The UFC has been delivering the very best stage of combined martial arts motion out there for near 30 years. In that point, the Las Vegas-based group has promoted thousands of fights. A few of these have been fairly forgettable, loads of others have been good, and a choose few have gone down as the most effective UFC fights of all time.
The listing of iconic UFC fights appears to get longer yearly, and 2021 has been no exception to that rule. This yr gave us epic battles like Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega, Petr Yan vs. Cory Sandhagen, Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler, and Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar. Even so, there are a number of fights that stand head and shoulders above the remaining. We’ve carried out our greatest to slender that listing right down to 10.
Maintain studying for our roundup of the most effective UFC fights of all time, all of which might be seen legally on UFC Fight Pass, the promotion’s official streaming service. Though a few of these bouts are over a decade previous, they’re nonetheless sending shockwaves via the MMA universe.
The Greatest UFC Fights of All Time
10. Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor, 2016
5 years since an unimaginable combat 🙌 pic.twitter.com/JRCfpWK0rr
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) August 20, 2021
Few MMA-related lists are full with out some mention of McGregor (for higher or worse), and this one isn’t any exception. He’s recognized for making knockout wins look easy, however in the summertime of 2016, the Irish celebrity was dragged right into a grueling, 25-minute battle along with his chief nemesis, Nate Diaz.
Diaz and McGregor had already fought a number of months earlier. Diaz shocked the world in that combat by handing the Irishman his first UFC loss with a second-round submission. Heading into the rematch, anticipation couldn’t have been increased.
The second combat was a nail-biter, and the 2 welterweights engaged in a razor-close battle via all 5 rounds. Diaz landed barely extra important strikes, connecting on 166 makes an attempt in comparison with McGregor’s 164, and in addition racked up 5:50 minutes of management time on the mat. McGregor, nevertheless, was behind the extra decisive moments of the matchup: He dropped his rival thrice.
Evidently, the judges had a tricky job on their fingers. In the long run, they handed McGregor a majority resolution win, that means two judges scored it in his favor, and the third scored the combat a draw.
Similar to that, the 2 superstars had been tied 1–1. The grounds for a trilogy have existed ever since, however it hasn’t occurred but. Don’t be stunned if that lastly modifications in 2022.
9. Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar, 2005
#OnThisDay in 2005: The combat that modified all the things between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar!
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) April 9, 2021
MMA is best now than it ever has been earlier than. A superb combat as we speak is objectively higher than a great combat from the early days of the game, as coaching practices have improved dramatically and fighters have change into extra expert consequently. Even so, we’ve acquired to present it up for the classics, and none maintain a candle to the 2005 gentle heavyweight combat between Forrest Griffin and Stefan Bonnar.
Griffin and Bonnar met within the finale of the primary season of The Final Fighter actuality present, a time when the UFC was struggling to interrupt into the mainstream. The 2 gentle heavyweights helped the promotion just do that: The three-round slugfest was a dazzler, and Griffin in the end received by resolution.
It was hardly a technical combat, however it didn’t matter. The aggression and grit of each males left jaws on the ground, and it helped introduce an entire new crop of followers to the UFC.
8. Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson, 2017
Relive the epic battle between Justin Gaethje and Michael Johnson pic.twitter.com/PgqqoAfauz
— FOX Sports activities: UFC (@UFCONFOX) April 14, 2018
Robbie Lawler is the one fighter to seem twice on this listing, however Justin Gaethje practically did, too. Over the course of his unimaginable profession, the American light-weight has participated in a protracted listing of unforgettable battles, a lot of which arguably rank among the many better of all time.
However the most effective combat of Gaethje’s legendary profession occurred in 2017. After a formidable reign because the World Collection of Combating light-weight champ, he made his Octagon debut reverse Michael Johnson. Gaethje was unbeaten on the time, and he was among the many most hyped fighters in MMA. But Johnson very practically spoiled the undefeated star’s debut by pushing him to the brink of consciousness within the early going.
In a show of unimaginable toughness and coronary heart, nevertheless, Gaethje surged again for a second-round knockout win—bolstering his resume with not solely a traditional combat however one of many sport’s nice comebacks.
7. Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit, 2016
#OnThisDay in 2016 – Lawler and Condit gave us a FOTY to recollect 😳[ Watch more on @UFCFightPass ] pic.twitter.com/RviRhXNAh4
— UFC (@ufc) January 2, 2021
From the second it was introduced that Robbie Lawler would defend his welterweight title towards Carlos Condit in early 2016, MMA followers anticipated an unimaginable combat. The 2 welterweights had been each regarded among the many most fun fighters within the sport, and with a title on the road, drama appeared assured.
In the long run, the combat surpassed all expectations. The pair engaged in a wild hanging battle for the total 5 rounds, bombing one another with the form of heavy artillery that might have simply worn out lesser fighters.
Lawler received the combat by way of break up resolution, however many followers felt Condit ought to have gotten the nod—and that verdict continues to be debated as we speak. Somehow, the combat was the most effective ever.
6. Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry, 2011
A combat doesn’t must final a number of rounds to be nice. Heavyweights Pat Barry and Cheick Kongo proved that after they collided within the Octagon in 2011.
This one acquired loopy shortly. Minutes into the combat, Barry despatched Kongo crashing to the canvas with a crackling proper hand, and as soon as he had the Frenchman harm, he didn’t let up. Kongo absorbed punch after punch, clinging to consciousness by his fingernails—to the purpose that commentator Joe Rogan prematurely declared, “It’s over.”
It was not.
Simply when it appeared like Kongo couldn’t probably take one other punch, and the referee appeared able to intervene, the Frenchman surged again and floored Barry with a punch of his personal. A number of punches later, it was over—this time for actual, as Barry stared up on the Jumbotron along with his again on the ground.
Kongo had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in one of the dramatic one-round fights of all time. Critically, watch this one. You are able to do it in much less time than it takes to heat up a plate of leftovers.
5. “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier, 2012
Subsequent time you’re attempting to introduce any individual to MMA, present them the 2012 featherweight combat between “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier.
This combat was lots like Costco—it had all the things. From wild hanging exchanges, to blindingly quick scrambles, to slick submission makes an attempt, each weapon within the MMA arsenal was on full show. It was additionally capped off by one of many rarer submissions in MMA: Jung tapped Poirier with a fourth-round D’arce Choke.
For some cause, this one appears to be forgotten when followers debate the most effective fights of all time, however make no mistake: It belongs on this listing.
4. Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk, 2020
Rewatch the combat that had everyone screaming “OH!” 😮
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 28, 2020
Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s 2020 strawweight title combat isn’t simply the most effective girls’s bouts of all time, it’s the most effective fights ever, interval.
On the time of the combat, China’s Zhang was the reigning champion. She was on a staggering 21-fight win streak and appeared to make it to 22 towards Jedrzejczyk, probably the most dominant champ within the division’s historical past.
The 2 strawweight stars set to work early and didn’t cease till the ultimate bell: They threw a dizzying 783 strikes mixed. The 25-minute firefight took an immense bodily toll on each girls; Zhang’s face was purple with bruising and Jedrzejczyk, extra notably, sustained a grotesque hematoma that made her brow swell up like a balloon.
It was a blinding show of method and toughness, and a must-watch for anyone seeking to get acquainted with the most effective fights in UFC historical past. A rematch also feels inevitable.
3. Jon Jones vs. Alexanders Gustafsson, 2013
#OnThisDay in 2013: A traditional between Jon Jones and Alexanders Gustafsson!
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) September 21, 2021
By the point Jon Jones stepped into the cage with Alexanders Gustafsson in 2013, Jones was already thought of unbeatable within the eyes of many followers. Since profitable the sunshine heavyweight title with a TKO win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in 2011, the American had defended it six occasions towards a formidable procession of expert fighters: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, and Chael Sonnen.
After these performances, Gustafsson simply didn’t appear to have a shot.
In the long run, nevertheless, the unheralded Swede gave Jones the hardest combat of his whole profession. He matched the dominating champion along with his footwork and shocked onlookers by taking him down. It was a traditional instance of an underdog rising to the event.
Sadly for Gustafsson, the judges in the end awarded Jones a unanimous resolution win, however the combat was adequate to earn each fighters a spot within the MMA historical past books.
2. Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, 2011
#OnThisDay 10 years in the past, Dan Henderson & Shogun Rua had a battle for the ages 👊[ via @UFCOnThisDay @UFCFightPass ] pic.twitter.com/adP5TEBBkQ
— UFC (@ufc) November 19, 2021
Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, two of the best gentle heavyweights in MMA historical past, got here up collectively in PRIDE however by no means met within the now-defunct Japanese promotion’s ring. After migrating to the UFC, they lastly got here face-to-face within the Octagon in 2011—and their combat was completely value ready for.
By that time, each gentle heavyweights had confirmed they possessed ferocious knockout energy and superhuman sturdiness, and each displayed these traits in spades within the Octagon. The 2 legends cudgeled one another for 5 wild rounds and repeatedly pushed one another to the brink of defeat. Miraculously, each males had been nonetheless aware by the point the combat concluded.
In the long run, Henderson was awarded a unanimous resolution win, however the combat was shut sufficient that the pair had been slated for a rematch in 2014. That point round, Henderson picked up a extra decisive win, stopping his rival with a vicious volley within the third spherical.
1. Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald, 2015
Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald’s legendary between-rounds staredown passed off six years in the past as we speak at UFC 189 😳 pic.twitter.com/Bo2oEVoLtM
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 11, 2021
Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald’s first combat, which the previous received by break up resolution in 2013, was good, however in no way a traditional. But when the 2 welterweights met once more in 2015, this time with Lawler’s title on the road, it turned out to be the most effective fights ever—perhaps even the most effective outright.
The 2 welterweight stars wasted no time portray the Octagon flooring purple. By the point the fourth spherical was winding down, each males had been practically unrecognizable because of the bruising and cuts they’d sustained, and the depth contained in the MGM Grand Backyard Enviornment couldn’t have been increased—thanks largely to Lawler giving MacDonald a murderous stare proper because the spherical concluded.
In the long run, Lawler put a stamp on issues within the fifth spherical, flooring MacDonald with a fist to the nostril, however it was the form of combat with no actual losers: an all-time traditional that also holds up as we speak.
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