I'm embarrassed," the sport's premiere promoter said. While the event set box-office records in Calgary, Canada, White wasn't pleased with the show he delivered fans for their hard-earned money.

    What made the event stand out is how rare it is for the UFC to fail so epically. The UFC built a billion-dollar empire by delivering great fights almost every time out.

    UFC 149 was an aberration. More often than not, fans get their $44.95 worth and then some. You can count the truly bad pay-per-views with 10 fingers.

    The truly great ones are even easier to find. There are several standouts every year, but these are the best of the best, the greatest UFC pay-per-views of all time.

10. UFC 4

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    Fight to Remember

    Royce Gracie spent most of 15 minutes underneath the monstrous Dan Severn.

    His cause looked hopeless until, out of nowhere, he snaked his legs up Severn's back and caught the wrestler in a triangle choke.

    I'm not sure who was more surprised—Severn, the announcers or fans watching at home. 


    Severn's series of German suplexes on a hapless Anthony Macias. Keith Hackney brutalizing Joe Son's testicles with punch after punch. Announcer Jim Brown yelling at Olympic gold medalist Jeff Blatnick to shut up about wrestling already after Gracie's amazing win. 


    The UFC convinced more than 200,000 people to order this show, despite having no television outlet. That's the power of a good idea.

9. UFC 100

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    Fight to Remember

    Brock Lesnar smashed Frank Mir to solidify his claim to the UFC title and avenge his first loss.

    He then proceeded to insult the UFC's biggest sponsor and tell the world about his carnal plans that evening. What a magical man. 


    GSP defends the welterweight title. Dan Henderson knocks the smirk off of Michael Bisping's face with the most GIF'ed knockout in UFC history. 


    The UFC's biggest commercial success delivered artistically, too.

8. UFC 34

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    Fight to Remember

    Matt Hughes won the welterweight title by power-bombing Carlos Newton in MMA's first photo finish.

    Trapped in a triangle, Hughes managed to lift Newton high in the air, eventually slamming him on his head and knocking him out.


    Randy Couture, then just a "mere' 38 years old, finished off Pedro Rizzo in a rematch of their UFC 31 classic. B.J. Penn knocked out rival Caol Uno in just 11 seconds. Matt Lindland silenced Phil Baroni in a great fight.


    This was an amazing show. Unfortunately, it followed UFC 33, one of the company's all-time worst cards. Few saw it, but those that did will never forget it.

7. UFC 79

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    Fight to Remember

    After what felt like an interminable wait, the two best light heavyweights of all time finally went toe-to-toe in the center of the Octagon.

    Chuck Liddell, who didn't get a chance to face Wanderlei Silva when both were in their primes, was better able to turn back the clock, winning a unanimous decision in one of the most exciting fights ever. 


    Georges St-Pierre submitted the great Matt Hughes with an armbar. Lyoto Machida began his ascension to the top of the light heavyweight division by tapping out Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou.


    Two legends deliver when they finally get a chance to fight.

6. UFC 1

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    Fight to Remember

    The referee didn't see it, but Ken Shamrock tapped the mat three times, conceding defeat at the hands of Royce Gracie.

    The loss festered inside Shamrock, who finally got a chance at revenge years later at UFC 5. 


    Gerard Gordeau sent Telia Tuli's tooth flying into the crowd. Shamrock submitted Pat Smith with a heel hook. Art Jimmerson fought with a single boxing glove on. 


    This event changed martial arts forever.

5. UFC 47

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    Fight to Remember

    After avoiding him for months, Tito Ortiz finally squared off with former training partner Chuck Liddell.

    The "Iceman" had been chomping at the bit to get Ortiz in the cage and made him pay for every second he had to wait for the fight, knocking his rival out in the second round. 


    Genki Sudo shared his submission wizardry with American fans. Andrei Arlovski stopped Wesley Correira. Nick Diaz knocked out Robbie Lawler in a memorable scrap.  


    Tito blamed an eye poke for his loss, making the inevitable rematch the hottest UFC card ever.

4. UFC 92

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    Fight to Remember

    Rashad Evans beat Forrest Griffin in a battle of two The Ultimate Fighter champions.

    It was a closely contested bout that saw Evans get a dominant position in the third round and bounce Forrest's head off the mat with hard punches.


    Quinton Jackson knocked out Wanderlei Silva, finally avenging two losses to the Brazilian striker. It was a bad night for Brazil all around, as Frank Mir finished Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to win the interim heavyweight title. 


    The third UFC card to sell more than a million pay-per-views, this show delivered all that it promised and then some.

3. UFC 139

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    Fight to Remember

    You can't say Dan Henderson and Mauricio Rua threw the kitchen sink at each other in this memorable light heavyweight scrap.

    That tired metaphor just doesn't capture the force and frequency of their blows.

    It was awe-inspiring, the kind of contest that was bigger than sport. It showed how far man could push himself in the pursuit of excellence. Incredible. 


    Wanderlei Silva survived Cung Le's spinning kicks and eventually delivered a knockout. Urijah Faber submitted Brian Bowles. Michael McDonald knocked Alex Soto out. 


    A fine card boosted by the greatest fight in MMA history.

2. UFC 31

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    Fight to Remember

    Pedro Rizzo landed dozens of crippling leg kicks, but it wasn't enough to dethrone UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture.

    The wrestler eked out a narrow decision but wouldn't be able to walk right for weeks after. 


    Carlos Newton finished longtime welterweight champion Pat Miletich with a side headlock. Shonie Carter shocked Matt Serra with a last-second spinning backfist. B.J. Penn made his Octagon debut.


    Every single fight delivered. A magical night for mixed martial arts.

1. UFC 49

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    Fight to Remember

    Karo Parisyan and Nick Diaz put on a grappling clinic that had fans begging for more from both men.

    Parisyan won a split decision in a fight many considered the best UFC bout of 2004. 


    David Terrell knocked out Matt Lindland in less than 30 seconds. Yves Edwards had the highlight of all highlights against Josh Thomson. Randy Couture left Vitor Belfort bloodied and left the arena the new UFC light heavyweight champion. 


    The best top-to-bottom fight card in UFC history. Every fight ended dramatically except one.

    And the single decision was the amazing back-and-forth fight between Diaz and Parisyan. A night that saw everything play out perfectly.

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