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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!

UFC Fight Night 29 Main Card Picks!!

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DEMIAN MAIA (#4) VS JAKE SHIELDS

I see this fight going in two directions: the first (and one I’m praying for) is going to be a major treat for jiu-jitsu fans as Shields and Maia, two BJJ black belts and premiere grapplers go into a grappling war of the ages.

In 48 combined fights neither fighter has been submitted. They’re both aggressive and wear out their opponents to a scorecard win or a submission (19 combined submission victories). Height, reach and age are all pretty identical.

Of course the second (worst-case) scenario is both – well aware of each other’s expertise – decide to rely on their… not-so-exciting stand-up games. Shields despite having a kickboxing background leaves much to be desired in his striking and Maia (though improved) has rarely shown a penchant for standing and banging.

Maia is undefeated as a welterweight having dominant victories including one over Jon Fitch. Shields on the other hand looks to be a bad loss away from the firing squad. If Shields doesn’t enter this fight with the same ruthless aggression Maia will, it might be a really short – or really long night for him.

Result: Maia via unanimous decision

ERICK SILVA VS DONG HYUN KIM

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A fight between two welterweight prospects who people have forgotten. They’re outside the top 10 but a huge win here could push them in. Dong Hyun Kim has won his last two and his only losses have come against former Interim champ Carlos Condit and Demian Maia. Erick Silva is coming off a tough loss to the gritty Jon Fitch but has three 1st round submission wins. He’s a BJJ Muay thai expert in the mold of Anderson Silva – his mentor and training partner.

“Stun Gun” is a big dominating wrestler and the only fighter who’s outgrappled him was Maia, who was a former middleweight title contender. Depending how well Silva’s improved his grappling and takedown defense, I see Kim Jon Fitch-ing Silva all over again. But Silva is a creative striker and submissionist and has more than likely learned from his run-in with Fitch.

This fight has an eerie resonance with the Jacare and Okami fight: the Brazilian BJJ Muay Thai expert going up against the big strong Asian wrestler. I love Silva’s promise – call me a fanboy but I’m all on board his bandwagon like everyone’s on Jacare’s. Fitch was also a better wrestler than Kim. Silva wasn’t dominated by Fitch in fact coming close to submitting him – twice. He may just pull that off against Kim – if he doesn’t knock him out first. Either scenario is likely to happen, so my gut says.

Result: Erick Silva via round 1 TKO

THIAGO SILVA VS HATT HAMILL

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A clash between two light heavyweight gatekeepers. Matt Hamill and Thiago Silva weren’t doing so hot until their recent victories over Roger Hollett and Rafael Cavalcante, respectively. Silva was and still is one of the premiere light heavyweights in the UFC. Only has 3 losses and 2 came to former champions (Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans) with Alex Gustafsson – who most recently gave #1 P4P king Jon “Bones” Jones a run for his money – is the third. Of his 15 wins, 14 have ended in stoppage with 12 coming via knockout.

Matt Hamill pretty much grew up in the octagon; all but one of his fights have occurred within the UFC. He’s a decorated wrestler being a former NCAA Division III champion and Deaflympics silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling. He also has heavy hands (6 wins via KO).

Tough fight. Silva is younger and has twice the fighting experience and has more to prove after having two recent wins forfeited due to failing the post-drug tests. Can’t count out Hamill either. Regardless who wins, this fight may not make it out of round 1.

Result: Thiago Silva via round 1 KO

FABIO MALDONALDO VS JOEY BELTRAN

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What do you get when you pit two granite-chinned strikers fighting for their jobs as part of the main card? The “Just bleed” Fight of the Year contender over here. Fabio Maldonaldo and Joey Beltran are relative unknowns in the casual MMA world but after this fight they may just be legendary.

Fabio Maldonaldo was already legendary in his own right. He was an unbeaten boxer posting 22 wins, 21 coming by KO. 12 of his 19 MMA wins have come via the knockout. But most impressive of all was how he took over a dozen of Glover Teixeira’s biggest bombs and continued to fight back, even clipping Glover a few times.

Joey Beltran burst into the scene by knocking out Rolles Gracie Jr. He also holds a knockout win over former UFC-er Houston Alexander. Though his record (3-5) with the company doesn’t show it, he’s been an underrated undercard talent having two Fight of the Nights to his name.

Honestly, in a slug fest like this it’s a toss up. It’s not really the result we’re after, it’s the showdown. But I’ll say the only fighter tougher than Fabio Maldonaldo is Fabio Maldonaldo after eating Chuck Norris.He should outlast Beltran in what should be one of the most brutal bangers of the year.

Result: Maldonaldo via TKO round 2

ROUSIMAR PALHARES VS MIKE PIERCE

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Another great grappling contest between two hulks in their own right. Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares got his nickname meaning “Tree Stump” for his little muscular build. He’s 5’8″ and fought to as high as light heavyweight.  Mike Pierce is built similarly. And they both like to get down and dirty.

Palhares paved a steady 7-4 record as a middleweight, many of those wins coming by some of the craziest submissions (two submission of the nights). But back-to-back losses by stoppage has him moving down to welterweight, his first foray into the division.

Mike Pierce on the other hand has been an elite gatekeeper (if there ever was one) in the welterweight division posting a 9-3 record with those losses all coming to former title contenders and elite wrestlers. Since then, he’s won his last 4 fights, finishing half of them by knockout. In his 22 career fights, he has never been finished.

Palhares and Pierce would be interesting to say the least but unless Palhares catches one of Pierce’s limbs for him to eat break, Pierce would grind him into a tree stump. He has heavy hands and has better stand-up and has wrestled much better grapplers.

Result: Mike Pierce via round 2 TKO

RAPHAEL ASSUNҪÃO (#5) VS T.J. DILLASHAW (#9)

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A battle of rising bantamweights. The 5th ranked Assunção is undefeated (4-0) since cutting down from featherweight and after his loss in the The Ultimate Fighter finale to (now flyweight contender) John Dodson, Dillashaw has rattled off 4 straight wins of his own. Whoever wins this fight could be one fight away from a title shot.

I’m biased towards Team Alpha Male fighters especially now that Duane Ludwig has taken them to a new level with greatly improved striking. Dillashaw could be the next coming of Urijah Faber and seems to be on a path to greatness but Assunção’s experience and size would pose considerable problems for Dillashaw. In a grappling match, I generally favour the more experienced larger fighter but you can’t discount talent, something I feel Dillashaw has more of.

Dillashaw will be in for the biggest fight of his career and while my head keeps telling me to pick the bigger, stronger, grittier Assunção, I’ll go with the gut and pick the fighter with the more upside. Chalk it up to Team Alpha Male and Duane Ludwig for another big W.  Keep the streak going.

Result: Dillashaw via unanimous decision

Greatest Upset in MMA History – not really

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That is exactly what transpired on UFC 162.

Then the questions came like a torrent: did Anderson Silva lose on purpose? Was it finally just Silva’s time to be humbled? Was it simply poetic justice that the showboater gets his just desserts? Whatever reason it was, it just shows the impact.

The majority of Anderson Silva’s wins have come from him counter-punching and striking down his foes. That is also why he’s constantly goading his opponents. It all started with the Demian Maia fight. It’s always worked since until Chael Sonnen exposed his kryptonite: the ground game. Wrasslin’.

Chris Weidman was an undefeated (9-0) powerful wrestler hot off the gates. Everyone knew his potential. Guys with championship pedigree like Georges St. Pierre and Frank Mir  boldly predicted him to upset Anderson Silva. Heck, Chael Sonnen is also picking him to win and if anyone knows Silva’s weakness it’s him:

Georges St. Pierre:

I believe it’s a bad matchup for Anderson Silva. Very bad, style wise. Anderson’s weaknesses are Weidman’s strengths. I’ve trained with Weidman and his wrestling is on another level. Not only is Chris Weidman going to beat Anderson Silva, I believe he’s going to finish Anderson.

Frank Mir:

Anderson has shown one weakness – he can be controlled on the ground by powerful wrestlers – and Weidman is the most powerful wrestler there is in the division.

Chael Sonnen:

I think Weidman takes Anderson down at will, I think he blows past Anderson’s guard, and I think he finishes him. Taking Anderson down isn’t a hard thing to do.

And that’s only discussing his wrestling ability. Weidman has knockout power in those fists. He hasn’t finished a lot of guys via KO. In fact he’s only done it twice but in two notable fashions: his first knockout came against Uriah Hall who is one of the more lethal strikers in the middleweight division. But check out how Weidman puts out Hall:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lAo_eAM_Hsg#t=239s

Poor quality, but Weidman hits Hall with a left punch right in the chin similar to where Weidman caught Anderson Silva:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/mma/ufc/watch-ufc-central-on-sportsnet-see-chris-weidman-knockout-anderson-silva/

What’s worth noting is Uriah Hall has an 80.5 inch reach compared to Anderson SIlva’s 77.6 inch reach. Chris Weidman is familiar with striking with an opponent who has long reach.

His most latest KO before Silva was Mark Munoz, who coincidentally won his fight last night as well. Munoz has never been stopped at middleweight but Weidman put him out with an elbow, not too unlike Anderson Silva in the creative department:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bXNXkoilRQ

Needless to say, Weidman’s hype had the evidence to make it look real. Chris Weidman was legit.

Silva is a cocky guy and one might think he stayed a champion without having to overexert himself and used his supreme striking skills to put away each guy. But I’m sure he does his research right? Why would you goad a guy who has knockout power at a reach that can very well catch you?

He didn’t throw the fight. But he certainly didn’t seem like he was in any way trying to win it either. Silva’s done some somewhat “strange” things during the fight promotion most notably his amiable demeanor towards Weidman going as far as this:

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Symbolic for passing of the torch? I’m being too dramatic here right? After, Silva said it’s all just promo:

http://youtu.be/gguPLDzkZJI?t=31s

Maybe he foresaw his own defeat at the hands of a legitimate threat who could potentially outwrestle him like Chael Sonnen did?

The other side of the equation is Anderson Silva and camp simply didn’t do their research enough or he simply let his arrogance cloud his better judgment and got clipped as a result. It doesn’t make sense from a fighter’s objective perspective since Silva didn’t even win the first round.

Weidman was able to briefly showcase why he was so hyped. He took Silva down within the first minute of the first round and managed to almost get him into a leg submission that it looked like for a brief moment the Spider would get caught and tap. But he got out of there alarmingly quick.

You’d think since Silva lost the first round he’d get fired up and attempt to finish Weidman or go after him more fiercely. But in true Spider fashion, he threw caution to the wind and began taunting Weidman and dropping his hands choosing to dodge Weidman’s flurry of punches ala Spider-Man style until a few of those punches finally found their mark ending his night quite abruptly.

The impact of Weidman’s stunning upset – the entire bar I was in fell eerily silent as I’m sure happened everywhere else outside Weidman’s hometown – will forever be foreshadowed  by Anderson Silva’s careless conceitedness.

I was literally the only person applauding in the crowd but I wasn’t sure if I applauded Weidman’s win or Silva getting beaten for making a mockery of an honourable sport. Maybe both. Or maybe I just applauded seeing something that I would’ve thought to only see in pro wrestling. Did Vince buy the UFC from Dana overnight? Is that what’s up?

It wasn’t about Weidman pulling off the upset of the decade, it wasn’t about Anderson Silva going down in a blaze of glory leading many to question his career and it certainly wasn’t a fight for the ages. It was a cautionary tale of fighting etiquette coming from the fighter many consider to be the greatest mixed martial artist ever. It was a tale of the greatest fighter making a costly arrogant error more so than the underdog pulling off the win for the ages.

Silva needs to challenge Weidman again for that belt but I wouldn’t blame him if he just retired given how he’s never taken the sport seriously since God knows when. But for justice’s sake and if Silva still has any pride left he would at least attempt to reclaim the belt and maybe we would actually see the legitimate fight we all came to expect.