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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
Quite obvious. Pay your respects!