The Ultimate Fighter has been a growing sensation ever since it’s first finale show that pitted Stephan Bonnar vs Forrest Griffin and Kenny Florian vs Diego Sanchez. Dana White said the Bonnar/Griffin fight is the fight that put the UFC on the map.
But is it one of the top five hyped fights in TUF history?
No. 5: Shonie Carter vs Matt Serra (The Rematch)
The heated rematch of Carter vs Serra was not only hyped by White and others on the show, but many fans were excited to see what the two could produce years after their first stunning fight, in which Carter KO’d Serra via spinning backfist.
In the rematch, of course, Carter again went for the patented move, only to have Serra readily dodge his attempt. This time, Serra garnered the decision win, and moved on to the finals to defeat Chris Lytle to become the season three lightweight winner. He later cashed in on his title shot at UFC 69 by defeating Georges St. Pierre in the first round.
No. 4: “War Machine” vs Jared Rollins
In what could be called the fight of the year, War Machine and Rollins battled back and forth for three rounds on TUF season six’s finale show. The bout was back and forth throughout, and many fans felt going into the fight that each fighter disliked one another because of a tussle on the show.
However, both fighters revealed that they have respect for the other, and showed it on the finale, winning the fight of the night honors, and displaying a possible fight of the year quality bout. War Machine won via 3rd Rd. TKO, and both fighters no longer fight for the UFC.
No. 3: Michael Bisping vs Matt Hamill
Even though this fight took place after the Ultimate Fighter Season 3 show ended, it still had all the hype and desire from the discontentment the two displayed towards the other on the show.
Though Hamill was very considerate and friendly with Bisping on the show, Bisping never returned the feelings, constantly arguing with Hamill and complaining to other fighters that Hamill was shown favoritism by coach Tito Ortiz because of Hamill’s deaf handicap. The fight took place in Bisping’s home country, and specifically in London, England.
In the fight itself, Hamill appeared to dominate the stand up game, using a mixture of combination punches and uppercuts, while using short uppercuts in the clinch. Bisping seemed very unwilling to trade with Hamill in rounds one and two, and eventually was a little more comfortable in the third round.
Bisping ended up winning a split decision over Hamill, a decision that to this day bugs many UFC fans. However, with Bisping’s transition to the middleweight division, the rematch would need to be somewhere along the future.
No. 2: Amir Sadollah vs C.B. Dollaway (I and II)
In the seventh installment of TUF, an unexperienced, gritty, funny-looking man named Amir Sadollah defied the odds, and in the process, captured the hearts of many fans throughout the season. He found himself going up against a world-class wrestler by the name of C.B. Dollaway, the favorite to win the season coming into the show.
Dollaway was the exact opposite of Sadollah, being one of the most experienced fighters coming into the show. In their first meeting, Dollaway found himself frustrated with Sadollah’s constant will to fight, and ended up getting caught in an armbar in the third round to send Sadollah into the finals.
Thanks to Jesse Taylor’s antics following the show, Dollaway fought his way back into the finals, and into a rematch with Sadollah. However, again, Dollaway got caught by Sadollah in an armbar, and through an apparent tapout, gave Sadollah the season seven contract.
No. 1: Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonnar
There’s a reason why Dana White says this fight put the UFC on the map…because it did. Griffin, a hard-working standout coming from Columbus, Ohio, faced off against a very game, very focused Stephan Bonnar, the tall, lanky, scrappy fighter from Munster, Indiana.
The fight went back and forth for all three rounds, with nonstop action for the majority. Bonnar opened a cut on Griffin, which only added to the intensity and fortitude displayed by both fighters that night.
When it came time for the judges decision, a split-decision was announced in Griffin’s favor. Bonnar, depleted and deprived from what he felt was rightly his, fell to the mat in shear agony. However, UFC president Dana White immediately announced that the UFC would be awarding Bonnar the contract as well as Griffin.
In August of 2006, a little over a year from when the first bout occurred, both fighters met once again, with this bout characterized as one-sided in Griffin’s favor. This fight, not only is the most hyped and talked about fight in UFC history, but it is the best fight in the history of mixed martial arts. Period.