15 Most Memorable Moments from UFC Super Bowl Weekend Events
As the host of the most anticipated football matchup of the season, Super Bowl weekend is the annual pinnacle of American sports. Since 2004, the UFC has taken advantage of the competitive fever that sweeps the nation by providing fans with an epic fight card on Super Bowl Eve.
On Saturday night, the UFC treated fans to a night of huge matchups at UFC 156. In one of the most anticipated fights in recent memory, pound-for-pound great Jose Aldo defended his championship in the main event against former UFC lightweight kingpin Frankie Edgar.
The highlight of the evening came when Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva upset Alistair Overeem with an incredible knockout in a featured contest.
However, this is far from the only memorable UFC moment that stems from Super Bowl weekend. Some of the most iconic events in UFC history coincided with the NFL's championship game.
Here is a look at the 15 most memorable moments from UFC Super Bowl weekend events.
2013: Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar Meet in Featherweight Superfight
Rarely has a fighter been afforded the opportunity to win championship gold in two divisions. When Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar clashed at UFC 156, the latter attempted to add a featherweight championship to his collection.
Had he been successful, Edgar would have joined Randy Couture and B.J. Penn as the third multi-divisional champion in UFC history.
In what was billed as a superfight between two of the best little guys on the planet, Aldo outworked Edgar to retain his belt in what is the biggest contest of his UFC career.
Aldo proved in this fight that his takedown defense is second to none and that he is worthy of his pound-for-pound ranking.
2007: Rampage Jackson Makes His UFC Debut Against Marvin Eastman
After bodyslamming his way to fame, Quinton Jackson made his UFC debut in 2007. As one of the most popular stars fighting in Japan, Jackson's debut was hotly anticipated due to his earlier victory over longstanding UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell.
The fight took place against Marvin Eastman and saw Rampage avenge the first loss of his own career with a second-round knockout.
2004: Vitor Belfort Steals Light Heavyweight Title from Randy Couture Via Cut
Not every memorable moment can be a happy one.
In 2004, Vitor Belfort dubiously won the UFC light heavyweight championship after a glancing blow saw his glove slice the eyelid of Randy Couture. "The Natural" was deemed unfit to continue due to the blood in his eyes and Belfort became the least-deserving champion in UFC history.
This is not meant to demean Belfort of his other career accomplishments. However, "The Phenom" didn't fare well against Couture in either of their other two fights.
Couture recaptured his title in the rematch at UFC 49.
2007: Travis Lutter Misses Weight, Loses Title Shot Against Anderson Silva
Who can forget Travis Lutter winning the comeback season of The Ultimate Fighter, only to miss weight in his promised title shot.
The contest was changed to a non-title affair, although it didn't matter much in the long run. The submission ace performed admirably against champion Anderson Silva before ultimately being submitted himself in the second round.
2011: Emotional Jon Jones Offered Title Shot After Defeating Ryan Bader
In a battle between undefeated prospects, Jon Jones dominated Ultimate Fighter winner Ryan Bader in a featured matchup at UFC 126.
After the fight, Jones was informed by UFC commentator Joe Rogan that teammate Rashad Evans was injured and unable to compete in a scheduled title fight against Shogun Rua. The UFC was giving Jones the chance to fill in and possibly become the youngest champion in history.
The moment was honest, raw and pure as Jones realized what opportunity had just landed at his feet.
2010: Hall of Famers Randy Couture and Mark Coleman Collide
At UFC 109, records were made. Randy Couture and Mark Coleman squared off in the main event. The bout marked the only time that active members of the UFC Hall of Fame would meet. Additionally, at a combined age of 91, the combatants in this contest marked the oldest duo to step foot into the cage.
This fight was originally booked for UFC 17, but a Couture injury caused the bout to be postponed. Twelve years later, it finally went down on Super Bowl weekend.
2005: Andrei Arlovski Submits Tim Sylvia to Win UFC Title
Heading into UFC 51, former champion Tim Sylvia was a monster heavyweight holding a professional record of 17-1. The only loss in his career came in a fight where his arm was broken, but he still refused to tap out.
For many, a fight against 7-3 Andrei Arlovski was a mere formality before putting the belt back around his waist.
Instead, Arlovski shocked Sylvia with a big right hand before dropping down to secure a surprise Achilles lock. The entire fight lasted a whopping 47 seconds.
2013: Bigfoot Silva Feeds Alistair Overeem Humble Pie with Vicious KO
Unless you live under a rock, you've likely heard the tale of Bigfoot Silva reminding the world why no professional fighter should underestimate his opponent.
At UFC 156, Silva knocked out Strikeforce, DREAM and K-1 heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem in the third round after Overeem grew overconfident and competed without properly defending himself.
It was a force feeding of humble pie for a man who described Bigfoot as a warmup fight.
2012: Nick Diaz Retires After Losing to Carlos Condit for Interim UFC Title
At UFC 143, Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit met in a welterweight fight that would crown an interim champion in a division held hostage by Georges St-Pierre for years.
Although the fight didn't provide fans with the excitement or finish that they expected, Carlos Condit did defy oddsmakers by outworking Diaz and taking home a golden accessory after the decision was read.
Post-fight, Diaz cried foul regarding the decision and decided to retire on the spot. Perhaps he thought by pressing the action despite landing fewer shots, he was going to be declared the winner.
2006: Liddell vs. Couture III Breaks UFC Records
With the UFC growing more mainstream by the day, Dana White and Co. pulled out all the stops to make UFC 57 the biggest event in company history. By booking a trilogy fight between Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, the biggest stars in promotional history, they succeeded with flying colors.
The live gate did $3.3 million in revenue, which shattered the previous company record. With 400,000 buys, this event was the first great payday in organizational history.
2009: GSP Dominates B.J. Penn in Champion vs. Champion Fight
For the first time in history, two reigning champions of different weight classes would clash as welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and lightweight champion B.J. Penn met at UFC 94.
Normally, it would be assumed that the smaller champion would be dominated due to the weight discrepancy, however, Penn had history on his side.
Not only was B.J. a former welterweight champion in his own right, but when Penn and GSP met previously, the Hawaiian held his own, did considerably more damage during the fight but came up short on the scorecards due to GSP's ground control in the final two rounds.
This was a very winnable fight for Penn, who had done better against "Rush" than anyone previously had.
However, GSP was instantly proved to be the superior fighter once again. Penn was held down and beaten with punches and elbows without being able to threaten with submissions or deliver any damage from bottom position.
2008: PRIDE Champion Big Nog Wins Interim UFC Title from Tim Sylvia
With Randy Couture's status as UFC heavyweight champion being questionable at best, the organization decided to crown an interim champion on Super Bowl weekend 2008. The men vying for the belt would be Tim Sylvia, who Couture defeated to win his title, and former PRIDE heavyweight champion Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira.
Staying true to his legendary style, Nogueira absorbed much punishment in this fight before ultimately earning the submission victory.
With this win, Nogueira became the only man to ever hold belts in both the PRIDE and UFC organizations.
2004: B.J. Penn Shocks Matt Hughes to Win Welterweight Title
B.J. Penn twice failed to capture the UFC lightweight championship before the division was closed. With the UFC having little luck in finding credible challengers for champion Matt Hughes, Penn was tapped for a third chance at gold.
Hughes was on a 13-fight winning streak that spanned three years without a loss. With wins over Sean Sherk, Hayato Sakurai and Frank Trigg, at that time, Hughes was the most unbeatable fighter on the planet.
In a result that shocked the MMA world, Penn handled the larger, stronger Hughes on the ground and finished him with a rear-naked choke in the very first round.
2008: WWE Champion Brock Lesnar Make His UFC Debut
No fighter in history had made more waves in mixed martial arts before his big league debut than former pro wrestler Brock Lesnar.
With a notorious temper that was matched only by his amateur wrestling credentials, Lesnar left professional wrestling years prior. However, his time in a ring was far from over.
After dominating Olympian Min Soo Kim on a regional show, Lesnar met with UFC president Dana White and demanded to be brought in as an opponent for the best fighters on the planet.
Lesnar made his debut at UFC 81 against former UFC champion Frank Mir.
The bout was marred by a controversial stand-up and deducted point from bonehead referee Steve Mazzagatti. However, Lesnar was ultimately submitted 90 seconds into the fight after bulldozing his opponent in the early goings.
2011: Anderson Silva Knocks out Vitor Belfort with Monumental Front Kick
Few moments are so monumental that they define their sport. At UFC 126, Anderson Silva competed for the first time since nearly being upset by Chael Sonnen in a one-sided beatdown at UFC 117.
Silva was being questioned about his age and whether or not he was still the best fighter on the planet. In facing lightning-fast Vitor Belfort, Silva was threatened by someone with devastating power and the ability to match hand speed with "The Spider."
Proving all of his doubters wrong, Silva unleashed a front kick to the face that came from out of nowhere. The sport had never seen this kick performed, and it's debut was spectacular.
This knockout will live forever in promotional packages and highlight reels as one of the greatest that the sport has ever seen.