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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 year

#1 - Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald 2 - UFC 189 - Jul 11th 2015 So this is it. My numero uno. If any of you did the process of elimination, this should be no surprise. Right up until the other d

#17 - Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen 1 - UFC 117 - Aug 7th 2010 Unlike the last couple of entries, this one is a bit more of a well known and obvious choice.  Anderson was King at this

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#20 - Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz 1 - UFC 196 - Mar 5th 2016

OK then. So it’s December 2015. Conor McGregor is on top of the world having just knocked out the legendary Jose Aldo in a mind blowing 13 seconds to become the undisputed UFC Featherweight champion. 


One week later, there was a Fight Night on FOX. And Nate Diaz was facing Michael Johnson. Nate was always popular but at this stage he hadn’t fought in 12 months and the last time we’d seen him he was getting leg kicked into oblivion by Rafael Dos Anjos. So this fight with Johnson was a bit of a nothing fight. It was was thrown on as the second fight on the main card. 

It turned out Nate looked really good that night. His best performance for a while. He schooled Johnson for 15 minutes en route to a clear points win. And as always, he had something memorable to say in his post-fight interview. 


“Conor McGregor, you’re takin’ everything I worked for motherfucker. I’m gonna fight your fuckin’ ass. You know what’s the real fight and what’s the money fight. It’s me. Not these clowns that you already punked at the press conference. No-one wanna see that, you know you beat them already. That’s the easy fight. You want that real shit.” - Nate Diaz 

It got a lot of attention. Of course, the MMA media ran with it. Fans were buzzing about it potentially happening. Problem was, why would it? By this point, Conor McGregor had become the biggest star in the sport by far. He’d just beat Aldo in record time and he was the 145lbs champ. Diaz had just got a strong win but before that he’d been AWOL for a year and had lost a few fights. As exciting a matchup it sounded on paper, the timing just seemed all wrong. 

Conor was instead booked against reigning Lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos instead. It was made official and announced to take place at UFC 196 in March 2016. They had posters and a press conference and everything. 


If Conor won this fight, he’d be the champ at both 145 and 155. But just 2 weeks out from the fight, Dos Anjos pulled out with a broken foot. McGregor basically called him a fanny and said he’d pulled out because of a ‘bruised toe’ or something. His legion of worshippers obviously followed suit and parroted this nonsense. Here’s RDA’s ‘bruise’ by the way...


Sherman Klump shit. 

Anyway, this left the UFC the tricky task of looking for a replacement on such short notice. All kinds of names were in the running according to Dana White. From a Jose Aldo rematch to Anthony Pettis to Urijah Faber to Frankie Edgar to...BJ fucking Penn! But with the clock ticking and just 10 days left until show time, the call was made. Nate Diaz was stepping in. Things have a funny way of working out. Nate got what he wanted after all. 

The swerve was that this fight, between a 145lber and a 155lber, would take place at 170. That added a layer of intrigue to an already fun matchup. Conor always looked like death weighing in at Featherweight, so the speculation of what a Welterweight Conor McGregor would look like was one of the main talking points going in.

“You’ve seen Conor on salads. Now watch what he’s like on steak.” - Coach John Kavanagh

The UFC had no time to lose. They had to get the ball rolling on promoting this one. So Conor and Nate were quickly thrust in front of the media for a press conference. It was pretty eventful. 


McGregor: I like Nick’s little bro. I mean, how can you not like him? He’s like a little cholo gangsta from the hood. But at the same time, he coaches kids Jiu-Jitsu on a Sunday morning and goes on bike rides with the elderly. He makes gun signs with the right hand and animal balloons with the left hand. You’re a credit to the community. 

Diaz: You knocked out three midgets and you’re all pumped up. I’m a real motherfucking fighter. 

McGregor: Dance for me, Nate. Dance for me. And don’t look me in the eye when you dance. 

Diaz: I got real training partners. Top-ten Boxers, top-ten Jiu-Jitsu guys, top-ten Kickboxers. You’re playin’ touch-butt with that dork in the park. The ponytail. And I’m the one who ain’t got no training partners? I don’t think so. You seem to have it all figured out when you’re fighting midgets. You ain’t got shit. 

Christ almighty. I forgot half of this even happened. 

It’s been mostly rewritten or forgotten now that pretty much everyone thought Diaz was getting destroyed here. I know I didn’t fancy his chances at all. I don’t think many on here were giving Nate much of a shot either. Looking back that seems silly but McGregor had just blitzed Aldo and Nate had been patchy in form and very inconsistent over his last few fights. Not to mention he was coming in on 10 days notice! 


Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz

UFC 196: McGregor vs Diaz

March 5th 2016

Las Vegas, Nevada

Here we go. Nate with the usual 2Pac walkout. McGregor chose to switch things up. He changed his usual awesome Sinead O’Connor ‘Foggy Dew’/Notorious BIG ‘Hypnotize’ entrance. And went with ‘El Chapo’ by The Game. That should’ve been a red flag right there. Wrong’un. 

Round 1: Doesn’t take long for this one to get heated up. And Conor’s getting the better of it in the early going. He’s missing a lot of big punches too but he’s landing some hurtful shots and Nate’s having trouble getting much off. By about the midway point of the round they’re both starting to connect more and Nate’s cut. Conor’s tagging him up now. Crowd’s electric for this. Nate goes for a half-hearted takedown and Conor winds up on top as the round ends. McGregor 10-9. 

God I forgot just how irritating Mike Goldberg could be on commentary.

Nate’s on the stool smiling at the camera, while the corner work on his cut. 

Round 2: Spinning kicks from Conor but not quite finding the target. But he’s starting to bust Nate up with his hands now.


Nate’s face is a mess but he’s still marching forward and talking shit. Conor’s noticeably starting to breathe heavy. I think Nate recognised that and that’s why he’s upping the pressure. He’s landing his jabs more as well. Conor’s still throwing with bad intentions but his movement looks a bit more laboured now. Nice combo from Conor and then...


Nate gets through with the left and Conor’s legs go wobbly. He’s backpedaling and Nate’s boxing him up. Conor fires back with some nice shots but Nate clips him again a couple of times and you can almost see the fight and the energy drain out of Conor. You know it’s bad because he actually shoots in for a takedown. On BJJ black-belt Nate Diaz? Within seconds Nate’s got the mount and smacking his face in. Conor’s fucked. Nate’s all over him. He takes the back, gets the choke and Conor’s done. 


He taps. 

Winner - Nate Diaz by submission. Round 2 - 4:12.

Heck of a scrap that. Really shook things up at the time as well. And to think, if that Dos Anjos fight went ahead, there’s a good chance we’d have never seen these two face off. Two of the biggest fights in UFC history might’ve never happened. 


“I’m not surprised motherfuckers.” - Nate Diaz 

They met again at UFC 202 in August 2016. And Conor took a decision in a tremendous back and forth fight. 


Both fights were great and at the time I think I preferred the rematch. Rewatching both now though, the first fight pips it for me. Just a chaotic, mayhem filled two round shootout and the finish and Nate’s “I’m not surprised, motherfucker” post-fight bit just make it one of those classic moments in UFC history. The second fight was fantastic too but it falls just short of the decade’s Top 25 for me. 

Will we ever see the trilogy decider? Or does Conor go to jail before then? I wouldn’t be surprised motherfuckers. 

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#19 - Dennis Bermudez vs Matt Grice - UFC 157 - Feb 23rd 2013

I’m guessing a lot of people have forgotten about this one by now. But it’s genuinely one of my favourite UFC fights ever. 


Dennis Bermudez vs Matt Grice

UFC 157: Rousey vs Carmouche 

February 23rd 2013

Anaheim, California 

This was a fight with zero hype going in. It was just another fight on the prelims of a PPV. It was even more lost in the shuffle on this particular card because this would be the night that Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche would make history by competing in the first ever women’s fight in the UFC. On top of that you had a big name co-main event of Dan Henderson vs Lyoto Machida and the main card also had bouts featuring Urijah Faber and a returning Robbie Lawler. Suffice to say, nobody was talking about Bermudez vs Grice jerking the curtain. 

Bermudez was 9-3 coming in. He was mostly known for getting to the finals of the Bisping vs Mayhem season of TUF, but he ultimately lost out to Diego Brandao at the Finale. He was rebuilding from that defeat at this point and had won his last two fights. 

Grice was 15-4 and had been in and out of the UFC a couple of times with mixed results. The highlight being another forgotten gem against Jason Black at UFC 77 back in 2007. He was also a NCAA Division 1 wrestler and an Oklahoma cop. Busy boy. He came into this fight off a decision win over Leonard Garcia. 

Haven’t seen this in years. Here we go. 

Round 1: Fast pace right away and it quickly becomes a clinch battle. Grice tries a takedown but Bermudez reverses and lands on top in the mount with Grice’s right arm trapped. Disastrous start for Grice. Bermudez then proceeds to rain down a SHITLOAD of punches and elbows. Seriously, the ref could’ve easily waved this off. Grice definitely wasn’t ‘intelligently defending himself’, in large part due to the fact his arm was stuck under Dennis The Menace the whole time. Grice somehow escapes and they’re back on the feet. Mike Goldberg tells us that Bermudez landed 40 significant strikes from the mount there. The fact Grice is on the offence after that tells you what a tough bastard he is. Back and forth in the striking with both landing some nasty shots. Both swing for the fences and Grice absolutely bloody waffles him with a left hook...


Literally lifted Bermudez off the ground and dropped him back down!

Bermudez somehow recovers well and pretty quickly from that, which is insane. Grice with another big flurry and the round ends. 

Grice 10-9 for me. Which is mad really after the way it started with him taking all those shots from the mount. Could call it an even round. But Grice really took it to him in the second half and I felt like he did more damage. Incredible round either way.

Round 2: Both aggressive again and Grice connects with a hard left hook again. Goldy then goes into a bit of the backstory on Grice. 

“Joe, Matt Grice was one of the top college recruits in wrestling. As a passenger though, he was in a car accident that put him through the windshield and eventually ended his career at that time. Had 12 surgeries. Went through the windshield, a lot of head injuries, body was battered up. 12 surgeries. Just nasty. He was set to really compete at a high level at Oklahoma.” - Mike Goldberg 

Man, when you know how this Grice story plays out that’s mental. There mightn’t have ever been a more resilient person in MMA history than Matt Grice.

Anyway, Grice with a takedown but Bermudez back up. This is such a gritty battle all the way. Rogan can’t stop harping on what Bermudez is doing wrong and right when he’s saying that Bermudez fucking cracks Grice with a hard right. Rogan ignores it. Bermudez with a guillotine choke now but the round ends. Close one. Could go either way but I think Bermudez probably nicked it in the last minute with that big right and the choke at the end.

Round 3: Bermudez out like a man possessed now and within the first 20 seconds he’s got Grice in all kinds of bother. 


Drops him, ground and pound and Grice is clinging on for dear life.

Back on the feet and they’re going to fucking war now. Honestly, this even puts that Melendez vs Sanchez scrap to shame. Grice with the left hook again but Bermudez makes him pay and really batters him against the fence. Grice is absolutely fucked. His legs are all over the shop and he’s swaying about. The cage is holding him up at this point. Why Herb Dean never stopped this I don’t know. Grice is toast. He’s firing back on pure instinct but he’s clearly out on his feet. Grice ties him up in the clinch. He’s weathered the storm. This is wild. Even more than I remembered. 


Bermudez putting a serious beating on Grice and as unbelievable a fight as it is, it’s getting hard to watch. But right when I think that Grice lands another big left. This is some MMA version of Gatti vs Ward type shit. Both throwing bombs and emptying the tank as the round ends. The crowd is going bananas. And Bermudez hurts him to the body just as the horn goes. Bermudez 10-8. Ridiculous fight.

Winner - Dennis Bermudez by split decision. 


I think the right man won. It was one of those fights where it was so good it almost didn’t matter who won. Unsurprisingly, they got the FOTN bonuses. 

Sadly, this would be Grice’s last fight. In September 2013 he was in a car accident (yep, another one) that ended his career for good. Apparently, he was waiting at traffic lights when a jeep came crashing into him. He nearly died. He was kept in a medically induced coma and they had to remove some of his skull to alleviate the pressure on his brain. 



“I don’t remember the accident at all. I guess I got rear-ended, and the guy went 65mph. He never hit his brakes or anything, and he hit me going 65. He said he was distracted by his grandkids. Luckily, I think they were OK. I think one of them hurt their nose or something. They ended up being alright. He wasn’t paying attention apparently. It was a stoplight you could see almost for a mile. How he was distracted that long, I don’t know.” - Matt Grice

Poor bloke said he couldn’t remember his wife or kids for a while after he came out of the coma. Crazy thing is, he returned to his job with the Oklahoma Police Department in October 2014. Just 13 months after the accident. 


Like I said, if there’s a tougher man that’s been involved in MMA, I don’t know who that is. 

For Bermudez, the career rolled on. He won his next 4 fights after the war with Grice. He even won a razor close decision against future Featherweight King Max Holloway. His success didn’t last though and over the next 4 or so years, he went 3-6 in his 9 fights over that period. He announced his retirement in January 2019, after a points win over Te Edwards. 


Bermudez and Grice in March 2014. A year after their epic fight and only 6 months after Grice’s accident. 

Epic fight. Even better than I remembered it being. I think I probably should’ve had this ranked higher actually. If you haven’t seen it, you need to. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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#18 - Jim Miller vs Joe Lauzon 1 - UFC 155 - Dec 29th 2012

Some will probably think this is ranked too high. I don’t care. This is one of my favourite fights. Again, no hype or buildup. It was just a matchup thrown together, with two tough bastards with fan friendly styles, for the sole purpose of being a kickass fight. And that’s exactly what it was. This was voted FOTY for 2012 by us lot in the UKFF Awards. And rightly so. 

Miller was 21-4. He wasn’t a title contender but he was always on the cusp at this time. He’d already fought a lot of the top names at 155 (fucker fought Frankie Edgar in just his sixth pro fight!), beating pretty much everyone bar probably the top 5 guys in the division. At the time of this fight he was coming off a submission loss to Nate Diaz. 

Joe Lauzon was 22-7. He’d put himself on the map back in 2006 with a stunning 48 second knockout over Lightweight pioneer Jens Pulver. Quite the upset at the time. Like Miller though, he’d had mixed results in the UFC over the next few years. Beating good fighters like Jeremy Stephens and Melvin Guillard but getting stopped by Kenny Florian, Anthony Pettis and George Sotiropoulos. He had some momentum coming into this fight though, having submitted Jamie Varner in a brilliant fight on FOX in August.


Jim Miller vs Joe Lauzon 

UFC 155: Dos Santos vs Velasquez 2

December 29th 2012

Las Vegas, Nevada

OK then. It’s been a while since I saw this. Here we go. 

Round 1: Fuck a feeling out process. These two are getting straight down to business. Both are landing but Miller looks really sharp here. He’s throwing uppercuts, knees from the clinch, elbows, hard inside leg kicks, body kicks, the lot. A full-on assault. Lauzon is hard as nails and survives the onslaught but it’s been a rough start. Lauzon is game as ever and throwing back but Miller is looking like a beast here. And just lights Lauzon up...


That little spell of GBH results in Lauzon’s face pissing blood. He got opened up quick! Presumably from one of the elbows. Headkick and a big straight left now from Miller. He’s beating the shit out of poor Joey. 

“Jim Miller looks sensational. This is as good as we’ve ever seen him.” - Joe Rogan

Lauzon just won’t fuck off though and lands a vicious knee that finally backs Miller up. Miller’s starting to look a bit winded in the last minute. Not surprised he’s thrown nothing but bombs since the opening bell. And Lauzon’s somehow still there. He lands a knee to the body that seems to hurt Miller as the buzzer goes. Brutal round. 


Miller 10-8. 

The Lauzon corner frantically work on the cut (well, the main one. There’s a few) between rounds. And it’s bad. A big gash right down the forehead and above the eye. Looks like he’s been jabbed in the head with a pizza slicer. He looks well up for the second round though, the mad sod. 

Round 2: Miller again on the attack and then takes Lauzon down. There’s so much blood though that they can’t really work properly from there. So Miller opts to just continue dicing his head up with more elbows. Christ. Miller tries an arm triangle, then gets mount, now he’s working a D’Arce choke. But Lauzon somehow escapes and ends up on top.

And this is when one of my favourite little mid-fight moments happens. Referee Yves Lavigne calls a time out because Lauzon has some tape hanging off his glove. While Lavigne is piss-arsing about trying to get some scissors from cageside, Lauzon is sat in Miller’s guard and, amongst the chaos, they’re casually having a blood soaked chat.


Miller: Hell of a fight, bro.

Lauzon: You too. I’m having fun. 

That convo actually happened. 

Back to the violence now. Lauzon’s still on top. He drops back for a leg lock. He’s got the kneebar but he’s not high enough on the leg and Miller gets free just as the round finishes. Another great round. Close round but I’ll go Miller 10-9 on account of the damage. 

Round 3: Both come out swinging. They’re emptying the tank here. Both looked fucked now. Lauzon more but Miller looks like he’s feeling it now as well. He’s thrown the kitchen sink at Lauzon and he’s not going away.

“Joe Lauzon’s an animal. Pressing forward still after all this. Still trying to win.” - Joe Rogan 

When Miller connects though, it seems like he’s hurting Lauzon more. Better round for Lauzon though and he hurts Miller again with a knee to the body and some punches. Miller back with uppercuts. Both look absolutely knackered. You can almost see their stamina bars go into the red. But they’re still throwing. Total bloodbath. 

One minute left, both trading...


...and Lauzon tries a fucking leg scissors into a heel hook. In the last minute of a war like this! He’s got it for a second but Miller escapes. Guillotine choke now by Lauzon! It’s on but the buzzer goes. Lauzon 10-9. 


Miller lets out a big ‘HOLY SHIT!’ It’s over. Fucking amazing stuff. I’ve got Miller 29-27. 

Winner - Jim Miller by unanimous decision. 

As we’ve come to expect out of these two, it was all respect after the fight. They even did the post-fight press conference together!


“I knew that I was gonna have to throw everything I had at him. And that’s what I pretty much did. But yeah, I couldn’t put him away. It was a fun fight to be in. I’ve never had a conversation with somebody in the middle of a fight. I was like, ‘ah, great fight buddy’. That was a crazy fight. Yeah, it was a fun fight to be in. I know that makes me a sicko.” - Jim Miller 



They had a rematch on FOX in August 2016. Another really good fight but not a patch on the first one. Miller won a split decision, going 2-0 and killing any chance of a trilogy. I actually thought Lauzon won the second fight as well. 

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#17 - Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen 1 - UFC 117 - Aug 7th 2010

Unlike the last couple of entries, this one is a bit more of a well known and obvious choice. 


Anderson was King at this point. He’d been the UFC Middleweight champ for nearly 4 years, had successfully defended it 6 times and had even popped up to 205 a couple of times. Just for the lols. For fans who only got into MMA during the McGregor/Rousey era, it might be difficult to grasp what kind of an aura Anderson Silva possessed at this time. He was commonly compared to being like something out of The Matrix and, although he’d had losses early in his career, at this point he was pretty much thought to be unbeatable. He was schooling challengers left and right and it wasn’t even competitive. Watching him dismantle guys like Rich Franklin and Nate Marquardt, it didn’t seem like they were fair fights at all. 

But while his title reign is looked back on as the stuff of legend now, there was a spell where it seemed like the MMA world was completely turning on Anderson Silva. 

The first cracks appeared when he had two lacklustre title defences in a row against Patrick Cote and Thales Leites. These were fights he was expected to shine in yet he looked disinterested at times and the fights were pretty shit. The Cote one was an anti-climax and ended on an injury when Cote blew his knee out. And the Leites fight went the distance and was dull as fuck. He was never close to losing these fights but compared to his fights with Franklin, Marquardt, Dan Hendo etc, he just looked very, very...human. 

In his next fight though, he redeemed himself big time. He went up to 205 and absolutely clowned Forrest Griffin in 3 of the most ridiculous minutes in UFC history. He went up in weight and took a former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, and made him look like he didn’t even belong anywhere near the cage with him. 


After that, those Cote and Leites duds were a distant memory. Anderson was back in his Neo-like form and all was right in the MMA world again. 

But in April 2010, the Octagon was making its first trip to Abu Dhabi with the UFC 112 PPV. Who better to headline it than Anderson Silva? Well, as it turned out, almost anything would’ve been better. 

Anderson faced BJJ wizard Demian Maia. And it turned into a total farce. Has to be one of the worst title matches ever in the UFC. I’ve never watched it since. Don’t think I ever will. From memory, it started OK, with Anderson dominating. But somewhere along the line, Anderson seemed to just lose interest, stopped attacking and started fucking about taunting and shouting at Maia. He even tried to hide behind the referee at one point. Couple that with Maia being unable to score takedowns or get his grappling going and this fight was going downhill fast with no brakes. Just a strange fight all round. 


It probably is perversely entertaining to watch now, for all the wrong reasons. I mean, I’d rather watch Silva vs Maia again than ever relive Shamrock vs Severn 2. But at the time it was so disappointing. Especially as the talk going in was that if Anderson won, there was a decent chance we’d finally get that Anderson Silva vs Georges St Pierre superfight. 

Of course, Anderson wound up winning on points. But it might as well have been a loss. His stock plummeted in terms of the perception of him. Dana even walked out midway through the fight and refused to put the belt on Anderson post-fight. He was fuming at the press conference.

“Believe me, I’ll answer the questions of what a disgrace the main event was and what an embarrassment it is. I don’t think I’ve ever been more embarrassed in 10 years of being in this business. It’s the first time that I’ve ever walked out on a main event and given the belt to the guy’s manager and told him to put it on him. This was a historic event for us, the arena tonight was incredible, the energy was amazing. And to end it the way that we did, it’s an embarrassment for me, the Fertittas, the UFC and the sport in general. So I apologise and I will, I don’t know how yet, I will make this up to the fans that bought that shit tonight.” - Dana White

The talk after the show switched to what would be next for Anderson. And there was one clear option. 


Chael Sonnen had been calling out Anderson for months. For the longest time, he was pretty much a MMA journeyman. And I don’t mean that as a knock. His career began way back in 1997 and he’d been around the block a few times and fought pretty much everywhere. He was a fixture at Team Quest, which was one of the top gyms back in the day. But Chael was just a member of the team and nobody talked about him like they did Randy Couture, Matt Lindland or Dan Henderson. He beat some good fighters of the time, in fairness, but also had a bunch of losses and the knock on him back then was that he was a great wrestler with subpar submission defence. He’d already been in and out of the UFC and by the end of 2008 he was 23-9-1 and had just won a weird as fuck fight with Paulo Filho in WEC. 

In 2009 he got another crack at the UFC. And got swiftly submitted in his first fight back by Demian Maia. It already seemed like this stint wasn’t going to be any kinder to him than his last one. But then something changed and he started putting wins together. He beat Dan Miller and Yushin Okami by decision. The Okami win in particular got my attention as Okami was looking good at the time and had been on the cusp of a title shot for a while. Then he was matched with Nate Marquardt in February 2010. Marquardt was in perhaps the best form of his career at this point and was coming off 3 knockouts in a row. Chael surprised everyone by fighting through a nasty cut, surviving a tight guillotine choke and beating Nate The Great. Still one of Chael’s best career wins for me.

He started mentioning Anderson’s name in interviews around the time of the buildup to the Marquardt fight. Like most, I rolled my eyes at first. But after he beat Nate and then doubled down on the callouts, people started listening. Plus, the theory had always been that the key to beating Anderson was grappling. He had a couple of submission losses in Pride early in his career, Travis Lutter had him mounted briefly in their fight in 2007 and, well, the other option of standing with him was a death sentence. On paper, Chael had a potentially troublesome style for The Spider.

After Anderson’s turd of a title defence against Maia in Abu Dhabi, Chael seized his opportunity and really ramped up the trash talk.

”There’s this dirtbag named Anderson Silva. I’ve stuck my finger in this guy’s chest for four years and he fought everybody in the world that wasn’t named Chael Sonnen. This isn’t gonna be a war. This is gonna be a one-sided pounding and I’m swinging the hammer.

I’m a country boy, I believe in hard work. I believe in waking up early and contributing to your society. This is a grown man with earrings, crooked hats and pink shirts. I don’t have any room for this guy. You know, if you’re gonna be champion, behave like it.” - Chael Sonnen 

Used to love Chael’s interviews at this time. He was everything Colby Covington wishes he could be today. He’d throw in controversial comments but he had the delivery along with his charisma, intelligence and wit. 

Anyway, naturally the UFC were all over this and it wasn’t long before the fight was made official. 


Anderson Silva (c) vs Chael Sonnen - Middleweight Title 

UFC 117: Silva vs Sonnen 

August 7th 2010

Oakland, California

Fight night arrives and old Chael is still talking...

“I’m gonna throw him on his back and beat a hole in his face for 25 minutes or until he gives up.” - Chael Sonnen

Relentless with it. 

Round 1: Fast pace right off the bat. This is unlike pretty much any of Anderson’s other fights where he’ll usually take the first couple of minutes off just to gauge the distance and timing and all that. None of that here. Chael’s pressure is creating more urgency in Anderson’s movements. Anderson catches Chael’s foot on a kick and Chael actually does a bloody forward roll out of it! 



The laughing stops though when, about 10 seconds later, Chael nearly fucking drops Anderson with a straight left! 


Mental. Last thing anyone was expecting. Least of all Anderson. Crowd goes nuts. Chael follows up with dirty boxing uppercuts and more punches connecting. Anderson doesn’t look especially hurt, just confused at what’s happening. Chael with a takedown. Worst start imaginable for Silva here. Chael’s all the fuck over him with ground and pound. And that’s the story of the next few minutes. 

“This is more shots than Anderson Silva has taken in his entire MMA career.” - Joe Rogan

Chael wins the round big. 10-8.

Round 2: Chael takedown in the first 10 seconds. Jesus wept. This is a disaster for Silva. I forgot how easy Chael was making this look. Anderson lands the odd elbow from the bottom but this is a complete domination. He’s not landing as much as in the first round and he’s not landing anything huge but he’s just so relentless that Anderson can’t relax and constantly has to move and defend. He keeps grabbing Chael’s wrist and trying for an armbar, some red flags for Chael there, but it’s another one in the books for the man from the mean streets of West Linn, Oregon. Sonnen 10-9. 

Round 3: Anderson comes out striking but Chael gets the takedown again less than 30 seconds in. He maintains constant top control for the remainder of the round. Bit of a dull one that. Sonnen 10-9 again. Uneventful. But seeing Chael just running away with the fight was insane at the time, having seen Anderson dominate for so long the previous few years. 

Matt Lindland with the pep talk to Chael between rounds. 

“OK, championship rounds. This is where champions are made, right? I’m proud of you but this ain’t the end. You gotta put in two more rounds buddy.” - Matt Lindland

Round 4: They both come roaring out to the centre of the cage and, for the first time in the fight, Anderson looks dangerous...


Big elbow and he’s got Chael reeling. He lands more strikes and even stuffs Chael’s takedown attempt and winds up on top dropping elbows. But just when it looks like Anderson is turning the tide, Chael hits an incredible reversal and puts Anderson on his back. He basically hit a double leg takedown from sitting on his arse. Amazing. What an opening minute to this round. More ground and pound and that’s the rest of the round again. Chael 10-9. So I’ve got 40-36 for Sonnen going into the final round. 

Round 5: Silva dodges the first takedown. CHAEL DROPS ANDERSON! It was a weird one though. It looked more like Anderson slipped and lost his footing than anything but Chael did throw the left at the same time so it played its part. Chael back on top now and time is running out for Silva. 


“I mean, is it too early for Chael to start celebrating? That’s the question.” - Joe Rogan

Chael going for an arm triangle but loses it. Chael with loads of little annoying punches. He’s just non-stop. I think I’d actually rather get knocked out than fight someone like that. It’s death by a thousand needles. He’s got this in the bag. He postures up and Anderson suddenly lands a punch off his back. This bit never seems to get mentioned but it seems to legitimately hurt Chael and he immediately starts covering up. Next thing you know, with only 2 minutes left, Anderson locks up a triangle choke! Chael tries to sit back but he can’t get out. 


They’re all twisted up and it’s hard to tell what’s going on but then it happens. Chael taps. Just one tap, but a tap nonetheless. It’s done. 

Winner - Anderson Silva by submission. Round 5 - 3:10.

Chael initially tries to deny he tapped but not for long. He knows he got caught. 


Absolute scenes. And after four and a half rounds of total dominance. Less than 2 minutes from finally becoming world champion. One lapse in concentration and one hole in the defence and that was all a crafty cunt like Anderson needed. 

It came out later in the excellent Anderson Silva ‘Like Water’ documentary that he’d suffered a broken rib before this fight. Regardless, it was a hell of a performance from Chael for about 22 minutes. 


Their rematch in 2012 was even bigger. With Chael upping the verbal assault even more. But despite the opening round looking good for Chael, it all went tits up for him when Anderson put him away by TKO in the second. That combined with his iconic front kick KO on Vitor Belfort mean those lacklustre title defences between 2008 and 2010 are a distant memory now.

In terms of action, there’s been way better fights than Silva vs Sonnen 1. Even the ones I’ve ranked lower in this thread so far, they’re all probably better actual fights to watch. But the drama and intensity of this one was off the charts. I’ll never forget watching it on the night and being on the edge of my seat round after round, thinking Chael was going to do it. Only for Anderson to remind everyone who the fuck he was. In many ways I think this was the career defining moment for Anderson. The Belfort KO and Griffin squash were mind blowing but this was something else. He went in with something to prove after that Maia fight, with an injury, against a guy who’d been talking mad shite and had a supposed nightmare style for him. And he pulled it out the bag when it mattered against what ended up being his career arch rival. Special stuff. It was peak Chael as well. He was fun after this but I don’t think his schtick was ever as entertaining or effective as it was against Anderson. 

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12 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

The first cracks appeared when he had two lacklustre title defences in a row against Patrick Cote and Thales Leites. These were fights he was expected to shine in yet he looked disinterested at times and the fights were pretty shit.


Anderson faced BJJ wizard Demian Maia. And it turned into a total farce. Has to be one of the worst title matches ever in the UFC. 

Nifty post, Wand. 

A key reason why I think those fights sucked was because Anderson didn't like to lead with punches. He was mostly a backpeddling striker, who took advantage of the Octagon's size and lack of hard edges to make his opponents chase, miss, and then be countered. Cote and Maia refused to lead against him, which mostly resulted in a striking stalemate (read: boring fight). 

This is why Anderson (post-2005) would have struggled a bit more in the WEC (smaller cage), Strikeforce (cage with sharper corners) and Afflication (ring with 4 sharp corners). He wouldn't be able to backpeddle the same in those setting as he did in the Octagon. If he did, he would have ended up in a corner, or with nowhere to go, and then possibly taken down. 

I don't think Anderson would have had much success changing things up either. When he fought for the Pride promotion, which of course adopted the ring, he fought entirely differently to how he does in the UFC. He tried to fight like his then stablemate Wanderlei Silva, a come-forward sprawl and brawler, whose style perfectly suited the ring. Unlike Wanderlei, however, Anderson didn't have the stocky build or takedown defence to stop opponents from using his aggression against him. For example, Takase was able to shoot for Anderson's hips as he came forward and dump him on his back. . 

In short, very few fighters benefited from the UFC's Octagon like Silva did. It was made for him. And when an opponent indulged his fighting style by leading, as was the case with Griffin, Leben, etc, he could leave you breathless. 

Edited by jimufctna24
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Really interesting points on the cage Jimmy. I never thought of that but looking back it makes sense. To maybe a lesser degree, I always thought the dodgy performances against Maia and Leites were partly down to them both having strong ground games and him just not wanting to take so many risks. I know it was a different time and place but he’d been subbed by Ryo Chonan and Daiju Takase in Pride, that might’ve been in his head still. Plus Lutter mounted him, Hendo had him down the whole first round of their fight etc.

I also think it’s why he carried on like a div against Weidman in their first fight. People argued that he gave the fight away with all the taunting and dicking about, by ‘not taking it seriously’. But why do people think he wouldn’t take it seriously? Especially as by the time Anderson started acting up Weidman had already won the first round big, probably 10-8. Weidman was the first contender in a long time (since Sonnen actually) that people really thought could give Anderson problems. So I never bought that ‘didn’t take it seriously’ bollocks. That’s just a line people used to give Anderson an excuse and to discredit Weidman and minimise his win as a fluke. A lot of fans really didn’t want to accept that loss. I thought it was plain as day that he was taunting and acting the twat purely to anger and goad Weidman into abandoning his ground game and just standing with him. He was even gesturing as much at the start of the second round, shouting something at Weidman and pointing to the crowd, as if to say ‘come on you big fanny, no more of that wrestling, let’s stand for the fans.’ He knew after that first round that he was pretty well fucked if Weidman kept that up. And with Weidman’s BJJ background, a last ditch triangle from the gods like against Chael wasn’t as likely. He needed Weidman to stand with him. And ironically, Weidman did just that and knocked him out. 

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12 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

People argued that he gave the fight away with all the taunting and dicking about, by ‘not taking it seriously’.

I was one of those at the time. It was only years later, after reading Kevin Wilson's articles, that I changed my mind. If Anderson led with low kicks against Weidman, he would risk either being taken down or leg checked. And Weidman was too savvy to play into Anderson's counter striking game. 

Thus, Weidman had Anderson frustrated. In turn, Anderson started clowning around in an attempt to make Weidman play his game. Weidman didn't bite, and finished Anderson off with a beautiful combination when Anderson pushed his luck. In the second fight, Anderson tried leading with low kicks, and paid the consequence when Weidman checked one of them. 

It was Bisping, as Wilson noted, that showed the way to out-strike Silva in a cage. But it was Weidman who initially showed how to beat him in a cage. Sonnen and others came close, but it was Weidman who actually did it. 

Edit: I recall you being one of those who gave full credit to Weidman at the time, so aye, kudos. 

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#16 - Benson Henderson vs Anthony Pettis 1 - WEC 53 - Dec 16th 2010

First of all, I fucking loved WEC. Everything about it. The presentation, the blue canvas, the commentary, the smaller cage forcing the action, pre-cosmetic surgery Brittany Palmer. WEC had it all. And the fights themselves weren’t bad either. I don’t think there’s ever been a MMA promotion more consistent than WEC in pure fight quality on a card to card basis. Especially those last couple of years. They were just banging out killer shows left and right. 

Well, this was the end of that era. In late 2010 it was announced that, starting in 2011, the WEC roster would be merging with the UFC. This meant the UFC Lightweight division would be strengthened with the likes of Benson Henderson, Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone and Jamie Varner coming in. It also meant that the UFC would now have Featherweight and Bantamweight divisions and elite fighters like Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz, Urijah Faber and Demetrious Johnson would be making the jump. When you look back, I really think that UFC/WEC merger was a game changer. Those divisions - 155, 145, 135 - are probably the best 3 divisions to watch these days and WEC had a massive part to play in that. The guys who were up and comers in WEC are now looked at as the legends of the lighter weight classes in the UFC. 

But yeah, WEC 53 would be the last show for the promotion. Bittersweet. I was sad to see the company go. But at the same time, the thought of seeing all those guys in the UFC overrode my mourning the loss of the old blue cage. Especially as we didn’t get WEC on telly here. I used to have to wait weeks to get WEC DVDs off traders which was a right ballache as you were never avoiding the spoilers that long. So these guys coming to the big show meant we’d get to watch a Cerrone or Aldo fight live from now on.

This Bendo vs Pettis fight was absolutely mouth watering at the time. Two exciting and unpredictable young fighters squaring off, for the gold, in the last WEC fight ever. 


Bendo was 27 years old, 12-1 and on a hell of a run of performances. He’d beat Anthony Njokuani, Shane Roller, Donald Cerrone in a classic, then won the title off Jamie Varner, then subbed Cerrone in a round in the rematch. He was on fire. 


Pettis was only 23 years old, also 12-1 and had quickly developed a reputation as someone to keep an eye on. He clearly had a bright future. And he was so much fun to watch due to his creative striking style, his attacking BJJ and his ability to end a fight from seemingly any position. 


Benson Henderson (c) vs Anthony Pettis - Lightweight Title

WEC 53: Henderson vs Pettis

December 16th 2010 

Glendale, Arizona

It’s in Bendo’s hometown. Commentators are Todd Harris and Stephan Bonnar. 

As if the fight wasn’t enough of a ‘must see’, the stakes got raised. Not only would this be for the WEC Lightweight strap, the winner would get an immediate UFC title shot in their Octagon debut against the winner of the upcoming Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard title fight the following month in a big unification match.

Round 1: Both testing the waters with kicks early on and Bendo tries to take charge with a nice combo. 


Benson scores a sweet trip takedown and works from top position with some ground and pound. Back on the feet and Pettis throws hard kicks and some punches but Henderson gets another takedown and lands a few more shots on the ground as the round comes to a close. Henderson 10-9.

Round 2: Exchanging strikes again and Pettis drops him with a quick right-left and immediately tries take his back. They’re battling for position and it’s a struggle all the way. Bendo trying to work the clinch but not getting much done. Striking seems fairly even but Pettis probably edging it, especially with the leg kicks towards the end. Pettis 10-9.

Round 3: Bendo more aggressive now but pays for it as Pettis takes him down and takes the back. Bendo stands up but Pettis stays on the back for almost the whole of the rest of the round. 


Not the most exciting round but I’m really enjoying the battle that’s going on here. Pettis 10-9. 

Round 4: Strong start from Benson with some nice strikes and a takedown. Pettis with a guillotine choke but Bendo escapes it.


Bendo takes the back! He’s working for the choke. Pettis must’ve had the Wu-Tang song ‘Protect Ya Neck’ in mind during this and he does a good job of it. Now Pettis reverses and takes Henderson’s back. This is fantastic. Back on the feet now and both connecting.


Pettis drops for another guillotine but no joy. Henderson edged that round for me. So I’ve got it even going into the last round.

Round 5: Here we go. The final round in WEC history. Bendo with some HARD body kicks. But Pettis keeps countering with straight punches that are finding the button.

Pettis with some serious Jedi mind tricks now as he drops Henderson without even touching him! 



Don’t think I’ve ever seen that in any other fight.

Pettis takes the back yet again but Bendo manages to spin out and get to his feet. Both throwing. Bendo shoots in for a takedown but Pettis times him to perfection with a jumping knee...


Fuck me. But Benson holds onto the single leg and eventually completes the takedown. He’s got the back and Pettis rolls out of it. Amazing stuff from both with all these mad reversals. Back on the feet again. Then it happens. With about a minute left on the clock...



Yep. In the last minute of the last round of the last fight in WEC history, Anthony Pettis pulls THAT off. The ‘Showtime Kick’ was born. Benson isn’t out but he’s pretty much done and Pettis just ground and pounds him for the rest of the round. Pettis 10-9. It was a close round but that kick really sealed it for him big time.


Winner - Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision. 

New WEC champ. Last WEC champ.  

He never did get that unification match with the winner of Edgar vs Maynard. And that’s because there wasn’t a winner of Edgar vs Maynard. It ended in a draw and they went into a rematch while Pettis got his Octagon debut spoiled by Clay Guida. 


Henderson and Pettis would meet again in the UFC in the summer of 2013. Henderson had won the UFC Lightweight belt a year earlier from Frankie Edgar. Pettis once again came back to haunt him. 



This time it wouldn't be close. Pettis submitted Bendo with an armbar in the first round. So that’s 2 titles Pettis took from him. 

In a touching moment, Pettis posted this picture on social media shortly after their second fight. 


So yeah, great fight. Took some time to really heat up but the championship rounds in particular were tremendous. And that kick is one of those moments that takes a fight to another level. This fight will be 10 years old this December and that kick is still crazy to me. 

“An absolute classic. And what a fitting way to bring down the curtain for World Extreme Cagefighting.” - Todd Harris

Can’t do ALL things through Christ after all, eh Benson? 


Can I get an AMEN?

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I'm sure we all wonder what happened to Pettis. This guy looked like a striking genius, one of the elite players in MMA, then got de-throned by RDA and it all went to shit from there. If you looked at his record since the RDA fight without knowing anything else about him, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was probably age-related decline, but the fucker was what, 28, 29? 

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Yeah, I think there was a couple of things going on with Pettis. I think a lot of it is probably mental and I really think that Dos Anjos loss in 2015 fucked with his head for a long time. He got completely shut down in all areas. Losses in general though, probably chipped away at him. When he fought Bendo in WEC, Pettis had only lost once, a decision to Bart Palaszewski. I’ve never seen the fight but I’ve always heard it was either razor close or that Pettis should’ve got the nod. So he’d never really been truly beaten at that point. He was young and a bit reckless and probably still felt undefeated. He definitely had the swagger and fearlessness of an unbeaten fighter. But as soon as he got in the UFC, Clay Guida handed him a loss. Then later on it was RDA, Alvarez, Barboza etc.

Another factor in him losing some of his ninja aura is probably just down to other fighters knowing what to expect now. When he burst on the scene, a lot of the shit he was doing was stuff we hadn’t seen before. He had the element of surprise on his side and was catching opponents off guard. As time went on, the rest of the division got better and other camps and coaches had more footage to go on and got wise to his game. 

It seems to be mostly forgotten now but he also had a lot of injuries over a spell of a few years. It seems like he’s got better about keeping himself healthy over the last few years but at one point he had a rep for being one of the most injury prone fighters in the game. 

I think all of these were factors. Still great to watch now but there was a time in 2013/14 when he genuinely looked like he might go on to be one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. 


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