UFC: The 50 Most Exciting Fights in History

Matt Juul@@MattchidaMMAContributor IIISeptember 14, 2011

UFC: The 50 Most Exciting Fights in History

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    Over the past two weeks, UFC President Dana White has announced a myriad of exciting bouts for the remainder of the year.  Fights like Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos, Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem, and Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn are sure to be battles for the ages.

    Looking back, the UFC has put on some of the most legendary fights in the entire history of combat sports—all in less than two decades.

    Whether it's brutal knockouts, amazing comebacks, or an intense back and forth battle, the entire spectrum of MMA excitement has been featured inside the confines of the famed Octagon.

    With so many amazing matchups on the horizon for the UFC, let's take a look back at the promotion's past as we rank the 50 most exciting fights in UFC history.    

50. Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick, UFC 129

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    When the WEC and UFC merged, one of the most highly-coveted of the crossovers was talented featherweight champion Jose Aldo.

    Many had already pegged him as unbeatable, so the valiant performance by challenger Mark Hominick at UFC 129 was truly unexpected.

    Aldo looked crisp and in control in the opening round, but Hominick battled back in the second with an onslaught of strikes that slowed the champion down.

    The next few rounds, Aldo and Hominick exchanged strikes, but the champion was landing more power punches, causing a huge hematoma on Hominick's head.

    Gassed in the final round, Hominick fought on, despite being a bloody mess, and ended the fight ground-and-pounding an even more tired Aldo.

    This unanimous decision win for Aldo will be a classic for years to come. 

49. Carlos Condit vs. Jake Ellenberger, UFN 19

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    A welterweight dogfight between a grizzled veteran and a young, former champion stole the show at Fight Night 19.

    Carlos Condit took on wrestling ace Jake Ellenberger in a three-round war.

    Ellenberger went out and took the fight to Condit, knocking him hard repeatedly around the cage.

    Condit battled back and was able to land some good strikes of his own, including a huge knee.  When he was able to get the fight to the ground, Condit was able to easily attack Ellenberger from the top.

    Taking the split decision, Condit put on a show in this exciting bout. 

48. BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez, UFC 107

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    There was no question that BJ Penn came out to fight against Diego Sanchez at UFC 107.

    Sanchez, who had dropped down from welterweight, was looking to take Penn's lightweight belt.  Aggressive as usual, Sanchez could not land anything on Penn who picked him apart the entire night.

    Penn was battering Sanchez's face, which got progressively worse over the course of the fight.  In the last round, Penn landed a huge head kick that cut Sanchez wide open.

    Doctors had to stop the fight and Penn retained his title.

    This battle was exciting because of all the power and excitement Sanchez brought and Penn being just so good.

47. Sam Stout vs. Spencer Fisher I, UFC 58

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    Taking the fight on short notice, Spencer Fisher met Sam Stout at UFC 58 for a crowd-pleasing lightweight bout.

    The battle featured Stout's accurate striking and well-rounded attacks that kept Fisher at bay, despite his aggressive style.

    The bout was called in favor of Stout and was awarded Fight of the Night.  

    Fans also clamored for a rematch, a call that was fulfilled two years later.

46. Mirko Cro Cop vs. Gabriel Gonzaga, UFC 70

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    A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist, Gabriel Gonzaga was not thought of as a threat in the stand-up department.

    When placed against Mirko Cro Cop, the Pride kicking sensation was definitely favored to own that department.

    The MMA world was shocked when Gonzaga whipped his foot through Cro Cop's head, knocking him out and making Gonzaga the No. 1 contender against then champion Randy Couture.

    This unexpected turn of events makes it one of the most entertaining finishes in recent UFC memory.

45. Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir II, UFC 100

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    UFC 100 was a huge event for the promotion, with the main event living up to the hype.

    Brock Lesnar dominated the matchup and punished Frank Mir for almost two rounds.  

    Unlike their first meeting, Lesnar was unrelenting from the top and gave away no openings.  His ground-and-pound strikes were hitting so hard that they sent Mir's head bouncing.

    Lesnar finished Mir and added to the excitement generated by UFC 100.

44. BJ Penn vs. Sean Sherk, UFC 84

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    Heated trash talk brewed between these lightweight adversaries prior to UFC 84.

    Having to settle the matter in the cage, Penn and Sherk were even through Round 1, until Penn started unloading on him.

    Dominating the next two rounds, Penn caught Sherk in the third round with a flying knee to the face.  He then followed up with punches against the cage and put away Sherk.

    Penn showed his dominating abilities at 155 and why he was a feared champion.

43. Cain Velasquez vs. Brock Lesnar, UFC 121

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    Cain Velasquez wasted no time getting caught in all the hype when he faced then champion Brock Lesnar.

    Lesnar was coming off a spectacular, come-from-behind win over Shane Carwin, but would be stopped quickly by Velasquez's superior take-down defense and hard-hitting combinations.

    Velasquez dominated the fight and was not intimidated by Lesnar's monstrous physique.  He showcased his well-rounded skill set and showed why a more complete arsenal is imperative.

    Now set to face Junior dos Santos in November, expect only more exciting performances by the heavyweight champion.

42. BJ Penn vs. Jens Pulver I, UFC 35

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    A lot of bad blood existed between then lightweight champion Jens Pulver and challenger BJ Penn.

    Neither guy liked each other and looked to finally get a piece of their opponent at UFC 35.

    This back-and-forth battle was one of the first features of the lighter-weight guys and was an exciting rivalry match.

    Each fighter had his moments, but Jens Pulver was able to defend his title and take the split decision.

    An epic battle, Pulver versus Penn remains one of the most exciting rivalries during the early days of the UFC.

41. Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn, UFC 4

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    Dan Severn was the first person to truly test Royce Gracie, taking him further than any of his previous opponents.

    Severn was a powerful wrestler who was weighing in at 260 lbs—significantly more than Gracie.

    For almost 16 minutes, Severn pinned Gracie on the canvas in what looked like a stalling affair.

    What made the bout exciting was Gracie's ability to use his guard and change the tables.  Gracie methodically looked to sink a triangle and was able to choke Severn out in just under 16 minutes.

    This fight not only furthered Gracie's legacy but won him the fourth UFC tournament as well.

40. Anderson Silva vs. Dan Henderson, UFC 82

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    This unification bout was supposed to be Anderson Silva's biggest test.

    Dan Henderson was the Pride champion who was also an Olympic level wrestler—a threat physically and stylistically.  Henderson also possessed heavy hands that could knock almost anyone out.

    Henderson was able to land the takedown in the first round, but Silva stayed calm and kept a tight guard.

    On the feet, Silva was just outclassing Henderson, picking apart the Pride star.  The fight would end on the ground, however, as Silva took "Hendo's" back and tapped him out with a rear naked choke.

    This battle of champions was another great moment in UFC history.

39. Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell II, UFC 52

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    Randy Couture vehemently took out Chuck Liddell at UFC 43 and planned to defend his belt in the same fashion.

    For two minutes they exchanged on their feet in what looked to become a real barn burner.

    But after an inadvertent eye poke halted by Liddell, Couture was unprepared for the true power of Liddell, who sent Couture against the cage after an overhand right to the chin.

    Liddell stopped him on the ground and took the title in what was the beginning of one of the greatest title reigns in UFC history. 

38. Rampage Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva III, UFC 92

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    Rampage Jackson and Wanderlei Silva had a well-documented past back when they were fighting for Pride in Japan.

    In the first two contests, Silva decimated Jackson and looked to repeat his winning ways in the final act of their trilogy.

    Initially circling, as they respected each other's knock out power, it was Jackson who was able to land the finishing blow this fight, catching Silva square on the jaw with a left hook.  

    Jackson followed up with some ground-and-pound, but the damage was already done as Silva lay unconscious on the canvas.

    Jackson had finally achieved his goal of avenging his losses to Silva and fans were treated to an epic finale of one of MMA's biggest rivalries.

37. Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin I, UFC 64

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    Anderson Silva was still building his legend when he faced Rich Franklin at UFC 64 for the middleweight title.

    Franklin had held the belt for quite some time and had a solid fanbase behind him.  That proved to be not nearly enough, as Silva decimated the champion during this fight.

    Silva was the superior striker and had a clinch game too harsh for Franklin, who was put away by the vicious knees of "the Spider."

    This was the fight that started Silva's reign and showcased his amazing striking abilities.

36. Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz II, UFC 66

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    The negative energy still remained leading into the rematch between the defending champion of the time Chuck Liddell and arch-rival Tito Ortiz.

    Liddell again proved to have the better hands and worked Ortiz in the stand-up.

    Ortiz was cut up from huge strikes from above before finally succumbing to a hard knockout punch in the third round.

    Once again, "The Iceman" showed why he's a Hall of Fame fighter in this exciting rematch of hated rivals.

35. Forrest Griffin vs. Shogun Rua I, UFC 76

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    Everyone thought that Forrest Griffin was getting fed to the lions when he was paired with Shogun Rua at UFC 76.

    The Pride star was poised to take over the light-heavyweight division and Griffin was supposed to be a warm-up fight for the bigger names in the division.

    How surprised fans must have been when the scrappy Ultimate Fighter winner was able to to take Rua's back and sink the rear naked choke in one of the hugest upsets to date.

    Griffin showed that picking against the underdog might not always be the best idea.

34. Mark Munoz vs. Kendall Grove, UFC 112

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    The Ultimate Fighter 3 winner showed a much improved striking game at UFC 112 against Mark Munoz.

    Taking on this decorated collegiate wrestler, Munoz was rocked several times during the first round and was taking a beating from Grove.

    Bouncing back in the second round, Munoz caught Grove with a solid punch that buckled the veteran.

    Munoz followed up with a ground-and-pound, including his famous "Donkey Kong" strikes, to take the technical knockout win.

    This bout was exciting not only for the comeback factor, but because of the brutality and force Munoz was able to muster after being hit hard.

33. Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Serra I, UFC 69

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    Considered one of the biggest upsets in MMA history, Matt Serra shocked the world with his performance at UFC 69.

    Serra baffled St. Pierre with his powerful strikes and caught the champion with a hook.  St. Pierre lost his balance and was flattened on his back.

    Serra continued the onslaught until the match was called in the first round in the biggest upset ever.

    Taking the belt from St. Pierre was the defining moment in Serra's career, who was unable to defend the title in their rematch.

    Despite not holding onto to the belt for too long, Serra made a mark on the history books with this career-defining victory.

32. Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin, UFC 101

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    Moving up to 205 to take on former champion Forrest Griffin, current middleweight champion Anderson Silva showed why he is the best fighter in the world.

    Picking Griffin apart on the feet, Silva had the crowd out of its seats when he knocked his opponent out cold with a walking back jab.

    This amazing knockout was one of the most insane finishes ever and a true testament to Silva's skills.

31. Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida, UFC 98

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    This light-heavyweight title fight was Rashad Evans' first title defense since taking the belt.

    Machida was the mysterious karate master whose elusive style was not given enough credit against the powerful wrestler in Evans.

    The black belt striker came out crisp and powerful, though, rocking Evans in the first round.  

    It would be a flurry in the second frame that saw Evans down for good, giving Machida the light-heavyweight belt.  

    The knockout by Machida also became one of the most exciting knockouts in UFC history.

30. Frank Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz, UFC 22

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    The first ever 205-pound UFC champion, Frank Shamrock was dominating the light-heavyweight division when he took on Tito Ortiz in 1999.

    At the time, this battle was considered one of the greatest fights in MMA history.

    Ortiz controlled the opening rounds with his larger frame and strength advantage.  Shamrock worked Ortiz, though, as he was beginning to tire in the fourth round.

    Turning the page on the ground-and-pound expert, Shamrock forced Ortiz to tap from a huge combination of strikes.

    This legendary scrap between light-heavyweight warriors still remains one of the best UFC main events.

29. Jon Jones vs. Shogun Rua, UFC 128

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    Although not the most even match, this one-sided beat down was exciting because it showcased just how good Jon Jones is. 

    Taking on a striking expert and former Pride champion in Shogun Rua, nobody thought that Jones could dominate this fight so thoroughly.

    Throwing some of the most creative—yet powerful—strikes and landing huge takedowns, Jones took the light-heavyweight belt in just three dominating rounds at UFC 128 to become the youngest champion in UFC history.   

28. Randy Couture vs. Gabriel Gonzaga, UFC 74

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    Coming off a spectacular head-kick knockout of Mirko Cro Cop, Gabriel Gonzaga was the next big thing in the heavyweight division and was expected to send Randy Couture back to retirement.

    However, Couture disproved the hype by dominating Gonzaga for three rounds, punishing him with vicious dirty boxing and clinch work against the cage.

    Using his strength to wear Gonzaga out, Couture was also able to land a huge slam that broke Gonzaga's nose as Couture's shoulder dug into his face.

    Couture put him away with some more strikes and defended his heavyweight title, proving his place as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time.

27. Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo, UFC 3

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    Everything looked to be in Kimo Leopoldo's favor when he took on Royce Gracie at UFC 3.

    A gigantic 50 pounds more than Gracie, Leopoldo, like those who fell before, was not ready for Gracie's jiu-jitsu.

    Able to stave off the inevitable for almost five minutes, Gracie took the armbar and forced Leopoldo to tap.

    This was just another exciting example of how size does not matter when the art of jiu-jitsu is involved.

26. Matt Hughes vs. BJ Penn I, UFC 46

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    The first time these two legends took each other on, BJ Penn wanted to take the belt from the longest-reigning welterweight champion of the time.

    Matt Hughes was the huge favorite but his wrestling credentials were no match for Penn's superb grappling.

    With just 23 seconds left in the first round, Penn took Hughes' back and sunk in the rear naked choke.

    Taking the title in such a stunning fashion, this bout set up what would be one of the greatest trilogies in the UFC.

25. Pat Barry vs. Cheick Kongo, UFC on Versus 4

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    The comeback by Cheick Kongo was one of the most amazing comebacks in UFC history.

    Pat Barry had dropped Kongo early and looked to take the knockout win, only to have Kongo stand right back up to put Barry to sleep.

    Not the longest bout in history, but an amazing comeback that made for an exciting fight.

24. Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Hughes II, UFC 65

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    In this highly anticipated rematch, the MMA world was buzzing as Georges St. Pierre took on Matt Hughes.

    St. Pierre was determined not to lose to Hughes again and came out the technically superior fighter.  In the first round, he landed a superman punch and left hook that dropped Hughes.

    It would be the second round though that would be the decider, when St. Pierre landed a huge head kick and brutal ground-and-pound that would seal the deal for the Canadian superstar.

23. Karo Parisyan vs. Nick Diaz, UFC 49

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    Two of the UFC's top welterweights at the time had the most exciting grappling display in recent MMA history.

    The fight was quickly taken to the ground as Parisyan, a Judo black belt, and Diaz, a jiu-jitsu expert, battled it out on the mats.

    Parisyan looked to take control from the top while contending with Diaz's escapes from the guard.

    Diaz continually threw out submission attempts although Parisyan dominated from the top.

    The Judo expert was able to take the win of the three-round grappling battle.

22. Rampage Jackson vs. Dan Henderson, UFC 75

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    After Pride was purchased by Zuffa, the UFC planned to have the Pride champion take on UFC champion Rampage Jackson in a title unification bout.

    Both guys were knockout artists, ensuring the fight to be an exciting one.

    Battling between positions both standing and on the mats, Jackson was able to take the decision by landing more damaging strikes, especially as time ended in the last round.

    Both fighters had their great moments and proved why they were champions.

21. Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald, UFC 115

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    Rory MacDonald was the young up-and-comer who was looking to roll over the former WEC champion. 

    Carlos Condit would prove to be a well-skilled adversary.

    Both fighters exchanged on their feet and on the mat, trading blows and, at one point, knocking each other down simultaneously with front kicks to the midsection.

    Condit was looking to take the fight in the third round and came out running.  MacDonald was starting to wane and Condit took full advantage of it, blasting him with strikes and eventually finishing him off brutally via technical knockout.

    This bout was MacDonald's first-ever loss and added another exciting fight to Condit's resume.

20. Georges St. Pierre vs. Jon Fitch, UFC 87

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    Although this fight was an unessential, dominant performance for Georges St. Pierre, the beating he gave Jon Fitch was also remembered for Fitch's heart and tenacity.

    St. Pierre beat his opponent down with strikes, with Fitch just barely making it through the opening round.

    In every area, St. Pierre dominated the fight.  The grappling display he put on made Fitch look like a rookie.

    Despite the control St. Pierre had, Fitch proved to have an amazing chin as he was able to battle back after getting hit with some serious shots.

    This Fight of the NIght from UFC 87 was a classic and one of the best overall contests for the reigning champion. 

19. Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia, UFC 68

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    Randy Couture was coming off a year-long retirement to get back into the fight game against then champion Tim Sylvia.

    Couture had not fought in heavyweight for years until this bout and was vying for a record third world title.

    The match was an exciting back-and-forth exchange that saw the older, more experienced Couture get the better of Sylvia with his legendary dirty boxing in the clinch.

    The five-round affair was ruled a unanimous decision win for Couture and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest champions of all time.

18. Frankie Edgar vs. Tyson Griffin, UFC 67

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    The current lightweight champion was considered an underdog against the bigger Tyson Griffin.

    Frankie Edgar was considered too small to handle Griffin's strength.  Griffin was also riding the wave of being the only man at the time to defeat Urijah Faber.

    Edgar showed his heart though, using his superior boxing skills and fast footwork to outclass Griffin in the stand-up.  He also proved his champion-caliber will by refusing to tap to a deep kneebar.

    The unanimous decision was given to Edgar, and it was the jumping off point for him in the lightweight division.

17. Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann, UFC on Versus 3

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    Taking Fight of the Night honors at UFC on Versus 3, the war between Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann was one of the most exciting fights of 2011 so far.

    The fight started out with Kampmann just picking Sanchez apart on the stand-up, landing crisp shots that bloodied and battered his opponent's face.  

    The tide slowly began to turn in the second half of the second round when Kampmann began losing the sting in his punches.  Battling back, Sanchez landed some heavy strikes and finally secured a takedown in the last round.  Both fighters left the fight exhausted, but Sanchez was clearly more cut up. 

    Although the controversial decision was given to Sanchez, there was no question that this back-and-forth battle was one for the books. 

16. Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin, UFC 116

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    This battle of heavyweight monsters was an amazing come-from-behind victory for the former heavyweight champion.

    In the first round, Shane Carwin was demolishing Brock Lesnar in the stand-up and was pummeling him against the cage.  Many viewers thought that the bout would be ended early, as Carwin was landing huge ground-and-pound strikes.

    Somehow surviving the first round, Lesnar blitzed in for the takedown in the second round and turned the tides on gassed Carwin.

    Lesnar ended the match by sinking in an arm triangle, putting Carwin away and proving that he was the real deal as the heavyweight champion.

15. Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping, UFC 100

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    After serving as coaches on the ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter, Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping had a lot of bad blood between them going into UFC 100.

    Although not a back-and-forth war, the fight produced one of the greatest knockouts in MMA history.

    When Henderson floored "The Count" with a straight right and followed it up with an overhand bomb, the crowd erupted as the former Pride champion put an exclamation mark on the historic event.

14. Roger Huerta vs. Clay Guida, TUF 6 Finale

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    These two high-paced fighters gave an awe-inspiring performance when they faced off at The Ultimate Fighter 6 finale.

    Guida controlled the early part of the first round, landing a huge takedown and grinding away at Huerta on the mats.  But Huerta stood up and landed huge, clean shots while avoiding Guida's wild swings.

    Huerta was briefly hurt in the second round, despite doing better against the takedowns.  It would be the third round, though, that Huerta would catch Guida with a hard knee before choking him out.

    This battle was a great stylistic matchup and proved to be one of the most exciting test of opposing skills.

13. Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock, UFC 1

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    The one that started it all proved to be just as exciting as it was billed to be.

    This epic matchup between Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock was such an exciting contest because of the unexpected outcome of the match.

    Gracie's jiu-jitsu showed to be the most effective art because many people never saw it before.  In under a minute, Gracie acquired the rear naked choke, forcing Shamrock to tap.

    This legendary bout was the defining moment of the first generation of MMA.

12. Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn I, UFC 58

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    When these two champions faced off at UFC 58, both Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn were being touted as top contenders in the welterweight division.

    Penn was thought to be the favorite over the up-and-coming St. Pierre.  Penn outclassed St. Pierre on the feet and broke the Canadian's nose while cutting his face in the first round.

    But the mastermind that St. Pierre is, he changed up his game plan and dominated the second round by taking it to the mats.  

    Many thought that Penn would be able to control the fight from his guard, but St. Pierre proved to be the better grappler and passed while controlling from the top.

    The third round saw more of the same, winning the split decision for St. Pierre.

    This highly-contested bout proved to be an amazing showing of legendary skills.

11. Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz I, UFC 47

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    Bad blood had already brewed before this highly anticipated bout between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz at UFC 47.

    Coming in, Ortiz came out the slight favorite, but Liddell turned the betting line right on its head.

    In the first round, Liddell exploded with strikes, landing a nice combination hard on Ortiz.  At the end of the round, Ortiz was furious over the round's outcome.

    Capitalizing on his momentum, Liddell quickly attacked Ortiz.  A flurry of strikes against the cage by Liddell prompted the referee to call the match.

    This bout between two solid contenders at the time was a great show and an exhibition of Liddell's skills while in his prime. 

10. Roger Huerta vs. Leonard Garcia, UFC 69

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    Whenever you put Leonard Garcia in a fight, it usually ends up being an insane contest of will.

    Facing Roger Huerta at UFC 69, this fight turned out to be one for the ages.

    Huerta was able to get the better of Garcia through his crisper boxing, but Garcia would not let up and turned the fight into a scrapper as he smiled after each absorbed punch.

    The fans were on their feet the whole time throughout the three-round affair that ended with Huerta as the winner.

    A precursor for things to come for Garcia, it was Huerta who took the show as his fantastic performance earned him and the sport of mixed martial arts an appearance for the first time on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

9. Diego Sanchez vs. Karo Parisyan, UFN 6

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    In this 2006 war, Diego Sanchez came into his own against Karo Parisyan in a battle that ended up being Fight of the Year.

    Sanchez was riding back-to-back wins after winning the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and looked to enter contender-status against Parisyan.

    Then known as "The Nightmare", Sanchez brought it to Parisyan and blitzed him with strikes, submissions, and takedowns, wearing the seasoned veteran down.

    Parisyan would not go down without a fight and landed the single best Judo throw in MMA history.  T

    he most exciting moment, however, came when Sanchez knocked out Parisyan's tooth with a knee to the face.

    This Fight of the Year battle will live on forever as one of the most fast-paced and brutal wars in the history of the UFC. 

8. Chris Leben vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama, UFC 116

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    Taking the fight on only two week's notice after defeating Aaron Simpson, Chris Leben was the clear underdog going into his fight against Yoshihiro Akiyama.

    Stylistically, Akiyama was favored by analysts and the two week's notice only added to the uphill climb.

    But Leben stunned everyone with his relentless attacks, taking anything Akiyama threw at him while driving forward.  Both fighters traded blows throughout the bout and battled it out on the ground as well.

    A decorated judoka, nobody could have guessed that Leben—a knockout artist—would finish the fight the way he did.

    With just seconds remaining on the clock, Leben secured a tight triangle choke that forced Akiyama to tap out.  

    This finish was one of the most exciting, yet unexpected, submissions to date in a performance that earned both men Fight of the Night honors.

7. Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II, UFC 52

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    The dominating welterweight champion of the time, Matt Hughes took on Frank Trigg in a rematch that proved to be one of the most exciting single-round fights in UFC history.

    The action really began when Trigg struck Hughes with a knee to the groin that referee Mario Yamasaki missed.  

    Not skipping a beat, Trigg pounced on Hughes and barraged him with strikes against the cage and brutal ground-and-pound.  At one point, Trigg almost had a choke sunk in as well.

    Somehow, Hughes survived and looked to put a beating on Trigg.

    At one point, Hughes picked Trigg up against the cage, carried him to the center of the Octagon, and slammed him as hard as he could.  

    From there, Hughes took his back and put Trigg away with a rear naked choke in the first round—the exact same outcome as their previous fight.

    This was another instance where the champion rose from the ashes and put on one of the most spectacular finishes of all time.

6. Minotauro Nogueira vs. Randy Couture, UFC 102

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    Aging heavyweight stars Minotauro Nogueira and Randy Couture met at UFC 102 for one of the most intense clashes of MMA legends.

    The battle turned out to be a three-round, back-and-forth affair with each fighter taking the upper hand multiple times throughout the fight.

    From the starting gate, both Nogueira and Couture traded heavy blows, rocking each other at some points while also trading top position on the mats.

    Nogueira came out in the later rounds and wore "The Natural" down, almost finishing him with various chokes that had Couture turning blue.  

    He also was able to get the better of Couture in the stand-up, hurting him badly late in the fight before the bout ended.

    Nogueira was able to take the decision win in a contest that proved that even these older fighters can put on amazing performances. 

5. Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, UFC 117

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    Chael Sonnen did not only make a splash with his pre-fight diatribes bashing UFC champion Anderson Silva, but he stunned the MMA world by becoming the only person in UFC history to take "The Spider" to the brink of defeat.

    Fans were stunned when Sonnen powered through Silva for almost five full rounds.  It looked as if the reign was over.

    But never count out the heart of a champion.

    In the waning seconds of the final round, Silva pulled off a spectacular triangle-armbar to retain his title.  The crowd went wild at this stunning turn of events.

    This exciting battle was one of the biggest comebacks in sports history.

4. Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida, TUF 9 Finale

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    Both of these fighters appear on this list numerous times–and for good reason.

    When Clay Guida and Diego Sanchez squared off at The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale, it was a clash of two of the most explosive and exciting fighters in the UFC.  

    Both fighters share a relentless style that set off major fireworks.

    Sanchez came out and threw everything he had at Guida in the first round, landing an insane amount of strikes before dropping Guida with a head kick.  

    "The Carpenter" recovered, though, and came out in the second round with a much better game plan, controlling Sanchez on the mats.

    Sanchez, however, was able to land huge elbows off his back, further battering Guida's face.  The last round ended in a bang as both fighters came out swinging, but Sanchez's tighter striking took the round.

    The split decision win was given to Sanchez, but this epic battle was given well-deserved Fight of the Night and Fight of the Year honors.

3. Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard II, UFC 125

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    Ringing in the New Year with a bang, the UFC 125 lightweight title fight between champion Frankie Edgar and challenger Gray Maynard had the most spectacular come-from-behind resurgences in MMA history.

    Early in round one, Edgar was rocked repeatedly by Maynard who was dominating all aspects of the fight. Barraging the champion with strikes, it seemed like a matter of time until Maynard would be crowned the new top dog at 155 pounds.

    But somehow, Edgar survived the initial onslaught and began pouring it on himself.  Landing crisp punches, powerful takedowns, and solid combinations, Edgar battled back as the two put on one of the best shows to date.

    In the end, the bout was ruled a draw, leaving Edgar the champion.  

    Despite the outcome, the excitement exuded in this match by the fighters and the fans makes this fight worthy of a top-three spot on the list.

2. Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva, UFC 79

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    When Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva entered this 2007 contest, both were considered two of the hardest-hitting and most dominating light-heavyweights in the game.

    This highly-anticipated matchup between former champions was a dream fight that fans had been clamoring for, as attested to by the roaring ovation each fighter received entering the Octagon.

    The battle completely lived up to the hype as all three rounds were filled with barrages of strikes.

    In the final frame, Liddell rocked Silva with a spinning backfist before putting him on his back to finish the round.

    In the end, this Fight of the Night was won by Liddell and proved to be one of the greatest battles in MMA history. 

1. Stephan Bonnar vs. Forrest Griffin I, TUF 1 Finale

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    Any list of great or exciting fights has to include this legendary battle as No. 1 because it put the UFC on the map.

    When Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin took each other on at the first season finale of The Ultimate Fighter, nobody expected to see such a back-and-forth war that featured the whole array of techniques in the game.

    Broadcast live on Spike TV, the world was treated with an amazing battle that embodied the heart of the warrior and showed just what MMA could be.

    The consensus most important fight in UFC history, this war will always be pegged as the fight that took the sport to a whole new level.