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wandshogun09

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

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The kids are asleep. The missus is in bed with the flu. Fuck it. I’m doing double duty. Might as well crack the Top 10 tonight...

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#10 - Eddie Alvarez vs Michael Chandler 1 - Bellator 58 - Nov 19th 2011

OK. I’ve never followed Bellator as closely as some on here, I try to keep up with what’s going on but in terms of viewing I dip in and out. I watched a bit more in the early days but can’t say I’m massively up on the history of the promotion as much as a Egg Shen or Jim might be. I remember this fight well though.

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Eddie Alvarez at this point had made a name for himself amongst MMA hardcore fans and the media as must-see TV. He first got on my radar with his couple of absolute barnburners with Tatsuya Kawajiri and Joachim Hansen in the DREAM promotion in Japan. Seriously exciting fights. It was pretty much the consensus opinion that Alvarez and Gilbert Melendez were the two best Lightweights in the world who weren’t under UFC contract. Some would say Shinya Aoki but it was usually Eddie or Gilbert coming up in that debate. At this point Eddie was 22-2 in his MMA career. And he was the poster boy for Bellator, their 155lbs champion and was on a 7 fight win streak.

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Chandler was the new kid in the Lightweight ranks and there was some buzz around him. He was only 25 years old and undefeated at 8-0. Inexperienced compared to Alvarez but he’d already won the Season 4 Tournament and beat Patricky Pitbull to earn this shot. He’d submitted Marcin Held prior to that as well. He was exciting to watch and had a good mix of grappling and striking skills. The sky was the limit. The question going in would be whether this fight was coming too soon for him. Less than 10 pro fights and taking on Eddie Alvarez in a 5 rounder? No fucking thankyou!

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Eddie Alvarez (c) vs Michael Chandler - Lightweight Title

Bellator 58

November 19th 2011

Hollywood, Florida 

The old Bellator commentary team of Sean Wheelock and Jimmy Smith are in the booth for this one. And Michael Williams, as always, is the emcee. How that constantly grinning wrong’un has kept that gig all these years I don’t know. 

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Anyway. On we go.

Round 1: Jesus Fuck. They’re not wasting a second here. They immediately collide in the centre of the cage and Chandler gets the better of it.

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He hurts Eddie with an absolute barrage of rapid fire punches and the referee is seemingly a cunt hair away from stopping it but Eddie hangs tough and fires back just enough to stay in the fight. Chandler takedown but Alvarez gets back up and he’s back in business now and landing his punches, especially that lunging lead right he likes to throw. He’s looking good now and really starting to outstrike Chandler quite handily as the round goes on. He even lands a sweet sort of jumping knee to the face. But right when I start thinking Eddie might steal the round, Chandler is coming back in the last minute and connecting with big shots...

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And he drops Eddie again just as the round is about to end.

Chandler 10-9. Would’ve given it 10-8 if not for Eddie bossing those middle 3 minutes or so. Definitely Chandler’s round though on damage.

Round 2: And they’re straight back to it. Nice body kick from Eddie. Chandler with a brief takedown and then a slam which lands him straight into side control. Bad for Eddie. Now Chandler takes the back but Eddie somehow escapes back to his feet. Done well to get out of that. Chandler getting cocky now and Eddie goes at him. Chandler goes for takedowns and Eddie stuffs two of them. Eddie’s trying to set up the anaconda choke. He lands a big knee as Chandler gets up. Big body kick and some punches by Alvarez as the round ends. Close one but it’s Alvarez 10-9 for me. Jimmy Smith has it the same.

Round 3: Eddie’s pushing the pace and Chandler is looking a bit tired to me. Eddie with a big right hand that the commentators completely ignore while they waffle on about nothing. Alvarez is on him now. He’s recognised Chandler is slowing down so, being the veteran, he’s upped the pace and is going to the body. Eddie’s boxing the head off him up the fence and Chandler looks like he’s wilting now. More body shots and an uppercut. Chandler is bleeding and looks about ready to drop but he is throwing back enough to where the ref can’t really jump in.

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Fuck me though, Eddie is smashing him to bits this round. I didn’t remember it being this bad. Chandler is trying his best but he’s getting his shit fucked up here. It’s the Bellator version of the Edgar-Maynard first round of doom. Both bleeding now. Alvarez 10-8. Smith only gives it 10-9. For that thrashing?! OK. 

Round 4: Somehow, Chandler comes bouncing out of his corner to kick this round off. Fucker must have some Wolverine type healing powers. Both seem happy to box this one out and Chandler is miraculously doing alright. Eddie might have emptied the tank in that last round. Chandler goes for a takedown and, in the scramble, clips Eddie with some shots as they come back up. HE DROPS EDDIE! Big right hand it was. He follows Eddie to the ground and starts hammering him with punches. He’s got the mount. Elbows. How in the fuck? Eddie tries to roll out and Chandler takes his back!

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He sinks the choke in and Eddie taps. Madness. What a rollercoaster of a fight. 

Winner - Michael Chandler by submission. Round 4 - 3:06.

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Amazing. Both of them gave it 100%. I honestly think Eddie, on that night, would’ve put almost any other 155er away with that 3rd round assault. And I’m talking top UFC guys as well. Not many would’ve survived that. And Chandler answered questions here that hadn’t been asked of him before. I’ve never really liked Chandler. I enjoy watching him fight but there’s always been something about him where I can’t warm to him. But credit where it’s due. To come back after a round like the 3rd here and finish Eddie Alvarez, in this kind of form, the following round takes a special kind of rare breed. Crazy fight.

They would meet again in 2013. More on that later in the countdown. 😉 

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18 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

I watched a bit more in the early days but can’t say I’m massively up on the history of the promotion as much as a Egg Shen or Jim might be.

Ebb is probably better qualified in that regard. I only watched Bellator's major shows until they inked a deal with Sky. I was always more of a Strikeforce fanboy. I don't think I missed a major Strikeforce show between 2009 and 2013. 

I do remember the buzz around this fight at the time. Mental that it happened on the same night as Hendo vs Shogun 1. 

 

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2 hours ago, jimufctna24 said:

Mental that it happened on the same night as Hendo vs Shogun 1.

Yep. I was going to mention that when I get to that fight. Countdown spoiler I know, but you knew that fight was coming up, and somewhere in the single digits. 

It’s funny but I remember back then a lot of people saying 2011 was a shit year for MMA. It was usually coming from the ‘business’ and ‘ratings~’ lot who talk about MMA like it’s the stock market or something. Like the MMA version of how Al Snow only thinks a wrestling match is good if it draws. What a joyless way to follow any sport. In truth, 2011 was one of my favourite years as a fan. The fights alone you had Hendo vs Shogun 1, Alvarez vs Chandler 1, the two Edgar vs Maynard wars, Diaz vs Daley over in Strikeforce, the Cheick Kongo vs Pat Barry round of madness, Jon Jones first year as champ taking out the likes of Shogun, Rampage, Machida etc etc. Then you had the WEC merger and the Strikeforce buyout bringing in the likes of Aldo, Cerrone, Pettis, Overeem, Diaz and so on. Not to mention Ronda Rousey made her MMA debut that year. Oh and if we must talk ‘business’ the UFC signed that mega deal with FOX in 2011. It was a hell of a year. So much going on and so many big things happening. 

But yeah, the fact we got two fights the quality of Alvarez vs Chandler 1 and Hendo vs Shogun 1 on the same night was mad. 

For anyone who never saw it, Alvarez vs Chandler 1 is up on YouTube in full. Fill your boots...

 

Edited by wandshogun09

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15 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

It’s funny but I remember back then a lot of people saying 2011 was a shit year for MMA. It was usually coming from the ‘business’ and ‘ratings~’ lot who talk about MMA like it’s the stock market or something. Like the MMA version of how Al Snow only thinks a wrestling match is good if it draws. What a joyless way to follow any sport. In truth, 2011 was one of my favourite years as a fan. The fights alone you had Hendo vs Shogun 1, Alvarez vs Chandler 1, the two Edgar vs Maynard wars, Diaz vs Daley over in Strikeforce, the Cheick Kongo vs Pat Barry round of madness, Jon Jones first year as champ taking out the likes of Shogun, Rampage, Machida etc etc. Then you had the WEC merger and the Strikeforce buyout bringing in the likes of Aldo, Cerrone, Pettis, Overeem, Diaz and so on. Not to mention Ronda Rousey made her MMA debut that year. Oh and if we must talk ‘business’ the UFC signed that mega deal with FOX in 2011. It was a hell of a year. So much going on and so many big things happening. 

Yeah, it was a great year inside the cage. The UFC's return to Brazil in August of that year also deserves a mention. That was a top show. I also enjoyed the Bisping vs Mayhem version of the TUF. I loathed Bisping at the time and quite liked Mayhem. How times have changed 😄

However, the bolded is one of the reasons I look back at 2011 with a bit of sadness. I really didn't want the promotions to merge. I could just about live with the WEC merger, but I didn't like the Strikeforce merger one bit. It meant that Dana had a near-monopoly of the world's best fighters. By consequence, if you wanted to watch top-level MMA after 2012, when Zuffa discontinued Strikeforce completely, you almost always had to put up with the UFC's presentation, commentators, etc. 

Lesnar and Fedor's careers also hit the skids. Fedor was the hardcore fans' darling, and the Big Foot fight was truly the end of the road. It wasn't just that he lost the fight. It was more that he turned up without a gameplan and without training properly. He was deluded enough, or perhaps indifferent enough, to think he could turn up throw his right hand and win the fight. It was clear that his time was coming to an end. I wasn't a massive Fedor fan at the time, but for those who were, his Strikeforce run signalled an end of an era and their interest in the sport probably suffered as a result. The Lesnar story also came to a close. His illness forced him to withdraw from the JDS fight and then he lost to Overeem at the end of the year. There was nothing quite like a Lesnar spectacle again until McGregor hit the big-time 3 or 4 years later. 

So aye, it was a weird year. You could ask someone and they would say it was the best year in the history of the sport, then ask someone else, and they would tell you it was the year where their interest started to wane a bit. 

Edited by jimufctna24

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I definitely hear you. The overall health of the sport was better for having WEC and Strikeforce as separate entities. The rosters dissolving and coming into the UFC just meant it strengthened the UFC’s monopoly which isn’t really a good thing. The WEC merger didn’t matter that much because they were Zuffa owned anyway. They were basically another branch of the UFC by the end. All I missed about WEC was the presentation.

Strikeforce was weirder. I was mixed on that. Sad to see it go but at the same time why are we watching in the first place? There are plenty of different levels of enjoyment I get out of watching MMA - the personalities, the social media stuff, this forum etc. It’s all good fun. But at the heart of it I just want to see good fights. And while we lost WEC and Strikeforce we saw immediate gains in matchups being made that couldn’t have been previously.

Without Strikeforce going down who knows if we’d have ever seen that Hendo vs Shogun classic. We certainly wouldn’t have seen it in 2011 and any later than that and I’m not sure it’d have been so good. Would we have ever seen GSP vs Nick Diaz? Granted, when the fight happened it wasn’t much good but it needed to happen all the same. It’d been talked about for years. Yet if Strikeforce was still going now, I think there’s a good chance Diaz would’ve never left so it could well have joined the ‘fights that got away’ pile. It would’ve effected Ronda Rousey coming in as well. We might’ve never seen Hunt vs Bigfoot or Robbie Lawler becoming UFC champ either. Or Lawler vs Rory 2! As much as I liked Strikeforce, I’ll take it dying if it means the alternative is losing all those epic fights. Fuck, half the fights in this thread probably wouldn’t have ever happened if WEC and Strikeforce were still around. 

Edited by wandshogun09

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12 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

 The WEC merger didn’t matter that much because they were Zuffa owned anyway. They were basically another branch of the UFC by the end. All I missed about WEC was the presentation.

Yeah, when they ran on PPV, they even used the UFC's commentary team. I think they could have merged the WEC roster with the UFC's Lightweight roster, and given them their own exclusive shows under the UFC banner. That way, they could have continued using the smaller cage, which makes fights involving lighter fighters more exciting. I get why they didn't though. It's questionable whether the lighter divisions had enough draws for them to run their own shows. 

12 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

Strikeforce was weirder. I was mixed on that. Sad to see it go but at the same time why are we watching in the first place? There are plenty of different levels of enjoyment I get out of watching MMA - the personalities, the social media stuff, this forum etc. It’s all good fun. But at the heart of it I just want to see good fights. And while we lost WEC and Strikeforce we saw immediate gains in matchups being made that couldn’t have been previously.

I agree we got some cracking fights out of the Strikeforce merger. I also concede it was ultimately good for the sport that Rousey switched to the UFC. 

Strikeforce's shows were generally very good though. Obviously, the Nashville show was a complete shambles, both in and out of the cage. Nonetheless, for the most part, their shows delivered inside the cage right up until its demise. I am not the biggest fan of Coker these days. But back then, he knew how to put on a MMA show and his decision to embrace women's MMA was a stroke of genius. 

Strikeforce's commentary booth was often a mess and Showtime's camera work left a lot to be desired. Yet otherwise, Showtime's presentation, in particular their video packages and graphics, were excellent. I also liked how they broke up their main shows from their challengers shows. It usually felt like a big deal when a major Strikeforce show rolled around every 6 weeks or so. 

What Strikeforce would have become had the merge not occurred is unclear. It's possible that it would have still faded away. Perhaps their stars would have slowly defected to the UFC and Showtime would have eventually cancelled them. Nevertheless, it was in 2011 that the only real alternative to the UFC, at least on a national level, lost its independence. And, for me, that was a shame. 

Edited by jimufctna24

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I remember Chandler/Alavarez getting lost in the shuffle on the night. Im fairly certain it happened before Bellator had a proper US TV deal, so i think it only aired live in Spanish and maybe had some real limited American distribution, then there were articles saying that a better fight had happened in Bellator on the night.

Sure Bellator did some kind of special and got it aired shortly after or made it available on the youtube channel which was quite rare at the time because it was before promotions started using youtube to post full fights and archive their events as they do now. I dont think i even saw the fight in full until close to the second one happening. Its Bellators version of Bonnar/Griffin for sure.

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37 minutes ago, Egg Shen said:

Sure Bellator did some kind of special and got it aired shortly after or made it available on the youtube channel which was quite rare at the time because it was before promotions started using youtube to post full fights and archive their events as they do now.

Yeah, just looked and the full fight video I embedded above there was uploaded to Bellator’s YouTube the day after the fight happened. So that tallies with what you’re saying.  

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#9 - Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard 3 - UFC 136 - Oct 8th 2011

So Part III then. Obviously, after going to a draw in such a tremendous fight in January, it was the logical move to run it back straight away. As I recall it was briefly up in the air whether they’d still go with that Pettis fight but in the end, there was unfinished business between these two that needed resolving. 

“I’m sick of thinking about him. Am I sick of fighting him? Not quite yet. He’s got one win and a draw. I wanna get one back on him.” - Frankie Edgar

I’ve actually got the DVD of this show lying around from when I used to buy them. So I even flicked through the Countdown for this one. There’s a cool little bit on there where both Frankie and Gray watch their epic fight at UFC 125 and talk us through it. Frankie’s in some bar in New Joisy with family and friends. And old Gray No Mates is just sat watching it in his kitchen by himself. In all seriousness, Gray just comes off insanely focused. You get the feeling he was going full Rocky IV mode for this camp. Just locking himself away and training like a madman. He’s obviously heard about Frankie making a night out of viewing their last fight and he’s not impressed. 

“For me, this isn’t like ‘Oh, come over and pat me on the back and tell me I won. I know I fucking won. I don’t need an entourage to tell me that shit. This isn’t happy for me. I’m not happy because of a fucking draw.” - Gray Maynard

Grumpy Gray isn’t playing.

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Frankie Edgar (c) vs Gray Maynard - Lightweight Title 

UFC 136: Edgar vs Maynard 3

October 8th 2011

Houston, Texas

So here we go. I think at the time I didn’t really know what to expect. While their second fight was brilliant, the first one wasn’t much cop. The chances of them putting a fight on that was anywhere close to as good as their last one seemed very unlikely. But it was an intriguing as fuck fight. What would happen if Maynard doesn’t hurt Edgar early this time? Does Edgar boss it? Or does Maynard hold up better for not punching himself out? There were a bunch of questions going into this fight. But I honestly thought we’d already seen the best possible fight they could have. 

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Round 1: Edgar moving a ton early on as usual. Maynard just stalks him. Doesn’t appear that Maynard is interested in takedowns initially here. Edgar is trying to mix things up. Then at about the midway point of the round...

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Here we go a-fucking-gain! It’s happening again. Maynard batters Frankie from pillar to post. Uppercuts, knees, hooks. He’s hurting Frankie repeatedly. It’s not QUITE as bad as the beating in the first round of their last fight but it’s still a disastrous start again for Edgar. And then just when I think Edgar is recovering, Maynard drops him again with a hard right hand to the kisser. More punches from Maynard and he’s landing at will. 

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Jesus wept. OK, this is about as bad a twatting as last time. Frankie is getting obliterated here. His nose is smashed. He’s still trying to fight back but Maynard is crushing him. Maynard 10-8.

Maynard doesn’t look nearly as winded this time coming into the second round. He went for the kill here but he was smarter about picking his moments and not blowing his wad too soon. 

Round 2: Frankie looks to have regrouped and he’s looking pretty good again early this round. Again, what a tough little cunt. He’s getting the better of the boxing exchanges now. Not much in the way of drama in this round but Edgar looked great here and, once again, a hell of a comeback. Edgar 10-9. 

Round 3: Maynard upping the pace again now. He’s starting to mix some leg kicks in with his punching and lands a couple of big shots. Edgar starts to connect more as the round goes on though. 

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This is a close round. Crazy how many parallels there are between how this fight is playing out compared to their last one. Edgar 10-9. 

Round 4: Randy Couture wants Maynard to use his wrestling and be less predictable. Maynard is still hunting for that KO though and Frankie cracks him with a big right. Gray finally shoots for a takedown but Edgar stuffs it. Both landing punches. Then Frankie shoots for a takedown. Gray avoids it but as they scramble and get back to their feet, Frankie stuns him with a short right that opens the floodgates...

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Edgar swarms, Maynard’s face bounces off the mat a few times and it’s a wrap.  

Winner - Frankie Edgar by knockout. Round 4 - 3:54.

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With that, Edgar had avenged his only loss and cleared up the draw as well. 

“This ain’t easy, fighting someone three times. Gray forced me to bring the best out of myself. So I wanna thank him and his team too. I’m bringing the belt home where it belongs.” - Frankie Edgar

Another incredible fight! I prefer this one to the second fight, just slightly, maybe because there’s a decisive ending. I could change my mind on that on any given day though really. Both fights are fantastic.

They could’ve actually done a 4th fight. They finished up their series at 1-1-1. Doesn’t get any more even than that, does it? It wasn’t to be though. They were on different trajectories after this fight. Edgar remained at the top of the sport for most of the decade. Had some losses but also beat the likes of Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, Cub Swanson twice, Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez. He’s only just really seemed to start losing a step recently. Maynard’s career went on a downward spiral though. He never got back to that same level and he plummeted over the next few years. He’s fought 9 times since Edgar 3, has gone 3-6 and was stopped in 4 of them. At one point he lost 4 fights in a row. He’s not fought now since 2018. I don’t think he’s officially retired but he’s no longer with the UFC.

Pretty crazy to watch these two Edgar vs Maynard wars from 2011 and see how evenly matched they were. Yet they had completely different careers after the series ended. Great fights. One of those trilogies that ended up surpassing all expectations. 

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id like to see Frankie walk away from the game, when you look back at stuff like that ans you realise those performances are long behind him but Frankie did some incredible things against the odds in his hey day.

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#8 - Kelvin Gastelum vs Israel Adesanya - UFC 236 - Apr 13th 2019

Here’s one that should be fresh in everyone’s memory. There were some tremendous fights last year but, for my money, this was THE fight of 2019. And quite easily. It was that good. Backstory coming in was that Middleweight champ Robert Whittaker was out of commission due to health issues, so the UFC took the two top contenders in the 185lb division and created an interim title for them to scrap over. Then hopefully a healthy and recuperated Whittaker would come back and face the winner in a unification match at a later date.

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“GOOD CUNT”.

Adesanya had a real buzz about him coming into this fight. He’d gone 75-5 in Kickboxing and put together a 11-0 MMA record before the UFC came calling in 2018. He won 4 fights in the Octagon that year, most notable being his first round TKO over Derek Brunson at MSG. In February 2019 he got his big dream fight against the legendary Anderson Silva. It was a fun past vs present, kind of student vs mentor match. And Israel won on points. So at this point he was still undefeated at 16-0, and had gone 5-0 in the UFC within his first calendar year in the promotion. That combined with his fan friendly fighting style and natural charisma and confidence meant it wouldn’t be long before he’d be in the title mix.

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Gastelum had taken a bit of a longer route. He won The Ultimate Fighter back in 2013 and had some nice wins over Nate Marquardt, Johny Hendricks and Tim Kennedy over the next couple of years. It wasn’t all plain sailing though. He battered Vitor Belfort but it was overturned because he failed the weed test. He also missed weight a few times, bounced (literally sometimes, the chunky bastard) between 170 and 185 and a had few losses. In late 2017 he put himself right on the map though, when he knocked Michael Bisping’s head into the 27th row in Shanghai.

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He followed that with a points win over Jacare Souza in a great fight. Back-to-back wins over respected names like Bisping and Jacare meant Gastelum had to be in line for something big next time out. He was supposed to get the next crack at Whittaker but that’s when Whittaker had the problems with his intestine.

So the UFC pulled the trigger and chucked these two together.

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I think everyone expected at least a ‘good’ fight out of this. I still had some doubts about Adesanya myself. He had skills no doubt. But I felt like a lot of people were getting a little bit carried away. Everyone seemed to be on his cock but aside from smoking Brunson, I didn’t think he’d looked overly impressive against Anderson. Or in his early UFC outings really either. This was going to be the big test. Gastelum was a real opponent who was dangerous and durable. And unlike Anderson, Gastelum was in his prime or close to it. This was the first time Israel was faced with a top name in the division who was also in form.

“Kelvin, he’s game but I don’t think he’s ever fought anyone like me. He shouldn’t be able to touch me. I’m a matador, man. He can be the bull, I can be the matador.” - Israel Adesanya 

— — — — —

“Have you seen the bull when he catches the matador? It’s not nice.” - Kelvin Gastelum

 

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Kelvin Gastelum vs Israel Adesanya - Interim Middleweight Title

UFC 236: Holloway vs Poirier 2

April 13th 2019

Atlanta, Georgia

I’m pretty sure I‘ve only watched this once, the night it happened. So it’s due a revisit anyway. The commentary team for this one is Jon Anik, Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier. Referee is Marc Goddard. Crowd seems to be well up for this before it’s even started.

And we’re off.

Round 1: True to his word, Israel is playing the matador early. Gastelum’s the aggressor but Adesanya is doing well on the back foot and drawing Kelvin onto shots. Kelvin is deceptively fast though and he’s closing the distance really well and crowding Israel which is making him less effective. Interesting cat and mouse game early on here. Gastelum gets the first breakthrough, catching Israel as he’s backpedaling...

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Israel looks OK but he definitely got clipped there. Gastelum is feeling it now. He smells blood in the water and he’s coming to knock Israel’s Grace Jones looking head off. It was actually quite surprising how often he was able to get in range to land shots on the lankier and more experienced striker. Gastelum’s round, 10-9.

I remember thinking after that round that Adesanya might just be in over his head against Gastelum. It was still early in the fight, obviously, but there was a sense that he might’ve bitten off more than he could chew. Great opening round for Gastelum.

Round 2: Both exchanging hard strikes right away. And I’m no body language expert but you can see in the way Adesanya is moving that he knows he’s got to make something happen after dropping that first round. Gastelum’s still winging that big left over the top and it seems to be just skimming the chin every time. He’s coming scarily close with some of these. HARD lunging jab from Kelvin that snaps Izzy’s head back. Constant pressure from Kelvin. He’s just smothering Adesanya’s counter game. And right when I say that...

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Kelvin seems to have recovered well but that was a big knockdown. Crowd is going bananas. Adesanya is landing a lot now.

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Huge spinning elbow! Don’t know how in the fuck that didn’t knock Gastelum out. It bloody nailed him. And not only is he still conscious, he’s firing back! Adesanya with a headkick and stuffs a Gastelum takedown attempt. Hell of a turnaround for the Stylebender. That’s Adesanya 10-8 and he’s well back in the game.

“Here we go. Things are getting interesting folks.” - Joe Rogan

Round 3: Adesanya looking sharp now. He’s doing better at evading Gastelum’s attacks and he’s starting to pick him off with counters. Gastelum’s still throwing heat though so it’s always exciting. Israel’s just landing the better shit. And he’s mixing his strikes up beautifully with his hands, kicks, knees etc whereas Kelvin’s just throwing big punches. Gastelum gets a takedown but Israel gets up without taking any damage and counterstrikes him for the rest of the round. Adesanya 10-9.

Round 4: Gastelum’s fucking going balls to the wall now. He’s right in Adesanya’s face. Israel with a hard right hand but Gastelum just won’t fuck off. Both connecting with big shots. This is wild. Late in the round Gastelum lands a headkick and Israel’s got the jelly legs. 

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Gastelum’s going to town on him. Adesanya recovers enough to stay upright but he’s hurt. Time runs out. Gastelum 10-8.

So I’ve got them all even at 2-2 with a 10-8 each going into the final round.

Round 5: Gastelum’s out firing again and lands a nice combination. But now Izzy’s drilling him back.

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Christ. Israel tries a standing guillotine which leads to a brief, and awesome, grappling battle which sees Gastelum escape a triangle attempt and the crowd losing their minds. Adesanya’s lighting him up on the feet now. This is even better than I remembered. Gastelum slinging bombs still. Adesanya cracks him with a right. He’s really busting Kelvin up now. Adesanya drops him again! But Gastelum pops back up like a fucking Hispanic Jason Vorhees and goes balls out for the takedown. Last minute. Israel’s smacking him about. He drops him again! Bloody hell. Gastelum somehow survives again and he’s still throwing, trying to get that KO. Bollocks like shotputs on Kelvin. No wonder he’s missed weight so many times. 10 seconds to go and they’re both swinging.

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And Kelvin hits the deck AGAIN! He takes some elbows on the ground and the buzzer goes. Absolutely mental. Adesanya 10-8.

So I’ve got Adesanya taking it 47-45 overall.

Winner - Israel Adesanya by unanimous decision.

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An emotional Adesanya there with the interim belt. Really felt like a special moment watching him hugging his mum and seeing his family and team celebrating in the cage.

“I was ready for war. I told you all. I wanted to take him out but I was ready for war. I was willing to die. We’ve lost teammates to this game, they’re not with us anymore. But I knew I was willing to give it all and leave it all in there.” - Israel Adesanya

What a fight. Start to finish it was unbelievable. And the last round was the maddest of the lot. Right up to the last second I thought Israel was going to get the stoppage. He knocked Gastelum down 3 times that round and Goddard looked on the verge of stopping it a couple of times. But Gastelum is just concrete hard.

And of course, Adesanya capped off 2019 by taking out Robert Whittaker in Melbourne in October.

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Knocking him out in the second round to become the undisputed champion at 185. A stellar year. But this Gastelum fight was something else. Definitely my FOTY last year. Watching it again has only made me love it even more. 

Edited by wandshogun09

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EFA68-D70-5221-4-FD7-ACEF-974946-B24-EC4

#7 - Nick Diaz vs Paul Daley - Strikeforce - Apr 9th 2011

This one came at an interesting time. It marked the end of an era. In March 2011, Dana White announced in a sitdown interview with Ariel Helwani that the UFC had bought Strikeforce.

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Scott Coker there, looking about as happy as Ann Widdecombe’s gynaecologist on appointment day.

I vividly recall this announcement felt quite surreal. It was basically the MMA version of this...

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Or as close as we’d get to it anyway. The acquisition of Pride was probably bigger but this was up there. It was a right bittersweet mixed bag of feelings. A combination of sadness to know Strikeforce’s days were numbered but also excitement at what it meant in terms of big fights, that were previously off the table, suddenly becoming easier to make. Would we finally see Fedor in the UFC? That long talked about GSP vs Diaz fight? Was Overeem finally coming? A Hendo return? Would Paul Daley be allowed back? And so on. There were so many questions.

Anyway, this was the first big Strikeforce card since the announcement was made. I remember this being on PPV over here on that short-lived Primetime channel. I’m pretty sure I paid for it.

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Nick Diaz had been on a strong run of performances prior to this. He’d obviously made a name for himself from his UFC stint between 2003 and 2006. He’d had a hot and cold run there but did have that standout KO victory over Robbie Lawler and some fantastic fights with the likes of Diego Sanchez, Karo Parisyan and Josh Neer. The results mightn’t always have gone his way but he’d become a popular figure in the sport due to his habit of being in entertaining fights coupled with his wonderful weirdness in interviews.

Just a few classics...

“People say that marijuana is going to hurt my career. On the contrary, my fight career is getting in the way of my marijuana smoking.” 

— — —

“You’ve got Floyd Mayweather out here making $25 million. He can’t stop a double-leg.”

— — —

“If I have a girlfriend, I don’t bring her to flaunt her. She doesn’t get to reap the benefits of me being famous.”

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But yeah, anyway, he went on a solid run after parting ways with the UFC. Beating Takanori Gomi in that wild fight in Pride, beating down Frank Shamrock, fun fights with Scott Smith, Hayato Sakurai, Marius Zaromskis, Cyborg Santos. He came into this Daley fight on a 9 fight winning streak with 8 stoppages.

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Paul Daley had been on a turbulent journey himself. Came up through the UK circuit - Cage Warriors, Cage Rage etc. Kickboxed, went to Japan. Finally got to the UFC in 2009 and quickly made a splash by knocking out Martin Kampmann and Dustin Hazelett. Then, in typical Daley fashion, fucked it all up by punching Josh Koscheck after their fight and getting himself sacked.

At this point he was rebuilding himself. After getting his P45 from Dana White, Daley fought in various promotions and went 4-0 to bag this shot at Diaz.

“I’m not really impressed with Paul Daley. It’s mixed martial arts, he’s just got great standup.” - Nick Diaz

— — —

“I expect Nick Diaz to fight. That’s what he does best whether he’s on his back, whether he’s in top position or whether he’s boxing. I’m just prepared for a fight and that’s what I’m excited about. The fact that it’s gonna be a fight. There ain’t gonna be no lay and pray bitching out. We’re gonna be in a fight. I’m a knockout artist so I’m gonna try and knock this dude out.” - Paul Daley

So the stage was set.

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Nick Diaz (c) vs Paul Daley - Welterweight Title 

Strikeforce: Diaz vs Daley

April 9th 2011

San Diego, California

I didn’t know what the fuck to expect out of this, other than a pretty much guaranteed fun fight. Daley was clearly the bigger puncher of the two. His one shot KO power has always been ridiculous. He’s nicknamed ‘Semtex’ after an explosive that was used by the British army, for fuck’s sake. But Diaz had that insane cardio and volume punching style and it seemed like every time you’d count him out in a striking match, he’d come through with the win.

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Intense staredown right away before the opening bell. No touch of gloves.

“Are you ready? Are you ready? LET’S GET IT ON!” - ‘Big’ John McCarthy

Round 1: Diaz is immediately playing mind games, talking shit, sticking his chin out and waving his arms about. They exchange punches and Daley knocks him down with one of them right away and is throwing bombs at him on the ground.

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Diaz avoids most of them though and Daley is taking it to him now on the feet. Diaz back now with a combination as Daley is backed up against the cage. Body shots by Diaz and all of a sudden Daley looks to be in serious trouble. You know someone is an effective striker when they can force Paul Daley to shoot for a takedown within 2 minutes of the fight starting. Daley gets the takedown but wisely doesn’t seem to fancy pissing about too long in Diaz’s guard and they’re back up. Diaz hurts him with a big straight left and another flurry. Diaz with some nice elbows in close. Daley fires back with a big knee from the Thai clinch. This is an absolute slobberknocker. Crowd is going mental. Mauro Ranallo is bursting blood vessels screaming in the commentary booth. Both throwing with bad intentions.

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Daley lands that big left hook and Diaz does the Flair Flop. He’s fucked. Daley raining down haymakers. Diaz somehow survives and gets back to his feet. And he’s coming back with those body shots. Now Daley’s fading big time. Christ. So many twists and turns already. 

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Diaz floors Daley! He follows up with punches on the ground and Big John has seen enough.

Winner - Nick Diaz by knockout. Round 1 - 4:57.

I recall initially thinking the stoppage was a bit harsh. There was only 3 seconds left in the round and McCarthy seemed to jump in pretty quick whereas when Diaz got decked, he gave Diaz a lot of time to fight out of it. But looking at it now, it was definitely a good call. I think I was just gutted that it was over. I wanted to see Round 2.

When you look at shit like this though...

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Yep. Good stoppage. Daley’s away with the fairies.

Bloody incredible stuff. I’ve always felt like this is the greatest one round fight in MMA history. This and Frye vs Takayama are in a class all by themselves for me. Brilliant fight.

Diaz and Daley cross paths at the hotel after the fight;

Daley has actually talked about doing a rematch, even as recently as 2019. Talking about how he wanted to be the fighter to pull Diaz back from “self-ruin”. But 9 years on, Diaz seems a million miles away from fighting anyone. Let alone Daley who’s not even in the same organisation. I saw something recently about Dana supposedly offering Diaz fights again but honestly, after that rambling interview with Helwani late last year, it sounds like a bad idea. 

Diaz vs Daley was tremendous though. Not all classics have to be 5 round, epic Balboa vs Drago style wars. This was 5 minutes of complete and utter mayhem and it’s one of my favourite fights of all time. 

Edited by wandshogun09

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On 1/29/2020 at 9:10 AM, wandshogun09 said:

This one came at an interesting time. It marked the end of an era. In March 2011, Dana White announced in a sitdown interview with Ariel Helwani that the UFC had bought Strikeforce.

That was the point where Helwani was seemingly Dana's BFF. 

On 1/29/2020 at 9:10 AM, wandshogun09 said:

I vividly recall this announcement felt quite surreal. It was basically the MMA version of this...

A38C40D2-E903-4291-9836-F873EFF79782.gif

Or as close as we’d get to it anyway. The acquisition of Pride was probably bigger but this was up there.

It came out of nowhere. 

Today, we know why Coker sold up to the UFC. Coker had invested a lot into the Heavyweight GP and the backers were concerned that they would not see a return. Moreover, the backers wanted to go back to focusing on Ice Hockey, which was their core business before Strikeforce came along. In turn, the backers advised Coker to sell up to the UFC. 

However, at the time, none of this was known. Even the matchmakers were not fully aware of the situation until Josh Gross tipped them off. As far as those outside of the promotion knew, Coker was doing a decent job and the promotion was fairly stable. Heck, even Dana voiced his support of Strikeforce at the time. This wasn't Afflication, Elite XC, etc, where many were openly claiming that they were poorly run and not going to last. 

In the space of 4 or 5 years the MMA conversation had completely changed. It went from "can the UFC close the gap to Pride?", to "can there even be a true alternative to the UFC?". After Strikeforce was sold, it became clear that it was going to be difficult for MMA's version of Pepsi to emerge; a promotion that could offer an alternative to the UFC's Coca Cola. I am still waiting for that promotion today. 

 

Edited by jimufctna24

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12 hours ago, Carbomb said:

Got a feeling we won't see Aldo vs. Hominick in this list though :(

I have to credit Wand for remembering fights that took place in the early parts of the decade. He's included a few in his countdown that I had forgotten about. Such as Edgar vs Maynard 3 and Grice vs Bermudez. 

I had forgotten about Aldo vs Hominick as well, until you mentioned it. 

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