With UFC 96 on the horizon, many people have looked at the main event of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson versus Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine as a joke. They've completely written off Jardine as having any chance of winning. In fact, Jackson is nearly a three to one favorite according to sports books.
This got me wondering...if Jardine pulls off the victory, where would it stand in terms of greatest upsets in UFC history?
Which upsets in the UFC have been the most shocking?
I’ve looked at past UFC cards, and I present to you my top 10 most shocking upsets in UFC history.
Gonzaga’s victory has been talked about as a huge upset since the moment his right foot connected with Cro Cop’s head.
I don’t think this is one of the biggest upsets though.
While Gonzaga was an underdog, he was still a very real threat to Cro Cop. Only the highlight reel ending was truly shocking, considering Gonzaga is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and was a very live underdog for his grappling, not his striking.
Also considered: Jorge Rivera over Kendall Grove, Jason Lambert over Renato “Babalu” Sobral, and Cheick Kongo over Mirko Cro Cop.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s entrance into the UFC was met with a ton of fanfare.
The ex-PRIDE standout seemed to be the next big thing. Many critics even claimed he was the top light heavyweight in the world.
Coming into the Griffin fight, Rua was 12-1 in his last 13 fights, with the lone loss being the freak arm break against Mark Coleman.
Forrest, on the other hand, had (at the time) found mixed luck in the UFC. He was 2-2 in his previous four fights, with losses to Keith Jardine (a brutal TKO) and Tito Ortiz (split decision), and wins against Hector Ramirez and Stephan Bonnar (both unanimous decisions).
When the time to fight came, Griffin came storming out. He controlled Rua on the ground for most of the fight, landing a barrage of strikes that battered the Brazilian.
Griffin ended up sinking in the fight-ending rear naked choke with just seconds to go in the fight, and he would end up with the light heavyweight title after his very next fight.
On the same card as the Griffin-Rua fight was the main event between Chuck Liddell and Keith Jardine.
Both fighters were coming off of vicious knockout losses and were looking for redemption.
Most people thought Liddell would easily dispose of Jardine, but Jardine’s trainer, Greg Jackson, had the perfect gameplan put into place. Jardine peppered Liddell with leg kicks and actually dropped Liddell momentarily en route to a split decision victory.
Mark “The Hammer” Coleman came into UFC 17 looking to get back on the road to the title, as he had lost his previous fight (and the UFC heavyweight title) to Maurice Smith.
He was originally scheduled to face Randy Couture, but due to an injury, Couture was replaced with a UFC newcomer, Pete Williams.
Williams, a member of Ken Shamrock’s Lion’s Den training camp, was 22-years-old at the time, and a huge underdog to the former champ.
Most people were stunned when Williams actually made it through more than 10 minutes of fighting with Coleman, and he put an exclamation point on his UFC debut with a stunning knockout kick to the head (my personal favorite).
To this day, it still stands as one of the most brutal knockouts in UFC history.
After Keith Jardine’s TKO victory over Forrest Griffin at UFC 66, most thought he would be slated to face another top light heavyweight.
Instead, he faced Alexander, a UFC rookie who fought mostly in the Midwest in smaller promotions.
Jardine made his displeasure of his opponent public, but many wouldn’t have blamed him, Alexander wasn't known by hardly anybody.
Shortly into the fight, Jardine looked well on his way to victory as he dropped Alexander to the canvas.
But something happened. Alexander got back to his feet, engaged Jardine in the clinch, and started to deliver his own punishment to Jardine.
A collection of uppercuts and hooks put Jardine on queer street. Only 48 seconds into the fight, Jardine was out cold and the UFC had a new light heavyweight contender.
Frank Mir’s comeback from a gruesome motorcycle accident when he was UFC heavyweight champion is an inspirational story to follow.
The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt had gone 1-2 in the UFC since his accident, but Mir turned his career around with two submission victories over Antoni Hardonk and Brock Lesnar.
His win over Lesnar led to a head coaching stint on “The Ultimate Fighter”, where he faced off against Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira.
Nogueira was a heavy favorite at UFC 92. He had faced a tough set of opponents in PRIDE, and Nogueira had never been stopped in his career.
Mir, however, completely outclassed him and dropped him numerous times on his way to a second round TKO.
Mir earned the interim UFC heavyweight championship and a chance to unify it against Brock Lesnar.
Randy Couture’s return from his brief retirement made waves in the MMA community since he was 43-years-old at the time, and facing an imposing challenge in the much larger Tim Sylvia.
Sylvia, who enjoyed a significant reach advantage over Couture, had won six straights fights and had defended the UFC heavyweight title twice successfully.
Many fans only hoped that Couture wouldn’t be hurt too bad in his comeback fight, but that all changed when Couture dropped Sylvia with his first punch of the fight.
He thoroughly dominated Sylvia in the cage and on the scorecards, winning the fight 50-45 according to each judge.
The UFC Hall of Fame member, fighting at heavyweight for the first time in nearly five years, was champion yet again.
Josh Koscheck was looking to build upon his ridiculous KO of Yoshiyuki Yoshida in his fight against unknown Paulo Thiago.
Thiago, a UFC newcomer, was a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter who had fought exclusively in his native Brazil until this fight.
Due to the level of competition Koscheck had faced (including Georges St. Pierre, Thiago Alves, and Diego Sanchez), most thought Koscheck would roll over Thiago.
In what amounted to a stand up fight, Thiago caught Koscheck with an uppercut/hook combo that put the “Ultimate Fighter” original cast member down.
As Koscheck’s eyes rolled to the back of the head, the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. Although a controversial stoppage to some, Thiago definitely made his first UFC fight a memorable one.
Junior dos Santos came into his UFC debut as a Brazilian with a background in kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
He was still a heavy underdog in his Octagon debut- dos Santos would face Fabricio Werdum, a man who had never been finished in his career.
Werdum had previously fought such tough fighters as Andrei Arlovski, Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem, and Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira.
Junior dos Santos would formally introduce himself to the UFC fans when he hit Werdum with an uppercut that dropped him like a bad habit.
With the KO at the 1:21 mark of the first round, dos Santos shocked the world (and the oddsmakers), and he would continue to impress with a dominating TKO win over Stefan Struve at UFC 95.
While UFC 63's main event was the rematch between Matt Hughes and BJ Penn, another interesting story line was on the main card.
Jens Pulver, the former UFC lightweight champion, was making his comeback to the UFC. He had fought in PRIDE and other organizations after vacating his title, but when the UFC brought back the lightweight division, Pulver decided to return to the Octagon.
The UFC matched Pulver with Joe Lauzon, a 22-year-old UFC newcomer who only trained part time in addition to working as a computer techie.
Oddsmakers put Pulver as a seven to one favorite, as nobody knew who Lauzon was.
Lauzon decided to tell the whole UFC who he was—in just 48 seconds.
He knocked out Pulver, the former champ, in under a minute. With his win, Lauzon won a new legion of fans as well as a spot on “The Ultimate Fighter”.
One of the storylines in that season was that Lauzon’s opposing coach was none other than Jens Pulver.
This fight may have been the beginning of the end for Pulver’s career, since that loss, he’s gone 1-4 in the UFC and WEC.
When a fighter is thrust into a title shot unexpectedly, most people would write them off as having no chance.
With the fourth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” giving the middleweight and welterweight winners a chance at championship gold, most people thought the "TUF" winners, Travis Lutter and Matt Serra, would have no chance against Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre, respectively.
At UFC 67, Lutter almost pulled off the unthinkable, he was able to mount Anderson Silva in Round One before succumbing to a triangle choke in Round Two.
What brought insult to injury was the fact that Lutter failed to make weight for the event, so even if he had defeated Silva, the belt would not be his.
Serra, however, wouldn’t let this opportunity slip away.
He did make weight against St. Pierre at UFC 69, but most people still thought “The Terror” had no chance against “Rush”.
He changed all that with a right hand to the side of St. Pierre’s head that wobbled the champ. After connecting with a few more strikes to the still dazed St. Pierre, Serra eventually stood over St. Pierre and pounded away until “Big” John McCarthy stopped the fight (while St. Pierre tapped out).
Serra walked away with the championship belt and one of the biggest upsets of all time.