Top 3 Career Moments from Today's Biggest MMA Stars
Superstars like Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva don't come around every day.
These are MMA's biggest stars, and they were formed by career-defining moments. Moments such as these can be anything between a flash knockout or an improbable submission win.
For these stars, most of those moments revolve around infrequent situations. Sure, these fighters have their fair share of flashy knockouts and thrilling, dominant victories.
But these UFC stars helped elevate their status by enduring rivalries, which have resulted in grudge matches.
But that isn't their only claim to fame. Here are today's biggest MMA stars' top three career-defining moments.
Silva Submits Henderson
Anderson Silva's victory against Dan Henderson was an eye-opening experience.
Henderson was supposed to give Silva a challenge that no one else could give him, and after one successful round of holding him down, Silva flipped the switch. He finished Henderson in the second round with a rear-naked choke. It was less of a fight, more of a statement.
KO Victory Over Belfort
Come on, you had to know one of Silva's exceptional knockout victories would be on here. As far as knockouts go, few get better than Silva's KO victory against Vitor Belfort at UFC 126.
The first-ever front-kick knockout was crafted by the greatest artist in MMA history. It was the first time UFC fans bore witness to a knockout in that type of fashion, and still it might not be Silva's greatest knockout in his career.
Rematch with Sonnen
Revenge is sweet and Silva knows this better than most.
After Sonnen trash talked his way into getting a rematch with Silva, Silva defeated him more convincingly. Silva's second round TKO victory over Sonnen furthermore solidified Silva's position as the greatest fighter of all time. Will he ever taste defeat in the Octagon?
Defeating Hughes for the Welterweight Championship
Georges St-Pierre was starstruck at UFC 50 when he first faced Matt Hughes for the welterweight championship.
At UFC 65, GSP controlled his emotions and stopped Hughes with a head kick followed by ground and pound. It marked the first time GSP won a championship in the UFC.
UFC 94—Champion vs. Champion
At the time, St-Pierre vs. B.J. Penn II was the biggest fight in UFC history.
The hype going into the bout was immeasurable. Two fighters in their prime were facing off against one another, but Penn was not on GSP's level that night. Because of his strength and tremendous edge in cardio, GSP ran right through Penn and the fight was stopped heading into the fifth round. It was GSP's greatest moment as a champion.
The only other moment that might rival GSP's victory against Penn might be his victory against Carlos Condit at UFC 154 a few months ago.
It was GSP's first fight since tearing his ACL and some wondered whether GSP would have the same explosion that he once had. St-Pierre answered all questions with powerful double-leg takedowns and quick strikes.
Before UFC 154, fans considered GSP to be one of the greatest of all time. But after watching GSP defeat Condit by decision, fans can rest easy—GSP is still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.
Becoming the Youngest Champion in UFC History
Jon Jones is so young that his career-defining moment may not have occurred yet. But if his career were to end today because of some unfortunate circumstance, Jones would be remembered as the youngest champion in UFC history.
After Jones defeated Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 128, he became the champion of the UFC at the age of 23. This record may never be broken.
Jones doesn't just win fights in the UFC, he dominates them. With his barrage of striking and superior wrestling skills, Jones runs through his competition just about every time.
Well, Lyoto Machida had other plans. In the first round of their encounter at UFC 140, Machida was getting the better of the striking. For the first time in his young UFC career, Jones was challenged. He wasn't for long. In the second round, Jones dropped Machida and rendered him unconscious with a guillotine choke.
Grudge Match with Evans
Rashad Evans vs. Jones was an intriguing matchup at UFC 145. This was a fight that presented two former friends and training partners with an opportunity to fight for the belt.
The storyline, however, revolved around the two fighters newly developed hatred for each other, following a bad breakup at Greg Jackson's MMA gym. The beef between the two died down a bit right before they faced each other in the Octagon, but that didn't stop Jones from picking Evans apart for five full rounds. It was a tremendous victory gained by Jones over his former mentor.
Winning the WEC Championship
When Jose Aldo defeated Mike Brown at WEC 44, he went from being one of the flashiest fighters on the planet to being one of the best.
Aldo dominated Brown and finished him with ground and pound from a back-mount. He won the championship at 23 years old.
Headlining the Only WEC PPV
In 2010, Aldo headlined the only WEC pay-per view in history against Urijah Faber.
In the fight, Aldo battered Faber's legs with vicious leg kicks toward a decision victory. It was actually hard to watch, as it resulted in Faber's leg looking like this.
Winning a Superfight in the UFC
Ah, this one is fresh, but it's sure to carry weight throughout the rest of Aldo's career.
Aldo faced the greatest challenge of his career last Saturday when he faced former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Aldo had the advantage when it came to skills, but Edgar's heart nearly took the belt away.
Aldo remained focused though. He kept engaging and did enough to retain his championship against one of the best fighters in the world.
Chael Sonnen entered his scrap with Nate Marquardt as an underdog.
Casual fans were beginning to take notice of him after defeating Yushin Okami, but still, most fans didn't know who this brash personality was. With first-class wrestling, Sonnen took Marquardt down and controlled him for the length of the three-round fight. It was a huge win for Sonnen and it won him a title shot.
UFC 115 Q&A
Let's face it—Chael Sonnen will be remembered more for his mouth rather than his fighting style when he's gone. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
Sonnen is a pioneer of generating buzz with his mouth in the UFC because he perfected it. He did it off and on throughout his UFC career, but he really turned up the heat at UFC 115. Sonnen held a question and answer for the fans at the UFC event, and that's when he gave his unforgettable tirade on Anderson Silva and his buddies from Brazil.
Nearly Defeating the G.O.A.T.
Sonnen's claim to greatness will always be Aug. 7, 2010. This was the night Sonnen turned the world on its head.
Sonnen backed up every word he said when he took it to the greatest fighter of all time, Anderson Silva. Silva was all but defeated going into the fifth round and with a miraculous submission with less than two minutes remaining in the fight, Silva kept his title. Still, everyone was talking about Sonnen's unimaginative performance.
Knocking Out Nogueira
Frank Mir stopped Noguiera with strikes at UFC 92, but Nogueira claimed that his staph infection was the cause.
Going into UFC 110, many perceived Nogueira to still be without a knockout loss. Velasquez changed that perception. With a first-round knockout victory over a legend, Velasquez earned himself a title shot.
Defeating Lesnar for the UFC Heavyweight Championship
In that title fight, he stopped the monster. Brock Lesnar became the most polarizing figure in the UFC ater he won the UFC championship.
Love him or hate him, you wanted to see him fight. And after his comeback win against Shane Carwin at UFC 116, his legend grew. Velasquez cut that legend short.
Velasquez used his boxing and stout wrestling to defeat Lesnar in the first round and become the new heavyweight champion.
Velasquez would fail to defend his title. On UFC's debut on FOX, Velasquez suffered a first-round knockout loss to Junior dos Santos.
After proving worthy of another title shot, Velasquez dominated for five straight rounds at UFC 155. Velasquez regained his title and made his loss to JDS look like a fluke.
Junior Dos Santos
JDS sure knows how to make an appearance.
In his first UFC fight, dos Santos knocked out a heavyweight contender in Fabricio Werdum. Immediately he put a stamp on the heavyweight division with his patented uppercut.
Winning Championship in Main Event of First-Ever UFC on FOX Card
His biggest victory came when he defeated Velasquez to become the heavyweight champion.
It was a huge event for the UFC, and because of its placement on cable television, many proclaimed it to be the biggest fight in UFC history. Dos Santos ended it early with a perfectly placed right hook on Velasquez's temple.
Defeating Mir—Revenge for his Mentor
Sure, dos Santos always said it was never personal between him and Frank Mir.
But it had to feel sweet for him to stop Mir in the second round, after he broke the arm of his mentor, Nogueira. He might not admit it, but that win was certainly fueled by the love and respect of his mentor.
Winning Every Fight by Armbar
This isn't really a moment, but statistics can define careers. For Ronda Rousey, her 6-0 record with every win recorded by way of submission has to feel fantastic.
What's even better is the word armbar in parenthesis next to the word submission for every professional fight.
Rousey's fight with Meisha Tate last year was arguably the biggest fight in women's MMA history. Both fighters drew 472,000 viewers on Showtime, and they delivered loads of action.
With a first round victory (guess how), Rousey became the new women's champion at 135 pounds in Strikeforce. This would lead to her greatest moment in her career.
Headlining UFC 157
Becoming the first woman to defend her title in the main event of a UFC pay-per-view is a feat that only Rousey will be able to claim.
Rousey is the UFC's first women's champion, and when she fights Liz Carmouche later this month, it will top her fight with Tate as the biggest fight in women's MMA history.