The 100 Greatest Fights in MMA History
What makes a fight "great"?
Is it the action that took place in it? Is it the historical significance? Was it because it ushered a new era in to the sport? Was it just plain fun to watch?
I believe it is a combination of all of the above.
After watching over 200 non-UFC events, tearing through YouTube and getting input from a few of my colleagues, I have come up with what I perceive to be the 100 greatest fights in MMA.
But remember—perception is reality.
If I watch a fight and think it's one of the greatest, then, in my mind, it is. Nothing anyone could say could change my mind. On the other side of the coin, there are fights that you believe should be included that were not, and there is nothing anyone could tell you to make you believe otherwise.
When creating this list, my main goal was to find a nice balance of action packed, historically significant, and sport-changing fights, with a few good old fashion knockout, drag-outs thrown in here and there.
While we will all at one point agree to disagree on whether or not a fight was deserving to be on this list, I believe we can all agree that each of these fights were among the best ever.
So if you haven't chugged a five-hour energy yet, go grab one and get ready to relive the greatest moments from the recent past and take a trip down memory lane.
100. Mike Nickles vs David Heath
Maximum Fighting Championships 22, October 2, 2009
While this was far from a technical fight, it was just plain fun to watch. Even though neither of these guys are in anyone's top 10 list, they still came out to fight and give the fans their money's worth.
Just watch it. You might even like it.
99. Vitor Belfort vs Wanderlei Silva
Ultimate Fighting Championship 17.5, October 16, 1998
After taking nearly a year off after his defeat to Autur Mariano at IVC II, Wanderlei Silva came back at IVC VI and disposed of Mike Van Arsdale in four minutes flat.
Vitor Belfort took two months off after his defeat against Randy Couture, then took a 10-month layoff after his submission victory over Joe Charles at UFC 15.5.
Ironically enough, the top Brazilian prospects were put in the cage against each other in their seventh professional fight. It goes without saying that the winner of this match would be seen as the future superstar in Brazilian MMA.
In the opening moments of the fight, commentators Jeff Blackneck and Mike Goldberg were stressing the fact that Belfort had "the most lethal hands in UFC history."
It didn't take long to prove them right for the time being.
A mere 44 seconds later, Silva was driven back against the cage and planted on his rear end thanks to Belfort's blazing fast fists. Even though Silva protested the stoppage, he clearly could not defend himself and John McCarthy saved him from even more punishment.
Vitor Belfort won the match via TKO due to strikes :44 in to the fight.
98. Joe Warren vs Joe Soto
Bellator 27, September 2, 2010
Coming in to the fight, Warren was proclaiming himself as the "baddest man on the planet."
He looked like anything but that in the first round.
Joe Soto had his way with Warren, hit him repeatedly with flush punches and nearly had Warren out of the fight towards the end of the round. Soto's success in the first appeared to make him over confident, as he let his hands hang by his waist for the better part of the round.
This carried over in to the second round, until Warren blasted him with a knee out of nowhere and pounded away on his helpless foe until the ref called a halt to the bout at :33 of the second round.
97. Norifumi Yamamoto vs Kazuyuki Miyata
K-1 - Hero's 5, March 3, 2006
Once upon a time, "Kid" Yamamoto was the most feared little man on the planet.
Why? Just watch the video. There are many examples out there, but this is the most memorable of them all.
96. Leonard Garcia vs Chan Sung Jung II
Ultimate Fighting Championship: Ultimate Fight Night 24, March 26, 2011
Yes, this fight just happened Saturday, but these two guys are to MMA what Ward and Gatti are to boxing.
Most of the first round was owned by Garcia's striking, but once the fight hit the mat towards the end of the round, Jung showed that his work with Team Alpha Male had paid off.
But the best part of the fight came in the second round. Thanks to Jung's obsession with Eddie Bravo's videos on YouTube and practicing the move on a regular basis, he was able to make Garcia tap with one second left with a Twister.
Yes, a Twister.
If anyone has ever seen this move successfully performed in a MMA match, please let me know. I've watched 100s of fights over the past few weeks and haven't seen anything close to it even attempted.
95. Mike Russow vs Todd Duffee
Ultimate Fighting Championship 114, May 29, 2010
Never have I seen such a one-sided fight do a complete 180 so quickly as I did when Russow took on Duffee.
Duffee was being hailed by some as the next big thing in the UFC's heavyweight division. With his size and knockout power, it could be easy to see where these people were coming from.
Mike Russow wasn't exactly a scrub, as his only loss came by submission against Sergei Kharitonov. But it appeared that he was brought in as an opponent to make Duffee look good.
Russow made Duffee look great for two-and-a-half rounds, when out of nowhere, Russow came to life and landed a solid right to the chin of Duffee that knocked him out.
So much for the next big thing.
94. Pete Sell vs Scott Smith
The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale, November 11, 2006
While Sell is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Matt Serra, he didn't use any of that stuff on this night. He was perfectly content to stand and bang with Smith.
For a round and a half, these two guys beat each other up one side and down the other, but they did manage to take a break in the action to give each other a congratulatory high five.
The real drama unfolded roughly midway through the second round. Sell hit Smith with a perfect left hook to the liver that had Smith doubled over in pain. Sell smelled blood and came rushing in for the kill when...
From out of nowhere, Smith somehow was able to catch Sell perfectly on the chin with a straight right hand that put him down. A few punches later, Sell was out and Smith was the winner by KO. A few seconds later, they both had their backs on the mat—Sell was knocked out and Smith was in agonizing pain from the body shot.
93. Heath Herring vs Tom Erikson
Pride Fighting Championships 11, October 31, 2000
Heath Herring was the young up-and-coming American heavyweight in Pride that the Japanese fans could get behind. Tom Erikson was a big, strong wrestler who was most known for his devastating knockout of Kevin Randleman in Brazil a few years earlier. Even though he didn't compete very often, he was still considered one of the most feared heavyweights at the time.
Herring knew that if the fight hit the mat, there was no way we could win. So he did the smart thing—when he got taken down, he held on for dear life until the referee stood them back up.
When the stand up finally happened, Herring let out a beastly yell and got the look of a madman on his face. Erikson had a look on his face that showed signs that he needed a new pair of fight trunks.
Herring took full advantage of the stand up and rocked Erikson with a kick and a punch that put the "Big Cat" down, took his back, and became the first person ever to defeat Erikson when he forced him to tap due to a rear naked choke.
92. Renzo Gracie vs Oleg Taktarov
Martial Arts Reality Superfighting, November 22, 1996
So everyone has see the BJJ artist scooting around on his butt—the Brazilian Butt Scoot if you will—after his opponent escaped their guard. But how many times has it led to anything effective?
From all the footage I was able to find, it only happened once.
In one of the many early UFC rip-offs, Renzo Gracie was put up against the always tough Oleg Taktarov in the headlining fight of the card held in Birmingham, AL.
After Taktarov caught a leg kick by Gracie and put him on his butt, he leaned over him as if he were looking for a way to get on top of the Brazilian.
Not a good idea.
Gracie scooted forward, nailed Oleg with an upkick right to the orbital bone that put the Russian down, then Gracie got up, landed a wild right and that was all she wrote.
91. Jose Vega vs Jarrod Card
Bellator Fighting Championships 22, June 17, 2010
The stage was all set for Jarrod Card. If he defeated the virtual unknown Jose Vega, Card would cement his spot in Bellator's inaugural bantamweight tournament.
As you can see from the video, things didn't exactly go his way and Card earned his spot in the tournament.
90. Frank Shamrock vs Cung Le
Strikeforce: Shamrock vs Le, March 29, 2008
During the prime of their careers, the Shamrocks were among the best, if not the best, ground fighters the sport has ever seen. However, for some reason, Shamrock stated before his fight with Cung Le that he was going to stand and trade with the much more talented and accomplished striker.
He was a man of his word, and boy did he pay a price for it.
Sure, Shamrock landed a few good strikes here and there, but his machismo caused him to take a thorough beating for three rounds. To make matters even worse, it also cost him his middleweight title after his corner threw in the towel after the third round because Shamrock's broken forearm would not allow him to continue.
89. B.J. Penn vs Caol Uno I
Ultimate Fighting Championship 34, November 2, 2001
Even though he had only been fighting professionally for six months, the UFC knew they had something special with B.J. Penn. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who was every bit as good on his feet as he was on the ground was somebody they could build their lightweight division around.
The powers that be weren't cutting Penn any slack either, as they pair him against the veteran Caol Uno in just his third professional bout.
Right out of the gate, Uno came flying across the Octagon with a jumping roundhouse kick that missed by a mile. Penn stayed calm, set himself, then tagged Uno with at least half a dozen right hands that left Caol laying against the cage with his eyes crossed.
Then after bowing to the crowd, Penn ran out of the cage to...well, nobody is too sure where he ran off to.
88. Wanderlei Silva vs Autur Mariano
International Vale Tudo Championships II, September 15, 1997
This was the first, and only, time Silva had ever participated in a bare-knuckle, no-holds-barred, one-night tournament. Even though he entered the tournament with only two documented professional MMA bouts on his record, he looked every bit like the Ax Murder we all witnessed for years in Pride FC.
After the 21-year-old Wanderlei Silva destroyed Sean Bornett in the quarterfinals and Egidio Amaro de Costa in the semifinals of the second installment of the IVC tournament, Silva earned his spot in the finals against Autur Mariano.
Mariano proved to be the biggest test for Silva at this point of his young career.
The two wasted no time as they met at center ring and started to exchange punches. While nothing noteworthy landed, it set the tempo for the rest of the fight; these guys were going to keep swinging until only one was left standing.
During a flurry by both fighters about four minutes in to the fight, Mariano opened up a cut above Silva's left eye. This was not a deterrent to Silva, as he continued to come straight forward and unleash punch after punch on his now back-peddling opponent and cut Mariano above his right eye in the process.
Shortly after the cut opened, the referee stopped the action to have the ringside doctors take a look at the cuts to see if they could continue on. About a minute later, the two warriors were able to fight on.
After the action resumed, both seemed hesitant to engage. The next two minutes were spent with Silva circling and Mariano throwing a pair of leg kicks. But once Mariano threw the first punch, it was on again. Silva came out swinging and even delivered a series of headbutts that caused his own cut to open up even more.
After another lull in the action, Silva delivered a headkick that landed flush and followed it up with a few punches and yet another headbutt that caused his own cut to worsen.
With both fighters cut, battered and bruised, the pace of the fight slowed down a bit. Mariano was able to land a couple of kicks, which Silva answered with some punches and yet another headbutt that caused his cut to go from bad to downright nasty.
A few more exchanges and headbutts from Silva caused his cut to go from nasty to gruesome, Mariano started looking at the referee and pointing to Silva's eye in an apparent attempt to get the doctor involved again. The referee finally called time and had the doctor take another look at Silva's badly damaged eye.
Now I don't speak Portuguese, but it appeared as if the doctor was leaning towards stopping the fight. Silva's corner started yelling at the doctor, and it looked as if the referee stepped in to calm down the cornermen and had one finger in the air, as to say "I'll give him one more chance to finish the fight."
Again, I do not speak one bit of Portuguese, so I'm making an educated guess about the conversation based on the reaction of all the parties involved.
The action resumed once again; they quickly started exchanging heavy punches, which Silva appeared to get the better of. In another exchange, Silva used the busted up side of his face to headbutt Mariano two more times. After he looked at it closely or about a minute, the referee decided the doctor needed to take another look at Silva's cut. Much to the dismay of Silva and his corner, the doctor decided that the cut was now too bad for Silva to continue.
Autur Mariano won the match via TKO due to doctor stoppage 13:10 in to the fight.
87. Phil Baroni vs Yuki Kondo
Pride Fighting Championships Bushido 10, April 2, 2006
After a less than stellar run in the UFC, Phil Baroni found a new home in Pride. In his fourth fight with the promotion, he took on the very skilled and tough Yuki Kondo.
In Kondo's 64 previous fights, the only person to stop him was Wanderlei Silva. It took Silva 2:26 to stop Kondo with stops to the face.
Baroni was able to one-up Silva as it took him a mere :25 to land four right hands that knocked Kondo out cold. Baroni has had some highlight reel knockouts during his career, but this one has to take the cake.
86. Fedor Emelianenko vs Brett Rogers
Strikeforce / M-1 Global: Fedor vs Rogers, November 7, 2009
Coming in to his match against the best heavyweight in the sport, Rogers was riding high coming off of a 22-second knockout of Andrei Arlovski. Needless to say, his confidence was at an all-time high.
But could confidence and heavy hands take out the baddest man on the planet?
Rogers had some success early on in the fight. He was able to break Fedor's nose, defend his takedown, and get himself out of multiple precarious situations. One could make a sound argument that Rogers may have won the first round.
But the second round was like night and day. Rogers was tired and Fedor was, well, he was Fedor. Rogers was still game and tried to bring the fight to Fedor, but it was all for naught.
Rogers started to throw a slow left hook, and Fedor countered with a straight right that floored Rogers. A few punches later, Big John McCarthy stepped in to stop the fight.
Fedor overcame the most adversity he faced in years and proved for a little while longer that he was the best fighter on the planet.
85. Melvin Manhoef vs Robbie Lawler
Strikeforce: Miami, January 30, 2010
You could not pick two better fighters to face each other if you wanted to see someone get knocked out. In their combined 55 fights, 41 had ended by way of (T)KO.
This fight had fireworks wrote all over it, and it did not disappoint. It took Manhoef all of 30 seconds to start kicking the life out of Lawler's body and lead leg. After three minutes, Lawler's leg had taken so much damage that he was having a difficult time staying balanced.
But if you have seen Lawler fight, you know it only takes one punch to completely turn the tide of a fight to his favor, and this was no different.
With a minute and a half left in the first round, Lawler landed a right hand, his first meaningful punch of the fight. That was the only punch he needed to land as it knocked Melvin silly. But just to make sure, Lawler followed up with a left that put Manhoef on ice.
Usually at this time Robbie would be popping his collar following such an incredible knockout. But all the visible damage Melvin put on his leg and body lead Lawler to a more humble celebration than we are accustom to.
84. Brock Lesnar vs Shane Carwin
Ultimate Fighting Championship 116, July 3, 2010
"The Next Big Thing" was taking on Shane Carwin to determine who would be the undisputed heavyweight champion. Leading in to the fight, many believed that Carwin had the size to neutralize Lesnar's wrestling and the superior striking. The big question was how would Carwin react if the fight went to the second round, as all of his previous 12 fights had never gone past the first round.
Carwin was able to stop Lesnar's first takedown attempt then unleashed everything on the champion. Carwin put Lesnar down with a barrage of strikes, got on top of Brock and started unleashing everything he had. While Carwin did land many of his early punches, many of the punches he threw in the second half of the round were either not doing much damage or were being blocked or dodged by Brock.
Blooded, but not beaten, Brock was able to maintain his composure and got back to his feet. It was clear in the last minute of the round that Carwin had blown his wad and Brock still had gas left in the tank.
A minute in to the second round, Lesnar was easily able to take the gassed Carwin down and, of all things, sank in an arm triangle choke to secure the come from behind victory against the biggest test of his career.
83. Shinya Aoki vs Mizuto Hirota
K-1 Dynamite!!, December 31, 2009
Aoki, most known for crying more than John Boehner, showed that he does have a "bad boy" side during his bout against Hirota.
Aoki was able to get the fight to the ground quickly, then begin to do what he does best. After a brief scuffle on the ground, Aoki locked in a very deep kimura.
Showing tons of heart, Hirota refused to tap. Aoki continued to put in the kimura deeper and deeper until he snapped Hirota's arm, which caused the referee to stop the fight.
Then in non-Aoki fashion, he flipped off his fallen foe, along with Hirota's corner and the crowd in attendance. It was pretty classless on Aoki's behalf, but I guess he wanted to prove that he was more than just a tear producing machine.
82. Riki Fukuda vs Ryuta Sakurai III
Deep - 49 Impact, August 27, 2010
In his last fight before signing on with the UFC, Fukuda took on Ryuta Sakurai for the third and possibly final time.
This was a fantastic, fun fight to watch. There were a couple of mishaps with the ring, but it shouldn't take away from the action that took place in the ring. This was a constant back-and-forth battle that saw both fighter get battered and bruised.
Enough from me already. Watch it for yourself and enjoy.
81. Sarah Kaufman vs Roxanne Modafferi
Strikeforce Challengers 9, July 23, 2010
Sarah Kaufman was throwing somewhat of a hissy-fit in the media about being stuck on the Challengers series instead of being put on the main Strikeforce cards. During her title defense on Challengers 9, she proved to the brass at Strikeforce that she belonged on the main card.
In the third round of the five-round bout, Kaufman went "Rampage" on Modafferi and did her best to powerbomb her threw the mat. While she didn't break the cage floor, she did powerbomb Modafferi so hard that it knocked her out cold.
She got her spot on a Strikeforce main card, and we all know how that worked out for her.
80. Nick Diaz vs Robbie Lawler
Ultimate Fighting Championship 47, April 2, 2004
It was no secret that the 22-year-old Lawler was a knockout artist. Six of his eight victories had come by way of (T)KO. Nick Diaz, the Gracie jiu-jitsu specialist, made it known you didn't want to play around on the ground with him.
So the classic striker vs grappler matchup was all set to go. Or at least it was supposed to go like that.
Diaz surprised many when he decided to forgo the ground game in favor of standing and striking with the heavy-handed Lawler. What surprised many more people is that Diaz was actually getting the better of the striking. Towards the end of the first round, he had Lawler back peddling as trash talk spewed out of his mouth. The referee at one point had to say "no talking."
In the second round, a slightly timid Lawler still had the confident Diaz standing right in front of him. Roughly 90 seconds in to the round, Lawler and Diaz threw right hands at the same time. Diaz' landed first and sent Lawler face first in to the mat.
That was the first nationally seen Diaz' "pitter-patter" knockout.
79. Dan Hornbuckle vs Akihiro Gono
Senjoku Ninth Battle, August 2, 2009
After two hard fought rounds, the fight went in to the third round, with the winner of the round more than likely taking the fight.
About three minutes in to the final stanza, Hornbuckle delivered one of the most brutal head kicks ever seen in MMA that put Gono out cold. Hornbuckle, visibly worried, almost started crying in the ring.
This was the first time in a long time that I personally was worried about the well-being of a fighter as Gono laid in the ring motionless.
"I thought I killed him," he told my colleague Robert Gardner.
78. Frank Mir vs Tim Sylvia
Ultimate Fighting Championship 48, June 19, 2004
Is there any better way to win a championship than winning it by snapping someone's arm in two separate pieces?
Nope, I don't believe there is. And that is exactly what Mir did to Sylvia.
Less than a minute in to the fight, Mir had Sylvia in a tight armbar. Sylvia refused to tap, so Mir went ahead and broke his forearm. The referee caught it and stopped the fight.
Then the crowd got in a tizzy because they had no clue what was going on. But once they saw the replay on the big screen, they let out the biggest "OHHHHH!" that I can ever recall hearing.
77. Frank Trigg vs Hayato Sakurai
Shooto R.E.A.D. Final, December 17, 2000
Back when Sakurai was considered to be one of the best fighters on the planet, he squared off against Frank Trigg. While Trigg took the first round by controlling Sakurai with his wrestling, things took a turn real quick for Trigg.
Sorry, no Shooto title for you Twinkle Toes.
76. Georges St-Pierre vs Matt Serra I
Ultimate Fighting Championship 69, April 7, 2007
Matt Serra earned his shot at the reigning welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre, by winning season four of The Ultimate Fighter. With that said, there were very few people in this world without the last name "Serra" that were giving Matt any sort of chance of winning.
In fact, Serra was an 8-1 underdog in this match. It was a foregone conclusion that St-Pierre would take this fight with ease. Luckily for everyone with the last name "Serra," they didn't get that message.
After a brief feeling out period, Serra clipped St-Pierre right on the chin and hurt him badly. Serra pounced and unleashed everything he had. St-Pierre could do nothing but roll around and turtle up before the referee finally stepped in and stopped he fight.
Not only did Serra become the new UFC welterweight champion, but he also became the second biggest underdog to ever win a UFC bout.
75. Ken Shamrock vs Don Frye
Pride Fighting Championships 19, February 24, 2002
In his fourth fight after returning to MMA in 2000 after a four-year layoff to peruse a professional wrestling career, Ken Shamrock found himself headlining against fellow UFC pioneer Don Frye. After going 2-1 against limited opposition during his comeback, some were questioning whether Shamrock still had what it took to compete at a high level.
Coming off a four-year layoff of his own, Frye had gone 2-0 since his return to action in five months prior to his bout against Shamrock. While this matchup wasn't going to put either fighter in line for a bout against reigning champion Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, it was still a match that both Japanese and Americans were looking forward to. It was a foregone conclusion that both Shamrock and Frye were going to come in and give it everything they had, especially with all the trash talking that went on leading in to the fight.
After one of the most intense stare-downs in the history of the sport, they wasted no time attacking each other. They clinched right away and took turns delivering shots to the body, which left Shamrock with a huge red spot on the left side of his rib cage. This continued for a good three minutes before the referee finally broke them up.
It seemed clear that Shamrock didn't want to stand and trade with the much larger Frye, as he closed the distance as quickly as he could. They spent another three minutes or so in the clinch before the referee broke them up again.
After the break, Shamrock landed his most effective strikes of the fight, then dropped down for a heel hook. Frye was able to keep his composure and land a few punches and a kick to shamrock's left eye, which cut him open. Shamrock continued to put Frye's ankle in a position where lesser men would have tapped out, but Frye continued to grin and bear it until the end of the round.
It was obvious that there was damage done to Frye's ankle, as he limped back to his corner and refused to sit during the rest period. Ken looked like he was gasping for air as his corner put ice on his cut and swollen left eye.
They both came out for the second round swinging like crazy with Frye getting the best of it. Then they clinched up again and Don did a lot of work to Ken's body and legs before the referee broke them up.
Don landed another right hand before they clinched again and traded rabbit punches. Then Don did some more work to Ken's body and legs before they broke. After a few punches from Don, Ken clinched again and Don did even more work to everything below Shamrock's neck. And that is how the second round ended.
The third round started off just like the second round ended. But this time they separated and started trading. Frye landed a hard right that put Shamrock on his back. Frye was hammering away at Shamrock's dome, took Ken's back, looked for the rear naked choke, but Ken was able to twist in to Don's guard. Frye was able to trap one of Ken's arms then got both of them and went for the double armbar to no avail.
Then out of nowhere, Ken dropped down for another heel hook, on the right leg this time, but Frye was one again able to gut it out and slap one of his own on Shamrock for over a minute as the fight ended.
Don Frye won the fight via split decision.
74. Marcelo Mendes vs Egidio Amaro De Costa
Rio Heros 10, October 16, 2007
Odds are you have never heard of this promotion or either of these fighters. The Brazilian based Rio Heros was the last known pure, bare knuckle Vale Tudo promotion.
Remember the first UFC events? Those rules were still in effect in this little known promotion years after the major athletic commissions here in the States adopted the unified rules used today.
This fight was a stand up slugfest that saw both fighters hurt each other with punches and head kicks. The end of the fight came when the much older de Costa was taken down by Mendes and ate multiple punches and elbows before the referee stopped the bout and Mendes earned the TKO victory.
73. Toby Imada vs Jorge Masvidal
Bellator Fighting Championships 5, May 1, 2009
Who could ever forget one of the best submissions in MMA history? Just in case you did, check out the video.
After getting bested and beat up for two rounds by Masvidal, Imada pulled off one of the most improbable submission in recent history—the inverted triangle choke.
Bellator constantly puts on great shows and fights, but this is easily the best submission in the promotion's history.
72. Mark Coleman vs Don Frye I
Ultimate Fighting Championship 10, July 12, 1996
After putting on dominant performances against Moti Horenstein and Gary Goodridge, Coleman found himself in the finals against the tough and rugged Don Frye.
Frye was all heart, but Coleman was the better man this night as he defeated Frye a little over 11 minutes in to the fight.
During this tournament, Coleman ushered in the ground-and-pound era in to MMA.
71. Marco Ruas vs Paul Vaerleans
Ultimate Fighting Championships 7, September 8, 1995
After Royce Gracie's departure from the organization, the UFC was in need of another Brazilian face of the promotion.
Enter "The King of the Streets" Marco Ruas.
After defeating his first two opponents with relative ease, Ruas found himself in the finals against UFC veteran Paul Vareleans.
Even though this was a lopsided affair, Ruas did something that had not been seen before—he took out his opponent with leg kicks.
Ruas relentlessly attacked the lead leg of the much larger Varleans with leg kick after leg kick. Finally, after 13 minutes of action, Ruas yelled "timber!" in his head as the accumulation of leg kicks sent the giant to the mat. Ruas won his first, and only, UFC tournament.
70. Scott Smith vs Cung Le I
Strikeforce: Evolution, December 19, 2009
If we have learned anything about Scott Smith over the years, it must be to never, ever count him out of a fight.
For two-and-a-half rounds, Le had his way with Smith as he landed just about everything he threw.
Smith, without a doubt, lost the first two rounds and needed a small miracle to win this fight. That miracle was handed to Smith two three minutes in to the last round as he landed his signature right hand that badly hurt Le.
Smith followed up with some more punches, got the KO victory and handed Le the first lost of his MMA career.
69. Bas Rutten vs Masakatsu Funaki
Pancrase 1996 Anniversary show, September 7, 1996
This was Bas' plan going in to the fight—get the fight 15 minutes deep, then unleash everything he had on Funaki. That plan worked out just great for Bas.
After spending a majority of the fight on the ground, Rutten started to nail Funaki with hard palm strikes and kicks. Under Pancrase rules at the time, you had five points. You would lose a point if you were to grab the ropes to get out of a position or if you were knocked down by a strike.
A few knockdows later, Funaki lost five points and Bas retained his King of Pancrase title.
68. Roger Huerta vs Leonard Garcia
Ultimate Fighting Championship 69, April 7, 2007
Throughout the history of combat sports, Mexican fighters have always been known for their heart. Huerta and Garcia displayed a ton of heart—and then some—when they squared off nearly four years ago.
For 15 minutes, they gave each other a beating. Along with beating the absolute crap out of each other, there were a few submission attempts thrown in the mix.
Even though Garcia showed a ton of heart, at the end of the day the physically larger Huerta was able to out work Garcia and land the harder shots to earn the decision victory.
Joe Rogan says "this is one of the best fights we've ever seen" a lot. But in this case, he was correct.
67. Josh Thomson vs Yves Edwards
Ultimate Fighting Championship 47, August 24, 2004
Thomson and Edwards fought in the last lightweight fight before the UFC put the division on the back burner for a while.
Thomson played the aggressor early, as he put Edwards on his back at will.
Towards the end of the first round, Edwards took the back of Thomson. Then in a knockout that nobody will ever forget, Thomson escaped Edwards body lock and threw a spinning back fist right as Edwards threw a jumping roundhouse kick that landed right on Thomson's chin and put him out cold.
To make sure he was out, Edwards landed a few punches to the downed Thomson until the referee ended the fight.
66. Marloes Coenen vs Kim Carmouche
Strikeforce: Feijao vs Hendo, March 5, 2011
If you saw Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen, then you have seen this fight. Carmouche played the roll of Sonnen and Coenen disguised herself as Anderson Silva.
This was a relative one-way fight from the beginning. Carmouche landed the better strikes, pounded on Coenen on the ground and just completely owned the fight.
Then in the fourth round, just like Sonnen did, Carmouche left an arm out for Coenen to grab on to. Then just as Silva did, Coenen used the opportunity to apply a fight ending triangle choke.
It was deja vu all over again.
65. Matt Serra vs Shonie Carter
Ultimate Fighting Championship 31, May 4, 2001
Even though Serra is a beast on the ground, Shonie Carter's experience was key in his ability to get himself out of many tough positions on the ground in the first round.
With less than 10 seconds, Carter landed a spinning elbow that floored Serra. Ironically, this is how the fight would end.
The better part of the next nine minutes and 50 seconds were spent with Serra putting on a jiu-jitsu clinic. With just 20 seconds left in a fight that he could have easily been losing, Carter landed a huge spinning back fist that knocked Serra silly and ended the fight.
64. Isamu Osugi vs Rumina Sato
Shooto - Vale Tudo Perception, September 26, 1995
Just another reason why so many of Sato's fight are great.
Have you ever seen a flying reverse triangle choke? Well, now you can brag to all of your friends that you have.
63. Chuck Liddell vs Jose Landi-Jons
International Vale Tudo 6, August 23, 1998
This is Liddell's only recorded no-holds-barred, bare-knuckle match. And in the beginning, it didn't look like things were going to go well for the Iceman.
Landi-Jons was able to get the fight to the ground quickly, got the mount and started pounding away on Chuck's face. Liddell, known for his ability to escape some precarious positions on the ground, was able to get the fight back to the feet before he absorbed any more punishment.
The rest of the fight was spent either in the clinch, Liddell pounding Landi-Jons from the top position on the ground, and trading strikes in the center of the ring.
Much to the dismay of the pro-Jose crowd, Liddell was awarded the decision victory after 30 lopsided, non-stop minutes of action.
62. Jamie Varner vs Donald Cerrone II
World Extreme Cagefighting 51, September 30, 2010
Cerrone was attempting to avenge his technical decision loss to Varner from WEC 38, when the fight went to the scorecards after Cerrone landed an illegal knee to a downed Varner.
This time around, Cerrone left no doubts in anyone's mind who the better fighter was.
For a full three rounds, Cerrone was able to get the better of Varner both on the ground and on their feet. After everything was said and done, Varner's bloody mess of a face was proof of who was the better man that night.
Even though he didn't win a single round on any of the judge's scorecards, Varner was still bitter after the fight, as they exchanged some not so nice words after the bout.
61. Jens Pulver vs Hayato Sakurai
Pride Fighting Championships Bushido 9, September 25, 2005
After going 1-1 in his first two fights in Pride FC, Pulver found himself in the ring against the rugged veteran Hayato Sakurai in the quarterfinals of Pride's first ever lightweight tournament.
This MMA match ended up being a K-1 match with four-ounce gloves. Given the circumstances, Pulver's boxing—on paper—should have given him the advantage in the stand up.
Even though Pulver landed some good punches throughout the fight, the toll of Sakurai's leg kicks and knees to the body began to show midway through the first round as Pulver's movement became slower and labored.
All the leg kicks and body work by Sakurai paid off towards the end of the round as a knee dropped Pulver. A few punches later, the referee stepped in to stop the match and Sakurai was awarded the TKO victory.
60. Karo Parisyan vs Nick Diaz
Ultimate Fighting Championship 49, August 21, 2004
Before the fight, Diaz stated he believed that this fight was bad stylistically for him.
Despite Diaz' remarks, the fans were treated to a back and forth ground battle for a full three rounds. While each fighter had their moments, it appeared that Diaz did enough to take the decision victory.
The judges, however, thought otherwise as Parisyan was awarded the split decision victory. Regardless of the outcome, the fans were still treated to some of the best ground action they had seen in a long time.
59. Carlos Newton vs Jose Landi-Jons
Pride Fighting Championships 19, February 24, 2002
After losing the UFC welterweight title to Matt Hughes, Newton was looking to get back on the winning track. This would not come easy as he was put against Jose "Pele" Landi-Jons, someone who was considered one of the best strikers in MMA.
Pele went kick crazy early on, but none of them were able to find a home. Newton was then able to get the fight to the ground and do his thing.
Pele proved he was game as he was able to stand back up a few times and stave off a few submission attempts. However, Newton was able to end a great technical battle with an armbar near the end of the opening round.
58. Mark Coleman vs Igor Vovchanchyn
Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals, May 1, 2000
Coleman was coming in to this tournament riding a three-fight losing streak (four if you count his "fight" against Nobuhiko Takada). Not many people were giving him much of a chance of winning the tournament considering the fashion in which he lost his last three—or four—fights.
Coleman proved everyone wrong and found himself in the finals against the devastating striker Igor Vovchanchyn.
The first round was all about Coleman's wrestling. He was able to use it to avoid the heavy hands of Vovchanchyn.
In the second round, Mark once again used his wrestling to get a dominant position, found Igor's head exposed, landed some heavy knees and the fight was stopped.
Coleman had gone from the top of the world, back to the bottom and back to the top again.
57. Bob Sapp vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria
Pride Fighting Championships - Shockwave, August 28, 2002.
After making the transition from K-1 to MMA, Sapp was put against the larger, and much more experienced, of the Nogueria brothers in just his third professional fight.
Not only was Sapp able to hold his own, he also delivered the only pile driver I've ever seen in a MMA match. That, combined with his ground and pound, kept Sapp in the fight for much longer than most expected.
When the second round came around, the 350-pound Sapp was very tired, but he continued to bring the fight. However, his inexperience showed towards the end of the round as Nogueria locked in the fight ending armbar.
56. Randy Couture vs Vitor Belfort I
Ultimate Fighting Championship 15, October 17, 1997
After blowing threw his first four opponents, Belfort was being hailed as the next big thing in Mixed Martial Arts. Not many people were giving Couture much of a chance to defeat Belfort in the heavyweight title eliminator bout.
While Belfort was able to hold his own early in the fight and avoid Couture's takedowns, Couture's wrestling was too much for Belort to handle.
Four minutes in to the fight, Couture was able to get Vitor on his back. That was the beginning of the end for Belfort. Couture's superior grappling prowess and dirty boxing took its toll on Belfort and an exhausted Belfort was stopped by strikes in less than nine minutes.
55. Quinton Jackson vs Ricardo Arona
Pride Critical Countdown 2004, June 20, 2004
From the onset, the fight was all about Jackson's wrestling and striking. On his feet, he was able to land the better strikes. On the ground, he was able to avoid Arona's submission attempts and land some good ground and pound.
Arona was able to land a series of upkicks from his back midway through the around. It appeared that Jackson was hurt and Arona looked at the referee as to say "He's out!" But Jackson was able to recover and continue doing his thing.
This fight will forever live in infamy for the way the fight ended. Arona was going for a triangle. It appeared that he was going to secure it when...
Jackson lifted him up over his head and slammed him so hard that Arona's head bounced off the mat and knocked him out cold. And for good measure, Jackson followed up the KO slam with two right hands.
54. Wanderlei Silva vs Kazushi Sakuraba II
Pride Fighting Championships 17, November 3, 2001
Wanderlei Silva beat Sakuraba with relative ease in their first meeting at Pride 13. Two and a half years later, they squared off for a second time. But this time around, the winner would be crowned Pride's first middleweight champion.
This match was much more competitive than their first. Sakuraba was able to get the fight to the ground early, which nullified Silva's far superior striking. Although he didn't do much from Silva's guard, he wasn't getting kicked in the face, which was his downfall in their first matchup.
Once they were standing again, Silva was able to land some good strikes before clinching up to avoid further damage.
Sakuraba was able to get the fight to the ground again and control the pace of the fight. But near the end of the round, Sakuraba went for a guillotine choke and Silva slammed him right on his left shoulder. Sakuraba suffered an injury to his collarbone due to the aforementioned slam and was forced to retire in between rounds.
This was the beginning of Wanderlei Silva's six-year run as the king of Pride's middleweight division.
53. Ken Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz
Ultimate Fighting Championship 40, November 22, 2002
After leaving MMA for four-years to peruse a career in professional wrestling, Ken Shamrock came back to the fight game. After going 2-2 in his comeback, the grudge match five years in the making finally happened.
Ken did have one highlight in this match when he seemed to buckle Ortiz with a right hand. But besides that, it was a give-and-take battle.
Ortiz was giving elbows and fists; Shamrock was taking them in the face.
Shamrock showed that he still had heart, but he was outclassed by a prime Ortiz for three rounds before he finally retired in his corner before the fourth round.
It wasn't the most competitive fight ever, but at the time, it drew the highest gate in UFC history and sold more pay-per-views than any event in a long, long time.
52. Gina Carano vs Julie Kedzie
Elite XC: Destiny, February 10, 2007
For the first time in history, women's MMA was featured on a national level. Not only was this a landmark event, but these ladies put on one heck of a fight.
For nine minutes, they put it all on the line. Check out the last two rounds as Carano and Kedzie made history.
51. Urijah Faber vs Mike Brown II
World Extreme Cagefighting 41, June 7, 2009
After defeating Jens Pulver for a second time, Faber earned a rematch against Mike Brown in an attempt to regain the title he lost to Brown seven months earlier.
Faber was much more competitive this time around. Unfortunately for Faber, he broke both of his hands during the match and was reduced to throwing elbows when they were standing.
Even though Faber was more competitive, Mike Brown still had his number. Except for one round, Brown out-struck and out-grappled Faber en route of making his second defense of the featherweight title.
50. Jason Miller vs Frank Trigg
Icon Sport: Mayhem vs Trigg, December 1, 2006
After defeating Robbie Lawler for the Icon Sport middleweight title, Miller was put against Frank Trigg three months later to defend his title for the first time.
As always, Miller came out to entertain the crowd. Trigg, on the other hand, came to take the belt away from "Mayhem."
The first round, Trigg used his superior wrestling to control the better part of the round. Mayhem had his moments, but Trigg did the most effective work.
Want to see how the fight ended? Check out the video. And yes, it was perfectly legal.
49. Fedor Emelianenko vs Fabricio Werdum
Strikeforce/M-1 Global: Fedor vs Werdum, June 26, 2010
What was supposed to be a tune-up match for Fedor as he prepared for bigger fights turned out horribly wrong for both Strikeforce and M-1 Global.
Strikeforce had spend a lot of money not only signing Fedor, but also promoting him to the casual fans. The hardcore fanbase had known about Fedor's dominance for a while, whereas the newer "TUF" fan had no idea who this Russian guy was.
When it was all said and done, it took all of 69 seconds for the Fedor train to be derailed. Fedor clipped Werdum with a right hand that sent him to the mat. Fedor rushed in for the kill when...
Just look at the picture. It says a thousand words.
For the first time in his 10-year career, Fedor tasted a legitimate defeat.
48. Matt Hughes vs B.J. Penn II
Ultimate Fighting Championship 63, September 23, 2006
After a contract dispute led Penn to leave the company, he came back at UFC 58 to take on Georges St-Pierre for a shot at (paper) welterweight champion Matt Hughes. Even though Penn lost a split decision, an injury suffered by St-Pierre set up a match between the real champion and Matt Hughes.
The first two rounds were all Penn. He out-struck Hughes and dictated the pace when the fight did hit the mat. However, Penn supposedly suffered a rib injury in the second round.
In the third round, Penn looked exhausted. Hughes used this to his advantage, as he took Penn down, gained side control, got Penn in a crucifix from the top position and hammered Penn's face with right hands until the referee stopped the fight.
Penn finally lost the belt we won from Hughes over two years earlier.
47. Wanderlei Silva vs Hidehiko Yoshida I
Pride Fighting Championships Final Conflict 2003, November 9, 2003
Since he came to Pride, Wanderlei Silva had been untouchable. Yoshida, the former judo gold medalist, had the pleasure of fighting Silva in only his fourth professional MMA fight.
Yoshida was a heavy underdog in the match, and most expected him to get blown out of the water just like most of Silva's former opponents. In this match, he proved not only that he could stand and trade, but also has a huge pair of you-know-whats.
Yoshida did take down Silva early, and actually landed a few good punches from Silva's guard. Silva, to the surprise of many, locked in a triangle choke. Yoshida was able to keep his cool and get out of it, although it took him a while. The rest of the round was contested on the ground with Silva escaping multiple submission attempts and landing a punch here and there.
But the biggest surprise of the fight came in the second round when Yoshida stood and traded with Silva. Yoshida had some good moments, but it was clear that Silva got the better of the striking.
Silva won the fight by decision, but Yoshida proved to the MMA world that he was no joke.
46. Brian Stann vs Steve Cantwell II
World Extreme Cagefighting 35, August 3, 2008
After being bulldozed by Stann in a mere 41 seconds, Cantwell was determined to get his revenge in their rematch. Not only was pride on the line in this match, but also the WEC light heavyweight title.
Cantwell looked much more calm in this fight than he did in their first fight. He used his reach to land the better of the punches in the first round. Towards the end of the round, Cantwell slipped and Stann jumped all over him and finished the round off strong.
The second round was slower than the first, but Cantwell still scored well with body shots and a head kick. A knee to the body towards the end of the round hurt Stann. Cantwell followed up with punches and knees until Stann fell face first to the mat.
Cantwell got his revenge, along with the WEC light heavyweight title.
45. Hayato Sakurai vs Joachim Hansen
Pride Fighting Championships Bushido 9, September 25, 2005
After both fighters won fights earlier in the evening, Hansen and Sakurai faced each other in the semifinals of the lightweight tournament.
The first round was full of fun stuff—submission attempts, head stomps, knees, upkicks and even a left hand that dropped Hansen twice. But for the better part, it was a technical ground battle that saw Sakurai and Hansen both have their turns working the top game.
In the second round, Hansen landed some heavy leather before Sakurai got the takedown and went for a leg lock. Then they stood up and started throwing down again. More submission attempts, head stomps and ground and pound. A body shot and low kick put Hansen down again and Sakurai did work until the final bell.
In a very close decision, Sakurai got the nod, More than likely, it was Hansen getting dropped that earned him the decision.
44. Nick Diaz vs Frank Shamrock
Strikeforce: Shamrock vs Diaz, April 11, 2009
As a parting gift from the world of MMA, Frank Shamrock had his last bout against the brash, cocky and mostly stoned Nick Diaz.
Now it's still up in the air if Diaz was that good or if Shamrock was that bad. From the beginning of the fight until it ended shortly before the end of the second round, Diaz used his pitter-patter boxing to put a hurting on Shamrock.
Diaz must have been bored as well, because he found plenty of time while beating Shamrock up to talk a whole lot of trash.
But after he scored the TKO victory, he went over to help Shamrock up and gave him a big hug.
Stay classy Nick.
43. Caol Uno vs Rumina Sato I
Shooto 10th Anniversary Event 1999, May 29, 1999
Rumina Sato is probably the best submission artist the sport has ever seen. He fought with all his heart out for 16 years, but was never able to get the Shooto welterweight belt that he so desperately wanted.
Above is the first half of his attempt to win the belt against Caol Uno. Below is the second.
42. Jose Aldo vs Mike Brown
World Extreme Cagefighting 44, November 18, 2009
Aldo earned his chance against reigning champion by stopping all five opponents the WEC threw his way. He looked like a one-man wrecking crew against the likes of Cub Swanson and Chris Mickle, but how would he hold up against the best featherweight on the planet?
Aldo started off the fight slower than normal. Maybe it was because it was the biggest fight of his career or he respected the power of Brown. But that didn't last long, as Aldo landed a few punches and a body kick that had Brown looking to get the fight to the ground.
Brown tried and tried and tried, but couldn't get Aldo to the mat. After Brown gave up on the takedown, Brown started to throw more, but Aldo threw fewer and connected at about the same number of strikes.
After another failed takedown attempt in the beginning of the second round, things started to get bad for Brown. Aldo took Brown down, got his back and unleashed punches until the referee stepped in to stop the match.
41. Duane Ludwig vs Genki Sudo
Ultimate Fighting Championship 42, April 25, 2003
Sudo started off the fight in his typical fashion—showboating and waving his hind-end at Ludwig. The round was dominated by Sudo, as he got the fight to the ground and worked his strikes and submission attempts.
The second round saw Ludwig getting his hands off both standing and on the ground. Sudo did have a moment here and here, but it was all Ludwig in the second.
The third round is where things got interesting and changed MMA as we knew it. Sudo got the takedown and started lighting up Ludwig. An elbow broke Ludwig's nose and it started gushing blood. Sudo landed more punches and Ludwig's nose started bleeding more and more.
Then John McCarthy stopped the action to have the doctor take a look at Ludwig's nose. The doctor gave him the OK to continue. They were restarted on their feet and Sudo lost the position in which he was dominating Ludwig.
Ludwig used this opportunity to take it to Sudo. Sudo got the takedown, but Ludwig ended up on top. He was able to tag Sudo with hard punches to the head and body. He did this for the rest of the round and stole not only the round, but the fight.
After this event, the rules were changed so if a fight is stopped to check a cut, the fighters were put back in the position they were originally in.
40. Yuki Kondo vs Frank Shamrock
Pancrase 1996 Anniversary Show, September 7, 1996
While this fight was a great 12-minute ground-and-striking treat to watch, I'm got going to bore you with all the details.
I'll just let you watch the most awesome part of the fight. I know somewhere Robert Gardner is watching this video with a huge smile on his face.
39. Bas Rutten vs Frank Shamrock III
Pancrase Truth 5, March 16, 1996
I've seen some weird stuff happen in Bas Rutten fights, but this tops them all. The biggest highlight of this great fight happened when they were on the ground and both working leg locks.
Earlier in the fight, Rutten opened up a big gash above Shamrock's left eye with a brutal palm strike. While they were both trying to secure leg locks, Rutten hit Shamrock right on his cut with a palm strike.
Frank smiled, so Bas did it again.
After the third or fourth one, Frank started sticking his tongue out at Bas.
Shortly thereafter, the referee had the doctor check the cut and the fight was stopped. I guess that's what you get for acting too macho.
38. Randy Couture vs Tim Sylvia
Ultimate Fighting Championship 68, March 3, 2007
After declaring his retirement from MMA following his second knockout loss against Chuck Liddell, Couture had a change of heart and made a return to the sport after a year long break from the sport.
His "welcome back" present from Dana White was a shot against Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight championship.
Couture put on one of the best performances of his career. He was able to completely dominate the much larger Sylvia. At the very beginning of the fight, Couture was even able to floor Sylvia with a right hand.
While Couture showed signs of fatigue towards the end of the fight, he was still able to gut it out to reclaim the heavyweight championship.
37. Royce Gracie vs Kazushi Sakuraba
Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals, May 1, 2000
Royce Gracie was making his return to MMA in the most talent rich tournament the sport had ever seen at that point of time. The legitimacy of his fight against Takada is debatable, but he found himself in the quarterfinals against Japan's fastest rising star Kazushi Sakuraba nonetheless.
However, Royce required special rules for his bout against Sakuraba—unlimited 15-minute rounds and the fight could only end via tapout or knockout.
For a full 90 minutes, it looked like Sakuraba was playing with who was once the most feared man in the sport. From fake taps and flying stomps to double karate chops, Sakuraba threw it all at Royce without flinching and with reckless abandon.
After 90 minutes of action, Gracie looked mentally and physically beaten. His family threw in the towel and the Japanese fans went crazy.
After shaking Royce's hand, Sakuraba shook the hand of Helio Gracie, a gesture that many believe signaled as the proverbial passing of the torch.
36. Caol Uno vs Tatsyua Kawajiri
Shooto 3/22 in the Korakuen Hall, March 22, 2004
If any hard fought fight deserved to be a draw, it was this fight. If you don't believe me, check the videos and determine it for yourself.
35. Anderson Silva vs Hayato Sakurai
Shooto: To The Top 7, August 26, 2001
In just his sixth professional fight, Silva was fighting Sakurai for Shooto's middleweight championship.
In this fight, you'll see a very different Silva that we have seen lately in the UFC. However, you'll also see the first of three championships Silva has won throughout his career.
34. Mauricio Rua vs Ricardo Arona
Pride Fighting Championships Final Conflict 2005, August 28, 2005
After Rua was able to TKO Alistair Overeem and Arona got a decision victory over tournament favorite Wanderlei Silva, they were all set to face each other in the finals of the middleweight tournament.
Arona was able to get the fight to the mat early, but Rua used an omaplata to get himself back up. A right hand followed with some knees from Rua hurt Arona, It was clear he didn't want to take many more strikes like that and took Rua to the mat, but not for long.
Rua was able to take Arona down, landed a stomp to Arona's face, followed that up with some hammerfists and Arona was out cold.
After this fight, many started to look at "Shogun" Rua, not Wanderlei Silva, as the best 205-pound fighter in the world.
33. Rumina Sato vs Charles Diaz
Shooto-Devilock Fighters, January 15, 1999
You have not seen a submission expert until you have witnessed Rumina Sato in action.
For example, here is one of his best finishes. It's right up there with Kid Yamamoto's flying knee.
32. Maruicio Rua vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Pride Fighting Championships Critical Countdown 2005, June 26, 2005
Leading in to this fight, Rua was known for his incredible Muay Thai and Nogueira was known for his amazing jiu-jitsu. With that said, this fight must have taken place in Bizarro world.
In a complete flip-flop of what everyone expected, Nogueira was busting Rua up with his striking and Rua was getting the better of Nogueira on the ground.
Rua did land a few good strikes on the feet, but Nogueira clearly beat Rua at his own game. Nogueria attempted a few submissions, but Rua was easily able to get out of harms way.
After three rounds of fighting, Rua's ground game stood out in the judge's minds and they awarded him with the decision victory.
31. Wanderlei Silva vs Dan Henderson II
Pride Fighting Championships 33, February 22, 2007
Dan Henderson, Pride's middleweight champion, was attempting to become the first fighter in MMA history to hold two major belts in two different weight classes simultaneously. To do that, he would have to defeat Pride's light heavyweight champion Wanderlei Silva.
While the first two rounds were competitive, the drama started in the third. He staggered Silva a couple of times, but the fight came to a concussive ending with a left hook that landed right on Silva's chin.
Henderson proved that he has power in more than one hand.
30. Josh Barnett vs Pedro Rizzo I
Ultimate Fighting Chamionship 30, February 23, 2001
From the get-go, neither of the fighters had any plans of this fight hitting the ground. They slugged it out for the first round. Barnett clipped Rizzo on the chin a few times, but Rizzo's leg kicks were the story of the first round. They landed over and over again.
The second round went much like the first. Midway through the round, Barnett's movement became noticeably slower as the accumulation of leg kick began to take their toll. After some more toe-to-toe action, a pair of right hands put Barnett down and out.
29. Tyson Griffin vs Clay Guida
Ultimate Fighting Championship 72, June 16, 2007
According to the laws of physics, it is impossible for Clay Guida to be in a boring fight
Griffin went for the finish early as he got Guida in a guillotine. After fighting it off, they scrambled and ended back on their feet. Then they decided to throw down, and Griffin got the better of the exchanges and Guida went for the takedown as the round ended.
The second round was yet another display of wrestling and striking. Both guys landed some great punches and exhibited high level wrestling. Guida sunk in a deep kneebar, then Griffin answered with a heel hook of his own. Then Guida went for a standing rear naked choke. He nearly had it in before Griffin dumped him on his face.
They came out throwing bombs in the third with Griffin getting the better of the exchanges. They fought some more on the ground, both tried some submissions and the round finished off with some great ground and pound by Guida.
It was a crazy display of all the aspects of MMA which either fighter could have won. The judges gave Griffin a split decision victory, but the fans were the true winners.
28. Randy Couture vs Pedro Rizzo II
Ultimate Fighting Championship 34, November 2, 2001
Couture admitted before the rematch that he punched himself out in his first match against Rizzo and said he wouldn't do it again.
He wasn't lying.
Most of the first round could have been fought in the proverbial phone booth until Couture got the takedown and ended up in Rizzo's guard. This time, he didn't go for the kill. He picked his shot nicely to avoid having a repeat of their fight six months earlier.
Round 2 saw Rizzo landing some punches early. But it didn't take very many punches from Pedro for Randy to want the fight on the ground. Again from Rizzo's guard, Randy methodically picked his shots. Rizzo was able to shuck him off for a moment, but that just gave Couture the ability to better his position and land even better punches. Shortly thereafter, Rizzo's face was a bloody mess.
The third stanza saw Couture looking to close the show. Pedro landed a few punches, which Randy answered with a combo of his own. After eating a huge leg kick, Randy landed a big right, got the takedown and started doing work. After ramming Rizzo in to the cage, Couture unleashed about a dozen left hands before Big John stopped the fight.
27. Don Frye vs Tank Abbott
Ultimate Fighting Championship Ultimate Ultimate 1996, December 17, 1996
It was short and sweet, but it was awesome while it lasted.
In the Ultimate Ultimate 96 tournament, Frye beat Mark Hall and Gary Goodridge, while Tank defeated Cal Worsham and Steve Nelmark to set up their match in the finals.
Tank started the fight by hitting Frye with a straight left that sent Frye half way across the cage. Tank followed up with a bunch more punches that had Frye all over the cage. Amid one of his flurries, Tank slipped and Frye ceased the moment.
Don jumped on Tank's back, sunk in a rear naked choke and that was that. Don Frye won his second UFC tournament.
26. Melvin Manhoef vs Evangelista Santos
Cage Rage 15, February 4, 2006
So you want to see two guys just beat the living hell out of each other in one of the greatest slugfest in history?
Look no further and watch the video.
25. Mirko Filipovic vs Gabriel Gonzaga
Ultimate Fighting Championship 70, April 21, 2007
In Cro Cop's second fight in the UFC, he was put in against Gabreal Gonzaga. Gonzaga had never beat anyone you have heard of, but he did lose to Fabricio Werdum in his second fight.
This was supposed to be another fight to help set up the Cro Cop-Couture matchup. Things didn't exactly go as planned.
The first kick Cro Cop landed left a huge welt on Gonzaga's rib cage and got him taken down. Gonzaga was actually doing work from Cro Cop's guard, but the referee decided there wasn't enough action and stood them up.
Then in an amazing turn of events, Gonzaga threw a kick. Cro Cop thought it was going to go low, but it went right upside his head. Not only did it leave Mirko out cold, but the way his leg was folded under him is still one of the sickest things seen to date.
24. Igor Vovchanchyn vs Enson Inoue
Pride Fighting Championships 10, August 27, 2000
Nobody has ever doubted Inoue. He would fight anyone, no matter how big they were, and he would never give up. Ever. No matter what.
Inoue fought Vovchanchyn for a rough 10 minutes. Inoue tried to land punches and pull off some submissions, but Vovchanchyn's striking was just too powerful. Once he got on top of Inoue, it was all but over.
After the round, Inoue could not get up on his own power and the doctor stopped the fight.
23. Carlos Newton vs Kazushi Sakuraba
Pride Fighting Championships 3, June 24, 1998
If you ever want to see grappling at its highest level, go watch this match.
Even though both fighters were still new to MMA, they were both quickly developing reputations as the best grapplers in the game.
For over 15 minutes, Newton and Sakuraba put on a clinic which saw multiple submission attempts, beautiful escapes and brilliant transitions. This has to be the most exciting fight with the least amount of strikes attempted.
The end finally came around the five-minute mark of the second round when Sakuraba secured a rolling kneebar.
If you haven't seen it, go watch it. Now.
22. Eddie Alvarez vs Joachim Hansen
Dream 3 Lightweight Grand Prix 2008 Quarterfinals, May 11, 2008
Coming in to the Dream Lightweight Grand Prix, Alvarez was a virtual unknown in both Japan and the United States. At Dream 1, he blew through Andre Amado in less than seven minutes. That is when the diehards stood up and noticed that the Philadelphia native with dynamite in his fist had some potential.
With wins over Takanori Gomi, Rumina Sato, Caol Uno, Gesias Calvancante and Yves Edwards in Shooto and Pride, Hansen had already proved himself as a top fighter in Japan. Given all of his success against top level competition, Alvarez should have been a bump in the road for Hansen on his way to the semifinals.
Alvarez, the 2-1 underdog, turned out to be more like an insurmountable mountain in the road for Hansen.
Shortly after the start of the first round, Alvarez landed a leg kick followed by a right hand that floored Hansen. Alvarez followed Hansen to the ground, but Hansen was able to recover quickly and tied up Alvarez so he could not get off any ground and pound. Hansen then went for an armbar, but Alvarez was able to fight his way out of it and they were back to their feet.
Alvarez continued to give Hansen angles and was landing his punches at will. Just as it appeared that Alvarez was about to completely take over the fight, Hansen landed a few left hands to put Alvarez in check.
But as quick as you could say "blueberry pie," Alvarez tagged Hansen with another right that floored Hansen briefly. As soon as he got up, they started dropping bombs on each other, and Hansen finally landed a good punch, which caused blood to flow from Alvarez' nose.
After a break to clean up the fighter's faces, they went right back to exchanging leg kicks and heavy leather. Hansen, realizing he was getting bested on the feet, tried to get the fight to the ground. Even though he succeeded, Alvarez ended up on top and stood up.
Then the slugfest once again continued, with both fighters going for the knockout. After getting tagged with a hard left, Alvarez decided to take the fight to the ground with a big slam. Hansen was able to once again neutralize Alvarez and minimize the damage he took from his back, and even nailed Alvarez with a solid upkick.
The last two minutes of the round ended with the two beating the sense out of each other with punches and knees and both fighters giving as good as they were taking.
The five minute second round began with Hansen going for a guillotine choke and two armbars before Alvarez was able to scramble back to his feet and terrorize Hansen's body and head. After the two slugged it out some more, Hansen went for two kimuras and an armbar, which Alvarez was able to fight his way out of.
The last minute was all Alvarez, as he landed some solid knees and punches and a high kick that nearly knocked out Hansen as the bell rang to close out the bout. The two warriors immediately went to their knees and embraced, knowing that they had just put on a war for everyone in attendance.
After 15 minutes of action, all three judges gave the fight to Eddie Alvarez.
21. Royce Gracie vs Kimo
Ultimate Fighting Championship 3, September 9, 1994
In his first seven fights in the UFC, there wasn't anyone who was able to come close to beating Royce Gracie. The little skinny guy in the gi was an inspiration for all of us little guys in the world.
Now enter Kimo, a self-proclaimed third degree black belt in tae kwan do, with an amount of tattoos never before seen and a huge wooden cross on his back. Surely he would be nothing but another stepping stone on Gracie's way to a third consecutive tournament title.
From the fight's onset, it was very apparent that was not going to be the case.
Kimo did something that night that nobody had been able to do before him—beat Gracie up. It wasn't pretty or technical, but he pushed Gracie to his limits.
Gracie was able to secure the victory via armbar, but would throw in the towel before his semifinal match up against Harold Howard.
That was more than enough reason for Kimo and his little buddy Joe Son to enter the cage for a victory lap.
20. Georges St-Pierre vs Matt Hughes II
Ultimate Fighting Championship 65, November 18, 2006
After getting on his knees and begging for a title shot, Dana White gave St-Pierre another crack at Matt Hughes for the middleweight strap.
St-Pierre had improved tenfold since the first two met at UFC 50. The most notable improvement was in his striking and takedown defense. Aside from two shots to the groin, he used his reach advantage to pick apart Hughes from the outside. Late in the round, St-Pierre landed a superman punch and a left hook that hurt Hughes badly. Had the bell not saved him, it would have been game over for Hughes.
In the second round, St-Pierre sealed the deal when he landed a solid head kick that put Hughes down. He followed up with a few punches and Hughes was saved by the referee.
19. Randy Couture vs Chuck Liddell II
Ultimate Fighting Championship 52, April 16, 2005
After standing in the shadow of Tito Ortiz for years, Chuck Liddell not only had the opportunity to win the light heavyweight belt, but avenge the TKO defeat against Randy Couture two years earlier.
Couture must have had a flashback to his first bout against Liddell and thought he could once again get the best of Liddell on their feet. Things didn't exactly work out that way.
Chuck's stand-up this time around was on point and Randy's striking didn't look as good as it did in their first go-around.. And yes, the eye poke might have not helped matters when it came to Randy's striking.
While both fighters landed some good punches, it was a straight right hand that put Couture unconscious for the first time in his career.
The era of the Iceman had began.
18. Rich Franklin vs Anderson Silva I
Ultimate Fighting Championship 64, October 14, 2006
There were many people who believed that Silva didn't deserve a shot at the middleweight title after just one fight in the UFC. Granted, he took out Chris Leben with ease, but Silva had yet to prove himself against anyone near the top of the division.
Silva shut up all the haters real quick. He out struck Franklin from the beginning, and once he secured the plum, it was game over.
Franklin ate knee after knee to the body, then one to the face that permanently changed the appearance of his nose. All the critics were silenced, and Silva has gone on to be the most dominant champion in UFC history.
17. Chris Leben vs Yoshihiro Akiyama
Ultimate Fighting Championship 116, July 3, 2010
After defeating Aaron Simpson just two weeks earlier, Leben got the call on very short notice to take on Akiyama. Leben, who prides himself on fighting anyone, anywhere, took the fight.
As fans of the sport, we are all glad he did.
The first round was all about Akiyama's grappling. He used it well to keep Leben from throwing his heavy bombs.
As for the second round, they decided they were going to stand and trade. They took turns hurting each other in an epic exchange. Akiyama was able to get a takedown, but it seemed that he used it more to rest than to do damage. Once they were standing again, they threw down until the horn went off.
Before the third round began, Leben had the look of a killer in his eyes. Both guys—bloodied, bruised and tired—continued to give it their all. Akiyama got a takedown, but nothing happened but an armbar attempt by Leben, which Akiyama was somehow able to escape and maintain top position.
After landing well from his back, Leben pulled off an unbelievable triangle with 30 seconds left in the round. Leben pulled down on his head, and Akiyama tapped.
16. Frank Trigg vs Matt Hughes II
Ultimate Fighting Championship 52, April 16, 2005
After failing in his first attempt to capture UFC gold at UFC 45, Frank Trigg won his next two fights and was given another chance against reigning champion Matt Hughes.
This time around, the fight was made a little more competitive.
Early in the first round, Trigg nailed Hughes in the cup with a knee while they were clinched up against the cage. The referee wasn't in a position to see it, and even though Hughes was clearly in pain from the low blow, he was told to fight on.
Trigg used this to his advantage and he nearly knocked out Hughes and almost secured a rear naked choke of his own. But Hughes being the competitor he is survived and was able to get out of the near fight ending position.
Hughes, clearly angered by the low blow, picked up Trigg, carried him all the way across the Octagon and slammed him to the mat. From there, he unleashed some vicious ground and pound that cut Trigg up.
After giving up his back to avoid more punches and elbows, Hughes was able to sink in a fight ending—you guessed it—rear naked choke.
15. Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen
Ultimate Fighting Championship 117, August 7, 2010
Over the past year or so, every fighter to challenge Silva for his title becomes the media and fan's darling of the week. Chael Sonnen was no different. Even though he was more than a 3-1 underdog, it seemed that Sonnen became the sexy pick to dethrone the Spider.
Everyone was quick to pick out the little flaws in Silva's game and how Sonnen would be able to capitalize on those little flaws enough to take the belt from Silva, yours truly included. This time, all the cynics were almost right. But almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.
For the first 22 minutes of the fight, Sonnen executed his game plan perfectly. It was no shocker that Sonnen was the better wrestler, but it was surprising that Sonnen actually got the better of the stand up. That shocked just about everyone, including those picking Sonnen to win.
But it doesn't matter how good your striking is or how good your wrestling is or how good your top control is unless you know basic submission defense. That was always Sonnen's Achilles' heel, and it came to light while the belt was within his grasp.
To give Silva the credit he undoubtedly deserves, he saw his opening with two-and-a-half minutes left in the round and locked in the triangle/armbar to defend his title for the eighth time. It takes a true champion to be able to be dominated for so long and capitalize on the lone opportunity you are given to win.
14. Leonard Garcia vs Chan Sung Jung I
World Extreme Cagefightinng 48, April 24, 2010
While Jose Aldo assured his spot at the top of the featherweight division this night, Garcia and Jung put on a show that nobody will soon forget.
Have you even been at a bar and seen two guys taking turns punching each other until one of them falls? That is this fight in a nutshell.
For 15 minutes, Garcia and the "Korean Zombie" took turns hitting each other with punches that would put Joe the Plumber in a coma. It was far from a technical battle, but it was sure a joy to watch.
Even though Garcia won the fight via split decision, the real winners were the fans that were treated to this three-round slobber knocker.
13. Takanori Gomi vs Tatsuya Kawajiri
Pride Fighting Championships Bushido 9, September 25, 2005
If you couldn't tell by now, Bushido 9 was an incredible event.
At the time, Gomi and Kawajiri were thought to be two of the best, if not the two best, lightweights in the world. Somehow, they were put against each other in the quarterfinals of the lightweight tournament.
Kawajiri came out fast, tagging the lead leg of Gomi over and over with kicks. Then Gomi turned the tide with a flurry of punches and knees to the body.
Then the two went straight to throwing bombs. Everything they were throwing were meant to decapitate the other. They kept going back and forth with punches and kicks.
After getting tagged with an uppercut, Kawajiri waved at Gomi as to say "come on, bring it!"
They continued with the relentless back and forth action that saw Kawajiri get hurt with punches to the body and head.
Gomi started to land with pin-point accuracy and Kawajiri started to rely on haymakers and prayers. A flurry of punches and a knee to the head put Kawajiri down. Gomi took his back, landed some more strikes before sinking in the rear naked choke that ended the fight.
12. Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz I
Ultimate Fighting Championship 47, April 2, 2004
After years of living in Ortiz' shadow, the two finally put their "friendship" aside and got it on in the Octagon.
Ortiz stated before the fight that he was going to stand and trade with Liddell. It wasn't exactly the smartest of plans, but at least he's a man of his word.
While Ortiz landed a few decent punches in the first round, Liddell clearly got the best of the stand up. After the round, a mad or aggravated or upset Ortiz started yelling something (I'm assuming nothing nice) at Liddell.
It didn't take much longer for the fight to end. Liddell came out, nailed Ortiz with an "eye poke" that sent Ortiz back against the cage. Liddell unleashed a flurry of punches that sent Ortiz crumbling to the mat and it was all over. Liddell proved why he deserved a shot at the title way before Tito lost it to Randy Couture.
11. Nobuhiro Obiya vs Milton Vieira
Deep 22 Impact, December 2, 2005
On my relentless search for fights I have never seen, I ran across this gem with the headline "The best MMA fight ever?"
I don't think it's the best, but it ranks up there pretty high and is without a doubt the best fight I've seen from the Deep promotion.
10. Fedor Emelianenko vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira III
Pride Fighting Championships 25, March 16, 2003
After what happened in their first fight, Fedor wanted nothing to do with Nogueira's ground game. The first round was all about Fedor picking apart Nogueria and using his strength advantage to keep the fight standing.
In Rounds 2 and 3, Fedor put his excellent takedown defense on display, as he shrugged off all of Nogueria's takedown attempts, beat him to the punch and used his highly effective counter striking to get the decision victory.
9. Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard II
Ultimate Fighting Championship 125, January 1, 2011
In Edgar's second defense of his lightweight title, he was pitted against the only man to ever beat him—Gray Maynard. Leading in to the fight, Edgar said, "I'm 13 and Gray Maynard." So needless to say, Edgar wanted to avenge his lone loss, and Maynard wanted the title that he had been working so hard to get.
In the first round, it looked like Maynard's hard work was going to pay off, as he had Edgar hurt on several different occasions. If it weren't a title fight, it would more than likely been stopped. Even with the circumstances, I don't think anyone would have complained had the fight been stopped. But to Edgar's credit, he was able to withstand the storm and move on to the next round.
Round 2 was a great comeback round for Edgar and a round he clearly won. The next three rounds, the scoring was all over the place.
To make a long story that you already know short, the fight ended in a majority draw. Both Edgar and Maynard supporters can make sound arguments that their fighter should have won, but it is what it is.
8. Wanderlei Silva vs Chuck Liddell
Ultimate Fighting Championship 79, December 29, 2007
Yes, this fight happened a few years too late, but better late than never.
Dana White tried to make this fight happen when he entered Liddell in Pride's light heavyweight tournament in 2003, but Quinton Jackson foiled White's plans when he scored a TKO victory over Liddell in the semifinals of the tournament.
Now let's fast forward to 2007. Zuffa purchased the assets of Pride and absorbed many of their best fighters' contracts. In the first UFC vs Pride superfight, Liddell and Silva finally had the chance to put on 15 minutes of all-out action.
The fight saw both fighters throwing and connecting with huge shots that had both fighters in trouble at some point of time. At the end of the day, it was Liddell's straight punches that landed on Silva's face before Silva's loopy punches could even come close to landing that earned him the unanimous decision.
7. Tatsuya Kawajiri vs Eddie Alvarez
Dream 5 Lightweight Grand Prix 2008 Semifinals, July 21, 2008
This fight had all the makings to be a war for the ages. Kawajiri was already known for his explosive power and Alvarez, the underdog once again, had shown the MMA world that he was for real after taking it to Joachim Hansen for 15 minutes at Dream 3.
The winner of this bout would go on to face Shinya Aoki, who defeated Caol Uno earlier in the evening, later the same night to fight for the right to be the first Dream lightweight champion. With so much on the line, the winner needed to win, make it quick and take the least amount of damage possible.
But with their respective striking prowess, would it be possible to leave the ring unscathed?
From the start, Kawajiri started working the leg kicks. After eating a few, Alvarez shot in for the takedown, only to have it stuffed. And for his efforts, Alvarez received a few knees to his face before he was able to get the fight back to the feet.
After they exchanged a few knees from the clinch, the referee broke them apart. That is when hell started to break loose.
Kawajiri landed a few more leg kicks and followed it up with a solid right hand. Not to be outdone, Alvarez answered with a leg kicks and three wild punches of his own before he dropped for a double. After Kawajiri shrugged it off, they became human versions of rock 'em sock 'em robots.
They traded leg kicks and punches before Alvarez dropped Kawajiri with a right. Then from the clinch, Alvarez landed some hard left hooks to Kawajiri's body that had him wincing in pain. In the meantime, Alvarez' right eye was continuing to swell more and more from the right hand Kawajiri landed earlier in the round.
While they were in a brief clinch, the referee stopped the action so the doctors could check out Alvarez' eye. About a minute later, he was cleared to continue on.
As soon as the action continued, they exchanged more punches and Alvarez got dropped by left hook right to the jaw. Kawajiri smelled blood, pounced and landed about 10 hammerfists before Alvarez was able to regain control of Kawajiri. After a scramble, Kawajiri found himself in the mount with Alvarez keeping him close to avoid any ground and pound. Somehow Alvarez was able to buck Kawajiri off of him and they were back on their feet again.
As soon as Alvarez was off his back, all hell broke loose again. The back-and-forth action was too quick to keep up with and both men hit each other with everything and the kitchen sink. Alvarez was able to get Kawajiri's back against the ropes and threw a flurry that put Kawajiri down and just about out.
Alvarez stepped away, thinking he had won the match, but the referee told him to fight on. Alvarez jumped on top of Kawajiri and landed 17 unanswered punches before the referee finally stepped in and ended the fight.
Although Alvarez won the fight by TKO, his right eye was so badly damaged that the doctors determined him unable to continue to the finals.
6. Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonnar
The Ultimate Fighter One Finale, April 9, 2005
Many credit this match as being the launching pad for MMA's meteoric rise in popularity. It was the first event to be broadcast to cable television, and the main event was put on the shoulders of two reality show contestants fighting for a multi-fight, six-figure contract.
Had they been given the opportunity to do it all over again, there is no way they could ever duplicate the performance they put on that night.
Both Griffin and Bonnar went in the cage with one goal—knock the other guy's head off. For 15 solid minutes, these two warriors let it all hang out and then some. They were hurt, tired and bloody towards the end, but they kept going for the finish regardless.
The match was so crazy that at one time, it had 3.2 million eyeballs starring at it, or 1.6 million people. At the end, Griffin was awarded the decision victory, but the UFC knew both fighters had just done incredible things for the sport, so they were both awarded the six-figure contract.
5. Nick Diaz vs Takanroi Gomi
Pride Fighting Championships 33, February 22, 2007
I remember this fight as if I were there. Oh, that's right...I was.
From what I recall, Diaz was nearly a 3-1 underdog. He was able to withstand Gomi's early onslaught, fight through an orbital fracture and won with a gogoplata.
But because Diaz was allegedly high on pot, the Nevada State Athletic Commission changed the fight from a win for Diaz to a no contest.
If he was able to do what he did to Gomi while he was high, they need to give him his win back, along with a trophy and a lifetime supply of Coco Pebbles!
4. Yoshihiro Takayama vs Don Frye
Pride Fighting Championships 21, June 23, 2002
Originally, Frye was supposed to fight Mark Coleman in a rematch from their fight at UFC 10. But Coleman got hurt and Takayama stepped in to the main event on one week's notice.
From the opening bell, both Frye and Takayama went balls to the wall and just started punching each other in the face over and over and over and over again.
After a break in the action, it was back to the crazy non-stop barrage of punches. Takayama's eye looked bad after the first exchange. After the second, it was even worse.
Most of the round could have taken place in a phone booth and they would have had room to spare. Both fighters dished it out and took it, but the writing on Takayama's face was proof that Frye's punches had more behind them.
The end finally came when Takayama went for a takedown and Frye landed in the mount. After eating another 20 punches or so, the referee finally rescued Takayama and his poor face from any more damage.
3. Fedor Emelianenko vs Mirko Filipovic
Pride Fighting Championships Final Conflict 2005, August 28, 2005
Fedor was defending his heavyweight title against the best striker he had faced in his career. Early on, Mirko "Cro Cop" was able to get the better of the stand up with his trademark kicks and sharp punches. But Fedor was no slouch on his feet, as he landed some looping right hands of his own.
Once the fight hit the ground, the fight was all Fedor. Cro Cop's ground defense was good, but wasn't good enough to keep himself from getting pummeled on the ground.
When it was all said and done, Fedor's ground game was too much for the exhausted Cro Cop to handle as Fedor scored a unanimous decision victory.
2. Frank Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz
Ultimate Fighting Championship 22, September 24, 1999
After winning three fights in a row following his lone loss to Guy Mezger, Ortiz was given the chance to fight Frank Shamrock for the light heavyweight championship.
For the first three rounds, the younger Ortiz was taking it to the much more experienced Shamrock. His wrestling and size advantage was able to dictate the fight. But being the veteran that he was, he knew how to hang in there and worked on wearing Ortiz down.
By the fourth round, Ortiz was visibly tired, but Shamrock still had plenty of pep and started to take over the fight. Shamrock started landing leg kicks and punches with ease. Ortiz was able to get a takedown, but did nothing with it and Shamrock finally exploded to his feet.
With the round almost over, they traded heavy leather and Shamrock went for a guillotine. Ortiz was able to get out of it, but an elbow followed by a few hammerfist ended the night for Ortiz.
Shamrock would leave the sport for a few years following this fight, and Ortiz would go on to win the vacated belt.
1. Jorge Santiago vs Kazuo Misaki II
Sengoku 14, August 22, 2010
If you're a fan of boxing, you will never forget Castillo-Corrales I. Both fighters gave as good as they took, drama was constantly unfolding before your eyes, the ebb-and-flow was tremendous and the fight ended in about the most dramatic fashion you could come up with. Even the boxing old-timers were saying it was the greatest fight in boxing's history.
While there hasn't been an MMA match to date than can compete with that, the second go-around between Santiago and Misaki came pretty darn close.
For four rounds, both fighters rocked each other with strikes and pulled off multiple near fight-ending submission attempts. Come the fifth round, the fight had turned in to a war of attrition.
Santiago was able to steal the opportunity and took it to Misaki.
The end of the fight came with just 30 seconds left as Santiago bombarded Misaki with punches until Misaki's corner had no choice to throw in the towel to save their man.