As the UFC descends on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for UFC 134, we have come to realize that mixed martial arts is truly a worldwide sport.
Events have been held on five of the seven continents and the sport is continuously growing in prominence. Fans are gaining knowledge of the sport and new fighters are coming in to local gyms to train on a daily basis in hopes of becoming the next UFC champion.
As of Saturday, a total of 30 UFC cards will have been held outside the United States.
Here are 10 of those events, some of which have signaled a new era in the company's history and those that have broken new borders in the UFC's global expansion.
A couple of early events did not make the top 10, but deserved to be mentioned anyway.
The first was UFC Brazil: Ultimate Brazil. This event was the only UFC event ever held in Brazil until UFC 134 this weekend.
The first Brazil event saw the inaugural UFC Lightweight Champion get crowned when Pat Miletich defeated Mikey Burnett via decision.
The main event saw Frank Shamrock successfully defend the UFC Middleweight Championship against John Lober. Shamrock pummeled Lober into submission at 7:41 into the fight.
The other honorable mention would be UFC Japan: Ultimate Japan. This was the first of three (to date) UFC events to be held in Japan.
The Japanese have grown with the sport over the years with PRIDE and this event was not one to disappoint.
The main event was the UFC Heavyweight Championship bout. Randy "The Natural" Couture took the title from Maurice Smith via decision. This would mark Couture's last UFC bout for almost three years due to a contract dispute he had with the UFC.
It also marked the first event for UFC commentator Mike Goldberg.
Event Date: April 10, 2010
UFC 112 was the first event held in the Middle East. It was also the first one to be held outdoors.
When most people think of this event, they remember the main event that saw Anderson Silva dance around for five rounds and take a unanimous decision victory over Demian Maia.
Frankie Edgar remembers it a little differently. It was the event where he defeated B.J. Penn to become the new UFC Lightweight Champion through a tough battle that saw Edgar dominate the scorecards with 50-45, 48-47 and 49-46 scores to take the unanimous decision win. Sure, seeing a 48-47 score doesn't seem like domination, but we live in a world where judges are all different and you never know what one of them will see in your fight.
Also, Matt Hughes made his return to the Octagon with a win over Renzo Gracie.
It was a good turnout with 11,000 people in attendance, but the UFC lost out on PPV sales here as the event was shown live at 1:00p.m. Saturday afternoon, an unusual time slot for UFC fans to adjust to.
Event Date: February 21, 2010 in Australia (February 20, 2010 in the United States)
The first event held in Australia was not one that had title fights on the card, but rather, a card stacked with bouts that had great young talent on their way to the UFC title hunt.
The main event saw future UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez take on the legendary Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira. Just like every fight that Velasquez has been in, he dominated and finished early, knocking out Nogueira at 2:20 of the first round.
This win catapulted Velasquez to the title picture and in his next fight, he defeated Brock Lesnar to win the belt.
The co-main event on the card featured Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva claim a unanimous decision victory over Michael "The Count" Bisping.
At the time, this was the second fastest sellout in UFC history, standing only behind UFC 83 (more on that event later).
It also marked a rare occurrence where the event was held on a Sunday afternoon local time. This was done so the time differential allowed the fans in North America to view the fight at its normal 10:00 p.m. ET time slot on Saturday night.
Event Date: January 19, 2008
The crowd may have been a small 8,412, but the event delivered enough blood to keep them wanting more...and that was just the main event.
B.J. Penn and Joe "Daddy" Stevenson fought to determine the undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion. Penn won due to a rear-naked choke and left a mess of Stevenson's face in the process.
The image is still clear, with Stevenson gasping for air while Penn was slowly sinking in the choke. There was blood pouring down the face of Stevenson, but at 4:02 of Round 2, it was all over.
The co-main event had future giant killer Fabricio Werdum earn a TKO victory over Gabriel Gonzaga.
While the card wasn't overly stacked, it was the beginning of Penn's dominance over the 155-pound division and therefore earns UFC 70 a place on this list.
Event Date: April 21, 2007
This was the first UFC event held outside the United States after its popularity skyrocketed following The Ultimate Fighter, so this card was paramount in showing the international fans what the UFC had to offer.
It was another one of those events that had no title fights, but it is still memorable for one shining moment in the career of Gabriel Gonzaga.
Fighting Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Gonzaga knew that a win here would earn him a shot at then-UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture.
That's when it happened...
A vicious head kick stopped the fight at 4:51 of the first round, and Cro Cop was never the same again.
The event would also see Michael Bisping fight in front of his fellow countrymen against Elvis Sinosic. Bisping would earn a TKO win at 1:40 of the second round.
Another prominent bout on the card would see future UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida take a unanimous decision victory over David Heath.
Event Date: September 8, 2007
UFC 75 made it onto the list because it signaled the UFC growing as a brand after the acquisition of PRIDE.
Dan Henderson was the PRIDE Middleweight Champion and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was the UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion. In the main event, Rampage took the unanimous decision victory to become the first ever unified and undisputed UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion.
The event wasn't free from controversy, however, as Michael Bisping was, once again, fighting in his native England. He went up against Matt Hamill.
After a three-round war that most media in attendance had Hamilll winning, the judges ruled a split decision in favour of Bisping.
It's no wonder Hamill hasn't accepted a fight outside the United States since that fight.
Another fight on the card saw Cheick Kongo defeat Mirko Cro Cop via unanimous decision, further sending the Croatian down the Heavyweight rankings.
Event Date: May 8, 2010
UFC 113 was memorable because we saw an Internet sensation finish off his UFC career, a sucker punch at the end of a fight and a judges' decision from a previous event receive justice in the manner only the UFC knows how to deliver.
First off, Kimbo Slice was gaining prominence for his street fights shown all over YouTube. That attention he received made him a celebrity and he decided to start training professionally. After his loss to Seth Petruzelli, Slice became a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter 10: Heavyweights.
After the season, he started his UFC career. A win over Houston Alexander made Slice look like a promising brawler in the Octagon, but his next opponent, fellow T.U.F. 10 contestant, Matt Mitrione, made him look like a rookie. That loss in Montreal was Slice's last professional MMA fight (to date).
The Paul Daley vs. Josh Koscheck fight was full of fire as this fight determined the next opponent for Georges St. Pierre's UFC Welterweight Title.
After three rounds, it was clear Daley was frustrated with his performance, but what he did next got him kicked out of the UFC for good. As Koscheck was walking to his corner following the fight, Daley came in and delivered a sucker punch.
In the main event, Lyoto Machida defended the UFC Light-Heavyweight Title against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in a rematch of UFC 104.
That fight was mired by a controversial judges' decision, one that scored 48-47 across the board.
This time around, Shogun wasn't leaving it to the judges. He scored a knockout at 3:35 of Round 1 to claim the 205-pound belt.
While it wasn't the highest attended fight card in Montreal's history, it was definitely an event that deserved a place on the top 10 based on the events that happened that night.
Event Date: February 16, 1996
UFC 8 tested the international waters for the first time and did it ever draw its share of criticism. It was originally scheduled for New York, but a late decision by the NY State Athletic Commission led to the event being relocated.
There were on-site protests, led by Calvin McCard, a local politician. The protests sparked a nationwide protest over MMA in 1996 and eventually, with Arizona Senator and future Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, the sport was forced underground temporarily in 1997.
For the sport to go from all this controversy and develop into what it is today shows just how powerful the sport was. That is why this event is so high on my ranking.
The event itself had a "David vs. Goliath" theme as the tournament held here pitted big, fat guys against small, skinny guys. Just to give an example of the size difference, in the quarter-final fight between Paul Varelans and Joe Moreira, the differential in weight was 95 lbs. Varelans was also nine inches taller.
Anyway, as well as the tournament, there was also the main event of the evening. The legendary Ken Shamrock defended the Superfight Championship against Kimo Leopoldo. Shamrock finished the fight with a kneebar at 4:24 to retain his belt.
Event Date: December 11, 2010
At the time, this event was the highest attended UFC event in history, and for good reason. Montreal has become a huge hotbed for the UFC. It also helped when it was announced that Quebec's Georges St. Pierre would be defending his UFC Welterweight Championship in the main event against Josh Koscheck.
It was also the first time that the "Fight of the Night" bonus was put to a vote by UFC fans, something UFC President Dana White regrets.
The main card was rather explosive as three out of the five fights were finished in the first round.
The main event was the one filled with bad blood. St. Pierre vs. Koscheck was the culmination of another Ultimate Fighter season, and you could tell right through the show that these guys wanted to get at one another at the Bell Centre.
They went toe-to-toe for five rounds in your typical St. Pierre-style of fight, where the champion controlled his opponent for five rounds and took the unanimous decision victory with three 50-45 scorecards from the judges.
Event Date: April 10, 2008
This event was the start of something big for the UFC as they tested the Canadian waters for the first time.
The Bell Centre was rocking that night as Georges St. Pierre and Matt Serra fought to determine the undisputed UFC Welterweight Champion. Serra originally defeated St. Pierre for the belt at UFC 69 and now was the time for the Quebec native to reclaim the belt after defeating Matt Hughes to earn the opportunity.
St. Pierre didn't disappoint as he finished Serra with knees in the late stages of Round 2 to become the undisputed champion. St. Pierre hasn't lost the belt since then (to date).
The co-main event saw former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin defeat T.U.F. 4 winner Travis Lutter in the second round.
On top of all that action, we saw a running-man routine that earned Kalib Starnes a one-way ticket out of the UFC, a Michael Bisping victory at the end of the first round of his bout and to top it all off, the UFC debut of future UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez.
A big night of fights, yet only second on the list.
Event Date: April 30, 2011
UFC 129 delivered the biggest event in UFC history, and the whole city was buzzing. Not to turn this into a first-person narrative, but I remember walking downtown Toronto exactly a week before UFC 129 and there were posters on every last bus stop and even around the Rogers Centre, where I attended a Toronto Blue Jays game that day. It was UFC city already.
An estimated 55,000 fans packed the stadium for an all-star night of fights that featured not one, but two title fights, both featuring Canadian talent.
Georges St. Pierre defeated Jake Shields in the main event, a closer fight than any St. Pierre fight seen in recent memory as two out of the three judges scored the bout 48-47.
The co-main event had Jose Aldo defending (for the first time in UFC history) the UFC Featherweight Championship against London, Ontario native Mark Hominick. Hominick showed amazing heart in this fight, and it showed as the fight earned "Fight of the Night" honours. However, Aldo retained the belt with a unanimous decision victory.
This event will also go down as hosting the final fight in the career of Randy "The Natural" Couture. The legend fought to the age of 47 and after a second-round knockout loss to Lyoto Machida, Couture announced that he was "finally done fighting."
A great career and an outstanding event, one that definitely earned No. 1 on the list. And not to offend Habs fans or anything, but this event proved Toronto can do UFC bigger than Montreal can, which is why UFC 140 will be at the Air Canada Centre, not at the Bell Centre.
Was there an event that deserved to be on this list but didn't make the cut? What did you think of the list? Leave your comments below.