In honour of Sportsnet Magazine’s The Big Book of Sports Lists, we look back at 10 of the greatest UFC fights that lived up to the hype and often exceeded it.
Review the fights below then vote on your favourite.
Watch the Sportsnet special, Sportsnet Magazine Big Book of Lists: UFC – Ten Great Fights that Lived up to the Hype, airing on Thursday night first on Sportsnet ONE at 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT, then later on all main Sportsnet channels (check local listings).
Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin, UFC 116
In a battle of two of the biggest, strongest athletes to ever compete in the sport, the MMA world was buzzing about this bout between behemoths. Lesnar withstood a first-round beat-down only to recover and submit Carwin in the second round to retain his UFC heavyweight title.
Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard 3, UFC 136
Coming off a split draw in their classic UFC 125 scrap, someone needed to make a statement in the trilogy match. The fight began like their previous bout with Maynard nearly finishing Edgar in the first, but the Rocky-like Edgar regained his composure and picked up a huge knockout win in the fourth round.
Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick, UFC 129
In front of over 55,000 boisterous fans at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Hominick gave Aldo the toughest test of his UFC career. After losing the first four rounds, and developing an enormous hematoma on his forehead, the underdog dominated Aldo in the fifth round. The Canadian would lose a unanimous decision, but endeared himself to MMA fans across the world.
Stephan Bonnar vs. Forrest Griffin, TUF 1 Finale
It’s a fight that changed the UFC and MMA forever. Griffin and Bonnar brawled for three full rounds in one of the most fan-friendly fights of all-time. Both went on to have successful UFC careers and were inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame together in July because of this fight.
Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida, TUF 9 Finale
Known as two of the most intense and exciting fighters in the UFC, fans had this matchup circled on their calendars for months leading up to fight night. The two engaged for 15 of the wildest, bloodiest minutes in UFC history with Sanchez earning a split decision win and a lightweight title shot.
Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva, UFC 79
This was perhaps the most highly anticipated fight in MMA history as the longtime UFC champ Liddell faced the longtime Pride champ Silva in a bout fans had been fantasizing about for years. Liddell and Silva gave the fans what they craved and traded power shots for the majority of the 15-minute tilt that Liddell won.
Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg 2, UFC 52
Hughes and Trigg had one of the most intense rivalries in the sport at the time and Hughes wanted to prove his UFC 45 win over Trigg was no fluke. A minute into their rematch, Trigg landed a low blow but it was missed by the referee and Trigg looked to capitalize. Hughes went into survival mode, fought off a submission and eventually picked Trigg up, carried him across the cage and infamously slammed him down, eventually locking in a rear-naked choke just like he did in their first meeting.
Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio (Shogun) Rua, UFC 139
An instant classic between two legends. Although both men were rocked at different points in the first three rounds, Henderson got the better of Rua and inflicted a ton of damage. In the final two rounds, though, Rua stormed back. Many felt the fight should have been a draw, but Hendo edged out Shogun for a decision win.
Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen 1, UFC 117
This was the first fight where someone made Silva look human for more than one round. The trash-talking Sonnen dominated Silva for four and a half rounds, but Silva locked in a triangle choke that forced Sonnen to tap, despite the fact he was less than two minutes away from becoming the new champion.
Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry, UFC Live 4
No one expected this fight to last long since Kongo and Barry were two of the most dynamic heavyweight strikers. After Barry dropped Kongo several times early it appeared as though Barry would walk away with another impressive stoppage win. Out of nowhere, a wobbly Kongo put Barry to sleep with an uppercut in one of the best comebacks in UFC history.