10 Most-Anticipated UFC Fights of the Last 6 Years
A title is on the line, your favorite fighter is fighting, two great athletes are about to square off, bitter rivals about to go war—these are just a few of the reasons we as fans can't wait for an upcoming UFC event, to see two warriors standing across the cage from each other, ready to attack.
While there have been many great wars in the past, there are just some that people want to see more than others. They create more of a media buzz, they create more discussions and they just create an anticipation and a completely different feel than fights before them.
These aren't ordinary fights. These are fights that fans talk about months in advance. They're fights that set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.
This is a list of 10 UFC fights compiled over the last six years that fans just couldn't wait to see.
10. Jon Jones vs. Mauricio Shogun Rua: UFC 128
Shogun was hot off winning the light heavyweight title in a rematch after losing a controversial decision to Lyoto Machida in their first encounter. MMA fans were waiting to see thia Shogun in the UFC.
A healthy Rua has always been considered one of the best fighters in the world. Jon Jones was the young, hungry up-and-comer ripping through the division.
While only losing one fight in his career (a disqualification against Matt Hamill), Jones wasn't even taking damage in fights. While many felt he wasn't ready, he took the fight on short notice after then teammate Rashad Evans was forced to drop out.
Fans couldn't wait to see if the hype surrounding this kid was real or just that, hype. Jones quickly silenced critics and proved he's for real.
9. Gray Maynard vs. Frankie Edgar III: UFC 136
After their second fight, fans couldn't wait to see the rubber match between Maynard and Edgar. These two battled in a five-round draw in their first title fight that many considered Fight Of The Year at UFC 125.
After both had suffered injuries, prolonging the anticipated bout, fans just got more and more eager.
After a 10-month wait, they were treated to the rematch they were waiting for. Four more rounds from these two and we all finally got to see a finish to a fight we had to patiently wait for.
8. Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort: UFC 126
Widely considered two of the best strikers this sport has ever seen, Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort were set to face off in a middleweight title fight at UFC 126.
Silva, undefeated in his UFC career, had never faced a striker like Belfort. Critics and fans questioned if he had finally met his match. In the months leading up to the fight, it was the non-stop question on everyone's mind.
Could Belfort be the guy to finally dethrone the Spider?
Fans couldn't wait to see two of the upper echelon in MMA go to war in what was certain to be a striker's dream. Unfortunately, the anticipation for the fight lasted much longer than the fight itself. We didn't even get to see a full round of these two before Silva knocked out "The Phenom."
7. BJ Penn vs. Georges St-Pierre II: UFC 94
They fought at UFC 58, and St-Pierre edged Penn in a split a decision in a fight fans talked about for years. The rematch was set for UFC 94 and fans couldn't wait. Champion versus champion. Lightweight champion, BJ Penn challenging St-Pierre for his welterweight title.
Penn fans insisted this was BJ Penn at his best. Going into this fight, Penn was focused, he was ready, he was in the best shape of his life. This was supposed to be the guy to knock St-Pierre off his welterweight pedestal. This was the most anticipated rematch ever.
The outcome was a little different than some fans had hoped. Penn fell short and couldn't last all five rounds after taking a beating from St-Pierre.
Sadly, a good fight between the two turned into controversy as "Grease-gate" was created and tarnished the highly-anticipated rematch.
Hopefully, we all get to see one more battle between these two before it's all said and done. One to finally settle the score once and for all.
6. Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock: UFC 61
The event was appropriately named Bitter Rivals. How fitting.
This was just a fight between two fighters that just hated each other. This wasn't some fake hype for the fight. This was pure hatred between two men, and it needed to be resolved by them punching each other in the face.
Even with the anticipation for the fight, the majority of the fans had a pretty good idea that Shamrock was no longer a serious threat in the MMA world. While they couldn't wait to watch, they knew Tito was more or less about to destroy his nemesis. However, I don't think they saw the end coming so quickly.
At least we got to see a real MMA grudge match that, I'm sure to this day, isn't completely settled.
5. Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture: UFC 91
The age-less wonder faces possibly the biggest draw in mixed martial arts for the heavyweight title.
Questions loomed over this fight from the minute it was announced. Critics and fans both felt Lesnar didn't deserve a shot at the title—not yet. People felt he didn't earn it, and it was given to him based on his draw value, not on his fight resume.
Regardless of how they felt, those same fans couldn't wait to see how the fight would play out. Could Couture beat the mammoth Lesnar? Could he outwrestle the former NCAA champion powerhouse?
Could Lesnar finish Couture? Would he try to stand with him or take him down and use his power advantage? Was this TOO big of a fight for Lesnar? Were fans ready to see a former professional wrestler cross over and be the top of one of the most prestigious titles in the history of combat sports?
Ready or not, Lesnar defeated Couture via TKO in the second round. He silenced critics, while creating others. No matter the questions, this was a fight that fans around the world were on the edge of their seats for.
4. Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva: UFC 79
This was a fight years in the making. Fans wanted to see this fight when both were the favorites to be in the finals of the Pride Grand Prix in 2003. People finally wanted an answer to the question of "Who was the best light heavyweight in the world, Chuck or Wanderlei?"
They didn't want to have to wait to find out.
Four years later, it was announced Silva had signed with ZUFFA and the UFC. They wasted no time setting up the fight that fans had been clamoring for for years. Despite two tough knock-out losses in a row, Silva versus Liddell didn't seem to lose any luster.
Fans demanded it, and they got it. They certainly weren't disappointed.
We may have had to wait four years to see the battle we all wanted in 2003, but we got a fight that no one will ever forget. A fight that will go down as one of the best pure strike-fests in the history of mixed martial arts. We got what we all wanted to see.
3. "Rampage" Jackson .vs. Rashad Evans: UFC 114
Much like the Shamrock versus Ortiz fight, these two didn't seem to like each other very much. They didn't exactly try to hide it either.
Jackson and Evans hit it off after an in-cage encounter. It was announced that there was going to be "black-on-black crime." With these two characters, you knew what you were getting.
After being cast as coaches on "The Ultimate Fighter," fans tuned in each week to see what they were going to do next. The show served more as a hype machine for their fight (and Kimbo Slice)—than a stage for up-and-coming fighters to showcase their talents and attempt to make it into the UFC. Fans didn't seem to mind.
Every week was just another chance for these two to add fuel to the already flaming fire.
Instead of a fight immediately following The Ultimate Fighter, Jackson took a movie role, which postponed this already highly-anticipated bout. Evans called it Rampage ducking him; Rampage called it an opportunity…fans just called for the fight. They were ready to see these two settle their differences where it mattered. In the cage.
On May 29th, 2010—that's kinda what they did. Rashad Evans outlasted Jackson for three rounds in a fight that no one really saw coming. While fans wanted to see a finish and much more action—it seemed Evans game plan was to instead outwrestle his opponent and be content with the decision victory. Certainly not what we were expecting after months and months of trash-talk.
2. Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir: UFC 81
The second mention of Lesnar on this list, and it shouldn't be much of a surprise.
This was the first time Lesnar was to step into a UFC octagon. Fans didn't care who he was fighting, they just wanted to see if the one time pro wrestler had what it took to make the transition into mixed martial arts.
Fans sat back and watched his failed attempt at football and how quickly he gave up. Many were convinced this fight game was going to go the same route.
While many tuned in for failure, others tuned in to see just how much commitment Lesnar was giving to the sport. Lesnar brought a whole new audience into the UFC world. He single-handedly converted millions of wrestling fans, into casual UFC fans in one night.
Once the date was set for his first fight, it's the only thing you could discuss when talking about MMA. Would Brock fail miserably. How quick was Mir going to finish him? How fast would Lesnar once again quit and take his act back to the WWE?
While Lesnar may have lost his first ever UFC fight, he put on a showing that even impressed the harshest of critics. He came out and surprised a former UFC Heavyweight Champion.
If not for his inexperience in the cage, he may have won that fight; we'll never know. One thing we do know for certain, there may not have been more anticipation for a fight in the history of mixed martial arts.
1. Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva:
Yes, I know—a fight that has not happened—YET.
The two men that are among the top of nearly every list of top fighters in the world today.
Fans have been screaming for this match to happen for well over a year now.
St-Pierre fans saying he's the best in the world. Silva fans claiming he's the best. The arguments, the discussions. Who would win?
After both fighters nearly clearing out their respective divisions of their top fighters, there isn't a lot left for either one.
Anderson Silva could clearly move up to light heavyweight, as he's already proven. But before that move, fans want to see the super-fight that they've been begging for for years.
It's been dangled in front of us all for quite some time now. As if the UFC enjoys teasing us with the possibility. Both men have discussed it openly which makes it even worse for the fans. The MMA world wants to see the two best fighters on the planet in the same locked cage. They want the clear-cut winner. No more arguments, no more debates.
This is arguably the biggest fight that any promotion could ever put together, ever.
Hopefully soon, we'll finally get our answer as to who really is the best fighter in the world today. Until then, we can only speculate.