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wandshogun09

2010-19 in MMA: Top 25 Fights Of The Decade

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Since we’re about to enter a new decade, I’m going on a bit of a trip down memory lane. As the thread title says, this is going to be my Top 25 fights of the decade. Looking back over the last 10 years, it’s been harder to narrow it down and put them in order than I imagined. This is what I’ve settled on now. The Top 5 or so is pretty concrete, 6-25 the order might change slightly depending on the day. But here goes. 

I’m going to watch and review each fight as well. Just to refresh my memory and to help me rank them. Some of these fights I haven’t seen in years either, so it’ll be cool to revisit them. 

Off we go. 

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#25 - Miesha Tate vs Ronda Rousey 1 - Strikeforce - Mar 3rd 2012

OK, some backstory to this one. This fight came at a time when women’s MMA was gaining momentum but hadn’t quite made it yet. They’d been close before with Gina Carano’s popularity but that came crashing to a halt when Gina got wrecked by Cyborg in 2009.

Miesha Tate was 12-2 coming into this one and coming off a 6 fight winning streak. She’d won the title in her previous fight, submitting Marloes Coenen in a gutsy comeback performance in July 2011. Rousey had just burst on the scene. She’d only turned pro a year earlier but had already gone 4-0 with 4 submissions, all in under a minute. Couple that with her Olympic bronze medal in Judo, her ties to Gene LeBell, her looks and being a gobby fucker, she got put on the fastrack by Scott Coker. The fight got made and a rivalry was born. 

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Miesha had taken exception to Ronda getting a title shot so quickly into her career. Miesha basically thought, as they say in wrasslin’, that Ronda never paid her dues. 

“Honestly, I just don’t think that she was next in line. I think she’s done great so far. She’s had a really impressive career, but I think she’s still new. She’s only a year into her career. I’m about six. She kind of talked herself into a title fight. I’m going to be very excited to send her to where I think she belongs, and that’s the back of the line.” - Miesha Tate 

That kind of talk didn’t go down well and Ronda’s response, summed up, was a big ‘fuck you’. They got off on the wrong foot from day one. 

This quote from Ronda before this fight hasn’t exactly aged well; 

“Everyone is so concerned with me getting a big ego, but when I go home they keep me in check. They always tell me the things I need to work on. When I’m home I’m surrounded by a very good group of people. I keep myself separate from the people who tell me I’m awesome all of the time. The group of people I have keep me grounded.” - Ronda Rousey

Hmmmm. How’d that work out? 

Anyway, Coker is no dummy. He had these two women who could both fight, had a natural dislike of each other and a feud brewing, were both marketable and both would look good on the posters. All they had to do was deliver in the cage. 

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Miesha Tate (c) vs Ronda Rousey - Bantamweight Title 

Strikeforce: Tate vs Rousey

March 3rd 2012

Columbus, Ohio

Rewatching now, they really did a stellar job promoting this fight. Coker, Tate and Rousey. And by the time they faced off at the weigh in, things were getting heated. 

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The pre-fight video package is really well done as well. If this was your introduction to both women, and it was for most, it told you everything you needed to know. Ronda had lost her Dad at a young age and fell short of winning Olympic gold like he’d always dreamed of for her. This was her chance at redemption, to be the ‘best in the world’ and honour her old man. Miesha’s story was that she’d taken the hard route to the title and wasn’t about to let this mouthy Judo girl come in at 4-0 and take her belt. Add in the bitchy comments and this was all you needed to get invested. 

“Everything about her is better on paper. Her fights look better on paper. Her photos look better on paper than she does in person. Her trash talking, it looks much better on paper than it actually is if you listen to her talk.” - Ronda Rousey

Ouch. 

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Round 1: They waste ZERO time going after each other. Miesha comes right out swinging and Ronda looks a bit uncomfortable. Her chin is straight up in the air just asking to be tagged. But she manages to grab Miesha and take her down. From there a mad scramble ensues. Ronda is still really raw and wild here with it only being her 5th fight. She’s going all out for the armbar early doors here. She’s just a little too high on the arm to really manipulate the joint of the elbow but it still looks nasty. Tate manages to escape and the crowd is going bonkers. She’s on top now. 

They trade positions with Ronda hitting a nice trip before Tate gets to her feet and starts to land some punches again. Ronda’s had enough of this and busts out a sweet Judo hip throw...

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I love seeing Judo in MMA. I remember when I first started watching the UFC and seeing Karo Parisyan launching bodies 360 through the air and thinking it was the coolest shit I’d ever seen. So I was marking out for this. Ronda goes from side control and gets mount and then takes the back. She then transitions to the arm and this just feels like a death sentence. It’s just a matter of time. 

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Tate fights it as long as she can but her arm gets all kinds of jacked up and she’s forced to tap. As you can see, Tate’s elbow is all mangled and twisted up. One of the more gruesome armbars I’ve seen in MMA. 

Winner - Ronda Rousey by submission. Round 1 - 4:27.

One of the best one round fights you’ll ever see. There were no handshakes or hugs after the fight. Ronda’s post-fight interview was a mix of emotion. One minute she’s thanking her teammates and dedicating the win to her Dad. Then Mauro Ranallo asks her about what she thought of Tate’s performance and she shows no remorse whatsoever. Saying ”She’s good, she’s legit but...I don’t feel that bad about it.” 

This whole thing was a home run. From the buildup to the buzz pre-fight to the fight itself to the brutal finish to the post-fight pandemonium. It’s a rollercoaster. And it’s actually a historical fight as this was really the turning point for women’s MMA. This fight. Before Tate vs Rousey 1, Dana White was dead against women fighting in the UFC. Ever. He wouldn’t even entertain questions from the media about it. After this fight, he softened his stance and within a year, women were throwing down in the Octagon. 

Of course, the Ronda vs Miesha handbags weren’t done there. The rivalry was rekindled in 2013 when they were pitted against each other as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter. 

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It wound up being one of the last great seasons of TUF. I was a huge fan of Ronda at the time but she was car crash viewing on this series. From breaking down in tears all the time to throwing tantrums to getting aggressive to mad shit like cutting weight for the coaches challenge when she didn’t even have to, just to prove a point.

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She was nuts. Looking back, this was our first glimpse into her not exactly being cut out for the mental side of MMA. She was unhinged. I loved her at this point though. I was Team Ronda for that whole buildup. Tate did a good job of winding her up on TUF, she really got under her thin skin. But it was never going to help her in the fight and by the time the TUF Finale arrived, Ronda was in no mood for any more talking. 

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The rematch took place at UFC 168 in December 2013. It ended up as kind of an extended version of the first fight. Miesha survived until the third round this time but Ronda ultimately armbarred her again going 2-0 up in the feud. The bad blood still wasn’t over though, as Ronda was having none of Miesha’s offer of a post-fight handshake.

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As far as I know, they still detest each other.

As we know now, Ronda ended up fizzling out big time and left the sport on a sour note in late 2017. She’ll be remembered by as many people for being a sore loser as she will for all those mad sub-one minute victories. It’s kind of sad but it’s her own doing. The way she left, I actually think she tarnished her own image more than the losses to Holm and Nunes ever did. And Tate’s retired as well now. Off doing the mum thing. Regardless, these two will always be linked. Their first fight opened up the UFC’s doors for women and is the reason we’ve seen great fighters like Amanda Nunes, Valentina Shevchenko, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Cris Cyborg, Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weili in the Octagon during this decade. 

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13 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

Before Tate vs Rousey 1, Dana White was dead against women fighting in the UFC. Ever. He wouldn’t even entertain questions from the media about it. After this fight, he softened his stance and within a year, women were throwing down in the Octagon. 

 Aye.

This video surfaced in January of 2011. In it, White claims, albeit with a smile on his face, that women would never fight in the UFC. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4X6cUOQv6w

White and the UFC actually considered booking a female bout between Erica Montoya and Shelby Walker in early 2005, but eventually decided against it. Despite Cyborg and Carano's popularity later in the 2000s, the UFC remained lukewarm towards female fighting until 2011. I agree with those who say that the UFC were concerned that female fighting would not be well received and hamper their growing popularity. Even Coker had to battle with Showtime to get them to show female fighting. It was quite clear that some were not comfortable with women beating the crap out of one another, even in a sporting context. 

I think Showtime, Strikeforce and Carano set the table for Rousey. They gave her the platform she needed to catch Dana's attention. But, as you said Wand, Rousey's personality, fighting style, etc, certainly helped. She made female MMA marketable and something the UFC could potentially make money out of. Without her, it would have probably taken longer for Dana to change his tune. 

Edited by jimufctna24

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39 minutes ago, jimufctna24 said:

White and the UFC actually considered booking a female bout between Erica Montoya and Shelby Walker in early 2005, but eventually decided against it. 

Forgot all about that but I vaguely recall reading about it years back now you mention it. 

Shelby Walker died in 2006. She was only 31 as well. Really sad story. She was in a relationship with Denis Kang at the time and they were engaged. Kang’s career really dropped off a cliff after Walker died. He was 27-7-1-2 at the time of her death and on a 22 fight unbeaten streak. After she died he went 8-9-1. He hasn’t fought now since 2012. 

I only remember Erica Montoya from the old UFC Sudden Impact game for the PlayStation. She was the only woman in the game and I wondered why she was on it as I’d never seen her, or any woman, fight in MMA at that point. 

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@wandshogun09

Informative stuff. Didn't know any of that about Kang and Walker. I actually owned the Sudden Impact game. It wasn't a patch on the Pride game released in 2003. 

Anyway, looking forward reading to the rest of your list. I suspect Robbie Lawler will feature quite a bit. 

Edited by jimufctna24

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OK, one more and that’ll do for tonight.

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#24 - Brock Lesnar vs Shane Carwin - UFC 116 - Jul 3rd 2010

This felt like a proper Clash Of The Titans at the time. This fight more than any other, represents that era of the big gorilla Heavyweights that was ushered in around 2008ish. Before that we’d had to endure the Tim Sylvia reign of terror which mostly consisted of dull fights, uninteresting opponents and soiled fight shorts. But when Randy Couture took the strap from Big Timmy in March 2008, everyone woke from the nightmare and by the end of that year the landscape of the UFC’s Heavyweight division had completely changed. Although faded versions of their once great selves, Pride veterans Mirko Cro Cop and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira had made the jump in 2007 and given the division a new lick of paint. Then in 2008, within about a 6 month span, we saw the Octagon debuts of Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin and Junior Dos Santos. Times were changing and the future was finally looking a bit brighter for the UFC’s big boy division. 

Everyone on here knows Brock’s story. He came into the UFC at 1-0 in MMA. But because of his name value from his WWE days, the kind of money he was on meant there’d be no easing him in gently. He was straight in the deep end. Lost his debut to former UFC champ and smug shithouse Frank Mir. But then turned things around big time to beat the way more experienced Heath Herring. In just his fourth MMA fight, he TKO’d the legendary Randy Couture to become UFC Heavyweight champion. He followed that up by pulverising Frank Mir at UFC 100. Avenging his only defeat at that time, as well as shutting the mouth (briefly anyway) of Wank Frank. It was beautiful. Still probably the most satisfying fight I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. 

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Carwin had made his MMA debut in 2005 and had compiled a perfect record of 12-0 with 12 first round knockouts. Five of them in less than a minute! A fucking destroyer of a man. Built like a silverback and just crushing poor sods left and right. I was in attendance for his fight against Neil Wain back in 2008 at UFC 89 in Birmingham. And I still vividly remember the frightening sound his punches made during the ground and pound. It sounded like someone was dropping mallets on the canvas.

His first real test came in 2009 when he was matched up with Gabriel Gonzaga. For the first time, Carwin showed a bit of vulnerability that night as Gonzaga clipped and wobbled him early. But Carwin responded by throwing a right hand that just melted Gonzaga where he stood and that was that. 

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It seemed like just a matter of time until him and Brock would collide. But things were about to get rocky. 

After Brock beat Mir at UFC 100, he was very briefly linked to a mega fight with Fedor Emelianenko. This was when Affliction had gone bust and Dana and the Fertittas were balls deep into trying to sign Fedor. I remember it like it was yesterday. The talk at the time was that the UFC offered Fedor a huge deal financially and that the plan was to do Brock vs Fedor that November. I was checking the MMA sites every 5 minutes for updates at the time. The main sticking points reported were that Fedor’s side didn’t like Dana’s attitude and that they wanted every Fedor fight to be co-promoted by M-1. Suffice to say, the talks quickly crumbled. Fedor signed with Strikeforce. The UFC switched their focus to Brock facing a new contender. Shane Carwin. 

Lesnar vs Carwin was supposed to go down at UFC 106 in November 2009. Which was the rumoured card for Brock vs Fedor originally. But Brock pulled out with an illness. It was rescheduled for UFC 108 in January 2010 but Brock withdrew again due to illness. It turned out this illness was mononucleosis, and later diverticulitis. He was suffering bad. So bad that Dana publicly announced that Brock wouldn’t be back for a while and in the meantime created an Interim title fight between Carwin and former champ Frank Mir so the division could move on in Brock’s absence. 

Carwin wrecked Mir (good man) at UFC 111 in March 2010 to become Interim champion. Brock was on the mend by this point and in attendance. The two had a little face off after the fight. 

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And while Brock looked to have the slight edge in size, talk started rumbling online about the size of Carwin’s fists. Seriously, get a closer look at this shit...

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Christ. Carwin had some paws on him, didn’t he? Joe Rogan used to jizz himself dry talking about the fact that the UFC had to make a special set of gloves for Carwin because their standard XXL didn’t fit him. He had fucking frying pans on the end of his arms. 

Anyway, the fight was made official. Lesnar vs Carwin was finally going to happen. Champion vs Interim Champion. 

“It was a good fight but he’s wearing a belt that’s a make-believe belt. I’ve got the real championship belt.” - Brock Lesnar

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Brock Lesnar (c) vs Shane Carwin (ic) - Heavyweight Title

UFC 116: Lesnar vs Carwin

July 3rd 2010

Las Vegas, Nevada

Even the walkout songs here are pure pro wrestling. Shane Carwin comes out to that ‘Let The Bodies Hit The Floor’ song. Which I only recognise as the theme song for SummerSlam back in the day. Brock comes out to ‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallica. ECW, ECW, ECW! He’s not carrying a Singapore cane or smashing beer cans into his head though sadly. 

Here we go. 

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Round 1: They’re cautious for the first 20 seconds or so and then BANG. Carwin cracks him and Brock panic-shoots for the takedown immediately. And fails. This doesn’t look good at all. First exchange and Big Brock’s already been waffled and had his first takedown stuffed. Then it happens. Carwin gets through with a left uppercut that stuns Brock. And as Tazz used to say, here comes the pain...

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Carwin swarms all over him. Absolutely batters him. Brock goes down and Carwin just starts crashing down with those sledgehammer fists. 

“He’s in big, big trouble. And we’ve never seen him, ever, in a position even remotely close to this before.” - Joe Rogan

Brock looks fucked. Carwin’s shots here aren’t all haymakers but they don’t need to be. He’s connecting and he doesn’t need much space to generate power. Brock’s face tells the story.

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A lot of refs would’ve stopped this. Especially today. But Josh Rosenthal lets it go. Turns out that was the correct call as Brock miraculously manages to escape this hell and get back to his feet with about a minute left in the round. Brock just holds him against the fence and lands a few knees. He’s just trying to regroup at this point and see out the round. Round ends and it’s a clear 10-8 for Carwin. But he’s breathing heavily as he goes to his corner. Remember, at this point he’d never gone past a round before. 

We’re set for the second round. Brock looks happy. 

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Round 2: They size each other up for about the first minute. Then Brock shoots for a takedown. And gets it easily. Uh oh. Carwin is clearly knackered. He put up no real resistance to that takedown and now Brock’s setting up the slowest arm triangle ever and Carwin’s still can’t do anything about it. Brock locks it up and hops into mount and then to side control. And he puts the big squeeze on as Carwin’s head changes colour at quite an alarming rate. Rogan keeps insisting that Brock doesn’t have it all the way tight and Carwin is OK but he’s clearly not. 

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He taps just as Rogan is saying he’s safe. It’s over. I think the sheer size and bulk of Carwin’s neck, shoulders and traps worked against him there and made the choke tighter than it looked. Couple that with Carwin being gassed and he wasn’t getting out of that. 

Winner - Brock Lesnar by submission. Round 2 - 2:19.

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OK yeah, after Carwin’s 3 minute assault in the first round dies down, it’s not the most amazing fight. But the drama of it was off the charts. Especially watching it live at the time. Brock’s comeback was insane. Nobody had survived a round against Carwin and Brock came back from an absolute nightmare of a first round to put him away. It’s Brock’s best win for me. For all the criticisms against him as a fighter, a lot of them valid, you can’t not respect a win like this. 

This was one of those magical nights in MMA. I remember the whole card being fantastic. Probably one of the best in UFC history to this day. And this fight just topped it off. These lads even showed up...

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Goldberg, The Rock and Steve Austin. Now that’s a stable. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman were also in attendance. And I think The Undertaker might’ve been there as well. It was great to see.

We didn’t know it at the time but this wound up being the peak for Brock in the UFC. Just 3 months later he got smashed to bits by Cain Velasquez and lost the title. A year after that he got done in a round by Alistair Overeem. And aside from popping back in to beat Mark Hunt at UFC 200, and then fail a drug test, that’s been it for him in MMA. Carwin only fought once more after the Brock fight, losing a one sided decision to Junior Dos Santos in 2011.

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#23 - Gilbert Melendez vs Diego Sanchez - UFC 166 - Oct 19th 2013

These two had trained together a bit a few years before this fight but other than that there’s no real backstory or buildup to this one. It was just one of those fights that was booked because it sounded like it was almost guaranteed to be awesome. There’s a long history of Mexican fighters generally being known for having wars. Especially in Boxing. And when you put two of them against each other it could really be something special. The Marco Antonio Barrera vs Erik Morales trilogy immediately springs to mind. Then you look at these two. Melendez had been in those incredible battles against Josh Thomson in Strikeforce, he had that great fight with Tatsuya Kawajiri in Pride. Sanchez had those classics against Karo Parisyan, Nick Diaz, Clay Guida, Martin Kampmann etc. There are never any dead certs in MMA. But when the UFC announced that Melendez vs Sanchez was going down, you just knew it was either ending quick or we were getting a FOTY candidate. The ingredients for anything less simply weren’t there. 

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Gilbert Melendez vs Diego Sanchez 

UFC 166: Velasquez vs Dos Santos 3

October 19th 2013

Houston, Texas 

Fuck me, I’ve seen this before, I already know what happens. But watching Diego’s walkout here still gives me that goosebumpy feeling as if I don’t know what’s about to happen. He’s coming out to some cool sounding Latino Hip Hop song and screaming in his cornerman’s face while he slaps the shit out of him. 

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Mad bastard. No wonder his chin isn’t what it used to be. He was getting smacked about by his own cornerman before he even got in the cage. Melendez is out now and we’re ready to go. 

Round 1: To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Diego comes flying out and is immediately putting the pressure on. It’s started well for him as he’s got Gilbert down in less than 30 seconds and he has his back and is going for a choke. It’s brief though and Gil shakes him off. Back on the feet and Melendez is getting the better of it. He starts finding a home for his punches and it isn’t long before Diego’s cut above the eye. Of course he is. Diego bleeds more often than Ric Flair in the 80s. It’s a pretty standard one sided round for Gilbert until about the last 40 seconds when Diego lands a nice body kick and suddenly goes berserker mode. He brings the aggression and they both tee off in the last 10 seconds but Gil scores a flash knockdown. Definitely a Melendez round. 10-9.

They’re working on Diego’s cut between rounds and it’s fucking vile. He’s split wide open above the left eye. 

Round 2: More trading leather now. There’s a real sense of urgency from Diego, well even more than usual, now he’s got that cut to think about. He’s going for it. 

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“You know what, there’s some fights we think are gonna be great and they turn out to be stinkers. This was impossible to be a stinker. I’ve never seen either one of these guys be in a boring fight.” - Joe Rogan

Melendez is the sharper of the two. He’s landing cleaner and more consistently in the exchanges. Diego just won’t fuck off though. He’s like a Mexican Michael Myers. But Gilbert just seems to have answers for everything. He’s outstriking Diego pretty clearly and he’s stopping all his takedown attempts. Another 10-9 for Melendez. 

Greg Jackson is telling Diego he needs a knockout to win the fight. Diego’s face is falling off but he looks more than up for giving that KO a good old try. Not even a hint of fear or doubt on his lunatic face. 

Round 3: The round starts off with more of the same. Melendez just potshotting away. Then all of a sudden they go mental again like the end of the first round. Gilbert is still landing the better stuff but Diego’s constant pressure and attacking is insane. Every time he gets tagged he just gets more aggressive. 

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“Diego Sanchez is a savage!” - Joe Rogan

But it’s not looking good. There’s under 3 minutes left of the fight and the doctor wants to check Diego’s cut. His face is covered in blood and it’s pissed all down his chest as well. They let him fight on and Diego comes at Gil with everything he’s got left.

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The crowd is going nuts chanting for Diego now. They both start throwing hands again.

DIEGO DROPS HIM WITH AN UPPERCUT!

Completely forgot about that. He’s got Gil’s back. I know he doesn’t win but...DOES he actually win? He goes for a guillotine but Melendez gets out. Crowd’s going mental now. Gil’s back up landing big shots. This is mad. 10 second horn goes and they both just swing for the fences until the end. Diego took that last round so I’ve got it 29-28 for Melendez. 

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Winner - Gilbert Melendez by unanimous decision.

The crowd actually booed the decision. I mean, I love Diego as much as any MMA fan but that was a clear Melendez win despite Diego’s late surge. 

Nutty fight though. Rogan starts shouting that it’s the greatest fight he’s ever seen in his life. Steady on. It wasn’t even the greatest fight that year. It was bags of fun though. Don’t think I’d seen it since the night it happened so I really enjoyed seeing it again. 

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Classic. 

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#22 - Korean Zombie vs Yair Rodriguez - UFC Fight Night - Nov 10th 2018

This was the 25th Anniversary show for the UFC. And the Octagon was back at the scene of the crime in Denver, the same city as UFC 1 back in 1993. The whole thing had a bit of a nostalgic feel to it and the UFC even went with a bit of the old SEG era presentation with the graphics and the old school logo on the mat and stuff. 

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This was a cool touch. But while the look and presentation of the show was old school, the main event that night would be the polar opposite. Chan Sung Jung and Yair Rodriguez are about as far removed from Keith Hackney and Harold Howard as it gets. I know some on here probably prefer the SEG boys. Regardless though, this fight was as new breed as it gets. You’ve got a nutcase in Jung busting out knockouts and submitting people with twisters. Then you’ve got Yair throwing all manner of spinning attacks and unorthodox strikes. These two resembled video game characters more than they did anyone from the early days of the UFC.

This fight kind of came together by accident though. It was supposed to be Frankie Edgar against the Zombie but just a couple of weeks before the show, Frankie pulled out injured. They announced that Yair would be the replacement and it was one of those rare occasions where the substitute actually made for a more appealing fight. I love Frankie but Zombie vs Yair just sounded like a better matchup style-wise.

“If I get punched once, I have to punch back twice. I don’t like decisions. I enjoy finishing my opponents. I’ll be fighting at the 25th Anniversary show. I will make sure it’s a fight to remember.” - Korean Zombie

Oh it’ll be memorable alright. Little did he know how much. 

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Korean Zombie vs Yair Rodriguez 

UFC Fight Night: Zombie vs Rodriguez 

November 10th 2018

Denver, Colorado 

As usual, the Zombie walks out to ‘Zombie’ by The Cranberries. One of the more underrated walkouts in MMA for me. 

Commentary team is Brendan Fitzgerald and Paul Felder. Sigh. To be fair, Fitzgerald has grown on me this year. Him and Bisping have actually been my favourite commentary duo. But this is the 25th Anniversary show and they sent the C-Team out there?

Anyway. 

Round 1: Lots of leg kicking from Yair to start off. But Jung tries to time and counter him and goes on the attack with some dirty boxing.

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Yair has some success with the leg kicks and his jab as well but it’s the Zombie who’s constantly coming forward, he has Yair backpedaling and he’s landing the bigger and more eye catching shots in the exchanges. Nice opening round. And it’s the Zombie’s for me, 10-9. 

Round 2: Yair is throwing flashier shit but for me it’s Jung who’s actually landing the more effective strikes so far. Brief time out after Yair knees Jung in the balls and they go back at it. Better round here for Rodriguez and he catches Zombie directly in the mush with a sweet spinning elbow out of nowhere as Zombie tries to bullrush...

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Beautiful. I don’t speak much Korean but I’m sure I lipread Jung channeling Nick Diaz and saying “So we’re throwing spinning shit now?” Strong finish to the round as Yair throws a flying knee and they both land some hard shots before the buzzer. Yair’s round, 10-9. 

Round 3: Zombie bleeding now. And Yair is going straight Eddy Gordo off Tekken with the old Capoeira. Yair’s landing some vicious body kicks here and you can see they’re hurting Jung. But Zombie keeps firing back with punches, starts pulling ahead as the round goes on and has Yair reeling a couple of times. It’s really heating up nicely now as the third round comes to a close. Zombie 10-9. 

Round 4: They pick up right where they left off in the third. Both bloody now and both are going for it. Yair just threw a fucking switch kick four rounds deep into a war. The nutter. It feels like the momentum is with Jung at this point in the fight though. Big right hand from the Zombie that sends Yair flying back into the fence. Definitely another round for the Korean. So I’ve got Zombie up 3-1 going into the last round. 39-37 for TKZ. 

Round 5: They actually hug at the start of the round. Then the violence commences once again. Zombie’s looking good landing some bombs but Yair is just eating them. Crazy actually that they were able to fight like this in Denver at high altitude. Big counter left from Jung...

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As the great Bobby Heenan would say, that was not fair to Yair. 

About 90 seconds left and Zombie is landing almost at will. Yair is moving well and he’s trying to make something happen but the sand timer is running empty. The crowd comes unglued as we enter the final minute. 

“I think you can expect something off the wall here towards the end of this fight from Yair Rodriguez.” - Paul Felder

Mystic Meg over here. 

10 seconds now and they’re high fiving. Get a room. They both go for one last burst. Zombie charges Yair, Yair ducks down and...

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The Zombie is OUT!

Then the buzzer goes. 

Utter chaos and confusion as the commentators and crowd try to work out what the hell just happened, if it’s going to count as a knockout or was the fight over already? But it’s soon made official. 

Winner - Yair Rodriguez by knockout. Round 5 - 4:59.

That’s right. With one bastard second to go! Yair pulls a victory from what would surely have been a defeat.

Watching this in real time I didn’t know what the fuck happened. I actually thought it might’ve been clash of heads at first. I just saw Yair duck and then Zombie went down like he’d been shot from the grassy knoll. I was looking around for Lee Harvey Oswald. Only when I saw the replays did I realise it was an elbow. 

For me this is probably the greatest knockout in UFC history. It’s either this or Edson Barboza’s spinning kick on Terry Etim for me. I think Yair-Zombie takes it though. He was ONE SECOND away from losing. For Yair to pull off that elbow, from that angle, moving backwards, in the last second of the last round. And on the sodding 25th Anniversary show of all nights. It’s going to be hard to top that. 

And because every great fight needs a cool post-fight picture, this one of Yair and the Zombie is up there. Shades of that old photo of Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward at the hospital after one of their classics. 

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Yair’s had a bit of a dodgy 2019 with the whole Jeremy Stephens eyepoke thing and subsequent ‘heel turn’. But he deserves mega credit for this win. It’s largely forgotten as well that he did it on about 2 weeks notice. Insanity.

Best thing is, a rematch doesn’t seem a million miles away. They’re both very much in the title picture at 145 so it’s certainly feasible we could see that rematch sooner rather than later. The way it ended makes it such an easy fight to promote as well. 

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Yair vs Zombie 2 anyone? 

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#21 - Anderson Silva vs Michael Bisping - UFC Fight Night - Feb 27th 2016

For the longest time, this fight seemed like it was never going to happen. The first time it was really on the radar was back in 2008 when Bisping dropped down to Middleweight. Problem was, in the Middleweight jungle, ‘The Spider’ was King. 

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At this point, Anderson was pretty much universally considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA. He’d obliterated Rich Franklin to win the title in October 2006 and went on to stop Travis Lutter, Nate Marquardt, Rich Franklin again and Dan Henderson over his next few fights. He was in the zone and just outclassing the opposition with a combination of skills and swagger that we’d never quite witnessed in MMA before. 

Bisping got off to a good start at 185, going 3-0 in 2008 before coming unstuck in brutal fashion against Hendo at UFC 100 the following year. 

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From there, Anderson continued to do his thing. He had a few lacklustre title defences and the Demian Maia fight must rank among the worst UFC title fights of all time. But the good outshone the bad and this period of his career will always be remembered more for his rivalry with Chael Sonnen, the breathtaking Vitor Belfort knockout and the night he took Forrest Griffin’s soul. In 2013 though, it all came tumbling down.

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Anderson’s reign came to an end when Chris Weidman knocked him out. The rematch ended even worse with Anderson shattering his leg on a blocked kick. He healed up and came back in 2015, outpointing Nick Diaz in a weird but oddly entertaining fight. 

But then he got USADA’d. Talk about a legacy taking a beating. In late 2012, Anderson was thought of as the GOAT by a good percentage of MMA fans, media and even his peers. By 2015, he was 0-2 to Weidman and had the stench of PED scandal on him.

During this time, Bisping had his ups and downs. He had some notable wins over the likes of Brian Stann, Cung Le, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Mayhem Miller but every time it seemed like he was getting close to that elusive title shot, he’d lose. Wanderlei Silva, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Tim Kennedy and Luke Rockhold all derailed him. He kept bouncing back but it just seemed like he’d never get over that hurdle. It was like he was destined to never get that title shot and he’d always be remembered as a nearly man. MMA’s Tim Henman. It didn’t help that a few of these losses came against fighters who had been surrounded in PED controversy themselves. The Belfort loss in particular wound up shortening Bisping’s career. 

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He suffered a detached retina when TRT Vitor knocked him out. An injury which would give him serious issues for the rest of his career. 

In late 2015, Bisping was on the rebound (again) and coming off a couple of points wins over CB Dollaway and Thales Leites. The UFC had announced that they’d be returning to London in early 2016 and the main event would be Bisping vs Gegard Mousasi. 

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But on Christmas Eve 2015, the UFC threw us a swerve and a last minute Christmas present. There’d been a change of plan and the new London main event would now be Bisping vs Anderson Silva! Came completely out of the blue at the time. It wasn’t for the title but Bisping was finally getting that crack at The Spider. 

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Never one to miss a chance to talk shit, Bisping jumped on it right away. Bringing up Silva’s run-ins with USADA. Silva stayed fairly quiet throughout the buildup and I was pretty certain that our Mike was about to get a kicking. 

The highlight of all this for me, was Bisping’s ‘go home promo’ a few days before the fight. Ariel Helwani did one of his in depth interviews with The Count. ‘A Day In London with Michael Bisping’ it was called. It was good stuff. But in the last few minutes of the interview, Bisping just dropped all the stock answers and went in. You could see how motivated he was and that it was genuine and coming from the heart. He had to win this fight. It had a real ‘now or never’ feel to it. His last chance to get that signature win over a legend that would define his career. It was a hell of a promo. Cut in the back of a London taxi of all places. 

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“I see a ground and pound victory, a ground and pound stoppage. I’m gonna put it on him from the start. He’s never fought anybody with my footwork, with my confidence, with my movement, with my variety of strikes, with my wrestling. I put it all together. I’m stronger, I’m faster, I want...listen, all that aside, cut all that bullshit! I want it more than Anderson, it’s as simple as that. I want it more. And you can’t put it any simpler than that. Everywhere he goes he has a huge entourage. The open workouts, he’s got 20 people with him. I’m there, me and my boxing coach. And you might say that’s because he’s a big star or whatever. I want this more. Friday nights I’m there by myself, pitch black, out running the pavements. Screaming because I’m pushing my body so hard, pushing it to the limit. If I’m running past people, or anyone that had their window down in their car as they’re driving, they’d think ‘this guy’s crazy’. On my own, nobody, by myself. I guarantee he’s not doing that. He doesn’t want this like I want it. FACT! And I’m gonna win this fight.” - Michael Bisping

Incredible. Thing was, his motivation was never in doubt. I still thought Anderson was going to chin him though. 

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Anderson Silva vs Michael Bisping 

UFC Fight Night: Silva vs Bisping

February 27th 2016

London, England

Here we go. This wasn’t even televised over here at the time. Can you fucking imagine? The UK’s own Bisping in his biggest fight, and an all-time great like Silva, there’s a million channels on Sky and it’s not on the telly? It was a Fight Pass exclusive. I wasn’t on board yet. I think I watched on some dodgy arse stream. 

Herb Dean’s reffing. John Gooden and Dan Hardy are doing the commentating. 

Ah fuck. This is in the early days of the Reebok uniforms where there was zero colour and everyone was dressed like fucking chessboards. You either wore black shorts with a white stripe or white shorts with a black stripe. Might as well have stuck every cunt in beige. Seeing Anderson Silva in anything other than his yellow and black shorts just looks wrong. Fuck Reebok. 

Round 1: Anderson doing his usual thing of spending the opening couple of minutes just gauging the distance and the timing etc. You get the sense right away that he’s not having an easy time reading Bisping because Bisping is constantly moving and feinting. Nothing significant happens for the first half of the round but Bisping looks good. Silva can’t really find the target. It comes alive more in the last minute and Bisping lands a couple of nice shots before the buzzer. Anderson actually looked off balance there but not sure if he got clipped or just lost his footing. More of a feeling out round. Bisping 10-9. 

Anderson went for a hug after the round and Bisping pushed him away. Ha. 

Round 2: Bisping’s feeling it now. Silva does his thing where he’s backed up on the fence dodging punches with his hands down but Bisping is landing some of them. Silva seems to be luring him in though and Bisping recognises the trap and refuses to play ball. 

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Nothing huge landing at this stage in the fight but the frantic pace and constant pressure from Bisping is insane. Anderson’s like a coiled spring though and you know he’s just waiting for his opening. It’s really engrossing to watch. He’s still doing weird shite like this...

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But there’s more of a sense of urgency to how he’s looking. He’s starting to connect a bit more. Final minute and they both want to secure the round. They collide and Bisping knocks him down with a left hook! 

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It puts Anderson on his arse and Bisping follows up with some ground and pound to close out the round. Bisping 10-9. Maybe a 10-8. Don’t know if the new scoring criteria was in effect yet at the time of this fight. 

Either way, Bisping’s two up. Anderson’s got to make something happen now. 

Round 3: Bisping still constantly moving and chipping away with his strikes. Anderson’s looking a bit flummoxed but he really turns it on late in the round. He’s proper going after Bisping now. Bisping tries to signal to Herb Dean that his mouthpiece has fallen out and right when he does that...

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Flying knee flush to the fucking face. Nearly took Bisping’s head clean off.

And then the buzzer goes. 

What follows is about a minute of total confusion and mayhem. Bisping is down. He looks fucked. Anderson has climbed on top of the fence and celebrating. He thinks the fight’s over. There’s a bunch of people in the cage. It’s a wild scene. It’s not over though. Anderson looks gutted when he realises. You can’t count out the Count yet. 

Anderson 10-8 for me. So I’ve got it 28-28 going into the fourth. 

Round 4: Bisping’s bleeding. And now he’s just been kicked in the balls. Christ, this fight has gone to shit all of a sudden for Mike. And it started so well. Bisping teeing off on Silva against the fence. Silva’s kind of taunting and he’s rolling with the shots but a lot of them are connecting. Bisping’s running away with this round with his output but Anderson lands some good strikes in the last 30 seconds or so. Tough round to score. Bisping landed so many shots for about a solid 3 minutes of the round. But Silva did more damage with his minute or so at the end. I honestly don’t know who to give that round to. 

All to play for going into the last round. 

Round 5: Bisping’s a mess now. His face is covered in blood. They’re both throwing a lot. Bisping backs Anderson against the fence again and starts throwing punches but he walks onto a front kick to the kisser that absolutely cracks him...

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That was nasty. Bisping’s legs buckle for a sec and Anderson immediately comes the fuck after him with knees. But Bisping won’t go away and fires back. This is a real battle. Bisping goes for a takedown and fails. 45 seconds left now. Bisping pouring it on. Anderson just moving. And there’s the buzzer. Silva 10-9. Could argue 10-8. 

Winner - Michael Bisping by unanimous decision. 

Not sure about that. I definitely had Bisping winning rounds 1 and 2 and Anderson taking 3 and 5. Round 4 really could go either way. But I’d probably sway towards Silva. Watching this back now, I’d give it to Anderson. But there’s been way worse decisions and Bisping fought like a fucking lion here and I can certainly see the argument for him getting the nod. Can’t begrudge him the win after a fight like that. 

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What a trooper. At the time I think a lot of people wanted Bisping to retire after that. His problems with his eye were well documented and a win over Anderson Silva, in London, seemed about as good as it was ever going to get for him. Someday he could tell the grandkids that even though he was never the UFC world champion, he beat the great Anderson Silva. 

How wrong we were.

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In June 2016, Bisping stepped in on two weeks notice and shocked the MMA world by knocking out Luke Rockhold in the first round to become the UFC Middleweight champion. The whole thing was nuts. Better than any Rocky storyline. Bisping’s 2016 is probably my favourite year of any fighter in MMA history. You couldn’t have scripted any better. There were 3 things that always came up over the years when people criticised Bisping. 1) He’d never be UFC champ. 2) He’d never beat Anderson Silva. And 3) He didn’t have any knockout power. He silenced all 3 criticisms in just 2 fights. Then topped the year off by avenging the worst defeat of his career against Dan Henderson in another FOTY contender. 

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Legend. No, he’s a MMA eye-con. You having that @Carbomb ?

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that flying knee from Silva has to be one of the hardest strikes to ever not KO someone cold, it is brutal.

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I think Bisping's performance that evening is very underrated. I've seen a few write it off due to Anderson supposedly being past his best and because he was lucky to not get stopped at the end of third. I think that perception is flawed for a few reasons. 

Most notably, as Kevin Wilson wrote earlier this year, it was actually Bisping (and his coach Jason Parillo) who figured out how to deal with the striking style that Anderson used in the Octatgon:

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For nearly a decade it seemed Silva was unbeatable, but Weidman caught him with his hands down and showed he is indeed mortal. However, it wasn’t the fights with “The All-American” that showcased the way to beat the Brazilian. Michael Bisping is the only fighter to come up with the perfect game plan to exploit his striking woes. Instead of running forward face first into counters like previous opponents, Bisping worked behind a non-committal jab and constantly used feints before coming in with a quick combo and slipping out of the way of returning strikes. Effective feinting can revoke the work of a good counter striker and make him more hesitant. The Brit knew that if he can stay on top of his feet and not overextend on strikes, this feinting would throw “The Spider” off and it worked beautifully.

Some will call me crazy, but I honestly think the fight would have played out similarly had the pair met 4-6 years earlier in the UFC when Anderson seemed unbeatable. Of course, this is on the condition that Bisping would have implemented the exact same gameplan. 

Moreover, after being chinned at the end of the 4th round, it's likely that Bisping fought the next 2 rounds with a concussion. Yet, I still gave the 4th round to him, and ended up scoring the fight 48-47 in his favour. Bisping was never the hardest to hit, but he was always as tough as nails.

The Bisping that trained with Parillo was a world-beater in my opinion. It just took some, including myself, a bit longer than it should have done to realise it. 

Edited by jimufctna24

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echo that, great work from wand. I do think the guy should put his stuff into some kind of blog though because its way too good for just likes of us.

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