The 5 Most Jaw Dropping Moments in MMA Since Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar
In 2005, the world of mixed martial arts changed forever. Through The Ultimate Fighter competition, fans got an up-close look at the lives of professional fighters in a way that they never had. When it was time for the show's finale, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar captivated the sporting world through their epic battle.
Over the course of the last eight years, the UFC has grown in ways that Dana White could never have dreamed. Their schedule of cards jumped from 10 events per year to an astounding 33, four new divisions have been introduced and TUF runs international versions concurrent with it's American counterpart.
During that time, fans have been treated to some of the most shocking moments that our sport has ever known. Some will define the sport while others will simply be remembered by their violent nature.
Here is a look at MMA's five most jaw-dropping moments since Griffin vs. Bonnar I.
Gabriel Gonzaga nearly decapitated Mirko Cro Cop with a head kick that is still talked about to this day.
Gary M. Prior/Getty Images
There are countless jaw-dropping moments that could have made this list. Here are 10 that were up for consideration, but didn't quite make the cut:
- Randy Couture returns to the UFC to win heavyweight championship
- Brock Lesnar uses one punch to send Heath Herring backflipping
- Zuffa purchases Strikeforce
- Paul Daley sucker punches Josh Koscheck after an otherwise forgettable fight
- Vitor Belfort armbars Jon Jones to nearly win UFC light heavyweight championship
- Strikeforce fires reigning heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem
- Matt Serra knocks out Georges St-Pierre to win UFC welterweight championship
- Gabriel Gonzaga head kicks Mirko Cro Cop into oblivion
- The UFC announces a women's bantamweight division
- Anthony Pettis bounces off of a cage wall to deliver "The Showtime Kick."
Scott Smith vs. Pete Sell Ends in Carnage
Pete Sell being told by the referee that he lost this fight, despite his opponent lying on the ground and barely moving. (Photo: bloodyelbow.com)
Anyone who watched the Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale knew that Scott Smith was finished as soon as he winced in agony following a vicious body blow. However, it was then that "Hands of Steel" created one of the most memorable finishes in UFC history.
With Smith backing away and crumpled over in pain, opponent Pete Sell rushed forward to look for the finish. The big problem with this was that he dropped his hands and left his chin exposed.
Summoning strength from an ungodly location within his will, Smith was able to deliver a right hand that landed flush on the chin of "Drago" and put the Serra-Longo student to sleep.
Immediately after scoring the epic knockout, Smith fell to the floor, writhing in pain.
Corey Hill's Leg Snaps in Half
Corey Hill vs. Dale Hartt ended in a way that nobody could have predicted.
What do you notice about the photo on this page? Is it the ridiculously skinny stature of Corey Hill, which shows off every single bone in his back? Maybe it is the seemingly random foot at the bottom of the frame that comes from out of nowhere.
Unfortunately for Mr. Hill, that foot is not coming from out of nowhere. After having a low kick checked by opponent Dale Hartt, the Ultimate Fighter contestant's leg snapped at the shin, and left the lower half flailing about.
The crazy thing about this fight which no one seems to mention is what happens after the pugilists hit the ground. If you watch the video (trust me, you don't want to) you will notice at the time that the fight was stopped, Hill is threatening Hartt with a kimura from the bottom. Could you imagine if this fight had gone 10 more seconds and Hill had miraculously won despite the gruesome injury?
Fabricio Werdum Taps out Fedor Emelianenko in 69 Seconds
In 2010, it was a foregone conclusion to many that Fedor Emelianenko was going to trample over the Strikeforce batch of heavyweights. After all, the undefeated Russian had spent his years battering the best fighters in the world and was now matched up against opponents who rarely found themselves in the rankings.
What could go wrong?
While opponent Fabricio Werdum might have been a UFC castoff who put up a paltry 2-2 record during his Zuffa tenure, he remained one of the most dangerous ground fighters that the sport has ever seen.
Early in the fight, Fedor landed a quick flurry of punches, none of which landed particularly clean. With Emelianenko showing heavy aggression, Werdum flopped to his back and feigned that he was hurt. It was an invitation to come play on the ground that the M-1 meal ticket should have declined.
Werdum quickly recovered guard, and in the blink of an eye latched onto a triangle/armbar combination that proved to be too much for "The Last Emperor." Not only was the flawless record of Emelianenko put out to pasture, but the process took only 69 seconds.
Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen I
Originally, I titled this slide "Anderson Silva Rallies Late to Defeat Chael Sonnen." However, I don't feel that the finish was the only jaw-dropping aspect of this epic affair.
Heading into this contest, Anderson Silva had an astonishing record of 11-0 inside the Octagon. That accomplishment included victories in two weight classes against some of the best strikers and grapplers in the sport. For that reason, even Nostradamus would have been blown away by what was in store.
For the first 22 minutes of this fight, Chael Sonnen lived up to his promise of delivering a one-sided beatdown in which he would be the one swinging the hammer. Not only was he successful in wrestling "The Spider" to the mat and pounding his head, but the Oregon native repeatedly scored during stand-up exchanges.
After having his head bounced off of the ground more times than your average basketball, Silva shocked the world by throwing up a breathtaking triangle/armbar combination. Fans waited with baited breath as Sonnen sat out and properly defended the submission. However, he could not escape the hold and was forced to tap.
Not only was this bout the greatest comeback in MMA history, but it is the focal point of the greatest rivalry that our sport has ever known.
Chris Weidman Knocks out Anderson Silva
Chris Weidman drops the hammer on Anderson Silva
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor
It should come as no surprise that the biggest moments in modern MMA history revolve largely around the biggest stars of the sport. Anderson Silva's second appearance in this list comes with less success than his first.
At UFC 162, the era of "The Spider" came to a shocking conclusion when Chris Weidman emerged victorious by way of knockout.
Weidman having his arm raised isn't remotely the biggest shocker of the year. However, his method of victory is what dropped jaws around the world. "The All American" was able to overcome Silva's immense stand-up abilities and penetrate his evasive defenses in a way that no one had ever done previously.
By mixing up his strikes and applying strategic aggression at pivotal moments, Weidman was able to leave Las Vegas with a shiny golden belt wrapped around his waist.
The two are scheduled to meet at UFC 168. Expectations are high for both the fighters and PPV records. Who will come out victorious the second time around? Who knows? But one thing is certain. The first matchup is one for the history books.