25 Greatest UFC Title Fights of All Time

Jake Martin@JakeMartinSECCorrespondent IIIMarch 31, 2012

25 Greatest UFC Title Fights of All Time

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    As fans of mixed martial arts, the UFC has spoiled us with one great title fight after another throughout the years.

    It seems as if the UFC has topped itself every year with thrilling title fights, and memorable fights like Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard and Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen stand out above the rest. But are they better than the classics that built the foundation of the UFC?

    From old classic like Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture to the recent heart-pounding fights like Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick, these are the greatest title fights in UFC history.

25. Evans vs. Griffin, UFC 92

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    Forrest Griffin is a crowd favorite because he comes to fight.

    In his meeting against Rashad Evans at UFC 92, Griffin brought the fight to Evans the only way he knows how,  and he was getting the better of him on the feet.

    Both fighters exchanged strikes back-and-forth in the first two rounds, and entering the third round, Evans smartened up and decided to take this fight to the ground.

    Once he caught Griffin's kick and put him down, he landed some brutal ground-n-pound and stopped him to win his first championship.

24. Silva vs. Franklin, UFC 64

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    Before Anderson Silva was known as the baddest man on the planet, Rich Franklin had a tight grip on the middleweight championship.

    After defeating David Loiseau and Nate Quarry, Franklin was thought to be one of the best fighters in the world until he met the greatest fighter in the history of MMA.

    After a devastating head kick and landing multiple knees in the clinch, Silva finished Franklin by knockout in the first round—and just like that, the Silva era began in devastating fashion.

    The fight depicted a whole new meaning for the words "ballet of violence."

23. Jones vs. Machida, UFC 140

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    At the age of 24, Jon Jones has looked invincible during his stint in the UFC, but Lyoto Machida reminded everyone that Jones is still human at UFC 140.

    After dominating opponent after opponent and running through Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in title fights, Jones' chin was finally tested by a dangerous striker.

    Jones looked to be in danger after Machida was getting the better of the exchanges in the first round, and not counting his disqualification loss to Matt Hamill, he lost a round for the first time in his UFC career.

    Being the champion he is, Jones collected himself in the second round, took the fight to the ground, cut Machida open, dropped him and passed Machida out with a standing guillotine. In the end, Jones might have won the fight, but Machida certainly brought it to the champ.

22. Silva vs. Franklin II, UFC 77

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    When Anderson Silva and Rich Franklin met for a second time, the fight lasted longer but the result was much of the same.

    Franklin was able to break out of the clinch in the second fight, but Silva would drop him right before the horn sounded with a brutal punch.

    Franklin wobbled to his corner, and once the second round began, Silva poured it on him with more brutal knees to finish him.

    The highlight of this match had to be Silva dancing in the middle of the Octagon and dodging all of Franklin's strikes as if he was from The Matrix.

21. Hughes vs. GSP II, UFC 65

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    After losing to Matt Hughes via armbar in the first round at UFC 50, Georges St-Pierre got his shot at redemption at UFC 65.

    St-Pierre's improved wrestling kept Hughes from taking him down, and St-Pierre took the belt with his superior striking.

    St-Pierre set up a head kick beautifully by targeting Hughes' legs with leg kicks throughout the fight. He looked low, threw a high kick and the result was a championship-defining moment.

    After dropping Hughes with the head kick in the second round, GSP threw one brutal elbow after another until the referee called the fight.

20. Penn vs. Sherk, UFC 84

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    For hardcore fans, B.J. Penn vs. Sean Sherk was a huge fight for so many reasons.

    First and foremost, the bad blood between the two was real, and it was caused by Penn calling out Sherk for testing positive for steroids.

    The next reason was because Sherk was coming back from his suspension and Penn was running through the lightweight division. This set up a great collision between the two, and both fighters didn't disappoint.

    The fight's finish came at the end of the third round when Penn threw a flying knee that connected with Sherk against the cage, following it up with perfectly placed uppercuts before the horn sounded. Sherk was unable to continue and the referee called the fight.

    Penn signaling that the fight was over, with Sherk lying dazed and confused, was one of the best moments in championship history.

19. Machida vs. Evans, UFC 98

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    Somebody tell these guys in this rap video that they don't have anything on Rashad Evans when it comes to doing the stanky leg.

    Just ask Quinton "Rampage" Jackson—or better yet, ask the man who made him do it, Lyoto Machida. Riding high off of his championship win against Forrest Griffin and knockout victory over Chuck Liddell, Evans decided to stand with the karate specialist.

    Evans might have possessed an advantage in quickness, but Machida proved to be the more technical striker. The results saw Evans laid up against the fence with his eyes wide open, snoring and his leg bent behind him.

    Machida's second-round knockout against Evans is without a doubt one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history.

18. Silva vs. Henderson, UFC 82

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    Anderson Silva ran through every opponent he faced in the Octagon, until he met Dan Henderson.

    Henderson was the first fighter in the UFC to win a round against Silva, as he took the champion down and controlled him in the first round.

    However, the second round told a different story. Silva started to get loose and connected with a precise head kick that staggered Henderson. Once the fight hit the ground, Silva took Henderson's back and finished the fight with a rear-naked choke.

    Silva's legend continued to grow.

17. Couture vs. Liddell III, UFC 57

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    It doesn't get much better than a perfectly timed rubber match.

    The third and final fight between Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture was everything UFC fans had hoped it would be.

    Liddell and Couture exchanged strikes throughout the first round—Couture landed a takedown and the first round was closely contested.

    In the second round, Liddell connected with one of his patented knockout punches and put Couture to sleep.

16. Edgar vs. Henderson, UFC 144

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    As recently as a month ago, Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson threw down in an instant classic in Japan.

    Edgar and Henderson went back and forth in a close fight, until Henderson nailed Edgar with a game-changing upkick.

    The upkick broke Edgar's nose and dropped him at the end of the second round, but Edgar did his best Rocky impersonation once again and stormed back.

    The next three rounds were close, but Henderson would ultimately win the decision and take Edgar's belt. Because of how exciting this fight was between the two, the rematch this summer will be heavily anticipated.

15. Liddell vs. Ortiz II, UFC 66

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    One of the greatest rivalries in UFC history, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, reached its climax at UFC 66.

    This was the second fight between both fighters, and this time the belt was on the line, along with their pride. Liddell imposed his will, but Ortiz gave him a few good shots as well.

    Liddell eventually finished the fight in the third round via TKO, proving that he was the better fighter of the two once again.

14. Liddell vs. Couture, UFC 43

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    Chuck Liddell ran through the competition at light heavyweight until he met the biggest challenge of his career at UFC 43.

    Liddell faced off against Randy Couture in a fight that he would never forget. Liddell was looked upon as the next big thing, which he eventually became, but not until Couture put a whooping on him first.

    The fight was for the interim championship, after Tito Ortiz refused to fight Liddell and Couture stepped up to fight the rising star. Couture out-struck Liddell on the feet, took him down and did what he does best, which is make the fight dirty.

    Couture would eventually stop Liddell in the third round with some strong ground-and-pound, and he became the first fighter in UFC history to win a championship in two separate weight classes.

13. GSP vs. Serra, UFC 69

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    Everyone loves a great upset, and there may be none better than Matt Serra defeating Georges St-Pierre.

    After winning the welterweight belt from Hughes, GSP fought the Ultimate Fighter 4 winner. When the fight began, Serra, an 11-1 underdog, rocked the champion and sent him on his back.

    Serra pounced on GSP and finished the champion in the first round, as the roof came off of the building.

    This loss would ultimately motivate GSP to become the champion he is today, dominating his opponents with a fool-proof strategy.

12. Couture vs. Sylvia, UFC 68

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    There's no way Randy Couture can come out of retirement and win the heavyweight championship, or so they thought.

    At 43 years young, Couture came out of retirement with a bang. Just seconds into the fight, Couture rocked Tim Sylvia and sent him flying across the cage.

    The crowd erupted and it set the tone for a dominant victory by one of the greatest UFC champions of all time. Couture would win by unanimous decision, and because Couture came out of retirement and looked better than ever, it was unlike anything MMA fans had ever seen before.

11. Griffin vs. Rampage, UFC 86

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    Rampage Jackson looked past Forrest Griffin at UFC 86, and it cost him his championship.

    Griffin showed that leg kicks can be pivotal in a fight, and once he had Jackson hurt in the second round, he followed his stick-and-move strategy to earn the decision victory.

    Jackson didn't go down without a fight, though. He pushed the pace on Griffin and had him in bad spots, but he failed to finish the fight.

    Not only was this a great upset, but it was a fantastic fight.

10. Ortiz vs. Shamrock, UFC 40

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    Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock had a bitter rivalry that led to a huge matchup between the two at UFC 40, and they put on a show.

    Before the fight began, Ortiz had the greatest UFC entrance of all time, and that added more to the buzz surrounding the fight.

    Once the fight commenced, Shamrock and Ortiz met in the middle and started "banging." Ortiz would eventually get the fight to the ground, where he would beat Shamrock's face to grounded beef, and Ortiz would win after a corner stoppage.

    It was awesome to see a fight with so much buildup deliver in the Octagon, which is something that feuds down the road would fail to do.

9. Aldo vs. Hominick, UFC 129

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    Jose Aldo put Mark Hominick's nickname, "The Machine," to the test when they fought at UFC 129.

    At the beginning of the fight, Aldo looked to be on a whole different level than Hominick, as his speed and precise striking was getting the better of him. Before this fight, I have never seen a fighter throw a more beautiful body shot, leg-kick combo, but Hominick took it like a champ.

    As the fight went on, Aldo's dominance grew, and he dropped Hominick on multiple occasions. Entering the fifth round, Aldo was heavily favored on the scorecards, and Hominick was going to have to stop the fight in order to win the belt.

    Hominick scored a takedown and laid in heavy ground-and-pound inside Aldo's guard. With the Canadian crowd fully behind him, Hominick gave it everything he had, but he couldn't finish the fight. It was a dramatic finish to a great fight, and Aldo would win by unanimous decision.

8. Machida vs. Rua, UFC 104

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    Controversy creates cash.

    Have you ever seen a fight so closely contested, yet so lopsided? That's a perfect way to describe Lyoto Machida and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua's war at UFC 104.

    Both fighters traded strikes, but Rua looked to get the better of just about every exchange, so everybody and their mother thought he was going to win the decision. Wrong: The judges gave the fight to Machida, which led to an immediate rematch at UFC 113.

    Even though Rua was robbed of a victory at UFC 104, the Muay Thai vs. karate stylistic matchup made for an incredible main event.

7. Rampage vs. Henderson, UFC 75

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    Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Dan Henderson unified the light heavyweight belts at UFC 75.

    UFC champion Jackson, took on Pride champion Henderson live on Spike, and the television audience was treated to an all-out war.

    The fight was an absolute slug-fest, with both fighters throwing heavy bombs and testing each other's granite chin.

    Jackson would prove to be the tougher man that night, as he defeated Henderson by decision.

6. Lesnar vs. Carwin, UFC 116

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    Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin at UFC 116 had the mainstream media buzzing.

    Lesnar returned from his battle with diverticulitis, and he was facing a knockout artist in Carwin. It made for a great story, and it generated a lot of hype.

    The fight delivered a roller coaster of emotions for both Lesnar and Carwin fans. Carwin rocked Lesnar in the first round, and Lesnar haters thought they were on the verge of witnessing his demise—but Carwin tired himself out. Lesnar regrouped and made his way back to his feet before the round ended.

    Entering the second round, Carwin was noticeably gassed, and Lesnar took the fight to the ground. From there, Lesnar set up an arm-triangle choke hold, and Carwin tapped out. The place erupted, and Lesnar retained his title.

    You just couldn't make this stuff up.

5. Cruz vs. Faber II, UFC 132

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    Many may disagree with how high this fight is, but I absolutely loved this fight.

    This was the first time that the bantanweights were given the spotlight of a UFC main event, and Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz put on a show.

    The pace that Cruz and Faber fought at was incredible, and this fight is the definition of nonstop action.

    Cruz danced around Faber and used his unorthodox striking and combinations to frustrate Faber, while Faber tried to counter him with powerful hooks. Faber dropped Cruz multiple times throughout the fight, but Cruz was able to regain his composure before any damage was done.

    Both fighters seemed to be evenly matched, and Cruz won a razor-thin decision. Lucky for us, we'll get to see these two mix it up for a third time this summer.

4. Maynard vs. Edgar III, UFC 136

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    UFC president Dana White tweeted this video before Frankie Edgar's last fight against Benson Henderson, and it's a perfect depiction of Edgar's final encounter with Gray Maynard.

    I actually attended this show live, and the electricity surrounding this main event was unreal. Edgar was badly hurt in the first round by Maynard, and he managed to survive Maynard's onslaught (again).

    Edgar then rebounded, collected himself and ultimately stopped Maynard in the fourth round with an uppercut followed by multiple left hooks.

    Though the final fight between the two was super dramatic and wildly entertaining, it wasn't as good as their previous encounter...

3. Maynard vs. Edgar II, UFC 125

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    After going back and forth on which Edgar/Maynard fight was better, I decided to give the edge to Edgar/Maynard II.

    The manner in which Maynard dropped Edgar repeatedly throughout the first round and the resolve in Edgar's eyes told such a beautiful story.

    After hanging on by a thread in the first round, Edgar stormed back in the second round, connected with Maynard's chin and lifted Maynard high above his head with an amazing slam.

    From then on, it was a back-and-forth fight that would end in a draw. Edgar's performance finally earned him the respect he deserved around the MMA community, and no one could ever question his heart following that fight.

2. Hughes vs. Trigg II, UFC 52

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    Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg's bad blood boiled over at UFC 52, when Hughes had to defend his title against his arch-nemesis once again.

    During the staredown, Trigg got in Hughes' face and Hughes pushed him back. Trigg blew Hughes a kiss from across the cage, and the fight was on.

    Trigg connected with a shot to the groin, and as Hughes looked at the referee, Trigg pounced on him and had him hurt bad. Trigg took Hughes' back and sunk in a rear-naked choke. On the verge of defeat, Hughes reversed it, picked Trigg up, ran across the ring with him lifted up and slammed him.

    Though the UFC has had much larger crowds since that fight, I've never heard a reaction as loud as that one. Hughes eventually took Trigg's back and sunk in a rear-naked choke to force the tap in the first round.

1. Silva vs. Sonnen, UFC 117

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    As far as MMA goes, Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva tops everything we've ever seen before.

    Going into the fight, Sonnen talked trash in one interview after another, and most MMA fans, with myself included, thought the exact same thing going into the fight—that Silva is going to wreck this guy.

    When the fight began, Sonnen rocked Silva, dropped him, took him down and pounded his face into the mat. Silva had a few moments throughout the fight, but the majority of the fight saw him on his back getting beat up.

    Then the unthinkable happened. The best way I could describe this to my friends who didn't understand MMA, was that it was like Silva was down 50-0 with the clock striking zero, and he somehow threw a Hail Mary to win the football game.

    With roughly two minutes left in the fight, Silva applied a triangle choke and Sonnen tapped out in the fifth and final round. In my eyes, this fight is incapable of outdoing, and it will forever be not only the greatest title fight, but my all-time favorite MMA fight.