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


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19 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

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. 

I didn't appreciate the WEC as much as I should have. It got lost in the shuffle a bit.  It didn't have the big names that Strikeforce had, let alone the UFC. In fact, the WEC's only real drawing card was Faber. Nonetheless, you could make the argument that the WEC was the best fight promotion out of the three. Their shows almost always delivered inside the cage. 

For me, the smaller cage was its best contribution to MMA. It enabled the smaller fighters to wallwalk easier, cut the cage off more effectively, and it generally forced the fighters to engage more, which led to more finishes. Sadly, the UFC continues to use a much bigger cage, which makes smaller fighters far less interesting to watch. I recall Jack Slack once writing that John Lineker would be a beast inside a smaller cage, similar to the one the WEC used. 

19 hours ago, Carbomb said:

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? 

Another theory is that he fights best from distance where he can use his kicking game, and struggles when that distance is taken away. If you can back him up against the cage, he is vulnerable to takedowns. If you can draw him into close striking exchanges, he's vulnerable in the pocket. 

Of course, all of this is easier said than done. Pettis dropped and submitted Melendez when pressed against the cage. Nonetheless, the likes of RDA and Guida had success backing him up against the cage, and were able to shut him down completely (especially RDA). 

So aye, as Wand touched on above, it was probably people becoming wiser to his game and figuring out how to beat him. And of course, the injuries. 

Edited by jimufctna24
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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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#15 - Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje - UFC 218 - Dec 2nd 2017

Right then. Can’t go wrong with these two. It was one of those fights where as soon as it was announced you just knew some crazy shit was going down. This was actually kind of a BMF thing before there was any such thing as a BMF Title. They were throwing around in interviews that this was a battle to find out who the ‘Most Violent Man in MMA’ was or something. If there was a BMF Title back in 2017, this would’ve been a prime candidate to crown a first champ. 

It did kind of come at a weird time though. Alvarez was coming into this fight off a rough last two outings. He’d got bashed up by Conor McGregor in November 2016. Then in May 2017 he’d gone to a No Contest with Dustin Poirier in a hard scrap that he was probably getting the worst of. Being a former Lightweight champion with fairly recent wins over Rafael Dos Anjos, Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis in the UFC, he wasn’t exactly in danger of being released, but his back was sort of up against the wall here. On the other hand, Gaethje was undefeated. 18-0, 16 finishes. He was must-see in WSOF, his two slugfests with Luis Palomino in particular. And he’d just won his UFC debut in July, knocking out Michael Johnson in an absolute corker of a fight. He was flying high and everyone was talking about him. 

But before we could get to see them fight, we had to wait until they’d finished coaching The Ultimate Fighter. 

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As much as I love Alvarez and Gaethje, I don’t think I watched a single second of that TUF. Like not even a trailer. Nowt. By this point I was completely done with TUF and short of a season coached by Nick Diaz or something, I wasn’t likely to be dragged back. On top of that, Alvarez and Gaethje just weren’t good choices as coaches. Not that they wouldn’t be good at it, but as far as making for entertaining reality television, it just wasn’t a good fit. Neither have ever been known for their gift of gab. They did all their entertaining in the cage. TUF at this point for me had just become an inconvenience and something that held up titles and made us wait longer to see great fights. 

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Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje

UFC 218: Holloway vs Aldo 2

December 2nd 2017

Detroit, Michigan

Anyway, the night finally arrived. And this was just one fight on a pretty stacked PPV. I think everyone knew it would deliver and probably steal the show but still, it was just the second fight on the PPV main card. The Holloway vs Aldo rematch headlined and Francis Ngannou vs Alistair Overeem was co-main. So Alvarez and Gaethje didn’t get a whole lot of hype going in. It was just a fight chucked in there as a bonus that would pretty much guarantee bang for your buck. 

“A lot of hard work, a lot of skill and a little bit of luck. That’s why I’m undefeated. No matter who gets locked in that Octagon with me, they’re in for the fight of their life. A win over Eddie Alvarez is huge. I’m a fan of Eddie Alvarez, I love the way he fights. But now he’s my enemy and I have no remorse for taking everything he’s ever worked for in his life. I know he’s scared of me, that’s why I know he’s gonna come at me with such intensity. He needs to knock me out. In the first two rounds. There will be a time when you see Eddie Alvarez’s face change from trying to kill me to trying to survive.” - Justin Gaethje 

———

“A guy like Justin, he’ll make me wake up early, he’ll make me go to bed late. That little tiny bit of fear goes a long way. I wanna win this fight by way of knockout or by choking his neck. One of the two. And I’ll be crowned the Most Violent Man in the Lightweight division. I wanna dominate Justin Gaethje, in the centre of the Octagon, stand over him and declare myself the winner.” - Eddie Alvarez

Both men sound well up for it in the pre-fight. Christ. And there was me saying these two aren’t talkers. Got goosebumps listening to that. It’s one thing hearing someone talk tough but when it’s two granite hardcases like this that you know can back it up, it’s something else. 

Anik and Rogan are buzzing for this during the walkouts. Buffer with the intros. Herb Dean’s the ref, touch of gloves and we’re off.

Round 1: Gaethje with the hard leg kicks immediately and Rogan’s already on the verge of jizzing himself silly. Loves a leg kick, does Smokin’ Joe. Both throwing with serious heat already and the fight isn’t even a minute old yet. Fuck, Gaethje’s leg kicks are brutal. Crowd chanting for Eddie. And Eddie looks sharp with the boxing and combinations here. His leg is getting chewed the fuck up though. It’s like someone put a hit out on Eddie’s left leg and Gaethje wants paying for it. He’s murdering that leg. Eddie’s landing constantly though, with some sweet uppercuts and body shots thrown in there. Eddie going to town with the body shots towards the end of the round and even throws a fucking somersault/rolling thunder kick thingy at the buzzer but doesn’t really get it. Alvarez 10-9 for me but his leg’s in a bad way. 

Round 2: Beautiful boxing from Alvarez to start this round. He’s making Gaethje miss and catching him with some nice shots. Gaethje starts to connect more as the round goes on though and he’s throwing with bad intentions. He’s just eating punches to land back. Trying to Homer Simpson his way through Eddie’s boxing. It’s not really working but he is starting to land more punches. But Eddie is just killing him to the body now and Gaethje is starting to react to it. 

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He’s firing back but he’s clearly feeling the effects now of those body attacks. Both teeing off to the head. Gaethje looks knackered but he’s still swinging hell for leather. More leg kicks now from Gaethje. Eddie’s face is swollen up on the cheek. Gaethje actually shoots for a takedown...

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And pays for it with a foot to the dome. He comes back with a flying knee and the round is over. Alvarez 10-9 again for me but closer. Hell of a round. 

Round 3: They pick up right where they left off. Man! This is like when you play Tekken against a mate after a few drinks and you’re both just button mashing like fuck.

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Gaethje with a crushing leg kick and this time Eddie buckles a bit and immediately switches stance. ANOTHER leg kick and Alvarez actually drops to his back and tries to pull guard. That leg is fucked. Gaethje backs off and makes him stand up. One-legged Eddie still throwing but it feels like Gaethje is one good leg kick away from straight up decapitating his leg. I think he’s actually trying to Kerry Von Erich that left leg. Both trading. Gaethje with more leg kicks, Christ almighty, but Alvarez is now refusing to even sell it. He won’t go down. If anyone ever needs evidence of the toughness of Eddie Alvarez, point them to this round. Insane. 

“Eddie Alvarez is an animal. I mean, he just keeps eating those leg kicks. A lesser man would’ve been down a long time ago from those.” - Joe Rogan

90 seconds left. Alvarez going for a takedown, Gaethje with leg kicks and uppercuts. This is ridiculous. They clinch and Alvarez cracks Gaethje with a huge knee to the chops...

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Gaethje is done! 

Eddie Alvarez becomes the first man to hand Gaethje a loss in a true FOTY candidate. Gaethje, all heart, stumbles back to his feet and is saying ‘Please Herb. Please Herb’, begging for the fight to continue. Well, either that or he’s crying out for a spliff. 

And how mad that Alvarez said before the fight that he’d stand over Gaethje and declare himself the winner...

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Winner - Eddie Alvarez by knockout. Round 3 - 3:59. 

Just amazing. For some reason this fight barely gets talked about. I don’t know why because it’s bloody brilliant. 

And to think there are people who try to say that Conor McGregor took Eddie Alvarez’s soul when they fought and left him a shell of himself. Well that’s more weird McGregor fanboy bullshit because this fight happened over a year after that and Alvarez went into the trenches and stopped an undefeated beast lunatic in Justin Gaethje. In a Justin Gaethje style fight. Loved this from start to finish. So glad it happened before Eddie left the UFC. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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the fact that McGregor put Alvarez away so clinically when you see fights like that and see what Alvarez can fight through makes that win the most impressive of McGregor's career for me.

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I'll echo what Egg Shen mentioned there. Seeing Alvarez come back from the McGregor loss in such an emphatic and impressive manner really helped it to sink in how well Conor fought that night in MSG. His best octagon performance without a doubt for me as well. Mendes was looking dominant in the first round before Conor rallied in the second, the Aldo knockout was sensational of course, but in 13 seconds he was hardly about to provide much of a showcase for his full set of skills. Diaz had him in trouble in their second fight at times, though I did agree Conor deserved to get the nod from the judges.

Alvarez looked like a proper shit fight for him on paper coming in. He had the ability to hurt you big time with his hands, as evidenced in his title win from RDA, but demonstrated against Pettis, had absolutely no issues grinding a fight out up against the cage to get the win. This was before Conor had really been tested by a smothering wrestler as well (Mendes aside, but he had 2 weeks notice coming in) which was another big reason a lot of people were selecting Eddie. But come fight night, it was a ridiculous story. Conor never gave Eddie a chance. Battered him everywhere, and dominated from the first punch until the last. Probably up there with one of the best individual performances of the last decade.

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Loving the posts in the countdown Wand. It's fantastic stuff as usual and miles more entertaining than anything the usual websites are putting out in their year/decade lists. 

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Thanks chaps. 

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#14 - José Aldo vs Chad Mendes 2 - UFC 179 - Oct 25th 2014

Righty then. When WEC closed its doors, José Aldo was the reigning 145lbs champion. And because there weren’t already Featherweight and Bantamweight divisions in the UFC at the time, the WEC champs at both 145 and 135 would be crowned UFC champs when the rosters got merged. 

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Of course, the WEC belt was retired when the company was dissolved. So Aldo gets to keep that bad boy forever. He came into the UFC and successfully defended his title twice against Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian in 2011. His record at this point was 20-1, with the only defeat coming early in his career. 

In January 2012, Aldo had a new challenger in undefeated powerhouse wrestler Chad Mendes. He was 11-0 and a lot of people thought his wrestling style could maybe give Aldo some problems. They fought at UFC 142, which was also in Rio, and Aldo won by knockout at the end of the first round.

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It wasn’t without some controversy though. Aldo grabbed the fence to stop Mendes from completing takedowns. Not good. But a lot of people, Joe Rogan in particular, made more of it than it was whenever the subject came up over the next year or two. It was against the rules, no question. But I remember Rogan making out like Mendes was winning and Aldo kept cheating and then KO’d him. But when I rewatched it, Aldo was bossing the fight in the standup before any fence grabbing. Regardless, Mendes had to rebuild. He won his next 5 fights, 4 by knockout. But a couple were soft opponents. The Cody McKenzie fight especially was a horrible mismatch which Dana White even said afterwards that he shouldn’t have booked. Mendes had earned his way back into contention though. In the meantime, Aldo had continued to rule the Featherweight jungle. He rattled off 3 more defences against Frankie Edgar, Korean Zombie and Ricardo Lamas.

Between them, they'd pretty much laid waste to most of the division. So it was time for the rematch. 

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Originally, it was booked for August 2014’s UFC 176 PPV. But Aldo pulled out with a neck injury and the whole card ended up being cancelled. It finally got rescheduled for 179 in October and by this point tempers were flaring and it had become a bit of a grudge match. 

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“He’s already felt the power of my hands, my legs, so I know he’s scared that he will be on the ground sleeping again. It’s like teasing a tiger with a twig, I’m going to catch him. He can say whatever he wants but once we’re in the cage it’s just the two of us. No-one can help him.” - Jose Aldo

———

“The first time I fought Aldo I was basically a baby still. It was over two years ago, I had two fights in the UFC. I was basically 90%, 95% wrestling. Now, I’m able to knock people out on my feet. I have the ability to put pressure on with my hands. This is gonna be a whole different fight than he thinks it’s gonna be. He’s gonna be in for a rough night.” - Chad Mendes

OK. Here we go. 

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José Aldo (c) vs Chad Mendes - Featherweight Title 

UFC 179: Aldo vs Mendes 2

October 25th 2014 

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Commentators are Mike Goldberg and Brian Stann. Marc Goddard is reffing.

Mendes coming out to some star spangled country boy bollocks song and the Brazilian crowd fucking hate him. Aldo, as usual, is walking out to ‘Run This Town’ by Jay-Z and Rihanna and the crowd love him. He’s really flying the flag for Brazil here as Goldberg tells us that he’s the only Brazilian UFC champ at this time.

Round 1: Aldo looking sharp and really fired up early on. The crowd and atmosphere is electric. They’re loud as fuck cheering every time Aldo does anything and doing that ‘you’re gonna die’ chant at Mendes. Both connecting and Mendes scores a flash knockdown on Aldo! 

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Aldo doesn’t look hurt but he must’ve felt it because he’s clearly more wary of Mendes’ power now. Mendes isn’t looking to wrestle at all it seems. Every time one lands a nice shot the other answers with their own. Aldo gets poked in the eye and after a brief time-out, he comes at Mendes hard. 

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And now Aldo gets a knockdown! He ground and pounds his way into mount but loses it. Back on the feet and Aldo connects with a big combo right as the round ends that hurts Mendes badly. 

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I remember this being a talking point at the time because the last punch landed after the buzzer. Brian Stann was all over it. I don’t think Aldo was being dirty myself. He was in the middle of throwing a 3 punch combination and that last shot was already on the way before the buzzer went. Plus, this crowd is so ridiculously loud I wouldn’t be surprised if Aldo, Mendes and Goddard couldn’t hear the buzzer properly. Whatever the case, Mendes got fucking nailed. Aldo 10-9. 

Round 2: Mendes seems to have recovered well. He’s really piling the pressure on and is landing a lot of kicks. Aldo’s starting to get his jab going but Mendes is getting the best of most of these exchanges. Good round for Mendes there and he takes the round 10-9. 

Round 3: They touch gloves and Mendes tried to get a sneaky punch in. Prick. Crowd didn’t like that. He pokes Aldo in the eye again and they hate that even more. They go after it again and Aldo’s looking fast as fuck. But right when I say that...

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Mendes with a hard uppercut that seems to stun Aldo for a second. Mendes trying to follow up and gets cracked with a counter right to the swede...

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Christ. Every time Mendes seems to have a breakthrough, Aldo one-ups him with something better. Aldo’s pouring it on. Mendes wants to wrestle now but Aldo’s a fucker to take down. Aldo’s round 10-9.

Onto the championship rounds.

Round 4: Mendes back pushing the pace again. Aldo’s face is marked up now and he’s bleeding from the eye. Mendes is spamming that uppercut now but can’t find the target. Aldo flying knee barely misses and he’s turning it on in the last minute of the round. It’s not enough though and Mendes wins the round 10-9.

So I’ve got them all tied at 38-38 going into the 5th. Aldo’s had the bigger moments and the heavier knockdowns but round-for-round, they’re even. 

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Round 5: Mendes with a strong start and landing some nice shots. Mendes finally gets a takedown but can’t hold him down and doesn’t really inflict any damage. And Aldo’s back up. Beautiful combo from Aldo, followed by a big knee. They’re both throwing and both connecting but Aldo always seems to get the last word in the exchanges. Aldo stuffs another takedown attempt as we enter the final minute of the fight. The crowd are buzzing. They go for it as the last 10 seconds tick down and Aldo’s trying flying kicks and all sorts. It’s over. Aldo 10-9.

They hug and Brian Stann channels Adam Smith, saying “And there’s the respect”. 

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Winner - José Aldo by unanimous decision.

Yep. Agree with that. Mendes fought his arse off but Aldo was just that bit better. Fantastic fight. I had it as FOTY in 2014 fairly comfortably. 

I look at this fight as the beginning of the end for Chad Mendes. He was never quite the same after this. The commentators kept banging on how it was the most damage we’d seen Aldo absorb in a fight but Mendes took the brunt of the abuse in this one. He went 2-3 over his next 5 fights, got stopped by Conor McGregor etc. He also got knocked out in a round by Frankie Edgar who’s not really known for his punching power. That was a bit of a telling sign. He ended up retiring after the loss to Alexander Volkanovski in December 2018.

And of course we know the score with Aldo. From the 13 seconds of misery against McGregor to the Holloway losses to the resurgence to the unexpected cut to 135lbs. He’s had an eventful few years. 

I doubt it happens but there’s not much in MMA that would please me more in 2020 than for Aldo to break Henry Cejudo’s face and take the title. 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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#13 - Robbie Lawler vs Carlos Condit - UFC 195 - Jan 2nd 2016

Back on it then. And it was only a matter of time before these two popped up in this countdown. Two men known for being in exciting, blood and guts battles. So when they were pitted against each other, it could only be that way. The ingredients for anything less simply weren’t there.

Originally, this was supposed to go down at UFC 193 in Australia in November 2015. But Lawler suffered a hand injury so it got pushed back to the new year. It worked out nicely though as 193 got Rousey vs Holm and we’d kick 2016 off with a bang with Lawler vs Condit.

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Robbie Lawler’s story has been well documented. He burst onto everyone’s radar back in 2002, entering the UFC as this wild 20 year old kid. He was part of the Pat Miletich team which was really THE camp at the time with the likes of Matt Hughes, Tim Sylvia and Jens Pulver all being on top of their games. Lawler was unlike any of them though. He was a lunatic just coming to knock heads off. Some things never change, right? He had his ups and downs and ultimately, losses to Nick Diaz and Evan Tanner saw him leave the promotion in 2004. He went about his business in a bunch of promotions after that. Leaving carnage like this in his wake...

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From those crazy Superbrawl shows in Hawaii to King Of The Cage to a cup of coffee in Pride to EliteXC before eventually settling in Strikeforce in 2009. By this point he was 27 years old with a 16-4-1 record and a reputation as one of the most consistently entertaining scrappers in the game. Win, lose or draw, you knew what you were getting when you saw ‘Ruthless’ Rob’s name on a card. Again though, mixed results and in his 8 fights under the Strikeforce banner, he went a dismal 3-5 as a Middleweight.

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When Strikeforce shut its doors in late 2012, Lawler was 30 years old, 19-9-1 and coming off a loss to Lorenz Larkin. So when the UFC brought the Strikeforce lot in, and Lawler returned in 2013, expectations were low. Especially when he was matched up with wrestler Josh Koscheck for his first fight back. But Lawler was making changes. He’d joined American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. He’d also dropped back to Welterweight. He had another shot at the UFC and having just turned 30 and with a new baby at home, Lawler was leaving no stone unturned. It was now or never. In a pleasant surprise, he bashed Koscheck in a round. He followed that up with wins over Bobby Voelker and Rory MacDonald and earned himself an unexpected UFC title shot against Johny Hendricks in 2014. Hendricks was in top form at the time and I think most expected him to end Lawler’s little unexpected purple patch of success. But Lawler gave him hell for 5 rounds in a great fight.

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Lawler there, laughing in the face of a Hendricks flurry.

Lawler lost on points but proved he belonged in the title picture. He rallied back to beat Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown, setting up the rematch with Hendricks. It was another close one but this time, Lawler ended strong and put a real arse kicking on Hendricks in the last round to seal the win. This gif from the end of the fight says it all...

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Hendricks is done. Lawler is still walking him down like a maniac.

It was almost surreal but, after all the ups and downs, Robbie Lawler was somehow the UFC champion.

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One of my favourite surprise success stories in MMA history that.

Of course, he then defended it in an absolute epic rematch with Rory Mac in 2015. I won’t bother going into that because *SPOILER ALERT* that’s coming up later in the countdown anyway, which really shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.

Condit started young himself. Made his MMA debut at just 18 years old. He also fought his first Kickboxing bout against Andy Souwer who must’ve been close to 100 fights deep into his career at the time. Condit talked about that on Rogan’s podcast a while back. Condit didn’t give a fuck. Like Lawler, he bounced around the promotions fighting in Pancrase, Rumble On The Rock etc before eventually winding up in WEC in 2007.

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He won the vacant WEC Welterweight belt in just his second fight with the organisation and successfully defended it 3 times. His August 2008 fight with Hiromitsu Miura being the highlight. One of my favourite fights from WEC. In 2009 he came into the UFC at 23-4. He immediately had 3 fantastic fights with Martin Kampmann, Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald. The Ellenberger fight especially is a real forgotten gem. He properly got the MMA world’s attention in 2010 though, when he came to London and sparked Dan Hardy in hostile territory...

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After that he had some big moments. In 2012 he beat Nick Diaz to win the interim title and almost knocked out GSP with a headkick in a valiant losing effort. He went 2-2 in his next 4. So it was a little bit of a head scratcher that he was granted a crack at Lawler’s gold. But I think the general consensus at the time was one of ‘ah, sod it’. Everyone knew this was going to be pure, unfiltered violence.

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Robbie Lawler (c) vs Carlos Condit - Welterweight Title

UFC 195: Lawler vs Condit

January 2nd 2016

Las Vegas, Nevada

If you’re familiar at all with these two then you won’t be surprised when I say there was very little pre-fight talk from either side and zero bad blood going in. Think they even appeared on a podcast together in the run up to the fight. They knew what they were up against and there was no pretence or fake hype necessary. 

“Carlos has fought a lot of good fighters. None of them like me. I’m a knockout artist, power in both hands, I can hurt you in many ways.” - Robbie Lawler

The chilling words of the champ as the show opens.

Condit, as always, coming out with the mean mug to Rage Against The Machine. Goes together like chips and gravy.

Round 1: Lawler pressuring right off the bat. Controlling the centre of the Octagon as Condit tries to counter on the backfoot. Then all of a sudden, Condit drops him! It was hard to see what caused it at first but it was a short lead left straight to the chin.

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Robbie doesn’t look massively hurt by it but it stunned him enough to put him down. Lawler got up smiling the mad cunt. Condit looking good early. Lots of kicking and keeping Robbie guessing mixing up his attacks. Very nice opening round for the ‘Natural Born Killer’. Condit 10-9.

Round 2: Lawler is like a coiled spring. He’s just looking for his chance to let loose. Condit moving and kicking again. Lawler fucking CRACKS Condit coming in with a hard right hook that puts him on the deck.

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Absolutely clobbered him. That was heavy knockdown. And Lawler is raining down bombs on the ground. Condit weathers the storm and recovers well. Robbie again bringing the pain with big punches.

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He’s finding a home for his shots now but Condit lands a couple of nice strikes as the round ends. Lawler 10-9. Maybe a 10-8 under the new scoring.

Round 3: Condit keeping Lawler at bay with his kicks early doors here. But Lawler is turning up the heat again and goes on the attack.

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Both connecting with hard shots in close. Good kicks by Condit and some knees. Hard body kick from Condit. Mike Goldberg with the stats, telling us that Condit is leading the numbers 3-to-1 in output of strikes. Problem with that is a lot of those strikes are hitting thin air. Lawler is throwing less but when they land they land with fucking venom. Close one. Condit ended the round stronger but I had Lawler just about edging it. Tough one though.

And we enter the championship rounds.

Round 4: Goldberg is banging on about the stats again as Rogan falls in love with Condit’s movement and talks about him having a ‘movement coach’ which was all the rage and a real buzzword at the time thanks to TJ ‘Mr EPO’ Dillashaw’s success and McGregor “playing touch-butt in the park with the ponytail” as Nate Diaz called it. Meanwhile, Lawler is focused on one movement. Moving his knuckles upside Condit’s dome. Condit landing a lot towards the end of the round though and Robbie isn’t finding many opportunities to pull the trigger. Condit hurts him and swarms all over him in the last 30 seconds and it’s Condit 10-9.

So I’ve got them even going into the last round. Rogan and Goldy are talking like Lawler is way behind though. They’re acting like he needs the KO to win.

Round 5: Real sense of urgency now and Lawler is bringing it. He’s connecting with some big shots but Condit fires back with a sweet combo of uppercuts and elbows in close range.

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This is awesome. Condit seems to be starting to pull ahead. He’s piling up the points and well on his way to taking Robbie’s belt.

“Carlos bloodied up but far from beaten. Total strikes...the statistics are SO lopsided. Nearly 400 strikes thrown by the Natural Born Killer” - Mike Goldberg

Carol Vorderman over here again with the fucking numbers.

More combinations from Condit. He’s looking great here late in the fight. I’m pretty sure Goldy and Rogan are wanking over the stats and the movement at this point. Then it happens. Lawler gets through with a big right hand. And the floodgates open.

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The Robbie Lawler Beast Mode is upon us.

He unleashes an all-out assault for the last 90 seconds of the fight that renders Condit’s ‘movement coach’ about as useful as a knitted condom. Condit’s game as always and trying his best to throw back but he’s in a whirlwind of haymakers, spit, snot and blood.

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The type of shit Robbie Lawler lives for. That point in the fight where he bites down on the mouthpiece and just goes full-on savage. And I don’t mean Lily. He’s smashing Condit all about the place. Condit’s hanging on for dear life. All that work he put in early in the round. All for nowt. Lawler is paying him back with attempted murder. Condit lands a few digs but Lawler gives it back worse and slams his shin into Condit’s face as we get to the final 10 seconds. The fight ends just in time before Rogan has a heart attack. Lawler’s round, obviously. I wouldn’t give it 10-8 because Condit was bossing it for about 3 minutes. But Lawler snatched it from him big time.

As soon as the buzzer goes, both men just slump against the fence totally exhausted.

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“What a fight! With nothing left, look at these guys. Literally nothing left. Emptied out. Unbelievable! Unbelievable! That might’ve been one of the best rounds in the history of the Welterweight division.” - Joe Rogan

Definitely one of the best rounds ever for me, regardless of weight class. So I’ve got it for Lawler 48-47. I wouldn’t argue against someone having it for Condit though. Very close and that third round really could’ve swung it either way.

Winner - Robbie Lawler by split decision.

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I remember quite a few cries of robbery in the days after the fight. I disagreed then, I still disagree now. Like I said, if you had it for Condit I can definitely see why. But either man winning it 3-2 is a perfectly fair and justifiable scorecard. And right enough, all the judges had it 48-47 one way or the other. No controversy here. Great, great, bloody great fight. It built and built and that last round was a hell of a climax. 

There was some talk of an immediate rematch at the time but it wasn’t to be. Lawler lost the strap to Tyron Woodley in his next defence. And Condit was never the same again. For all the wars both men have been in, in hindsight this one might’ve been the final nail for both. In the 4 years since this fight took place, Lawler has gone 1-4 and as I type this he’s lost his last 3 in a row. And Condit hasn’t won a fight since. He’s gone 0-4 since the Lawler fight and been submitted in 3 of them. He’s been flirting with retirement since shortly after the Lawler fight. So as amazing as these fights are, they come at a cost. Which is why we should really appreciate them even more. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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22 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

“Carlos bloodied up but far from beaten. Total strikes...the statistics are SO lopsided. Nearly 400 strikes thrown by the Natural Born Killer” - Mike Goldberg

Carol Vorderman over here again with the fucking numbers.

All this brings up an interesting question about Mike Goldberg. Did he start to phone it in as time went on? Or was he always crap?

 

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17 hours ago, jimufctna24 said:

All this brings up an interesting question about Mike Goldberg. Did he start to phone it in as time went on? Or was he always crap?

 

I feel like he's always been pretty crap. Joe Rogan did a decent job over the years keeping him in check. He's had some shockers though. One that sticks out for me is the Rousey/Holm fight, Holly is destroying Ronda, and Goldberg says something like "It takes a lot of energy being a rockstar", and Rogan shoots him down with "It's nothing to do with being a rockstar, she's getting punched in the face!" Not the exact quotes but it's along those lines.

This is a great thread, Wand, some fights I remembered, others I didn't, but I'm using them all in my Favourites list on Fight Pass so I can have one hell of a binging session. Keep it up man!

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#12 - Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard 2 - UFC 125 - Jan 1st 2011

Onto the next one. And I think this is a fairly obvious choice. As the ‘2’ tells you there, they’d met before. Back in 2008, they faced off on a Fight Night card.

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Neither man was all that well known at the time but they were both on the rise and undefeated. Edgar was 9-0, Maynard was 4-0-1. I haven’t seen the fight since the night it happened but my memories of it aren’t exactly fond ones. Flicking through the Countdown for the rematch here though, it doesn’t look that bad in the highlights. But Maynard broke his right hand in the first round and just outwrestled Frankie for the rest of the fight to a lopsided decision.

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It was Edgar’s first loss, obviously. Yeah, not the best of fights from what I recall. Just a case of two wrestlers squaring off and the bigger, stronger one won.

Maynard went on a bit of a tear after that win. Winning his next 5 bouts over the likes of Rich Clementi, Jim Miller, Roger Huerta, Nate Diaz and Kenny Florian. But in the meantime, Frankie had bounced back big time himself. He racked up wins over Hermes Franca, Sean Sherk and Matt Veach, bagging himself a title shot in 2010.

Problem was, BJ Penn had the gold.

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And Penn was on the scariest form of his career. He’d spent the bulk of 2009 training under Marv Marinovic and put in two of his best career performances against Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez. On paper, there was nothing Frankie Edgar brought to the table that should derail the great BJ Penn on this kind of form. But BJ had sacked off the Marinovic training methods in favour of his usual more laid back approach to training for this one. And Frankie was coming to prove a point. They went 5 close rounds in a hot Abu Dhabi arena and in the end...

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Frankie had done it. He surprised the MMA world by taking Penn’s belt. It was a bit of a highly debated decision though and many felt Penn should’ve got the nod from the judges. So the immediate rematch was booked for 4 months later in August 2010. This time there’d be no debate. Frankie trounced him for the whole 5 rounds in a total shutout.

So with Edgar firmly established as the top dog at 155, and Maynard still unbeaten and on a strong run of wins, it was a bit of a no brainer. Plus there was the added story of Edgar trying to avenge his only loss. 

It’s been forgotten now though, but there was a collective groan when this fight was announced. BJ Penn had been such a popular champion that it would take something special to follow his reign. And two wrestlers with dry personalities, having a rematch of a fight that wasn’t all that exciting...it just wasn’t it. As I recall, most were predicting a bit of a snoozer.

“He’s coming in with a perfect record and I have that one blemish. And it’s him. I’m 13-and-Gray Maynard. I wanna do what I can do to erase that and forget about it and move on.” - Frankie Edgar

— — — — —

“A guy who I beat, and HE has the belt? It’s MY revenge now. He has everything that I should have. That I want. I just gotta go get it now.” - Gray Maynard

Here we go. 

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Frankie Edgar (c) vs Gray Maynard - Lightweight Title 

UFC 125: Resolution 

January 1st 2011

Las Vegas, Nevada

RESOLUTION! Remember when they used to give the PPVs these cheesy names?

Anyway, the stage was set. New Years Day 2011. Despite the lukewarm response to the main event, there was some buzz surrounding this one. But mostly because it was announced that the winner would defend against WEC champ Anthony Pettis who was just a few weeks removed from landing that ‘Showtime Kick’ on Benson Henderson to take the title. That kick went viral at the time so people were buzzing to see Pettis in the UFC. There was definitely a general feeling of people looking beyond this fight to what was next. I was guilty of that myself.

Round 1: Circling early and Frankie, as always, is moving really well. Despite being wrestlers, both are content to box in the early going. Then a little over a minute in...

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Bang! 

A left hook from Maynard sends Frankie flying arse-over-tit and Maynard is all over him. Frankie is getting fucking battered. The once disinterested crowd has suddenly woke right the fuck up. Edgar’s nose has been popped and he’s wobbly on the feet but he seems to have weathered the worst of the storm. But then...

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Fuck me. Maynard continues the assault. Everything he throws seems to be connecting and everything that connects is hurting Frankie.

“If Frankie Edgar gets out of this round it will be incredible!” - Joe Rogan

Maynard is just walking him down and smashing him to bits. Amazingly, Edgar seems to have his legs back under him and actually lands a couple of shots as the round comes to an end. Maynard 10-8 but honestly, if there was ever a case for a 10-7 round, this was it.

Round 2: Edgar looks like he’s back with it and lands a nice right hand that momentarily stops Gray in his tracks early in the round.

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Maynard is stalking him with that right hand cocked. Not so much output from him now though. Might’ve punched himself out in that opening round. Crazy how good Frankie looks here after that disaster of a first round.

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Huge slam from Frankie!

Totally forgot about that and nearly lost my shit all over again like it was the first time I’d seen it. More punches land for Edgar and he stuffs a Maynard takedown attempt. Another couple of flush right hands for Frankie as the round ends. Unbelievable turnaround! Edgar 10-9.

Maynard’s corner are fuming between rounds.

“Hey, you’re trying to knock his ass out. Just beat him up, alright? You don’t need to knock him out. That’ll come. You gave him that round now. You understand me? It’s a round apiece.” - Randy Couture

Round 3: The stern talking to from Randy seems to have lit a fire under Maynard’s arse and he’s looking better this round. Both land some good stuff but Maynard is finding the mark more often and with the heavier shots.

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He also secures a takedown in the last minute. Frankie tries for a guillotine at the end but runs out of time. Maynard 10-9.

Round 4: Frankie comes out blazing with a takedown right away and locks in a standing guillotine as Maynard gets up. Maynard escapes and Frankie gets another takedown. Back up and Frankie is looking great this round. He’s mixing things up and keeping Maynard guessing. Another half takedown against the fence and he’s really putting it on Gray here.

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The fact he not only survived that first round but came back to put a pace like this on in the championship rounds is utterly insane. Edgar 10-9.

Miraculous comeback from Edgar. From looking like a walking corpse in the first round to 2-2 going into the last round is nuts.

Round 5: Edgar looking good again here. Maynard does land some hard shots and still looks dangerous but Frankie is just too slick and fast for him. In some ways that big first round might’ve been the worst thing that could’ve happened for Maynard because ever since then he’s almost exclusively been headhunting. He finally shoots for another takedown but Edgar easily stops it. Final minute and they’re both going for broke. Frankie landing some sweet combos and defends another takedown. Both swinging punches as the fight ends. Awesome. Edgar 10-9 again.

Result - Split Draw.

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I also had it a draw. That 10-8 first round made all the difference in the end. Ridiculous fight.

Of course, the draw verdict killed that Pettis fight stone dead. Edgar vs Maynard 3 was a must after this. And somehow, for me, they had an even better fight. That one’s still to come in the countdown.

Side note - more than once while typing this post, the autocorrect on my phone changed ‘Frankie’ to ‘granite’. How fitting is that? Especially when talking about this fight specifically. Guess they’re called smart phones for good reason. 

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On 1/21/2020 at 8:56 AM, wandshogun09 said:

It’s been forgotten now though, but there was a collective groan when this fight was announced. BJ Penn had been such a popular champion that it would take something special to follow his reign. And two wrestlers with dry personalities, having a rematch of a fight that wasn’t all that exciting...it just wasn’t it. As I recall, most were predicting a bit of a snoozer.

It was also a bit of a dark period for MMA in some regards. 

The initial boom period was coming to an end. Lesnar had just lost to Cain, Liddell has retired over the summer, and the Kimbo experiment had run its course. It also didn't help that this card was initially going to be headlined by the hotly-anticipated Sonnen vs Silva rematch, which was cancelled because Sonnen got busted for PEDs.

The rematch would have been received a lot better had it served as support for Silva vs Sonnen. But at a time where things where trending downwards, and genuine attractions were dropping like flies, it didn't really fit as a PPV headliner. Luckily, the fight over-delivered on the night. 

Edited by jimufctna24
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#11 - Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje - UFC Fight Night - Apr 18th 2018

This one is still fairly fresh in the memory but, fuck it, I’ll happily watch it again. This was another fight with no backstory to speak of. Just a fun fight for the sake of a fun fight. Fine by me. It was just one of those matchups where you can chuck them on as a Fight Night headliner and you know it’s going to be at worst entertaining and at best a FOTY candidate.

Poirier at this time was on a hot streak. He’d been through some rough patches at Featherweight earlier in his career. He lost a fantastic fight against Korean Zombie in 2012 (that one just narrowly missed this countdown) and, of course, he got slept by Conor McGregor in 2014. He moved up to Lightweight after the McGregor loss and put some nice wins together. But when Michael Johnson sparked him in a round in 2016, I think everyone kind of wrote Poirier off as far as being a player in the division went. He came back strong though and in 2017 he beat Jim Miller, had a great fight with Eddie Alvarez that ended in a No Contest but most felt Poirier was winning, then he beat Anthony Pettis. All really good fights as well. He was back on track heading into 2018.

For Gaethje, this was his first fight since suffering his first loss against Eddie Alvarez in that slobberknocker I covered above. He’d gone 18-0 before that, 16 finishes, WSOF champ etc. And despite being 1-1 in the UFC at this point, he was 2-for-2 for legit FOTY contenders in 2017. He’d made quite an impression. This was his chance to redeem himself against another top contender.

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Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje

UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs Gaethje 

April 18th 2018

Glendale, Arizona

Tyron Woodley and Michael Bisping are both predicting a Poirier win during the pre-fight analysis. Anik, Cormier and Cruz are commentating.

“I’m coming to beat his ass and he’s coming to do the same. The fans are in for a treat. Buckle up, enjoy the ride.” - Dustin Poirier

Arizona born Gaethje is getting the big hometown boy reaction during his walkout.

Round 1: Well there were questions going in about how Gaethje would look coming off his first loss. Would it make him less aggressive at all? Within seconds that’s answered and it’s a resounding ‘no’. He’s coming right at Poirier from the off and landing those horrible Tong Po leg kicks. Poirier is moving around and landing the cleaner punches though. He’s still eating the leg kicks but he’s making Gaethje pay with combinations every time. He’s clearly the better striker technically but Gaethje makes up for that by being a bloody nutcase.

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Sweet combo from Poirier and he’s starting to pick Gaethje apart now. But Gaethje is firing back. Poirier is looking sharp as fuck but Gaethje keeps whipping in those inside leg kicks and you just know they’re money in the bank if the fight goes long.

“This is what we expected. These guys are fighting in a phone booth. Poirier’s gonna have to get some respect and get Justin moving back a little bit.” - Daniel Cormier

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Hard shots from Poirier late in the round. Gaethje is stupid tough but Poirier is landing a LOT here. Poirier 10-9.

Gaethje is asking his corner who won that round and Trevor Wittman screeches “YOU DID!” In his own little annoying Trevor Wittman way. He didn’t win the round though. Wittman is a big filthy high pitched voice having fibber.

Round 2: Picking up right where they left off. Poirier busting him up with his boxing and his body kicks and Gaethje is just walking through it and blasting kicks at his legs. And it’s starting to pay off now.

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Poirier is visibly feeling it now. He can’t mask it like he did earlier. I’m wincing myself at some of them. And to piss in his wounds, Gaethje pokes him in the eye. Both landing punches. And Gaethje is getting through more now than he was earlier. Probably because all those leg kicks have hindered Poirier’s movement. They’re both fucking going for it! Poirier has actually starting going for takedowns. His leg must be trashed. Gaethje keeps it standing, lands a few hard shots and busts out a rolling thunder kick thingy at the buzzer...

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Maniac. Close round. Both landed a lot. I felt like Gaethje took it 10-9 though.

Poirier looks in agony as they await the start of the third round. And Gaethje is on the opposite side grinning from ear to ear and trying to amp the crowd up more. He’s loving life. Must be fucking demoralising fighting someone like that. You can barely stand and you’ve dished out about a zillion punches in 10 minutes. You get off the stool, look across the cage and the mad twat’s having the time of his life.

Round 3: Gaethje bringing it again. He just refuses to fuck off for even a second. Poirier actually gets a takedown finally but Gaethje pops right back up. The pressure from Gaethje is insane. He lands a hard right that makes Poirier stumble...

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He definitely looks troubled by it and Gaethje follows up with a hard elbow in close against the fence. Gaethje has him against the cage and is landing uppercuts and kneeing the already smashed up legs. God this is turning into a right miserable fight for Poirier.

More leg kicks. Do you reckon Gaethje watched Karate Kid 3 much growing up?

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”If a man can’t stand he can’t fight.” - Terry The Bastard Silver

Gaethje’s butchering Poirier’s legs. I’m actually starting to feel sorry for Poirier. And we’re still only at the halfway point of the fight. He’s now making feeble attempts to grab Gaethje’s legs for some kind of weak takedown. He wants no more of them leg kicks and I don’t blame him one bit. Poirier gets poked in the eye again. Christ almighty. This is a living hell for poor Dustin. Herb Dean docks a point from Gaethje but I don’t think that’s much consolation at this point. Poirier is suffering. The doctor checks him and Poirier says he’s OK. They fight on and now Poirier pokes Gaethje in the eye as the round ends. 9-9 with the point deduction. Maybe 9-8 Gaethje though, to be honest.

Both look worse for wear in between rounds.

Round 4: They both seem to have an urgency about them here and almost right away Poirier fucking stuns him with a straight left! Gaethje’s legs are all over the place and Poirier follows up with a flurry of punches and finally puts Gaethje down...

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Mental.

Herb Dean has seen enough and waves it off. Gaethje didn’t go out but I thought it was a good stoppage. He looked fucked and it was most likely only going to get worse. Herb saved him. Incredible comeback from Poirier.

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Winner - Dustin Poirier by TKO. Round 4 - 0:33.

Nutty fight. Poirier showed a lot about what kind of fighter and how tough of a man he really is here. It felt like he was heading to getting stopped all through those 2nd and 3rd rounds. His leg was done, his vision was impaired from the eye pokes, he’d been hurt with punches. And he had the perfect chance at the end of the 3rd to get out of the fight when the doctor was checking on him. All he had to do was keep squinting the eye and not responding to his questions. If he wanted a way out, he was handed it. But he went beyond that mental barrier and came out and blitzed Gaethje at the start of the next round. This was a real turning point for Poirier, in my opinion. He’d kind of choked in the big fights before this. This win felt like he’d turned a corner as a fighter and it ultimately set him up for those big Holloway and Khabib fights in 2019.

I’ve seen a few suggestions online that these two rematch while the whole Khabib, Ferguson, McGregor, Masvidal, Diaz saga plays out this year. Wouldn’t be against that at all. I think McGregor vs Gaethje would be the better fight to make but I’d certainly not turn my nose up at Poirier vs Gaethje 2. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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I'd love to see a rematch between the pair of them. What an incredible fight it was. I can't remember if Poirier said anything to the effect or not, but at the time it felt like he came out for that 4th round with the idea he was going to be toast if he took anymore damage at all and set about throwing a Hail Mary of an assault at Justin at the beginning of the round in search of the stoppage so that he wouldn't have to stand on that leg any longer. Poirier's leg was totally minced. 

Both men are in the position where a rematch looks like their best option at the moment. I'm sure Gaethje is ready to go. I'm not so sure what Dustin's timetable is with having had hip surgery sometime following the Khabib fight. I don't think either man is likely to be fighting McGregor, Ferguson or Khabib next. They could be in the frame for a fight with Nate though, which would probably be more appealing to both of it were on the table. We'll probably get Poirier/Gaethje II at some point though, and it's going to have a hell of a time living up to the first one. 

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