The month of December has given MMA fans a lot of joy over the years. From Japan New Years Eve shows to the UFC putting on some memorable cards, it has always been a month of happiness in the MMA community.
There have been a host of events over the years from the UFC starting all the way back at UFC 4. The 2012 rendition kicks off with UFC on FOX on Saturday.
The biggest fights in the company's history have nearly all taken to the cage in the final month of the year. MMA is the reason for the season.
Here is a quick list of some of the most memorable moments from the Ghosts of December's Past.
UFC 4 had several memorable moments. That's why it will appear collectively here.
Every fight of the tournament ended with a submission. Dan Severn, Steve Jennum, Keith Hackney and the great Royce Gracie all advanced to the semi-finals.
Severn put Marcus Bosset, an alternate, away in under a minute to get to the final. Gracie would need 5:32 to end Hackney's night with an armlock.
The final was a grueling 15:49 of action from Gracie and Severn before Gracie picked up another tournament victory with a triangle choke. The early UFC tournaments were a load of fun. A cause for the aging fan to reminisce about the good ol' days.
These early shows helped lay the foundation of the sport.
The Ultimate Ultimate 2 event took place in 1996 and featured another classic UFC tournament.
The participants were reason enough to get excited. Kimo, Don Frye, Gary Goodridge, Tank Abbot and Ken Shamrock just to name a few.
In spite of wins by Kimo and Shamrock, neither man would be able to advance to the next round. Kimo was too fatigued to continue and Shamrock broke his hand delivering punches to Brian Johnston.
Frye and Abbot would make quick work of the alternates in the semi-finals. Frye needed 20 seconds and Tank needed 63.
The quick but exciting final saw Frye get a rear-naked choke on the heavy handed slugger at the 1:22 mark to pick up his second UFC tournament victory. If you have not seen The Ultimate Ultimate 2 you should make an effort to find it and watch it.
UFC 66 had several finishes, but it is memorable because it was one of the first UFC events to truly have that big fight feel.
Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz were meeting for the first time in the post-TUF world of MMA. There was a lot of buzz building up to this fight.
In the co-main event of the evening, Keith Jardine upset The Ultimate Fighter champion Forrest Griffin with a first round knockout. It would not be the only time he was humbled by a member of The Ultimate Fighter season two.
Then it was time for the highly anticipated main event. Ortiz hung with Liddell in the early going, but Liddell quickly took over. He overwhelmed Ortiz and got the TKO finish at 3:57 of the third round to retain his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
UFC 79: Nemesis featured two marquee bouts. Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva would finally meet to find out who the better fighter was after years of debate, and Matt Hughes defended the UFC Welterweight Championship against GSP.
Liddell and Silva went toe-to-toe and was everything fans thought it would be. They slugged it out for 15 minutes until the final horn blew. Liddell would take the fight 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 on the scorecards.
The main event saw a new interim champion at 170 pounds.
GSP and Hughes battled for the Interim UFC Welterweight Championship as Matt Serra was sidelined. It was an opportunity for the score to be settled between GSP and Hughes. The series was knotted at 1-1.
It was utter dominance by the French-Canadian.
He tossed Hughes to the mat and ended up finishing the fight with an armbar. Hughes was even unable to tap as his other arm was trapped and he had to yell at the referee to call the fight. GSP would get the belt and earn himself a rematch with the man who knocked him off the pedestal.
Those are two fights that will stick with fans for a long time.
UFC: Fight for the Troops gave everyone a treat when the main event came around.
Koscheck put himself on the UFC highlight reel for good when he used his heavy right to stiffen up Yoshida.
Up against the cage Yoshida had his head straight up and Koscheck capitalized.
The knockout was beautiful. The camera work captured Yoshida's eyes rolling, stiffening and falling to the canvas. Koscheck got a knockout of the night bonus check, and we got holiday violence.
UFC 92: The Ultimate 2008 gave us quite possibly the best triple header in company history.
The first of the main attractions was the third installment between Rampage Jackson and Wanderlei Silva. Rampage finally got a win against The Axe Murderer with a first round knockout that put Silva out cold.
The co-main event was for the Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Frank Mir. A battle between the two best heavyweight submission artists in MMA history. Mir shocked the world by being the first to stop Nogueira, and got UFC gold one more time.
The main event was for the undisputed UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. Rashad Evans, The Ultimate Fighter season two champion, challenged champion Forrest Griffin, The Ultimate Fighter season one champion.
Evans came out on top in the third round with vicious ground and pound.
If you ordered this PPV then you probably have great memories of a stacked main card that delivered on all fronts.
The Ultimate Fighter wrapped up its tenth season with a live finale on Spike TV.
Kimbo Silce's fight was not as memorable as the UFC would have liked, but Matt Mitrione and Roy Nelson delivered two nice knockouts. Nelson's is still seen on UFC highlight packages today.
But what was truly memorable was the arrival of Jon Jones.
His previous fights had been on the preliminary cards of pay-per-views, but now he was headlining a show on live television. Matt Hamill was seen as a big test for the youngster making waves in the UFC.
Hamill got the win by DQ because of a bad call by the referee, but fans and pundits were amazed by Jones anyhow. He ragdolled Hamill. No one had done that before. And it was vicious. Jones had arrived.
The co-main and main event of UFC 107 gave MMA fans some solid memories.
The co-main event was a heavyweight attraction between Frank Mir and Chieck Kongo. Mir was coming off his loss at UFC 100 to Brock Lesnar and had beefed up considerably. He returned with a quick and emphatic performance.
Mir dropped Kongo on the feet and then locked in a guillotine choke that put Kongo out. Kongo laying unconscious was a fitting return for Mir.
B.J. Penn defended his UFC Lightweight Championship against Diego Sanchez in the night's main event. The gash that would end the fight is what is most memorable.
It was nasty.
A headkick flush against Sanchez's forehead is what did the damage.
A nasty cut like that is hard to forget.
Another December card and another memorable co-main and main event.
Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira met one more time inside the Octagon. This time there would be no excuses for a poor performance. The outcome was different, but the victor was the same.
Mir once again shocked the MMA community. But this time it was because he became the first to submit Nogueira. And not just submit him, but he broke his arm with a Kimura. It was beautifully devastating.
Jon Jones defended his UFC Light Heavyweight crown in the main event of the evening against Lyoto Machida. Machida landed a few solid strikes in the first round which gave many hope that it would be a competitive title fight.
Jones stopped that notion in the second by choking out Machida and dropping his unconscious body without a care. Another beautifully devastating submission at UFC 140.
Jon Fitch was considered one of the most durable welterweights in the division. Twelve seconds in to his fight with Hendricks, and that thought ended.
Hendricks' huge power floored Fitch in nearly an identical fashion that it would do to Kampmann almost a year later in Montreal.
Hendricks' run to the top of the division really started last December. It was a win over one of the division's best fighters on a major PPV card headlined by Brock Lesnar. The eyes of the MMA world were watching and were astonished by his knockout.
Only time will tell what awaits us in 2012, but 2011 sure delivered memories that will continue to stick with us.