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Best UFC Fights of All Time No One Expected

UFC’s Shockingly Good Fights You couldn’t Bet On

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has grown hugely in popularity over recent years. But which are the best fights? And which threw up the biggest surprises? We’ve picked out a small selection of the best, and most surprising, fights the UFC has ever witnessed.

Lawler versus Condit (2016)

It wasn’t expected to be a bad fight, with two skilled welterweights going at it hammer and tongs, but the matchup between Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit turned out to be an all time great fight. Condit burst out of the blocks and made all the running early on, with thrice as many strikes as Lawler in the opening round.

But in round two, Condit ran into a brick wall. Or, more precisely, Lawler’s right hand. The strike introduced Condit to the floor. But to the crowd’s surprise, Condit recovered and managed to see out the second round.

The third round had Lawler opting for a cagey strategy of ripostes, whilst Condit went for aggression, peppering his foe with strikes. Condit was overwhelming in the fourth round, but in the fifth it was Lawler who seemed on the brink of knocking out his opponent, with Condit throwing punch after punch. It was tight in the octagon and tight amongst the judges, but Lawler narrowly defended his title. Lawler versus Condit was a classic.

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Rousey versus Holm (2015)

Ronda Rousey is a legend of the martial arts scene, the only woman to headline a UFC pay-per-view event, and voted in an ESPN poll to be the best female athlete of all time. Like Schumacher or Woods, she’s a figure who transcends her sport so that even those with zero interest in UFC have probably heard of her. No wonder she was heavy favorite with the bookies against Holly Holm in 2015. She was longer than 8/1, which in a two horse race is pretty enormous.

The problem was that nobody had told Holm the script. And the great thing about sport is that sometimes the underdog has a lot more bite than anyone ever expected. The fight, meant to be a crushing victory for Rousey, ended in the second round when Holm knocked her opponent out with a kick to the head.

And that was no fluke, no stroke of improbable luck. Holm had more than twice the strikes that Rousey managed during their six minutes. Holm said she was surprised to get the title call so early in her career. She wasn’t the only one who got a surprise with how things turned out.

The loss effectively ended Rousey’s career. She did return to face Amanda Nunes in 2016, but got knocked out within a minute.

Edgar versus Maynard (2011)

On the first day of 2011, there was a rematch between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, the only man who had defeated him in the UFC. At that time the two men had been rising stars, but, unlike the earlier bout, this one had a title on the line, with Edgar defending his lightweight title.

The first round was brutal for Edgar, with Maynard knocking him down three times in what must be one of the most one-sided rounds the UFC has ever seen. Edgar may have surprised even himself with how well he responded, landing some big hits in the second round and taking down Maynard for good measure.

The pendulum swung back to Maynard in the third round, and then back to Edgar in the fourth, where the title defender dominated the strike count and bagged a couple of takedowns too. Perhaps fatigue finally set in because the fifth was closer, with neither man getting knocked down and strikes pretty similar. The judges’ verdict was that this most dramatic of bouts was a draw.

It was the narrowest of title defences, and a third bout would be fought between the men later that year, with Edgar knocking out Maynard in the fourth round.

Dana White himself compared the bout to Rocky, and after the pounding Edgar took in the first round, only to dig deep and come back, it’s a fitting analogy.

Future Classic?

Fighters have shifted weight categories for some classic bouts (Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao spring to mind), and it could happen in UFC as it has done in the past, but in the not too distant future. Heavyweight Francis Ngannou, ranked number 2, recently rejected a proposed fight against Alexander Volkov. He told TMZ this was on grounds of short notice, and that he felt Volkov wasn’t on his level.

Ngannou could fight the lightweight champion Jon Jones, but the main problem is the weight difference (254 against 205 pounds, which isn’t insurmountable but is significant enough to be difficult). If the two fighters were to agree to compromise and meet one another halfway, this could be the best way out of it, and such a bout seems likely to garner a lot of interest (and, therefore, money). But it remains to be seen if Jones is interested.

The thing about shock results and astounding bouts is that you usually can’t predict when they’re going to happen. Who would’ve guessed Edgar would retain his title after Maynard dominated him in the first round? Or that Holm would knock Rousey out? And that’s why watching live sport is so compelling.



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