UFC 128: Ranking the 25 Most Intriguing 205-Pound Title Fights in UFC History
With the ultra-hyped Jon Jones facing off against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, this light heavyweight championship fight at UFC 128 is one of the most highly anticipated in UFC history.
While Rua is already considered one of the best light heavyweights in MMA history, many have equal or greater expectations for the career of Jones.
So, where does this fight rank among the most intriguing light heavyweight title fights in UFC history? Let's find out.
25. Tito Ortiz vs. Evan Tanner
At UFC 30, Evan Tanner challenged Tito Ortiz for the Light Heavyweight Championship. Although the fight ended with one of the more impressive finishes in any light heavyweight title fight, the implications and storyline for the fight were lacking.
In what was just his second title defense, Ortiz was still establishing himself as a great champion. Meanwhile, Tanner was bringing an outstanding 23-2 record into the bout, but had not fought much top-notch competition in recent years.
24. Tito Ortiz Vs.Yuki Kondo
In just his second fight with the UFC, Yuki Kondo fought Tito Ortiz for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 29. The fight was Ortiz's first chance to defend his title and show the MMA community that he deserved the title Frank Shamrock had vacated about one year earlier.
With wins over well-renowned fighters such as Shamrock, Semmy Schilt and Guy Mezger, Kondo was considered a worthy adversary for Ortiz. After being hit with a well-timed flying knee early in the fight, Ortiz recovered to submit Kondo in the first round.
23. Tito Ortiz Vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
By the time Tito Ortiz met Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC 33, he had already accumulated three title defenses and was already considered one of the most polarizing figures in the sport. At that time, any fight that Ortiz was in was intriguing to the fans.
With Matyushenko coming off a win over Yuki Kondo, this fight was especially anticipated. In a fight that would go all five rounds, Ortiz came away victorious by unanimous decision.
22. Frank Shamrock vs. Jeremy Horn
At UFC 17, Frank Shamrock defended his belt for the second time with a submission win over Jeremy Horn.
Despite the loss, Horn was highly-regarded for having fought to a draw with former UFC Superfight Champion Dan Severn.
21. Tito Ortiz vs. Elvis Sinosic
At 4-3-1, Elvis Sinosic didn't have the record of a top contender, but he was coming off a win over Jeremy Horn as he headed into a title fight with Tito Ortiz at UFC 32. Sinosic's win against a former top contender in Horn sparked interest in a fight that would have otherwise had none.
Still, Ortiz made quick work of Sinosic with a first-round technical knockout.
20. Tito Ortiz vs. Wanderlei Silva
In April 2000, two young and talented fighters fought for the recently vacated UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. Although Tito Ortiz had been the last fighter to lose to the most recent champion, Frank Shamrock, he was given the opportunity to fight against Wanderlei Silva for the belt.
After five rounds of fighting, Ortiz was named the new champion with a unanimous decision win over Silva. After the loss, Silva did not return to the Octagon for another seven years.
19. Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida
At UFC 98, undefeated fighters Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida met to determine the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
While Evans' popularity was high as a result of his participation on The Ultimate Fighter, Machida's unorthodox style had him drawing the interest of many fans as well.
With Machida scoring a brutal knockout victory, the fight certainly lived up to the hype that preceded it.
18. Chuck Liddell vs. Jeremy Horn
In his first defense of the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, Chuck Liddell met Jeremy Horn at UFC 54. Although Liddell was considered the favorite, he was still looking to avenge a loss to Horn from earlier in their careers.
With a fourth-round technical knockout, Liddell was able to do just that.
17. Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio Rua
After defeating Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida made his first attempt at a title defense at UFC 104 against Mauricio Rua, who had rebounded with two wins after a disappointing loss to Forrest Griffin in his UFC debut.
Despite his short and disappointing UFC career to that point, Rua was still regarded as one of the top light heavyweights in the world and showed why in a close fight with Machida. Although the decision went in Machida's favor, many believed that Rua should have been awarded the victory.
16. Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort
After defeating Tito Ortiz to become the undisputed Light Heavyweight Champion, Randy Couture made his first title defense at UFC 46 against Vitor Belfort. Couture had already recorded a win over Belfort at UFC 15, so he was considered the favorite by many to win the fight.
However, Couture suffered a cut within the first minute of the fight that forced the bout to be stopped. The two would fight again in an immediate rematch.
15. Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz
In what would end up being Chuck Liddell's last successful title defense, he fought Tito Ortiz at UFC 66 in a rematch of a fight that Liddell had won less than three years earlier.
In similar fashion to their first fight, Liddell defeated Ortiz by technical knockout.
14. Vitor Belfort vs. Randy Couture
After losing his title because of a stoppage due to a cut, Randy Couture was given an immediate rematch with Vitor Belfort at UFC 49.
Ironically, Couture would reclaim the belt with a third round doctor's stoppage due to a Belfort cut. This time though, a rematch was not needed, as Couture made it clear who the better fighter was through three rounds.
13. Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell
At UFC 43, Chuck Liddell and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture squared off to fight for the Interim UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. Heading into the fight, Liddell had won 10 straight fights, and Couture was coming off of back-to-back losses in heavyweight title fights.
Couture rebounded, however, and defeated Liddell via technical knockout in the third round. This bout would be the first of three between these two fighters and the first of many light heavyweight title fights for both.
12. Forrest Griffin vs. Rashad Evans
Forrest Griffin's win over Quinton Jackson at UFC 86 helped set up a light heavyweight title fight between two winners of The Ultimate Fighter. Undefeated in 13 professional fights and having knocked out Chuck Liddell in his previous fight, Rashad Evans was considered a serious threat to Griffin's title.
A third-round technical knockout gave Evans control of the belt and made him the second consecutive title holder at light heavyweight to join the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter.
11. Chuck Liddell vs. Renato Sobral
In his third title defense as UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Chuck Liddell met Renato "Babalu" Sobral at UFC 62. Having already defeated Sobral once in his career, Liddell was expected to win this fight.
Still, Sobral was on a 10-fight winning streak heading into the bout and had not lost since being knocked out by Liddell. Despite the UFC's best efforts to promote Sobral as a serious threat, Liddell won by technical knockout in the first round.
10. Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin
With his upset win over Mauricio Rua at UFC 76, Forrest Griffin earned a title shot against UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Though Jackson was considered the favorite, Griffin's win over Rua showed that he should never be counted out of a fight.
Although the decision was somewhat controversial, Griffin, a former winner of The Ultimate Fighter, defeated Jackson to become the new champion.
9. Tito Ortiz vs. Frank Shamrock
Tito Ortiz's post-fight antics after defeating Guy Mezger earned him a permanent position as rival of the Lion's Den. Ortiz's next fight would come against Frank Shamrock, who happened to be the brother of Lion's Den leader Ken Shamrock.
By forcing Ortiz to submit due to strikes, F. Shamrock earned revenge for the Lion's Den. However, Ortiz's volatile relationship with the shamrock family would not end here. Ortiz's rivalry with K. Shamrock would endure long past this title fight.
8. Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell
After regaining the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship through a rematch with Vitor Belfort, Randy Couture would then fight in another rematch, this time with Chuck Liddell. In his first meeting with Liddell, Couture earned a third-round technical knockout win.
This time, at UFC 52, Liddell returned the favor with a first-round knockout. The win began a long reign as champion for Liddell, but this would not be the final time that he and Couture would meet in the Octagon.
7. Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock
Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz were finally able to settle their feud in the Octagon at UFC 40. In what would be his last title defense, Ortiz defeated K. Shamrock after a corner stoppage before the fourth round could begin.
Apparently, the beating was not enough for Shamrock to cut off his personal vendetta with Ortiz. The two would fight two more times in the UFC, and Shamrock was beaten in a more embarrassing fashion in the latter meetings.
6. Mauricio Rua vs. Jon Jones
The fight between Mauricio Rua and Jon Jones may go down as one of the most meaningful light heavyweight title fights in UFC history, but it is a bit premature to conclude that at this point.
Rua is a great fighter, but has not yet defended his UFC title. Jones has the potential to become great but has not yet become such.
This is an extremely important fight, but it should not be compared with the great title-merging fights or rematches of UFC Light Heavyweight Championship history at this point.
5. Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio Rua
After the controversial decision in their first meeting, the second bout between Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua at UFC 113 was even more highly anticipated.
In the rematch, Rua made sure that the fight did not go to the judges by knocking out Machida in the first round. Now, Rua will fight in a title fight of almost equal proportions against Jon Jones at UFC 128.
4. Chuck Liddell vs. Quinton Jackson
After only one fight with the UFC, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson earned a shot at the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against Chuck Liddell. Having already won against Liddell in the 2003 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix Semifinals, Jackson was viewed as a dangerous contender.
In a first-round technical knockout, Jackson dethroned Liddell and captured the light heavyweight belt. The fight would end up being Liddell's final championship fight.
3. Tito Ortiz vs. Randy Couture
After missing nearly one year of action, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz returned to the Octagon at UFC 44 to take on interim champion Randy Couture. In a unanimous decision loss, Ortiz's long reign as champion finally came to an end.
Both Ortiz and Couture have fought as top contenders at light heavyweight since this fight, but Couture was the only one of the two that was able to recapture the title.
2. Quinton Jackson vs. Dan Henderson
In a fight that merged the UFC and Pride championships, Quinton Jackson and Dan Henderson met at UFC 75 in London, England. Henderson was coming off consecutive wins against Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva.
In a fight that went the distance, Jackson took the unanimous decision victory. Both Jackson and Henderson lost their next fights and relinquished titles in the process. Jackson lost to Forrest Griffin in a controversial decision while Henderson was defeated by Anderson Silva in another title-merging fight.
1. Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture
In the final fight of a trilogy between two of the most well-known fighters in MMA history, Chuck Liddell knocked out Randy Couture in the second round. Not only did the win give Liddell the edge over Couture in their series, but it cemented him as one of the greatest light heavyweights the sport had ever seen.
This bout had everything that a fan could want out of a fight. With two legends of the sport fighting in a title fight and a rubber match that ended in a knockout, what fight could possibly surpass the intrigue of Liddell vs. Couture III?