UFC 20th Anniversary: 5 of the Worst Moments in UFC History
The UFC has turned 20 years young this month and like with most anniversaries nostalgia is rife in the MMA community at this time.
It is easy to remember the good times. From Royce Gracie's triumph at UFC 1, to the best knockouts, best submissions and the best events. A 20th anniversary is a cause for celebration and remembering the good is the best way to do so.
However, with the good comes the bad. Sometimes we can even look back at the bad and just laugh, but other times we try to block them out and forget they ever happened. They're just as important as the good memories, though. Flaws build character and the UFC has had its bad days, but it would be pretty uninteresting if everything was rosy all of the time.
So here is to the bad times and five of the worst moments in UFC history.
The Ultimate Fighter: Season 16
Season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter is probably the worst one of them all. With a group of fighters who were not very good and two coaches in Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin with next to no animosity between each other, it was by far the biggest indication that this format needed a shakeup.
Not even the fighters' delusions over their own abilities were funny. It was just sad. Between Michael Hill referring to himself as a 'Lion in a house full of animals' and Julian Lane's occasional mental freak outs in which he head-butted walls and screamed in everyone's face, there were no redeeming features of this series.
Even the coaches challenge was painful to watch, although it is a given some evil souls were laughing when Roy Nelson attempted the 400m.
After hearing a fighter describing himself as a 'warrior' for the 100th time, it was a huge relief when this season finally ended.
Probably the worst event in the UFC's history, UFC 33 was only the third event under the ownership of Zuffa and their first in the fight capital of the world Las Vegas.
More importantly, it was just a few short weeks after the tragic events of 9/11. The card was stacked and included three title fights, and fans showed their resolve by packing into the Mandalay Bay Events Centre. It looked like it was going to be a landmark event for the UFC.
Instead, the card was a disaster. Tito Ortiz vs. Vladimir Matyushenko for the light heavyweight title and Jens Pulver vs. Dennis Hallman for the lightweight title are largely considered to be the worst five-round title fights in the history of the company.
Not only were the fights bad, but it led to an unwanted rift with cable companies after the card ran over time, and the event was cut off for many in the middle of the main event between Ortiz and Matyushenko.
When the UFC needed a big event they did not get it. Even though they tried by putting on three title fights, it backfired, and they have not tried the same move again since.
Paul Daley Assaults Josh Koscheck
Paul Daley's fight with Josh Koscheck was by far the biggest of his career, but the striker was out-grappled and dominated by wrestler Koscheck, ultimately losing by decision.
What Daley could have done was take the loss on the chin, even if he did receive verbal abuse from Koscheck, and he could have taken the high road. He did not, of course.
The UFC is still to this day trying to convince people mixed martial arts is not just mindless violence, and the company has done a lot to move away from the image of the early days. So when Daley decided he would sucker punch Koscheck after the fight was over in an act of pure idiocy, he showed himself to be exactly what the UFC was trying to escape from.
Dana White had no hesitation of firing Daley and banning him from the UFC for good.
UFC 74: Renato Sobral Chokes out David Heath
Daley punched Koscheck in the face, which was bad. However, Renato Sobral had already set the bar for stupidity at UFC 74.
Sobral caught David Heath in an Ananconda choke, but even after the referee told the Brazilian to let go, he maintained the choke to render his opponent unconscious.
He did not regret his actions and claimed he wanted to teach Heath a lesson. It cost him his spot on the UFC roster, and he was released after the event.
Another action which demonstrates the difference between what is mindless violence and sport. It is all about control.
Above is his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
UFC 151 Is Cancelled
The event that never was. UFC 151 was supposed to see Jon Jones defend his light heavyweight title against Dan Henderson, but after the latter suffered an injury on short notice the event was cancelled.
Before the event was cancelled, Chael Sonnen was offered an underserved title shot after several other fighters turned down the opportunity. When Sonnen accepted, Jones refused. Cue a series finger pointing from all directions.
White blamed Jones and Greg Jackson, who he referred to as a sport killer, while Jones defended his decision which was made after receiving advice from his coach. The light heavyweight champion also claimed he had no idea the event would be cancelled, while the UFC President claimed he did.
It could not get any messier, right? Wrong. Shortly after, it was alleged Henderson suffered his injury three weeks prior to the cancellation, so he received criticism for not speaking up sooner.
In summary, the UFC cancelled an event for the first time in their history, and there was a borderline playground blame-game led by the UFC President causing a whole heap of confusion.
Not only this, but Jones later grew a horrifying beard for his fight against Vitor Belfort at UFC 152, and his saga with Chael Sonnen was belatedly resolved in a pointless fight in which he dominated at UFC 159.
It was an unholy mess, which hopefully the company can avoid in the future. If anything similar does happen again, then it should be dealt with without the slanderous insults and with a chance for fighters to explain to avoid any image damage.