The 25 Most Epic Non-Title Fights in UFC History

Cody GuinnContributor IIIAugust 15, 2012

The 25 Most Epic Non-Title Fights in UFC History

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    What makes a fight epic?

    Really any fight is epic in its own way, besides the occasional snooze-fest bouts like Boetsch and Lombard put on a few weeks ago.

    Epic fights are the ones that aren't just talked about the day after the event, but two weeks later when you look at your buddy and say, "I still can't believe Silva pulled off that triangle."

    A fight for the UFC Championship automatically makes a fight a little more epic simply because there is gold on the line, so with this list, I wanted to exclude all title fights and find the most epic non-title bouts in UFC history.

    Besides UFC Championships, I also chose to exclude fights to determine The Ultimate Fighter winner (you know, Griffin-Bonnar) because that, in my opinion, is sort of similar to a title fight.

    See a fight that's missing? Let me know in the comments below. 

25. Pat Barry vs. Antoni Hardonk

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    We start the list with a preliminary fight from UFC 104 between Pat Barry and Antoni Hardonk.

    Both men known for their striking ability didn't disappoint as Barry used his combination of hard leg kicks and crisp punches to finish Hardonk in the second round.

    Barry took home Knockout of the Night while both men took home the bonus of Fight of the Night in what was Barry's first breakout fight inside the Octagon.

24. Martin Kampmann vs. Carlos Condit

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    It was one of the most exciting grappling battles in UFC history, and it came between two men who are known today for their ability to stand and trade.

    Kampmann vs. Condit went down at UFC Fight Night 18 in 2009 and resulted in a split decision victory for Kampmann.

    It appeared Condit would get the better of the two men on the feet, but Condit also found himself in trouble as Kampmann would lock in guillotine after guillotine. However, Condit was able to survive each attempt.

    In the end, both men left it all inside the Octagon, and with both men at the top of the welterweight division today, there is a chance of a rematch later on down the road.

23. Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping

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    The two men were coming off their stint as coaches on season nine of The Ultimate Fighter and weren't too fond of one another. 

    It didn't hurt that the fight would come on the UFC's grandest stage at UFC 100.

    When they stepped inside the Octagon against each other, fireworks would ensue for the American.

    After a first round where both men would feel out the other's timing, Bisping would make the ultimate mistake and circle towards Hendo's power and would find himself unconscious moments later in one of the most brutal knockouts in UFC history.

22. Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann

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    UFC on Versus 3 presented us two of the most exciting fighters to watch in the UFC face-off with Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann.

    In the first round, Kampmann badly bloodied Sanchez with very nice punches and was doing a great job countering all Sanchez's takedown attempts.

    Kampmann continued to put his sharp striking skills on display in the second round, but toward the end of the round, Sanchez was able to land and buckle Kampmann and slow his attack down.

    During the final round, Sanchez finally took the fight to the ground, although it wasn't for very long, and the two continued to put on a bloody battle that the Louisville crowd loved.

    In the end, a bloody Diego Sanchez picked up a controversial decision victory. 

21. Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin

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    Anderson Silva was running out of good opponents at 185, so he decided to take a challenge and face the original Ultimate Fighter Forrest Griffin in a non-title matchup at UFC 101.

    Nobody saw what happened next coming.

    Silva appeared more untouchable than ever as he dodged and swayed out of range from every one of Forrest Griffin's strikes. He finished Griffin in the first round with deadly accurate strikes.

20. Sam Stout vs. Spencer Fisher

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    The fight between Stout and Fisher was so good, the UFC decided to do it twice more after their initial meeting. 

    UFC 58 featured the first meeting between the two, and in one of the best back-and-forth battles ever at 155, Stout walked away with a decision victory.

19. Carlos Condit vs. Jake Ellenberger

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    In one of the best post-first-round comebacks in UFC history, Condit was able to earn a decision win against Jake Ellenberger at UFC Fight Night 19.

    Ellenberger absolutely dominated Condit in the first round, using his explosive power to hurt Condit multiple times in the round.

    Condit would not be beaten as he would come back in the second and third rounds using excellent clinch work as well as nice ground-and-pound in the later round to earn a close split-decision victory.

18. Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo

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    The only early UFC fight on the list is the UFC 3 battle between Royce Gracie and Kimo Leopoldo.

    Leopoldo, the much stronger fighter, looked to be in control as he took the back of Gracie, but Gracie used his superior ground game to reverse the position and lock Leopoldo in an armbar a few minutes later. 

17. Frankie Edgar vs. Tyson Griffin

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    Today, Frankie Edgar is one of the best lightweights in the world and is known for his ability to come back in fights when his back is against the wall.

    But when he faced Tyson Griffin at UFC 67 on the preliminary card, no one had a clue they were looking at the future Lightweight Champion.

    Many figured Griffin would be the future champion, but Edgar showed his true ability gutting out a hard-fought, back-and-forth fight, resulting in a decision win for Edgar.

16. Roger Huerta vs. Leonard Garcia

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    In what's now referred to as the "Sports Illustrated" fight, Roger Huerta and Leonard Garcia put on a show at UFC 69.

    The two went toe-to-toe at a high, crazy pace as the Houston crowd erupted seemingly after every landed punch. In the end, Huerta picked up the unanimous decision.

    A photo taken during the fight was used on the cover of Sports Illustrated in what was one of the first times the popular sport magazine covered mixed martial arts.

15. Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier

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    Many would say the UFC's featherweight division is one of the shallowest talent pools in the UFC, but no one was thinking about that when Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier headlined UFC on Fuel 3 in May of this year.

    The two men would go toe-to-toe, throwing huge punches and kicks for three rounds. But in the fourth, it was Jung who would get the upper hand.

    Jung would land a lethal combination followed by a flying knee that rocked Poirier. Jung would then sprawl a takedown attempt of Poirier and secure a D'arce Choke and earn the win.

14. Benson Henderson vs. Clay Guida

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    Benson Henderson is the current UFC Lightweight Champion, but how he became the No. 1 contender for the belt wasn't even broadcast on National Television.

    UFC on Fox 1 only featured one bout which was the main event between dos Santos and Velasquez, but the fight that would have stolen the show was Henderson and Guida.

    Henderson displayed excellent takedown defense as well as improved power as he rocked Guida in the first round. "Bendo" would cruise to a unanimous decision victory.

13. Diego Sanchez vs. Nick Diaz

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    In a battle between two of the toughest guys in MMA, as well as two of the most exciting fighters, Sanchez and Diaz would display their ground skills in their battle at the TUF 2 Finale.

    The two men would go back-and-forth on the ground and would each take their turn attempting submissions. In the end, Sanchez would earn a hard-fought decision victory.

12. Karo Parisyan vs. Nick Diaz

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    Nick Diaz once again appears on this list, and this time, he faced Karo Parisyan at UFC 49.

    In a battle where striking was limited, Diaz and Parisyan showed that grappling could produce pretty fantastic fights as both men battled from the clinch position as well as on the ground for the majority of the bout.

    In the end, Parisyan would earn a split decision against Diaz.

11. Diego Sanchez vs. Karo Parisyan

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    We've seen Diego and Nick, and we've seen Karo and Nick, so now we see the battle from UFC Fight Night 6 between Diego Sanchez and Karo Parisyan.

    Sanchez was able to control the fight for the majority, other than a few nice judo throws from Parisyan that Sanchez shook off rather quickly.

    The highlight of the fight came when Sanchez delivered a hard knee that would dislodge a tooth from Parisyan's mouth and send it flying across the Octagon in a slow-motion moment that fans will remember forever.

    Sanchez would win the bout by decision.

10. Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald

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    UFC 115 featured a bout between Carlos Condit and Rory MacDonald that has helped shaped the welterweight picture today.

    The young MacDonald controlled the fight in rounds one and two, using excellent striking as well as his wrestling and ground game.

    In the final round, Condit stormed back and landed huge shots from the top position on the ground. With just seven seconds remaining in the fight in what was sure to be either a MacDonald decision win or possibly a draw, the referee intervened and stopped the fight.

    Condit picked up the TKO victory.

9. Nick Diaz vs. B.J. Penn

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    It had been a long time coming for Nick Diaz to return to the Octagon. The Strikeforce Welterweight Champion was planning on making his return fight against UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre, but injuries and missed press conferences would stop that from taking place.

    Therefore, Diaz met B.J. Penn in the main event at UFC 137. 

    Penn would look fairly well in the first round, but rounds two and three would belong to Diaz who opened up with his striking and bloodied and battered the former champion.

    Diaz would go on to pick up the decision win and earn a shot at the Interim Welterweight Championship.

8. Roger Huerta vs. Clay Guida

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    Roger Huerta was matched up with Clay Guida at UFC TUF 6 in a battle that would see Huerta go from just another good lightweight to a fan favorite.

    Guida would control Huerta on the ground through the first round. In the second, Guida would begin to use his ground-and-pound along with his top control to break down Huerta and rocked him toward the end of the second round.

    The third and final round was where this fight really came to life. Huerta would land a monster knee that would drop Guida and finish him with a submission at the 31-second mark in the third round.

7. Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira II

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    Frank Mir became the first man to knock out Big Nog at UFC 119, but Nogueira demanded a rematch against the former Heavyweight Champion, which resulted in one of the nastiest submissions in UFC history.

    Nogueira's great boxing skills were on display early as it appeared he had Mir rocked, but Mir would counter grapple Nogueira on the ground and lock in a Kimura.

    Big Nog would attempt to roll out of it, but Mir would hold on. In the end, it resulted in a badly broken arm for Nogueira and a huge submission win for Frank Mir.

6. Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry

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    This fight simply needs no explaining. 

    Without question, the greatest under-three-minute fight in UFC history featured Pat Barry and Cheick Kongo at UFC on Versus 4.

    The two men traded, and Barry had the advantage as he rocked and dropped Kongo to the mat. Kongo survived and made it back to his feet, but Barry struck again, and it appeared Kongo was done.

    Right at that moment, Kongo somehow stumbled back to his feet and landed a combination that knocked Barry clean out, resulting in the craziest comeback victory in UFC history.

5. Chris Leben vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama

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    The battle between Chris Leben and Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 116 was like watching two zombies fight.

    Both men just stood right in front of each other and threw bombs.

    After two-and-a-half rounds of that, Leben finally got the upper hand and stunned the Las Vegas crowd as he locked in triangle with 20 seconds remaining in the fight.

    Even crazier is the fact that Leben took the fight against Akiyama on just two-weeks notice.

4. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Randy Couture

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    After years of battling in the rankings to be the top heavyweight, Randy Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira would finally step inside the Octagon against each other.

    Many fans believed it was too late and the two "old men" wouldn't have the same feel to it as the fight would have, say, about four years earlier, but that was not the case.

    The two went to war for the entire three rounds. In the end, Nogueira emerged with sharp boxing as well as some impressive jiu-jitsu trips and submission attempts.

    Nogueira would walk away with a decision win, but both men proved they weren't quite done with their MMA careers.

3. Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva

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    The matchup was a dream come true for many MMA fans, but for some, like the Nogueira-Couture bout, it lost some of its luster over the years.

    But, also like the Nogueira-Couture bout, Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva lived up to the hype.

    The two men slugged it out like so many fans imagined. In the end, Liddel emerged victorious, earning the win by unanimous decision.

2. Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida

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    The UFC TUF 9 Finale brought us a highly anticipated battle between two of the most exciting fighters in the UFC's lightweight division: Clay Guida and Diego Sanchez.

    The first round was enough to make this list as Sanchez came right at Guida throwing punches. He eventually dropped Guida with a huge head kick that would have likely finished any other opponent.

    Guida had his moments as well, as he controlled the second round on the mat. The third round featured both men swinging for the fences.

    At the end of three rounds, both men covered in a mix of their own and their opponent's blood, it was Sanchez who picked up the split decision win.

1. Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua

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    Maybe not just the most epic non-title UFC fight ever, but quite possibly the most epic fight ever, period.

    Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua from UFC 139 was a highly anticipated fight that had been talked about ever since both men were headliners in Pride.

    The two men slugged it out for all five rounds in the main event. Henderson held the advantage in the first two rounds, using excellent punches and mixing in some wrestling to control Shogun. But in the third round, momentum began to shift.

    The fourth and fifth round belonged to Shogun as he spent the majority of the rounds in dominate ground positions and landed hard shots from mount and back mount on Hendo.

    In the end, Henderson picked up the hard-fought unanimous decision win, and the bout would go down as the most epic non-title fight in UFC history.