UFC: The Top 50 Fights In UFC History

Andrew MahlmannCorrespondent IFebruary 17, 2011

UFC: The Top 50 Fights In UFC History

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    Every so often, we need to take a look back and see what were some of the best fights in UFC history.

    What were the most inspiring championship performances?

    What fights had the best back-and-forth action?

    What were the most defining moments?

    These are the top 50 fights in the history of the UFC...... 

50. Thiago Alves Vs. Matt Hughes (UFC 85)

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    Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

    Alves was an emerging contender whose capabilities came to a head in a brilliant performance against the legend Matt Hughes.

    Alves shut down all of Hughes' offense and earned the TKO victory a minute into the second round. 

49. BJ Penn Vs. Caol Uno 2 (UFC 41)

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    BJ Penn and Caol Uno fought for the vacant Lightweight Championship in a dynamic back-and-forth affair.

    The bout was ruled a draw and the championship remained vacant.

48. Anderson Silva Vs. Vitor Belfort (UFC 126)

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    When two of the most devastating strikers on the planet faced off, a spectacular knock out was expected, and indeed delivered.

    Anderson Silva landed a perfect highlight-reel front kick that is nearly unprecedented at the highest levels. 

47. Randy Couture Vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (UFC 74)

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    Couture was an underdog to the bigger younger Gonzaga, but roughed his opponent up and got in his face to achieve an inspiring third-round TKO.

46. Mike Russow Vs. Todd Duffee (UFC 114)

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    Hot prospect Duffee dominated the stand-up action for two and a half rounds before getting dropped by a perfect right hand from Russow.

    One of the greatest come-from-behind victories in UFC history, and emergence of the infamous "hammerfist of doom" and its variations.

45. Dan Henderson Vs. Michael Bisping (UFC 100)

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    Dan Henderson showed just how much Bisping had left to learn by flattening him with a perfect one-punch KO in the second round.

    The flying fist drop that followed was just an exclamation point to end the documented rivalry.

44. Maurice Smith Vs. Mark Coleman (UFC 14)

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    Maurice Smith took the UFC Heavyweight Championship from the previously undefeated Coleman and became the first elite striker to defeat an elite grappler in MMA competition.

43. Matt Hughes Vs.Carlos Newton 1 (UFC 34)

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    In a spectacular but controversial finish, Matt Hughes won the UFC Welterweight Championship by trying to slam out of a triangle choke.

    Both men were rendered senseless, but Hughes found validation in winning a rematch and becoming far and away the best welterweight of his era.

42. Pedro Rizzo Vs. Josh Barnett (UFC 30)

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    Two of the baddest heavyweights on the planet battled it out, with Rizzo handing Barnett his first professional defeat by way of second-round KO.

41. BJ Penn Vs. Caol Uno 1 (UFC 34)

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    In just his third professional fight, Penn blitzed veteran fighter Caol Uno with an 11-second KO to start generating hype as the next big thing.

40. Andrei Arlovski Vs. Tim Sylvia 1 (UFC 51)

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    Fan favorite Arlovski put Tim Sylvia down with punches before finishing him with an Achilles lock in less than a minute.

    The win earned Arlovski the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

39. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Vs Tim Sylvia (UFC 81)

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    Nogueira survived an initial onslaught only to turn the tides and submit Sylvia with a beautiful guillotine choke in the third round to claim the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship.

    With the win, Nogueira became the only man to hold championship belts in both PRIDE FC and the UFC. 

38. Anderson Silva Vs. Forrest Griffin (UFC 101)

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    After a couple of lackluster performances, Silva reaffirmed his place as the world's most amazing fighter by embarrassing superstar Forrest Griffin in a light heavyweight bout.

37. Lyoto Machida Vs. Mauricio Rua 1 (UFC 104)

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    Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida was supposed to dominate the division, but Mauricio Rua had other plans.

    The challenger pushed the pace against the champion in an exciting stand-up affair, and many felt Rua should have won a decision.

    Machida got the nod, and the controversial decision led to the immediate rematch.

36. Mauricio Rua Vs. Lyoto Machida 2 (UFC 113)

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    Rua gets his revenge and redemption by viciously KO'ing the previously undefeated Machida in the first round of his rematch.

35. BJ Penn Vs. Sean Sherk (UFC 85)

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    BJ Penn defended his UFC Lightweight Championship in a battle of two of the greatest lightweights of all time.

    The durable Sherk boxed with Penn for nearly three rounds before a flying knee and subsequent flurry from Penn put Sherk down and out at the end of the round.

34. Quinton Jackson Vs. Dan Henderson (UFC 75)

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    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

    UFC Champion Quinton Jackson edged fellow wrestler Dan Henderson in a memorable battle to unify the UFC and PRIDE FC 205-pound championships.

33. Forrest Griffin Vs. Quinton Jackson (UFC 86)

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    Griffin was a considerable underdog but came in well-prepared. He was able to wrest the belt from reigning Light Heavyweight Champion Jackson through a tightly contested five-round battle.

32. Anderson Silva Vs. Dan Henderson (UFC 82)

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    Anderson Silva defended his Middleweight Championship by defeating legendary Dan Henderson and being the first person ever to submit the accomplished veteran with a choke.  

31. BJ Penn Vs. Joe Stevenson (UFC 80)

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    After fighting across different divisions, BJ Penn finally claimed the Lightweight Championship by overwhelming solid contender Joe Stevenson for the vacant belt.

30. Frank Mir Vs. Tim Sylvia (UFC 48)

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    Frank Mir famously won the Heavyweight Championship by breaking Tim Sylvia's forearm with a quick and impressive first-round armbar.

29. Gabriel Gonzaga Vs. Mirko Filipovic (UFC 70)

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    Gabriel Gonzaga defeated Filipovic in a fight that simultaneously gave us one of the most brutal KOs and biggest upsets of all time.

28. Lyoto Machida Vs. Rashad Evans (UFC 98)

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    Lyoto Machida won the Light Heavyweight Championship by constantly staying one step ahead of Evans before finishing him in the second round with a nasty KO.

27. Rashad Evans Vs. Chuck Liddell (UFC 88)

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    Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

    In one of the most brutal KOs in UFC history, Evans propelled himself into stardom and a shot at the Light Heavyweight Championship.

26. Georges St.-Pierre Vs. BJ Penn 2 (UFC 94)

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    Lightweight Champion BJ Penn challenged Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre in one of the most anticipated rematches of UFC history.

    GSP controlled the action of the bout until Penn's corner was forced to throw in the towel before the start of the fifth round.

25. Cain Velasquez Vs. Brock Lesnar (UFC 121)

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    Undefeated Cain Velasquez toppled Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar in an unrelenting and destructive first-round TKO.

24. Georges St.-Pierre Vs. Jon Fitch (UFC 87)

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    GSP solidified his dominance over the welterweight division, beating No. 2 welterweight Jon Fitch from pillar to post through five rounds in his first successful title defense.

23. Frankie Edgar Vs. Gray Maynard 2 (UFC 125)

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    The two warriors fought to a draw as Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar came back from a hellacious first-round beating in an incredible testament to his fortitude.

22. Anderson Silva Vs. Chael Sonnen (UFC 117)

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    Sonnen, the challenger, dominated Silva for four and half rounds before Anderson Silva won via a triangle/armbar submission in one of the most miraculous come-from-behind victories of all time.

21. Randy Couture Vs. Pedro Rizzo 1 (UFC 31)

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    After losing to Kevin Randleman earlier, Pedro Rizzo challenged for the UFC Heavyweight Championship a second time.

    Randy Couture won a decision in a tight battle that earned Rizzo an immediate rematch.

20. Brock Lesnar Vs. Shane Carwin (UFC 116)

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    Lesnar, the reigning Heavyweight Champion, had yet to be challenged by an athlete of his size and caliber. 

    Carwin put Lesnar in deep waters right away, but Lesnar weathered the storm and was able to submit a drained Carwin in the second round.

19. Anderson Silva Vs. Rich Franklin 2 (UFC 77)

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    Former champ Franklin came in better prepared for his rematch, but was still overwhelmed by Silva.

    Anderson used all manner of knees, kicks, elbows, and flying fists to thouroughly dismantle Franklin and put him away in the second round.

18. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Vs. Randy Couture (UFC 102)

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    Two of the greatest heavyweights in the history of the sport went to war in an exciting three round war that saw great exchanges on the feet and on the ground.

    Nogueira used his size, boxing, and BJJ to keep the edge on his formidable opponent and achieve victory.

17. Vitor Belfort Vs. Wanderlei Silva (UFC: Ultimate Brazil)

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    The young Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort blasted fellow up and comer and future legend Wanderlei Silva out of the water.

    Both talented strikers, Belfort proved too quick and powerful, as he finished Silva in just 44 seconds. 

16. Rich Franklin Vs. David Loiseau (UFC 58)

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    Franklin's five-round decision victory over Loiseau solidified his place as one of the most beloved champions in the UFC.

    It was Franklin's second successful title defense, and the fight was notable as a gritty and bloody battle that left both men nursing a number of injuries afterwards.

15. BJ Penn Vs. Matt Hughes 1 (UFC 46)

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    BJ Penn moved up a weight class to challenge longtime champion Matt Hughes.

    "The Prodigy" hurt Hughes with strikes before finishing him in the first round with a rear naked choke.

    It was a huge upset and further skyrocketed Penn's status as one of the most dangerous fighters the sport has seen.

14. Chuck Liddell Vs. Wanderlei Silva

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    Two legendary fighters collided in one of the most anticipated fights of the decade.

    Both had fallen from their runs at the top, but little to no steam was lost as the proud champions went to war for three rounds.

    Liddell walked away with the decision in what was to be his last great victory inside the octagon.

13. Matt Hughes Vs. Royce Gracie (UFC 60)

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    Hughes vs. Gracie was an official changing of the guard.

    Legendary champion Royce Gracie could no longer survive against the modern-day competitor, as Hughes dominated Gracie en route to a first-round TKO.

12. Randy Couture Vs. Tim Sylvia (UFC 68)

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    Randy Couture came out of retirement to challenge the reigning heavyweight champion, Tim Sylvia.

    Couture dominated the much larger man for all five rounds and ushered in a new and incredible chapter to the legend's career. 

11. Mark Coleman Vs. Dan Severn (UFC 12)

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    Both were already accomplished UFC tournament champions, but Mark Coleman overwhelmed Dan Severn to unify the Superfight Championship and claim the inaugural Heavyweight Championship.

10. Chuck Liddell Vs. Tito Ortiz 2 (UFC 66)

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    After their first meeting, Ortiz battled his way back to challenging his rival and Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell.

    Liddell would win once again.

    The anticipated bout pushed the UFC to new commercial levels, breaking MMA pay-per-view records and North American attendance records.

9. Matt Serra Vs. Georges St.-Pierre 1 (UFC 69)

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    Labeled by many as the greatest upset of all time.

    Serra shocked the world as he won the Welterweight Championship by defeating Georges St.-Pierre by first-round TKO.

    The upset still resonates today as it proved that anything can happen in MMA and that no one is invincible.

8. Georges St.-Pierre Vs. Matt Hughes 2 (UFC 65)

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    The man known as GSP had his coming-out party as a champion by dominating longtime welterweight kingpin Matt Hughes.

    St.-Pierre was impressive in all aspects of the game as he picked up a second-round TKO victory.

    The party would not last long, however.

7. Tito Ortiz Vs. Ken Shamrock 1 (UFC 40)

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    Love him or hate him, Tito Ortiz was an important figure in dragging the UFC out of the "dark ages."

    A cocky self-promoter, Ortiz was able to generate mainstream media attention for his first matchup with rival Ken Shamrock.

    Shamrock was a tough customer, but he lost due to a third-round TKO (doctor's stoppage). It would be Ortiz's fifth, but final, successful title defense.

6. Tito Ortiz Vs. Frank Shamrock (UFC 22)

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    Frank "The Legend" Shamrock was the most dominant fighter in the "dark ages" of the UFC.

    In his fourth title defense of the Light Heavyweight Championship (then called 'Middleweight'), Shamrock beat down future champ Tito Ortiz in the fourth round.

    After the fight, Shamrock left the organization.

5. Anderson Silva Vs. Chris Leben (Ultimate Fight Night 5)

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    Anderson Silva's UFC debut came against the tough-as-nails fan-favorite slugger, Chris Leben.

    Silva cut through Leben like a hot knife through butter in one of the quickest and most efficient beatdowns of all time.

    Silva announced himself to the world, as he would become the most dominant and spectacular fighter the UFC had ever seen.

4. Chuck Liddell Vs. Randy Couture 3 (UFC 57)

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    The finale and rubber match to the most famous trilogy in UFC history.

    It was the biggest event of its day, as Chuck Liddell knocked out Randy Couture for the second time.

    Liddell defended his belt once again, and Couture announced his retirement before eventually moving back up to heavyweight.

3. Matt Hughes Vs. Frank Trigg 2 (UFC 52)

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    Matt Hughes again defended his welterweight belt against top contender Frank Trigg, this time in his second championship run.

    The legendary welterweight champion fought through an un-penalized groin strike and close choke attempt to turn the tides and finish Trigg with a choke of his own at the end of the first round. 

    UFC President Dana White has said that this is his favorite fight of all time.

2. Royce Gracie Vs. Gerard Gordeau (& Shamrock, & Jimmerson. UFC 1)

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    On Nov. 12, 1993, the UFC held its first event.

    Royce Gracie defeated Art Jimmerson, then Ken Shamrock, and finally Gerard Gordeau all on that same night to claim the UFC 1 tournament.

    With the dominant performances, Royce Gracie introduced the world to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and gave birth to a new sport in the process.

1. Forrest Griffin Vs. Stephan Bonnar 1 (The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale)

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    At the end of the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter," these two future stars battled it out for the prize of a six-figure contract with the UFC.

    Not only was it one of the best back-and-forth battles of all time, it was the most important moment in the growth of the sport and the UFC.

    Griffin walked away with the decision victory, but both men would be awarded the six-figure contract for their efforts.