Greatest ever UFC fights ahead of Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson, including Shogun Rua vs Dan Henderson and Robbie Lawler v Rory MacDonald
At UFC’s final pay-per-view event of 2018, fans will be treated to a rematch that promises something special.
Jon Jones returns to the octagon having not fought since July 2017 and will meet Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC 232 at The Forum in California on December 29.
The two had one of the most memorable battles in combat history at UFC 165 in 2013, as Jones came back from the brink of defeat to win.
Ahead of that bout, talkSPORT.com has put together a list of the greatest fights to ever take place in the UFC.
8. Frank Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz UFC 22- 1999
Talk about the pre-Zuffa era in the UFC and most people will tell you this was its greatest bout.
Named fighter of the decade by Wrestling Observer for the 90’s, Frank, brother of Ken, took on the brash self-styled Huntington Beach Bad Boy for the light heavyweight championship.
Ortiz had already beaten two of Shamrock’s Lion’s Den stablemates and in one of the most infamous moments in the company’s history in 1999, Ortiz put on a t-shirt after the Guy Mezger win, which read, ‘Gay Mezger is my B****,’ prompting a furious reaction from the camp.
On fight night, Ortiz was naturally the bigger man and used it to his advantage as he took down Shamrock at will over the course of the first three rounds, even sticking his finger in one of his cuts.
However, the tide had begun to turn and Shamrock was now the aggressor, sensing Ortiz was fading, he turned his exhausted opponent over with a guillotine and began unleashing punches and elbows to make him tap with 10 seconds remaining. It was awarded fight of the year for 1999.
7. Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen UFC 117 – 2010
This was one of the most anticipated fights in MMA history, let alone the UFC.
Sonnen was at his trash talking best as he looked to get under the skin of Silva, the long-time middleweight king who had not come close to losing in four years.
The American promised to put Silva on his back more than “a hooker with a mortgage” but many questioned whether Sonnen could back up his pre-fight boasts.
And he did just that. Once the formalities had been exchanged, the former University of Oregon Division One All-American wrestle brutalised Silva for four rounds, controlling the fight both standing and on the ground, making his revered opponent look average.
Silva found some success at the end of the fourth, catching Sonnen with vicious elbow strikes, knowing only a knockout would win it for him. Swinging wildly from top position, Sonnen was caught by Silva in a triangle choke and had no choice but to submit.
6. Junior Dos Santos vs Cain Velasquez 3 UFC 166 – 2013
Prior to their final meeting, the pair had met twice before. Dos Santos flattened Velasquez in their first fight after just 61 seconds and after the Mexican blamed his loss on an injury, a rematch was booked for UFC 155.
A relentless barrage of offence overwhelmed Dos Santos, turning his face into a crimson mask and Velasquez became the first and only fighter in the competition’s history to land a 100 or more significant strikes.
Their conclusive bout, at UFC 166, was very similar to the third, both men landed huge, heavy punches and somehow Dos Santos survived a third round knockdown to continue on, before eventually succumbing to the punishment in the final round.
5. Chuck Lidell vs Wanderlei Silva UFC 79 – 2007
Despite both men being well past their prime, it was still a dream fight, one which many MMA advocates thought they would never see.
Once the UFC poster boy with his trademark mohican and instantly recognisable blue shorts, Liddell had lost his last two fights, having dominated the light heavyweight division for years.
Thunderstorm echoed around the Mandalay Bay,as the ‘Axe Murderer’ stood on the other side of the octagon and fans watched with baited breath.
The pair exchanged blows for three straight rounds at a frantic pace and in the end, it was Liddell who earned the unanimous decision.
4. Stephan Bonnar vs Forest Griffin: The Ultimate Fighter finale – 2005
The inaugural Ultimate Fighter finale was the first to ever enter into the Hall of Fame.
It’s hard to argue against UFC president Dana White calling the light heavyweight match “the most important fight in UFC history.”
Although White is prone to exaggeration, there is no denying just how much of a turning point this clash from the company’s reality TV show, The Ultimate Fighter, was in gaining wider acceptance from the American public when the sport was still seen as human cock-fighting.
For 15 minutes, both men pummelled each other in a fight that was viciously resembling of a bar brawl as the baying crowd soaked up every minute of the action, with Griffin emerging triumphant.
3. Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson UFC 165 – 2013
Bloodied and battered at the end, both men looked at each other with respect. They knew what the other had been through.
There is a tendency to exaggerate what the underdog -Gustafsson in this case – is doing when he fights the overwhelming favourite so well because he is defying expectation. Many would have been pleased if the Swede made it to the final round. He did and more.
Both men traded shots, dishing out punishment at will. The challenger landed combinations and took down the champion for the first time. Jones respondrf with a series of sickening head kicks and a highlight reel spinning elbow. With Vaseline smeared over his cut eyelids, Jones looked at the clock as he hung on to edge the most harrowing fight of his career.
2. Shogun Rua v Dan Henderson UFC 139 -2011
After the fight, Henderson lay on his dressing room floor holding an ice bag, as he was being administrated a drip. Exhausted but victorious, it was a truly amazing fight.
Their heroics had been likened to the ‘Thriller in Manilla’ by Dana White and this recent bout of hyperbole from the UFC boss was justified. Henderson dominated the early stages, but Rua fought back and amid the submission attempts and swapping of leather, it was a technically sound fight of the highest order.
Someone had to lose and when the scorecards read 48-47 in favour of Henderson, no one questioned the winner.
1. Robbie Lawler v Rory MacDonald UFC 189 -2015
This was a classic. An epic, brutal fight showing just what two men will do in order to achieve greatness.
At the end of the fourth round, Lawler spat blood from his mouth and made eye contact with the battered features of his opponent.
Despite busting each other open and MacDonald’s nose horribly disfigured, neither man slowed down, but someone had to give and in the end it was MacDonald who was pounded into defeat.
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