14 MOST LOPSIDED “RIVALRIES” IN MMA

Ideally, mixed martial arts competitions should be competitive and evenly fought to bring about maximum entertainment and value for both us sports fans and competitors alike. However, there’s been more than enough one-sided ass-whoopings in the MMA world I had to compile a few that stood out.

A “rivalry” like the competitions would be a lot better if both fighters were actually evenly matched and hurt each other equally. That isn’t always the case. So here are 14 of the most lopsided affairs between two MMA fighters who fought each other on multiple occasions. Please leave comments or accusations if I missed any or ranked some too high!

14. Frank Mir vs Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera

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Both fighters are considered two of the greatest submissions specialists in the heavyweight division (30 combined submissions). Yet when they finally clashed, not once but twice, it would be Mir who would hand Big Nog his first TKO and submission losses, the latter being arguably the greatest submission in UFC history when Mir literally broke Nog’s arm. Ouch.

13. Dennis Hallman vs Matt Hughes

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Matt Hughes was the welterweight division’s kingpin for quite the time. Only a handful of UFC fighters can say they beat the legend and Hallman probably has every single one beat. In their two contests, Dennis Hallman needed only a combined 37 seconds to submit Hughes. Today, Hughes is a UFC Hall of Famer and Hallman is toiling the local circuits. Still, 37 seconds is probably a record somewhere.

12. Urijah Faber vs Champions

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“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride”. Every single one of the California Kid’s seven career losses came in a title fight. Since he dropped his WEC Featherweight title to Mike Brown, Faber has gone 0-6 in his last six title fights. This may not be the traditional “rivalry” in a sense but Faber’s consistent losses to title holders represented a metaphorical dragon he can’t quite slay even to this day.

11. Matt Hughes vs Frank Trigg

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Matt Hughes was no friend to Frank Trigg. The two fights between Trigg and Hughes were close and Trigg would come close to beating Hughes. He almost finished him in the second fight after an unnoticed knee to Hughes’ groin. Yet both times, Hughes would end up choking out Trigg in dramatic fashion leading to many fans mockingly renaming the choke, “Rear Naked Trigg”.

10. Mauricio Rua vs Alistair Overeem

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Once upon a time, Alistair Overeem was not a steroid-abused heavyweight. Once upon a time, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua fought Alistair Overeem and knocked him out. The beaten Overeem decided to move up to heavyweight. A few wins later and the ‘Reem decided to go back to light heavyweight where Shogun would once again, beat the crap out of him. Having had enough, Overeem went back to heavyweight, never looked back and ate Barry Bonds.

9. Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos

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Junior Dos Santos would dethrone Cain as the UFC’s heavyweight champion giving him his first and only loss in his career. So what does Cain do? Give JDS one of the most savage beatdowns not once but twice, beating his face into that of a troll from Lord of the Rings. The only reason this lopsided rivalry is ranked this low is because of JDS’s first win. In hindsight, the “damage” Cain took in that fight seems like a teardrop compared to the river he poured on poor JDS.  

8. Anderson Silva vs Rich Franklin

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Rich Franklin was 22-1 into his UFC career finishing the majority of his fights by stoppage. He looked every bit like one of the most dominant fighters of his time. Then along came a spider. Anderson Silva would hurt Rich Franklin more times in their two brief fights than Franklin has been hurt his entire career to that point. The best Ace could do was apologize for “hurting” Silva’s knee with his face.

7. Fedor Emelianenko vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

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Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira was Pride’s first ever Heavyweight Champion and its resident top dog. Then a dude named Fedor came and thoroughly punished the bigger Nogueira en route to winning his belt. Big Nog would rematch Fedor twice but neither resulted in success. Though Fedor didn’t finish Nog, he became the first man to twice beat who otherwise was known as (arguably) the best heavyweight at that time.

6. Quinton Jackson vs Chuck Liddell

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For a decade, Chuck Liddell was possibly the most dominant light heavyweight in MMA with twenty wins, most coming by knockout. He would avenge his earlier losses to Randy Couture and Jeremy Horn but not Quinton Jackson. Rampage would beat Liddell into retirement in their first Pride fight then knock him out and take his belt in the UFC rematch. Poor Chuck was never the same after the second loss.

5. Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tate

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The most heated rivalry in MMA today. Rousey and Tate brought a new meaning to the word “hate”. It started in Strikeforce when Rousey would break Tate’s arm and win her title. It carried on to the UFC reality TV series, The Ultimate Fighter. Tate would successfully piss off Rousey with her constant mind games and Rousey would retaliate by mauling Tate and armbar her a second time in the rematch. As consolation, Tate became the first woman to survive Ronda in the first round.

4. Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz

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Chuck Liddell owned Tito Ortiz like no UFC fighter has. Despite Tito’s antics and excuses and Liddell’s injured MCL in the second fight, Chuck would knock out Ortiz in both fights. The two were supposed to fight a third time after The Ultimate Fighter yet Ortiz would pull out for unknown reasons. Who are you kidding, Tito? Everyone knows you chickened out from getting your butt handed to you a third time.

3. Wanderlei Silva vs Kazushi Sakuraba

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Kazushi Sakuraba was fresh off of his sweep of the Gracie clan and was writing his own legend until the Axe Murderer brutally beat him not once, not twice, but three times. Wandy was the much bigger and stronger fighter and punished Sakuraba either breaking his bones or leaving him a mangled mess. It was truly one of the most lopsided rivalries not only in Pride history but all of MMA.  

2. Tito Ortiz vs Ken Shamrock

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The most popular rivalry in UFC history also turned out to be the most lopsided in UFC history. Ortiz’s post-fight antics against Shamrock’s student, Guy Mezger led to an enraged Shamrock challenging Tito to a fight. Three fights. In each fight, Tito would slap Ken around so bad I almost felt sorry for him. Thankfully, Ken only had to endure the last two fights a combined three minutes and 39 seconds. After all, I don’t think even the “World’s Most Dangerous Man” wanted to get spanked any more.

1. Kazushi Sakuraba vs the Gracie Clan

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The nickname says it all: the “Gracie Hunter”. Sakuraba dispatched of four members: Royler, Renzo, Ryan and most notably: the undefeated Royce Gracie in a ninety-minute marathon. Sakuraba outlasted Royce when the Brazilian’s corner threw in the towel. Eight years later, Royce would finally defeat Sakuraba though with a little PED help. Four years after, Ralek Gracie, 16 years Sakuraba’s junior, would finally end the slump. Sakuraba would finish his career going 4-1-1 (loss to Royce I counted as ‘NC’) against the most prestigious family in MMA history.

Honourable Mentions

Cristiane Justino vs Marloes Coenen
Georges St. Pierre vs Matt Hughes
Randy Couture vs Vitor Belfort
Mauricio Rua vs Lyoto Machida
Mirko Filipovic vs Josh Barnett

MMA’S DIVISION OF DEATH

On December 13, 2013, Georges St. Pierre, the greatest UFC welterweight fighter decided to finally walk away from the sport he loved. This was coming after a very controversial win over Johny Hendricks, who punished the champion for five rounds back in UFC 167. Plenty, including myself, thought Hendricks had won but even if he lost the decision, he can settle for a moral victory having hurt the legend enough to force him into early retirement.

Whether you love GSP’s decision or hate it, I think you would agree he stepped out of the sport at the right time. GSP’s last four fights suggest he absorbed more punishment than his other fights combined (240 strikes absorbed, over 50% of his total strikes absorbed). Hendricks, Condit, Diaz and Shields (all on this list) pounded him more than the dozen who came before.

GSP made the sane proper choice to quit now while he’s ahead because as I would outline, here’s the next 15 guys who have struck me as not only contenders but entertaining and violent brawlers and grapplers. Welcome to the new Welterweight Division. A division filled with knockouts and submissions and wars… THE DIVISION OF DEATH.

BIGG RIGG
Johny Hendricks (15-2, 10-2 UFC)

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Knockouts: 8
Submissions: 1
UFC Rank: #1

The aforementioned Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks is fighting for the title in UFC 170 in his hometown of Dallas, Texas. Big Rig is notorious for arguably the most powerful leftie in MMA today, which floored two former title contenders within seconds. Big Rig isn’t only one of the strongest strikers but is a huge NCAA Division I wrestler. With GSP gone, he’s the favourite to take over the division. He’s the to-be-crowned Alpha Dog in the making.

THE NATURAL BORN KILLER
Carlos Condit (29-7, 6-3 UFC)

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Knockouts: 14
Submissions: 13
UFC Rank: #2

Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit isn’t far behind Big Rig as a favourite to win the division. NBK once engaged Hendricks in a Fight of the Year caliber brawl that saw him lose a razor thin decision. But the Killer out-struck Hendricks (number) and also floored GSP and was a few punches away from winning his belt. Condit may not have GSP or Hendricks’s wrestling pedigree but he is arguably the division’s best striker.

RUTHLESS
Robbie Lawler (22-9, 7-3 UFC)

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Knockouts: 18
Submissions: 1
UFC Rank: #3

Ruthless Robbie Lawler is easily 2013’s Comeback Fighter of the Year. On his second go-round with the UFC, he went on to knock out long-time gatekeeper Josh Koscheck, Strikeforce tough guy, Bobby Voelker and put a beating on a contender and GSP teammate, Rory “Ares” Macdonald. He’ll be facing Bigg Rigg for the championship soon. Lawler has always been a deadly striker but his improvement in takedown defense, precision and game planning has made him reach a new elite level.

EL DIABLO
Nick Diaz (26-9, 7-7 UFC)

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Knockouts: 13
Submissions: 8
UFC Rank: n/a

Although he remains “retired”, whenever “El Diablo” Nick Diaz decides to return to the octagon, he will be an immediate championship threat. The division’s best boxer and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert has fought the best and was both a Strikeforce and WEC Welterweight Champion. His colourful nature makes him a polarizing figure but he’ll earn fans’ and haters’ respect alike with his artistic display of boxing destruction whenever he steps in the octagon.

ARES
Rory Macdonald (15-2, 6-2 UFC)

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Knockouts: 6
Submissions: 6
UFC Rank: #4

With GSP retired, Rory “Ares” Macdonald now stands as Tristar Gym’s and Canada’s top fighter. Growing tired of his old name, Macdonald gave himself his own nickname although his tentative fighting style has led to much criticism. Regardless, Ares has all the tools to be a champion – size, topnotch grappling skills and toughness. He recently lost to Ruthless but he’s only one big win away from  being back in the title picture.

THE JUGGERNAUT
Jake Ellenberger (29-7, 8-3 UFC)

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Knockouts: 18
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #5

The Juggernaut has been injured as of late and always seems to be overshadowed by the top fighters but he didn’t earn his moniker as an X-Men fan. Juggernaut is a powerful force and has won the majority of his UFC fights by way of knockout. He’s a wrestler by nature but prefers to stand and bang and even the toughest fighters should be weary to go toe-to-toe with The Juggernaut.

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Knockouts: 3
Submissions: 10
UFC Rank: #7

While not as physically imposing or powerful as some of the fighters here, Shields was once the Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and was undefeated for six years. His lack of striking power shouldn’t undersell his prowess as he’s undefeated at welterweight and has wins over four fighters on this list (Condit, Lawler, Woodley, Maia). Shields flies under the radar but he can beat the best at any moment’s notice. PS I gave him the nickname. ;)

THE SUBMISSION DEMON
Demian Maia (18-5, 12-5 UFC)

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Knockouts: 3
Submissions: 9
UFC Rank: #6

I made up his nickname but “Submission Demon” seems apt for the man who’s submitted Chael Sonnen and Rick Story – the latter’s first time being finished. Maia is a large welterweight having fought the best at middleweight before moving down and going on an unbeaten streak before a paper-thin decision loss to Jake Shields. He’s probably the best BJJ grappler in the division.

THE CHOSEN ONE
Tyron Woodley (12-2, 2-1 UFC)

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Knockouts: 3
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #11

Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley is on the fast track to winning the welterweight title as he’ll be going against The Natural Born Killer later this year. A wrestler who combines power with speed and athleticism, he’s a force who despite having only fought since 2009 has already beaten some of the big names in the division including Paul Daley, Josh Koscheck and former champion, Tarec Saffiedine.

LIGHTNING
Hector Lombard (33-4-1-1, 2-2 UFC)

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Knockouts: 19
Submissions: 7
UFC Rank: #13

The Cuban version of Hulk aka Hector “Lightning” Lombard finally made the cut to welterweight and it has paid massive (pun intended) dividends in a first-round demolition of former title contender, Nate Marquardt. Lombard’s imposing muscular frame paired with his Judoka expertise and killer power has led him to win 33 of his 39 official fights with majority of those wins coming by knockout.

SPONGE
Tarec Saffiedine (15-3, 1-0 UFC)

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Knockouts: 1
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #9

Former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine finally made his much-anticipated debut in a five-round victory over Korean standout, Lim Gyun-Hyu. He didn’t finish Lim but dominated the much larger Korean and kicked his legs to oblivion. Saffiedine is one of the more polished and technical fighters in the division. He won’t have many highlight reel knockouts but he’s as much a contender as most of the ones on this list.

THE IMMORTAL
Matt Brown (18-11, 11-5 UFC)

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Knockouts: 11
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #8

Before training in MMA, Matt Brown survived a heroin overdose thus prompting his nickname. He would then dedicate himself to martial arts and make his way to the UFC, where he would again survive a life-altering event, losing three in a row and 4 of 5 matches. That usually spells death sentence for most fighters but not the Immortal. Now a winner of six straight, with five of those coming by KO, the Immortal is in prime position to challenge the best in the division.

HORROR STORY
Rick Story (16-7, 9-5 UFC)

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Knockouts: 4
Submissions: 3
UFC Rank: #15

Once upon a time, Rick “Horror” Story was on his way to a title shot with huge wins over former title challenger Thiago “Pitbull” Alves and even Johny Hendricks. Then an upset loss to Charlie Brenneman and he never seemed to get back in rhythm having a spotty record since. But his most recent domination of Brian Ebersole, a result of training with Tristar has the wrestling standout back in the game. A rejuvenated Horror Story could spell terror for the rest of the division.

THE ACE
Lim Hyun-Gyu (12-4, 2-1 UFC)

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Knockouts: 9
Submissions: 2
UFC Rank: n/a

Too early? The Korean standout is relatively new to the UFC but already has two Fight of the Night awards along with two big knockouts. He most recently took Saffiedine to a five-round war that nearly saw him upset the former champion despite having his legs all-but kicked off. Lim is unranked in the division but with more polish, he’s sure to shoot up the rankings.

RUKUS
Brandon Thatch
(11-1 2-0 UFC)

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Knockouts: 8
Submissions: 3
UFC Rank: n/a

Brandon “Rukus” Thatch may be a relative unknown to the casual UFC fanbase but he shouldn’t be for long. Though just having two UFC fights, he’s won both by stoppages. He’s the first to KO Justin “Fast Eddie” Edwards  and just the 2nd to finish Paulo Thiago. Get this: 100% of the Karate master’s victories have all come by round 1 stoppage. Rukus is still new and thus unranked within the UFC but will look to keep his killer ways through 2014.

Watch for these other Killers:

Kim “Stun Gun” Dong-Hyun, Ryan LaFlare, Kelvin Gastelum, John “The Hitman” Hathaway, Mike “Quicksand” Pyle, Erick “Indio” Silva

20 GREATEST FIGHTS IN THE UFC FROM EACH OF THE LAST 20 YEARS (BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY UFC POST!)

Really late but it took a while to do research on the fights and videos. I picked the fights I thought had a great story behind it, not just how much each fighter bled or how how action-packed a fight was – although the entertainment value and lasting impact were my top two categories. Here we go!

2013: Jon “Bones” Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson (UFC 165)

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Edges out Gilbert Melendez vs Diego Sanchez and Wanderlei Silva vs Brian Stann for the moment it showed the champion’s vulnerability and resilient comeback; this was a very controversial contest but marked what could be the start of the greatest trilogy in MMA history.

2012: Joe Lauzon vs Jamie Varner (UFC on Fox 4)

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Post-fight bonus legend Joe Lauzon outlasted Jamie Varner in a World War III style gritty MMA fight. A lot of fights in the octagon are technical affairs but this was a straight up WAR. Lauzon and Varner may never win a UFC title but this fight ensures they have a place somewhere in UFC legend.

2011: Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard II (UFC 125)

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Gets the nod over Dan Henderson vs Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139 for the revelation of the heart of Frankie “The Answer” Edgar; a big size difference saw Frankie make a gutsy comeback against  then-undefeated Gray Maynard to retain his title.

2010: Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen (UFC 117)

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Undisputed champion, Anderson Silva would get the fight of his life against then-unknown Chael Sonnen. Silva would pull off a miraculous comeback late in the last round, submitting Sonnen after being controlled the whole fight. This match added to the Spider’s legend and gave rise to the “American Gangster” Chael Sonnen.

2009: Diego Sanchez vs Clay Guida (The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale)

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From the start of the bell to last minute, this fight was a complete war! Right off the ring of the bell, Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida engaged in gratuitous but glorious war that saw a razor-thin decision win to crazy Diego “The Dream” Sanchez.

2008: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs Forrest Griffin (UFC 86)

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The peak of Forrest Griffin’s Cinderella run with the UFC. A major underdog to Pride legend, Rampage, Forrest would win a close five-round fight to become the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. It would mark the first time a The Ultimate Fighter winner would win a UFC championship.

2007: Chuck Liddell vs Wanderlei Silva (UFC 79)

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This year marked the year two legendary (but fading away) MMA fighters went in an all-out brawl. Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva brought a combined 37 knockout wins to this fight but it was the guts and heart of both men that shined best in this classic.

2006: Georges St. Pierre vs B.J. Penn I (UFC 58)

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In what would be one of the most controversial fights in UFC history, a resilient GSP would outlast a vicious assault from B.J. Penn to win a title shot against Matt Hughes. In a rematch a few years later, GSP would put doubters to rest by soundly beating the Prodigy.

2005: Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonnar I (The Ultimate Fighter Finale)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXfyzBZzisQ

The fight that put the UFC on the map; not the best fight in technical terms but if you want to see a legitimate contest with two guys beating each other this is the fight for you. As such every UFC fan should have at least seen this fight. Call it a tribute or homage.

2004: Karo Parisyan vs Nick Diaz (UFC 49)

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In a stacked UFC 49 card, young phenoms Karo Parisyan and Nick Diaz stole the show and put on a brilliant display of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Parisyan would come out with a close split decision victory but there were there no real losers in this epic contest.

2003: Randy Couture vs Chuck Liddell I (UFC 43)

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In what would be the first meeting between two UFC legends, Randy Couture would hand Chuck Liddell his first career TKO loss. Couture would also become the first man in UFC history to win two world titles in separate divisions and further establish his stake to one of the company’s greatest fighters.

2002: Tito Ortiz vs Ken Shamrock (UFC 40)

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This fight and PPV marked a turning point for the company as the buyrate was four times larger than any other show. Though a somewhat lopsided affair for Ortiz, the crazy atmosphere and intense rivalry fueled what would’ve been one of the most significant fights in company history.

2001: Carlos Newton vs Matt Hughes I (UFC 34)

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The night Matt Hughes became a UFC legend. The wrestler was a relative unknown coming into this fight and found himself in a grappling war with then-champion and BJJ specialist, Carlos Newton. Mid round 3, Hughes is caught with a triangle choke but just before passing out, slams Newton to win the title in what would stand as one of the most iconic finishes in UFC history.

2000: Tito Ortiz vs Wanderlei Silva (UFC 25: Ultimate Japan 3)

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Go ahead and accuse me of Tito Ortiz bias but Tito Ortiz does what most fans expect in a fight: he WARS. In this particular bout, he takes his brawling talents across the Pacific and meets equally violent Wanderlei Silva in an epic clash for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. Tito would prevail.

1999: Frank Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz (UFC 22)

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One of the greatest comebacks in UFC history; defending Light Heavyweight Champion, Frank Shamrock gets manhandled by the bigger Tito Ortiz for most of the fight then mounts an improbable comeback and TKO’s Ortiz just seconds before the end of round 4. It would be Frank’s last fight with the UFC. It would also be his best.

1998: Dan Henderson vs Carlos Newton (UFC 17)

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The first appearance of future champions Dan Henderson and Carlos Newton would be a memorable one as the two would engage in an all-out brawl with Hendo claiming victory by decision.

1997: Randy Couture vs Vitor Belfort (UFC 15)

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One of the first “superfights” in the UFC, “The Natural” Randy Couture would upset then-undefeated Brazilian terror, Vitor Belfort. Couture would use his strong wrestling to nullify Belfort and finish him with strikes.  This also marked the first UFC with its current limitations on permissible striking areas.

1996: Mark Coleman vs Don Frye (UFC 10)

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Not the most exciting bout by today’s standards but at that time it showcased two powerhouse heavyweights. Mark Coleman would make the most of his UFC debut, beating fan favourite Don Frye with vicious ground and pound and wrestling to win. Bruce Buffer also made his debut at this event.

1995: Oleg Taktarov vs Marco Ruas (Ultimate Ultimate 1995)

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A classic not a lot of fans know about but should watch! UFC 7 champion and Vale Tudo phenom Marco Ruas would be taken to war by the Russian guy from Predators Sambo and Judo expert, Oleg Taktarov. Taktarov would win an entertaining scrap that might’ve yielded different results with today’s judging.

1994: Royce Gracie vs Dan Severn (UFC 6)

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In what is my “Really Boring Fight That Ended Really Awesome” fight, Royce Gracie shows the world that size doesn’t matter after he chokes out Dan Severn, who was a good three weight classes above him. This match is another reminder why BJJ is so widely studied and how even the smaller man can win.

1993: UFC 1

http://vimeo.com/45287348

Quite obvious. Pay your respects!

14 EXPECTATIONS FOR THE MMA WORLD IN 2014

14. UFC and MMA in general will “struggle” with TV ratings and PPV buys continue to decline or holding steady

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The loss of the two biggest stars in the MMA world in Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva coupled with injuries to other stars (Cain Velasquez, Anthony Pettis) and the increasing number of UFC events could mean even more oversaturation of MMA.   

13. All current UFC Champions will retain their titles in 2014

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Ronda Rousey is indomitable. Jon “Bones” Jones will reign supreme. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson only keeps getting better. And Chris Weidman is only going to build on his back-to-back mauling of Anderson Silva. I don’t see any current UFC champions dropping their belts in 2014.

12. Jessica Penne and Michelle Waterson wage war in a rematch for the Invicta Atomweight Title with Penne regaining the title in what will be the best women’s fight outside the UFC

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The Penne and Waterson title fight early in 2013 was an underrated classic. When the two meet again in the inevitable rematch, they’ll put on another classic that will have talking heads look to recognized female atomweights for the UFC.

11. Ben Askren dominates One FC going undefeated in 2014 and finishing all opponents and strengthens his status as the “Best Fighter outside the UFC”

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He almost contemplated retirement after briefly being unemployed but the wrestling star is back. Askren will take advantage of the relatively unknown division and dominate every opponent he faces until One FC can sign a higher-level talent.

10. B.J. Penn finally retires after suffering his fifth loss in seven games and third consecutive loss to Frankie Edgar

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B.J. Penn will make an emphatic return to the UFC scene on The Ultimate Fighter 19 and he’ll make more noise inside the octagon against Frankie “The Truth” Edgar. But it won’t be enough as he’ll lose a close decision to which he will then announce his retirement to the applause and admiration of millions.

9. UFC continues aggressive international expansion focusing on Asia: Mainland China and Southeast Asia particularly

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With the UFC’s debut in Singapore, the rest of Asia may soon follow. Events in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Mainland China may happen. Outside Asia, Mexico’s a strong possibility.

8. Tecia Torres wins the The Ultimate Fighter 20 and the UFC’s Inaugural Women’s Strawweight Title narrowly defeating Barb Honchak in the Finals

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Carla Esparza and Joanne Calderwood seem like popular choices to win TUF 20 but I think it’s the “Tiny Tornado” Tecia Torres who’ll be winning it all despite being the smallest fighter making for one of the better underdog stories this year.

7. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson becomes the UFC’s main breakout star

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Mighty Mouse was the only UFC champion to go 3-0 in 2013 and punctuated it with a huge knockout as an answer to critics of his stopping power. He’s looked better as he keeps fighting and the world will put the flyweights on the grid for good.

6. Michael Chandler recaptures Bellator Lightweight Title from Eddie Alvarez in conclusion to trilogy and main event to Bellator’s first PPV

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Chandler and Alvarez will go at it for the third time and will put on another amazing fight. Chandler will outlast his rival in a close decision to reclaim the belt as they headline Bellator’s first PPV.

5. GSP, Brock Lesnar and Nick Diaz do NOT return to the UFC or MMA

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They will make more buzz than most active fighters in 2014 thanks to social media and endless “rumour” talks but none of GSP, Brock Lesnar or Nick Diaz will be making a comeback to the octagon for this year.

4. No “Superfights”

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Talk of a Jose Aldo vs Anthony Pettis fight or the Anderson Silva vs Roy Jones fight will flood the Internet but neither will actually transpire. Aldo and Pettis have to defend their titles and are injury prone. Silva will return to action but against a fellow mixed martial artist, not a boxer.

3. Ronda Rousey defends belt three times in 2014 and talks of retirement resurface

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Rousey’s toughest test in 2014 is Sara McMann but after she overcomes her she’ll continue to dominate the division while having a part-time gig in Hollywood. The dreaded “R” word will come up again as many could say she doesn’t have anything left to prove.

2. Anderson Silva returns with a vengeance; finishes non-title opponent in emphatic fashion

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Anderson Silva will make his comeback of the year in the form of a huge knockout or submission. News of his demise would be greatly exaggerated as Spider will prove he’s still a force to be reckoned with.

1. Jon “Bones” Jones becomes the UFC’s P4P King and PPV King

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With GSP gone and Anderson Silva done for most of the year, it’ll be Jon “Bones” Jones who’ll headline the most top-selling UFC PPVs especially if and when that rematch with Alex Gustafsson transpires. He’ll also solidify his spot as the UFC’s #1 P4P king.

One Punch: Dan Henderson’s Most Important Fight

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Tonight’s UFC Fight Night 32 will put two of mixed martial arts’s biggest icons: Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort against Dan “Hendo” Henderson, a rematch from their Pride fight in 2006. Let’s state the obvious that this fight is a must win for both fighters especially since both are still as dangerous as any young gun and are still vying for a title shot. But for Hendo, this is do or die. This is his most important fight. He has to beat Vitor Belfort. His entire career depends on it.

Divergent Paths

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Both Hendo and Belfort have a combined 29 knockout wins in their careers. All of Belfort’s wins in the UFC have come via finish. That’s right. Out of the 12 UFC opponents he has beaten, he has submitted two and knocked out ten. The Phenom has looked phenomenal, excuse the bad pun, as of late. Thank a little TRT exemption – but his last two wins, both spectacular finishes against middleweight contenders, Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold means he’s on a path of destruction back to contendership (listed #2 ranked middleweight by UFC.com).

Hendo in contrast has lost his last two fights by split decision to former light heavyweight champions, Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida. A lot of the naysayers may think Hendo’s on a downtrend and retirement may be in the horizon but Hendo stated he has no plans of and wants to fight for at least two more years. That’s plenty of time to get back into title contention.

Before Hendo lost his last two fights, he was Jon Jones’s next opponent until his injury infamously made history by cancelling the first ever UFC 151. This and being on a two-fight losing streak pretty much has Hendo on the back end of a short line of contenders for another shot. But one punch can change everything. One knockout can change Hendo’s fortunes for good. But he has to be the one pulling it off.

Turning Back Time: 2011

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Hendo is only two years removed from a magnificent 2011, which was arguably his greatest year since his Pride days. In 2011, Hendo knocked out highly-touted Black House prodigy, Rafael “Feijao” Calvacante to win the Strikeforce light heavyweight championship. He followed this up with come-from-behind knockout of the legendary Fedor Emelianenko, the first time the great Russian has been felled mid-fight by strikes.

And as an encore to the year, Hendo engaged Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in what many pundits and fans alike have called one of the greatest fights in MMA history. He would win the war by unanimous decision.

Hendo would go 3-0 for the year, which would earn him the aforementioned title shot against Jones. But it’s worth noting that his wins have come with asterisks. Cavalcante as highly regarded as he was isn’t a top ten light heavyweight at least not in the UFC. Fedor was on the downswing of his career coming off of two losses and several fight metrics had him losing to Rua.

TRT or Retirement?

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Since his injury in 2012 and bowing out of the title fight, Hendo just has not looked the same. He certainly didn’t seem as explosive in both his fights against Rashad and Machida and has looked slower and more sluggish. Being permitted a TRT exemption isn’t good news, it’s more concerning. But should Hendo decide to undergo it, would it make a big difference?

TRT users indeed report “increased alertness and well-being, increase in lean muscle mass and concomitant decrease in body fat” (source: Gan EH, “A UK Epidemic of Testosterone Prescribing 2001-2010) . It has certainly helped the resurgent Vitor Belfort as he has looked like a new man, arguably at his best ever since he’s fought professionally. It’s also helped Chael Sonnen as he submitted Rua within just a round. But it didn’t really help either man against Jon Jones.

A reinvigorated Hendo could definitely end up like Vitor Belfort. There’s no guarantee but should Hendo lose to Belfort, and should he lose badly (as in first T/KO loss), maybe retirement is a better path?

Does Hendo want to fade away like other greats before him: Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Rampage Jackson and the abovementioned Fedor Emelianenko?

Hendo is a man of great pride and he has aged gracefully. I’m sure he as well as any of his fans believe he’s capable of putting on even more fights but what if he isn’t? As a Hendo fan, I would hate to see him get trashed on his way out of MMA.

One Punch

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One punch. Sometimes that’s all it takes to end a fight. And it can happen at any moment against anyone. It happened to Anderson Silva against Chris Weidman, the greatest mixed martial artist of his time flattened by a punch. Hendo and Belfort are both familiar with the power both possess. Whether it is Hendo who uncorks an “H Bomb” and floors Belfort or the Phenom finally accomplishes what over 30 fighters couldn’t and that is to stop Hendo in his tracks with punches (or a kick).

If Belfort loses, he’d be slightly derailed from his hopes of another title shot (since the fight is taking place at light heavyweight, he will still be technically unbeaten at middleweight since losing to Anderson Silva). But if Hendo loses, this could put him on the verge like what Frank Mir is currently facing.

If Hendo wins however and if he does so in spectacular fashion, he’ll be back in the hunt since the only men who have beaten Belfort in the UFC are or will be in the Hall of Fame. One punch could change Hendo’s fortunes: back in title contention or one step closer to retirement or the purgatory of the gatekeeper status.

As such, this would be Hendo’s most important match. It isn’t for a title. It isn’t of the same magnitude as the Fedor or Anderson Silva fight and it likely isn’t Hendo’s last. But it could very well be one that would define his legacy. One punch: Hendo goes back on the road to the title… or the road to the end.

Link

The Fight of the Year You (Probably) Didn’t Watch

November 19, 2011

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Two men engaged in one of the greatest fights in combat sports history. Both men traded blows in a back-and-forth tilt that left both exhausted, bloodied but not broken.  It wasn’t only the Fight of the Night, but the Fight of the Year. And maybe the Fight of the Decade. And only 269,000 people got to see it.

No, I’m not talking about the legendary Dan Henderson – Mauricio “Shogun” Rua fight, which aired at the same time on the UFC 139 PPV. I’m talking about Bellator LVIII, which aired for free on MTV2. The best thing? It’s still available on Youtube for free courtesy of Bellator. Check it out:

The Greatest Lightweights outside the UFC

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Michael Chandler. Eddie Alvarez. If you’re a casual MMA fan – and by that I mean you only occasionally catch a UFC PPV in a bar and any names outside of Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, GSP and Dana White are foreign to you – then the likelihood is you have not heard of either fighter.

Michael Chandler is currently ranked as the #4 Lightweight in the world by Sherdog and may be the best current lightweight not in the UFC. An NCAA Division I wrestler, Chandler is undefeated at 12-0 with 10 of those wins coming via stoppage (5 KO, 5 submission). Among his notable wins are the aforementioned Eddie Alvarez (below), Rick Hawn, Tristar Gym teammate of UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and longtime pioneer Akihiro Gono. Chandler’s muscular physique, strong ground game and heavy hands have many comparing him as a “mini-GSP” and the comparisons are not too outlandish if you look at his body of work.

Eddie Alvarez is currently ranked as the #9 Lightweight in the world by Sherdog and is the former Bellator Lightweight champion. Before he lost the title to Michael Chandler, he was pretty much Bellator’s alpha dog. As one of the company’s pioneers, he was its first ever lightweight champion and posted a seven-fight winning streak beating UFC vets Josh Neer and Roger Huerta and current Featherweight champion, Pat Curran in the process. Overall he sports a 24-3 record with 14 wins coming via KO and 7 by submission. Alvarez is one of the better boxers in MMA but most notable would be his ability to recover quickly despite being rocked in his fights.

The Road to the Rematch

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Since their epic title fight two years ago, Chandler and Alvarez have been on a collision course right back to each other. It was only a matter of time before they finally faced each other again. Pardon another UFC reference but it isn’t too different from Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, two premiere fighters who were a cut above the rest. Chandler and Alvarez have mowed down the competition at lightweight.

Michael Chandler has finished his last three opponents, the aforementioned longtime MMA vet Akihiro Gono in a non-title bout, Rick Hawn and David Rickels. Chandler never looked in danger in any of the fights, ending two of them in under a minute into the first round!

Eddie Alvarez had a more interesting story. After his loss to Chandler, he would knock out renowned Japanese submissionist, Shinya Aoki, avenging his previous loss from Dream. Rolling on that momentum, he would then knock out Patricky Freire in one round. Then a contract dispute had Alvarez verbally agree to fight for the UFC until Bellator invoked a clause to re-sign him and all the legal battles ensued.

With that thankfully settled, the rematch two-years-in-the-making HAD to happen.

Bellator CVI: Michael Chandler vs Eddie Alvarez II – All on the Line

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The Lightweight World Championship is the most obvious prize on the line in the fight but it comes down to more than that. These two are the best fighters in the company and two top ten lightweights. Whoever wins this would hold not only the title but bragging rights as the company’s alpha dog.

Michael Chandler is fighting for his undefeated streak. He’s fighting to prove his win over Alvarez in the first fight wasn’t a fluke and he’s fighting to keep solidifying his legacy as one of the greatest lightweight MMA fighters to have ever stepped into the cage.

Eddie Alvarez will be fighting to regain his championship, a title he held and practically owned for two years since its inception in 2009. He’s fighting to beat the only guy who has beaten him within the company and the only guy to have knocked him down his throne. He’s also fighting to win back his spot in the UFC should he have future plans to sign with the bigger company. Dana said he won’t sign any losers. Consider his rematch with Chandler Alvarez’s audition into the big boys club.
Both fighters will also be fighting to make a bigger mark for the company. Bellator, despite being the second largest MMA circuit in the USA is still a relative unknown to the eyes of most casual fight fans and is still dwarfed by the UFC. Another exciting clash that would garner “Fight of the Year” could mean an inevitable trilogy fight putting Chandler and Alvarez and Bellator in an iconic position if only ever for this series of fights.

Bellator CVI

Main Card (Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET)

Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez
King Mo Lawal vs. Emanuel Newton
Pat Curran vs. Daniel Straus
Joe Riggs vs. Mike Bronzoulis
Mike Richman vs. Akop Stepanyan

Undercard (Watch live here at 7 p.m. ET)
Joe Williams vs. Jesse Juarez
Brandon Halsey vs. Hector Ramirez
Mike Guymon vs. Aaron Miller
Joe Camacho vs. Cleber Luciano
Darren Smith vs. Josh Smith

 

Link

UFC Fight Night 30: Enter the Dragon

*Betting Odds courtesy of MMA Mania

Lyoto Machida (-360) vs Mark Munoz (+300)

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Former Light Heavyweight Champion and karate master Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida makes his middleweight debut against Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machin” Munoz. Machida comes in as a late replacement to Michael Bisping who pulled out due to an eye injury. Munoz has won three of his last four with his defeat coming to new Middleweight Champion, Chris Weidman. The winner of this fight will make a strong case for a title shot in the division’s short but growing list of contenders.

Machida Wins: if he stops Munoz’s takedowns and keeps the fight standing; Machida has fought and defeated a lot of wrestlers so Munoz’s skillset isn’t anything new. His biggest challenge may be to finish the fight as his fighting style tends to be iffy with judges as his last two decisions have revealed.

Munoz Wins: if he is able to take Machida down and neutralize him long enough to prevent him from scoring points on strikes; Phil Davis won a disputed split decision against him by simply taking him down enough times to win the judges and Munoz could benefit from the same tactic. It’s a tall task to say the least but the only other option is to Stand and Wang.

My Pick: I liked Munoz’s chances of dragging Bisping to a decision victory but The Dragon presents a steeper challenge. Munoz has never fought a striker of Machida’s caliber while wrestlers are a dime-a-dozen to Machida. I give Munoz plenty of credit in making this a dangerous fight for Machida but it’ll be The Dragon who comes out arms raised: Machida by unanimous decision.

Ross Pearson (+120) vs Melvin Guillard (-140)

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The co-main event pits explosive strikers, Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson against Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard. Pearson is on a roll with two TKO wins and Guillard off of a big KO of his own. Both fighters have striking backgrounds:  Pearson in Taekwondo and Guillard in boxing. Whatever happens, this fight will have some fireworks.

Pearson Wins: if he uses his Judo/BJJ background to tap out Guillard or keep the fight on the ground, away from his greatest strength: his punching power. He can also catch Guillard in the right spot and knock him out. Pearson has KO power (5 KO wins) but standing and banging with one of the division’s most lethal strikers doesn’t favour the Brit.

Guillard Wins: if he engages Pearson in an all-out brawl and avoids his submission attempts; Pearson has big knockout power but Guillard may be the strongest puncher in the lightweight division (20 KO wins). A toe-to-toe showdown with the brawling Brit favours the more heavy-handed American.

My Pick: This is a bad stylistic matchup for Pearson who I feel will want to put on a show for his people. He’s tough as nails having only been knocked out twice in 21 fights but Guillard’s power is on another level. Pearson could submit Guillard alternatively but not before Guillard can put his hands on him: Guillard by round 1 TKO.

 

Jimi Manuwa (-170) vs Ryan Jimmo (+150)

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A battle of hard-hitting heavyweights pits the undefeated Jimi “Posterboy” Manuwa against Ryan “Big Deal” Jimmo; Manuwa has won both his UFC fights by way of knockout and may be the next big prospect in a division desperately looking for contenders. Jimmo on the other hand is 2-1 with the UFC with a spectacular seven-second knockout of Anthony Perosh. There’s good chances someone gets flattened and whoever does it could be joining the division’s top ten sooner than later.

Manuwa wins: if he keeps the fight standing and bangs with Jimmo; he runs the risk of getting knocked out by a heavy-handed Jimmo but he’s easily the more explosive of the two. None of his opponents have made it to a decision and 12 of his 13 wins have come via KO. He has a BJJ background but he’d be hard-pressed to use it against the bigger wrestler.

Jimmo wins: if he is able to control Manuwa on the ground or up against the cage like he did in his last fight against Igor Pokrajac. Jimmo is a dangerous striker but if he’s outgunned, he’ll utilize his wrestling and hope to grind his opponent out to a decision win; boring, but effective.

My Pick: I’d like to believe Manuwa keeps his undefeated and stoppage streak going but Jimmo is a hulking wrestler who’ll keep Manuwa down and keep him there lest he tags him with a few good hits for a surprise TKO win: Jimmo by unanimous decision.

BEST OF THE REST

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Norman Parke (-155) vs Jon Tuck (+135)

Stormin’ Norman Parke going up against Jon “Super Saiyan” Tuck; two tough submissionists who are relatively new to the company. Tuck has some power in his fists but Parke looks like a kid raised from stone. This could be a sleeper Fight of the Night contender. Norman Parke via split decision.

Alessio Sakara (-220) vs Nicholas Musoke (+180)

It’s about time “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara got back on the win column. His explosive striking ability will be a rough welcome for UFC newcomer, Nicholas Musoke. The Swede has the looks of a legit fighter but Sakara will come in like a rabid dog fighting for what could be its last meal. Alessio Sakara via round 2 TKO.

Phil Harris (+315) vs John Lineker (-380)

John Lineker wants a title shot should he get by hometown boy, Phil Harris. The Englishman is a crafty BJJ expert but Lineker is one of the bigger flyweights having fought to as heavy as lightweight. His explosive power has yielded him 3 straight wins and he’ll keep rolling this Saturday. John Lineker via round 1 TKO.