In the world of mixed martial arts, we have bore witness to some amazing fights over the years.
Competitive battles that pit two evenly-matched opponents, creating memorable matches ala the Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar trilogy, where both men bested each other on separate occasions while settling for a draw in their second outing.
Then there are dominating performances. Performances that are indicative of the of fighters who are on two different levels, one who is clearly in the upper echelon and the other that never really belonged there, resulting in some of the most one-sided beatdowns in MMA history.
Stevenson was riding on a wave of confidence heading into his bout with Penn, who came off of two back-to-back losses against welterweight greats Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre before defeating rival Jens Pulver in their rematch.
Joe "Daddy" was 4-0 in his last four outings and Penn was a subtle 1-2 in his last three outings, but no matter. Penn made quick work of Stevenson, dropping him early with a short hook, controlling him on the ground and eventually overworking The Ultimate Fighter Season 2 winner en route to a submission victory, but not after slicing Stevenson open with an elbow, making him a gruesome mess.
The duo met on three separate occasions, all of which were the result of dominant performances from Tito Ortiz. The first time they met, Ortiz reigned as the organization's light heavyweight champion, and Shamrock came back from his brief stint as a WWE star in order to settle the score with "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy."
The rivalry grew thanks to Ortiz's brash and abrasive actions inside the cage, first when he beat down Jerry Bohlander and later when he avenged his lone career defeat—at the time—to Guy Mezger, to which afterwards he flipped off the Lion's Den corner headed by Shamrock.
In those three bouts with Shamrock, Ortiz was unrelenting, with all bouts ending by extremely one-sided TKO victories at the expense of the over-the-hill Shamrock.
Heavyweight boxing great James Toney hounded UFC president Dana White for a shot in the Octagon. For weeks, and then months, he was unrelenting before he finally signed a contract with the organization.
His first task was to take on former five-time world champion Randy Couture, one of the sport's best wrestlers in the game.
Very, very few gave Toney a chance at victory, and for good reason. Couture ankle picked Toney to the mat, and soon thereafter mounted the touted striker and pounded him with strikes before settling for the arm-triangle choke inside of the first round.
Toney never came to fight, he just wanted the check.
Very few people gave Sonnen a chance against the touted Okami.
Chael was coming into the bout on the heels of a dismal decision victory over Dan Miller in his previous outing, and Okami had already been proven in victories over Dean Lister, Jason MacDonald and former champion Evan Tanner.
However, Sonnen wasted little time in taking the fight to Okami, working long jabs and straights to the face of the Japanese fighter before crashing him to the mat time and time again thanks to his extensive wrestling background.
Sonnen looked overly impressive, and the victory opened the door to the upper echelon, where Sonnen worked his way towards a title shot.
Soon after, Okami began training with Sonnen after the humbling loss.
It's an ode to Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock.
Kazushi Sakuraba and Wanderlei Silva fought against one another on three separate occasions in fights that should have never happened. The Japanese great never made it to the final bell against the heavy-handed striker in Silva.
In the end, Silva was always the victor at the expense of Sakuraba, who always left their outings a bludgeoned mess, resulting in some of the worst performances of his career.
After back-to-back losses as a heavyweight, Randy Couture made his way on down to the 205-pound class, where he was given little chance against faster athletes.
His first tour was against then-top contender Chuck Liddell, a heavy-handed prospect with a great wrestling pedigree. Couture outworked Liddell, who eventually succumbed to a third-round TKO finish from the unrelenting Couture.
The Olympian was then pitted against then-champ Tito Ortiz at UFC 44, where Couture was universally considered to be the heavy underdog. Couture exposed Ortiz, dominating him every round in the clinch, on the ground—every facet of the MMA.
In the end, Couture won a dominant decision victory over the poster boy of the UFC, even spanking him in the waning moments of the fight. Yes, he literally spanked Ortiz.
Few gave Couture a chance in this bout—it seems to be a reoccurring theme in his career.
At UFC 68, Couture came out of retirement—after having been knocked out by Chuck Liddell in his previous outing—before he challenged heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia for his title.
Sylvia was a tough nut to crack, standing at a towering 6'8" and weighing in well over 265 pounds, and Couture barely made the heavyweight limit. However, the Olympic-level wrestler dictated the bout in the first few seconds of the match, dropping him with a right hand.
From there, it was all Couture. The Xtreme Couture leader beat Sylvia on the feet with sweeping hooks and took him to the mat time and time again, even taking his back for the early goings of the first round.
In the end, Couture had won every round on the score cards, regaining the heavyweight title and solidifying his legacy as one of the best of all time.
Rising star Jon Jones was taking on arguably his toughest challenge to date when he met with Matt Hamill at The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale in December of 2009.
Though Hamill was a former NCAA wrestling champion, Jones wasted little time in taking him to the mat, immediately jumping to mount and blasting away with punches and elbows.
It was the worst beating that Hamill had ever taken inside the Octagon, and he looked to be out of there inside of the first round. However, Hamill was saved a loss when referee Steve Mazzagatti ended the bout by disqualification when he deemed Jones' 12-6 elbow strikes the cause of the finish.
An unjust decision, but an impressive performance from Jones nonetheless.
At Pride: Final Conflict 2005, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Ricardo Arona met in the finals of the prestigious Middleweight Grand Prix.
The two Brazilians were essentially rivals, hailing from Chute Boxe Academy and Brazilian Top Team, respectively.
Arona was a powerhouse grappling ace while Rua was a wily, wild and errant striker. However, "Shogun" proved his versatility when Arona took him down early in the bout. Rua worked his way back to his feet quickly, swarming Arona with shots on the feet.
Arona had no answer for Rua, who eventually struck him down with a hard and sweeping stomp to the face, which left Arona in a daze. In the end, Rua followed up with punches to seal the knockout finish and earn the GP title in the process, turning in one of his most infamous career highlights to date.
Wrestling powerhouse Tommy Speer came off of the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter, where he made it to the finals opposite of Mac Danzig. Speer was a decided favorite over Anthony Johnson, who was just 1-1 inside the Octagon.
In the end, it was Johnson who looked every bit the dominant force he is now, staving off all of Speers' takedown attempts and blasting away with kicks, knees and punches, eventually leaving Speer knocked out cold against the fence when he bore the brunt of a hard right hand. It all took just 51 seconds of action.
Fresh off a dominant performance in the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010, "The Demolition Man" reigned supreme by besting a field of 16-men. Alistair Overeem returned quickly to action when he took on Todd Duffee under the Dream banner.
Duffee was considered a top prospect in the sport, having notched the quickest knockout victory whilst in the UFC, needing just seven seconds to dispatch of Tim Hague in his Octagon debut in 2009.
In the end, Overeem looked every bit the world beater he is today, when he blasted Duffee with hard knees, and punches. A counter right hand, knee to the body and left hook sealed the deal for the Dutchman, who bested Duffee in just 19 seconds to claim another world title.
Considered a pivotal bout in the UFC, Matt Hughes, then the welterweight champion of the world, took on the prolific Royce Gracie in a catchweight bout.
A submission specialist, Gracie was dominated on the ground by the powerhouse wrestler in Hughes, who took Royce down early, mounted his back and searched for a submission finish.
The end seemed imminent with Hughes torquing on the right arm of the Gracie fighter before settling for some devastating ground-and-pound blows. In the end, Hughes was the victor by TKO, leaving Royce batter and bruised.
Considerably bigger than the great Fedor Emelianenko, Zuluzinho was a touted Brazilian Vale Tudo fighter who had some devastating hands at his disposal.
In the end, it was Emelianenko who struck first, dropping Zulu with a hard left hook. Subsequent follow-up shots came and a right hand sat down the 6'8" behemoth, who eventually submitted to strikes from the Russian bruiser.
Anderson Silva made an emphatic debut inside the Octagon when he took on Chris Leben. "The Crippler" looked to be a top contender in the middleweight division after he rattled off a five-fight win streak in the cage against some notable competition.
In the end, however, his experience proved insignificant to the level of skill that Silva brought into the cage. "The Spider" rocked Leben early with straights punches, dropping the hard-nosed fighter to the mat early.
A head kick and knee to the head eventually called a halt to the bout after just 49 seconds of action. Not bad for your UFC debut.
The reigning middleweight champion was hot and cold inside the Octagon till he stepped in there with Forrest Griffin, who was only recently dethroned as the 205-pound titleholder.
Anderson was coming off of dismal performances against Patrick Cote and Thales Leites, a far cry from the devastating and entertaining performances turned in his previous outings.
Griffin proved game, though, it played right into Silva's hand. The Brazilian picked his shots and dropped Griffin on three occasions, the last of which came courtesy of a backpedaling jab that sent him to the mat.
The victory earned Silva "Fight of the Night" and "Knockout of the Night," netting him arguably his most impressive performance to date against the durable TUF winner.