The 20th anniversary of the UFC seems to be getting as much pomp and circumstance as UFC 100 did. The UFC has been curiously quiet about it in light of UFC 167 happening this weekend. You’d think they would have more than just a two hour special rehashing everything in their history but alas … with 20 years worth of fisticuffs down, and hopefully 20 more to go, the Inside Fights staff have combed through their memories to find their fondest memories of the UFC.
Daniel Sohn, Staff Writer
GSP takes a title and Matt Hughes passes the torch at UFC 65
This moment had so many implications that in retrospect, it is one of the truly special moments in the history of the UFC and all of MMA. It was a rematch, an old-school vs. youngster showdown and a title fight with two of the best fighters of all time, all rolled up into one.
GSP had Hughes on the defensive in their first fight until the savvy veteran capitalized on the overly-aggressive St. Pierre and submitted him with an armbar. St. Pierre bounced back from that loss and came back even stronger for their second meeting, where the hero-worship was gone and the supremely confident, killer instinct of St. Pierre took over.
Matt Hughes was one of the most dominant fighters of his era, if not the most dominant period, and set the bar for any welterweight fighter to come after him. At that time, Hughes was the best welterweight mixed martial artist ever. So it was going to take someone special to take that away from him while he was still in his prime. Georges St. Pierre was that person.
We saw a passing of the torch that night, the title changing hands from one of the greatest and most dominant champions ever, to another warrior who would eventually prove to be an even greater and more dominant champion and one of the most popular fighters in the world. Granted, GSP would go on to lose in a monumental upset to Matt Serra, but he would quickly avenge that hiccup to start his long reign as the king of the UFC’s welterweight division for the last five-plus years.
GSP avenged his loss to Hughes with a spectacular performance and highlight reel finish, defeated the best welterweight fighter in the world and won his long-awaited welterweight crown. We saw St. Pierre’s dreams come true that night and his reaction after the fight was stopped was priceless.
It was a rare moment in MMA and for the UFC and we may never see anything quite like that again.
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz, Managing Editor/Featured Columnist
Tito’s Final Grave Digger – Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader, UFC 132
You can watch the fight here.
Tito Ortiz was the reason why I got into MMA in the first place. He had that “it” factor you couldn’t deny and watching him fall from grace, and keep falling, was hard. As a writer I don’t have fighters I’m a fan of anymore, of course, but before I started writing about MMA I made sure to see Ortiz fight every time. Seeing him on such a profound losing streak was disenchanting, of course, and I thought Tito was done when he stepped into the cage against Ryan Bader.
Bader was a better version of Matt Hamill, who roundly thumped Tito. The fact that he’s Tito Ortiz kept him in the UFC during this streak, nothing more, and I thought the Bader fight would be nothing more than a glorified retirement beating. I thought this was a nice rebound win for Bader after being choked out by Jon Jones, nothing more, and that Bader’s rebuilding would be starting with being the man who retired Tito.
And then Tito connected with a big uppercut, grabbed a guillotine and pulled guard. When Bader tapped we all momentarily forgot that Tito was still Tito. For a brief moment he was once again “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” digging a grave for another victim.
Ryan Frederick, Staff Writer
Clay Guida and Roger Huerta get a little bloody at The Ultimate Fighter Season 6 Finale
You can watch it by clicking here.
When it comes down to trying to pick a favorite moment of the UFC’s 20-year history, there are a lot of moments. Chris Weidman knocking Anderson Silva out. Georges St. Pierre dropping to his knees and asking for a title shot. Brock Lesnar going crazy following his win against Frank Mir at UFC 100. And, having been to a lot of UFC events over the years, there is nothing more exciting than feeling a crowd during a big fight when the guys are walking towards the Octagon and stepping in, with Bruce Buffer announcing them and whatever referee assigned to the fight telling them it is time to go to war.
However, for me, as a pure fan of the sport, my favorite moments are the fights themselves. It is why we all watch them. I was thinking of what my favorite fight of all time was recently, and it is the same it has been for nearly six years. The incredible war between Roger Huerta and Clay Guida at The Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale in December 2007. It sometimes gets lost in the lists of best fights, but the heart both men displayed in the fight and the incredible amount of energy before the small crowd at The Palms Casino in Las Vegas was tremendous, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more fun fight in the UFC’s history. It is my favorite fight of all time, and my most memorable one as well.
Luke Cho-Yee, Staff Writer
UFC 79 Gives Us The Pride vs. UFC Fight we never received in Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva
No rivalry captured the intensity of the UFC vs. Pride quite like that of “The Ice Man” Chuck Liddell and “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva. When the two fighters finally met at UFC 79 it would be the culmination of a feud that transcended way beyond the two fighters and had raged between UFC and Pride fans for years.
Sure there would be other fights that had more on the line, like Rampage vs. Henderson and Nogueira vs. Sylvia but the UFC/Pride conflict was captured in its most potent and purest form by the two men who had ruled their respective 205lb divisions for so long and with complete and utter dominance. Yes their stars had been diminished by damaging defeats and yes they were past their absolute best, yet after so many years in the making, so many near misses and close calls, the most eagerly anticipated fight of its era became a reality and none of that seemed to matter any more.
The UFC has gone on to become the worlds premier mixed martial arts organization yet for that one night it felt as though time had stood still, that UFC fans and Pride fans came together as MMA fans, knowing they had witnessed something very special – a rivalry for which we are unlikely to ever see the likes of again.
Adam Keyes, Staff Writer
Jose Aldo Leaves Cage to embrace the hometown crowd after knocking out Chad Mendes
When I was asked for my favourite moment of the past 20 years of the UFC, the glaringly obvious did not rush to prominence in my mind. No Royce Gracie, no Griffin-Bonnar, no UFC 100. For me, my standout moment came at UFC 142.
At UFC 142, top billing was given to the UFC’s featherweight championship. The 145lbs kingpin Jose Aldo was given the task of welcoming the undefeated Team Alpha Male product Chad Mendes to his home country of Brazil in what was one of the early events of the UFC’s first true assault on the nation.
After a feeling out process in the early stages, late on in the first round Mendes had managed to use his wrestling and superior physical ability to pin Aldo up against the fence with a standing body lock. As the clap sounded and the seconds ticked away, Aldo burst out of the hold, spun and unleashed a knee to Mendes’ forehead that sent the Californian skidding. A few short shots to a prone Mendes later and the fight was over. My favourite moment was just about to begin.
In the pandemonium of such a sudden conclusion, Aldo darted for the first Octagon door to open and headed straight for the delirious crowd. Aldo soon disappeared in to an ever-swelling mass of bodies and only emerged on the shoulders on a fan who carried the champion back to the Octagon amidst a din of fanatical chanting. This was a moment when it seemed that the sport had truly connected with its fans.
For those in attendance or watching live it was a special moment. This was no Pat Cash moment at the Wimbledon final in 1987, where from that one spontaneous act has become almost an expectant manoeuvre; it has never been repeated and this has contributed some way in retaining its appeal. This was a one off, a real moment. A moment that encapsulates why I love this sport and the moment that instantly sprung to my mind when asked.
Tags: Mixed Martial Arts