The 11 Best Moments from UFC 20-30
During the time of UFC 20 to UFC 30, the UFC underwent many changes as MMA molded into the modern-day sport we now know. More familiar faces began to appear as more rules were implemented.
Whether it was crazy finishes to fights or the appearances of future stars, this period was extremely important and exciting.
Here are the best and most important moments from UFC 20 to UFC 30.
Frank Shamrock Defeats Tito Ortiz in Instant Classic at UFC 22
Among the early classics of the UFC was a championship showdown between Frank Shamrock and Tito Ortiz.
Tito Ortiz was a budding star and Frank Shamrock was the established champion with a respected background. This fight was one of the early instances where complete martial arts were used, as we saw great striking from Shamrock and tough wrestling from Ortiz.
In the end, the old dog got the victory. Shamrock would tap Ortiz out due to strikes in the fourth round and retain his title.
Matt Hughes Makes Victorious Debut at UFC 22
UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes had to make his UFC start somewhere. Before he was the welterweight champion, he had to work his way up the ladder just like everyone else.
At UFC 22, Hughes took on Bulgaria's Valeri Ignatov, winning via unanimous decision.
It was not Hughes' best performance of all time, but his first appearance was noteworthy and memorable.
Kevin Randleman KOs Himself Before Fight, Title Bout Scrapped at UFC 24
UFC 24 was dubbed "First Defense," as it was supposed to mark Kevin Randleman's first title defense against Pedro Rizzo.
What it should have been called was "No Defense," seeing as Randleman knocked himself out on his way to the cage on a concrete floor. He was rushed to the hospital and the fight would not take place until UFC 26.
It was a rare moment in MMA history, but definitely one of the most memorable.
Tito Ortiz Outlasts Wanderlei Silva to Win Title at UFC 25
Frank Shamrock left the UFC and his championship, leaving said championship vacant and without a holder.
Therefore, at UFC 25, Tito Ortiz met Wanderlei Silva to see who would be crowned as the next champion. It was another memorable fight from the early years that saw both Ortiz and Silva rock each other.
In the end, Ortiz would win a decision and begin a title reign that saw him defend the light heavyweight strap more than anyone else. Silva then permanently took his game back to Pride until the UFC bought it many years later.
Alex Andrade DQ'd Because He Kicks with Shoes at UFC 26
There weren't many rules at this time, but UFC 26 saw a rare one implemented that effected the outcome of a fight.
Alex Andrade fought Amaury Bitetti in an otherwise forgettable bout, but Andrade later found himself disqualified for kicking Bitetti three times. Normally, this would not be a problem, but that distinction also depended on what state the fight was in.
In Iowa, there was a rule that kicking with shoes was illegal. There were no restrictions in the UFC on wearing wrestling shoes, so Andrade kicked his opponent several times and earned the disqualification.
This may not have seemed like a big deal at the time, but there would soon be universal restrictions on shoe-kicks in the sport.
Unified Rules of MMA Implemented for First Time at UFC 28
UFC 28 was the first time that the Unified Rules of MMA were used. In one development, the Unified Rules called for the implementation of newer, stricter weight classes that look like the ones we have today.
This greatly effected today's sport, making this one of the most important developments at the time.
Randy Couture Returns to Become First Ever Two-Time Champ at UFC 28
Randy Couture returned to UFC 28 after an extended absence to challenge Kevin Randleman for the heavyweight title.
It looked like he hadn't missed a step, knocking Randleman out in Round 3 to capture the title. This was important because Couture's second heavyweight title made him the first ever two-time champion in the UFC.
Matt Hughes Suffers Rare Early-Career Loss in 20 Seconds at UFC 29
Early in his career, Matt Hughes rarely lost, especially decisively. When UFC 29 rolled around, many were shocked when they saw the result.
Looking back it seems even crazier. Matt Hughes faced off with Dennis Hallman on the preliminary card. Hallman would armbar the future Hall of Famer in twenty seconds, effectively winning the big match.
It was the second time in Hallman's career that he submitted Hughes in such quick fashion.
Pedro Rizzo Brutally KOs Ultra-Tough Josh Barnett at UFC 30
UFC 30 was exciting and important for many reasons, but the first has to be the encounter between Pedro Rizzo and Josh Barnett.
Barnett was highly touted at the time and Rizzo was a powerhouse, making this an interesting bout. Barnett pushed the pace with Rizzo, looking to batter his legs and face.
Toward the end of the first round, Rizzo rocked Barnett and followed it up with a punch that would have shattered the skull of a mastodon.
It was a highlight-reel knockout that has been shown consistently since it happened.
Elvis Sinosic Shocks Jeremy Horn in Upset to Become Top Contender at UFC 30
Touted as a light heavyweight title eliminator, many fans saw the UFC 30 encounter between Jeremy Horn and Elvis Sinosic as a tune-up fight for Horn.
What fans didn't expect was for Sinosic to submit Horn in under three minutes with a triangle armbar to earn that title shot.
It was a great upset, especially in the early days of the UFC.
Tito Ortiz Beats Evan Tanner with Epic Slam KO to Retain Title at UFC 30
The final memorable and amazing UFC 30 moment was the Tito Ortiz victory over Evan Tanner.
Wrapped up in the clinch, Ortiz would pick Tanner up and hammer him to the mat in thirty seconds. The blunt force of the slam knocked Tanner into another universe, effectively earning Ortiz the victory by knockout.
It was one of the most spectacular knockouts of all time and is one of Ortiz's best career moments that doesn't include trash talk and the middle finger.