UFC Superfights That Ended Up Being Complete Busts
This just in: The headliner at UFC 248 was a drag.
Not only was the middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero far less interesting than what was promised beforehand, but it also shrank even more under the glare of spectacular violence cast by the co-main event classic co-authored by Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Adesanya was by no means a championship-protecting blur, but Romero failed even more miserably because he'd been portrayed as the bringer of chaos. Had the burly Cuban challenger done his part, it may have become compelling for something more than the handful of times the two engaged.
It never happened.
But, let's not forget, it's hardly the first time a would-be big-time fight missed the mark.
Inspired by the pain of paying $64.99 for a fight only to see the quality routinely surpassed by weekend pier-6'ers at the local watering hole, we at Bleacher Report's virtual headquarters took it upon ourselves to compose a list of past "superfights" that failed to live up to UFC czar Dana White's gift for promotional excess.
Click through to rekindle some old memories and to see how your distress stacks up with ours.
Amanda Nunes TKO 1 Ronda Rousey: UFC 207
If ever a fight had a can't-miss label attached, this was the one.
Amanda Nunes was emerging as the toughest woman on the block after consecutive defeats of future and incumbent UFC champions. And Ronda Rousey was, well...Ronda Rousey. The woman who'd transformed the promotion's female fighters from sideshows to headliners with 12 straight wins inside the distance.
But it only took a minute—actually, make that 48 seconds—to distinguish between a bully and a beast.
Faced for the second straight time with a foe both willing and able to trade strikes, Rousey, who'd been kicked into oblivion by Holly Holm a year earlier, found herself in a similar amount of distress.
The ex-champ was hurt by the first punch she received from the Brazilian in their UFC 207 main event, eventually succumbed to her foe's faster hands and feet and was ultimately rescued by referee Herb Dean.
It was unsatisfying for fans who had laid out big cash, but the triumph catapulted Nunes toward the status she's since gained as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, regardless of gender.
Meanwhile, it was the end of the combat sports line for Rousey, who has since leaped from the cage to the ring as one of the signature performers in Vince McMahon's scripted WWE circus.
Vitor Belfort TKO 1 Randy Couture: UFC 46
Sometimes it's bad karma. Sometimes it's bad matchmaking.
And sometimes it's just bad luck.
Given the violent spectacle they had engaged in seven years earlier at UFC 15, there was zero reason to believe that the encore between Randy Couture and Vitor Belfort—this time with Couture's light heavyweight belt on the line—would be anything less than a repeat performance.
It might well have been, but no one will ever know.
The UFC 46 main event was essentially over before it started, thanks to a glancing blow from Belfort in response to a Couture attack that sliced the champion's left eyelid and prompted an immediate halt so that medical personnel could inspect the damage.
They did, and after only 49 seconds, they declared both the fight and Couture's title reign over by one of the most anti-climactic TKOs in the history of combat sports.
Couture righted the competitive wrong with a TKO of his own only 203 days later and ultimately went on to bigger things—literally, regaining the heavyweight title in 2007—while Belfort never again won a title bout and, in fact, was turned aside in three subsequent shots at belts at 185 and 205 pounds.
Carlos Condit UD 5 Nick Diaz: UFC 143
It wasn't a planned matchup, per se, but it seemed a natural nonetheless.
Nick Diaz, better known these days as Nate's older brother, was on track for a welterweight title shot against Georges St-Pierre before the then-incumbent champion blew out a knee and was forced to the sidelines.
That's OK, White and his team surely thought, because Carlos Condit was waiting in the wings and would serve as a perfect complement to Diaz in what promised to be a blood-and-guts interim title scrap at UFC 143, with the winner promised a subsequent shot at a by-then-healed St-Pierre.
That was until Condit decided that momentum was more important than mayhem.
Though he'd previously earned acclaim as one of the promotion's most compelling action fighters—and the Natural Born Killer nickname that came with it—Condit instead sought to ensure his world title opportunity by employing a safety-first approach to bamboozle his street-fighter rival.
He accomplished his mission with a unanimous, albeit controversial decision via scores of 48–47, 49–46 and 49–46. But he never regained his previous swagger, ultimately losing a five-rounder with St-Pierre nine months later at UFC 154 and winning just twice more in nine fights through to the end of 2018.
The moral of the Condit story? Discretion may be the better part of valor, but it doesn't always get you what you want.
Rashad Evans UD 3 Rampage Jackson: UFC 114
Call it Adesanya-Romero, circa 2010.
The styles of Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson, in demeanor and fighting approach, seemed a perfect match. The rivals had been on each other's radar for years. And the pre-fight vitriol—which included Evans and Jackson walking a racially inflammatory line—certainly carried a promise of fireworks inside the cage.
But then, just like their 2020 doppelgangers of disappointment...pfft.
Though Evans jolted his light heavyweight rival early on in their scheduled three-round headliner at UFC 114, his follow-through on the advantage was more strategic than pyrotechnic, producing far more in-fighting and mat work than the "black-on-black crime" that Jackson had promised.
And while Evans sought to tire his man out, Jackson seemed hesitant to force the action for fear of emptying whatever gas he did have on hand, leaving paying customers with more fumes than ignition.
It wound up drawing 1.05 million pay-per-view buys—good for 41st on a recent list of history's top-selling PPV fight nights—but to consider it memorable for anything beyond revenue is a significant stretch.
Dan Severn SD Ken Shamrock: UFC 9
Go ahead and Google the phrase "Worst fight in UFC history" and see what you come up with.
Here's a hint: chances are pretty good it will be this one.
But it was hardly the fault—or at least not entirely the fault—of the principals.
Rather, by the time Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock entered the cage in downtown Detroit for a rematch of their throwdown at UFC 6, the rules of engagement for UFC 9 had changed significantly.
A state athletic commission mandate shortly before the fight forbade striking to the head with closed fists and threatened law enforcement action against any violator. Additionally, kicks to the torso were off-limits if either fighter chose to wear wrestling boots, which both Severn and Shamrock did.
Because of course they did.
As a result, what broadcast viewers and fans on hand at Cobo Arena were treated to was 30 minutes of ineffectual shucking, jiving and gesturing—interrupted only occasionally by a random strike and topped off with some anticlimactic grappling in the final few moments.
Severn was awarded a decision victory that thrilled nearly no one, and the only reason the debacle is not first on the list is because the top choice couldn't make the same excuses about over-officious oversight.
But make no mistake, this one still stunk.
Anderson Silva UD 5 Demian Maia: UFC 112
When it comes to self-promotion, White is pretty shameless.
So when the UFC boss refers to one of his own headline fights as a "disgrace," it's not by accident.
It wasn't just a main-event flop. It was a main-event flop on a global stage.
"I don't think I've been more embarrassed in the 10 years of being in this business," White said at the press conference following Anderson Silva's title defense against Demian Maia at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi. "It's the first I've ever walked out on a main event, given the belt to the guy's manager and told him to put it on him."
Silva, in White's eyes, clearly outclassed fellow Brazilian Maia in terms of skills but was content to spend much of the 25 minutes taunting and gesturing at his foe rather than going in for a competitive kill.
White apologized to fans who "bought this s--t tonight" and chastised his middleweight champion for eschewing a killer instinct and subjecting viewers to a drawn-out mockery over a violent eye-blink.
"Nobody had been more supportive of Anderson Silva than me, talking about him being the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world," he said. "If you're that talented, be Mike Tyson. Go in and finish it."