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wandshogun09

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

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Ha. ”His nipples were like woman’s. He could have give milk to babies.” 

Another thing, I never get why the UFC guys from that late 90s/early 2000s era seem to get a pass when it comes to juicing. Nobody gives them shit or calls their whole record into question in the same way they do to Pride (PROID) guys. But no fucker can tell me that Phil Baroni and Matt Serra where all natural in those early Zuffa days. I’m not having it. And speaking of ‘natural’, Randy Couture looked like a shaved gorilla at times back then. Particularly when he came back as a Heavyweight for the Sylvia and Gonzaga fights in 2007. You could’ve parked a caravan on old Randy’s back in the summer of ‘07. 

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12 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

But no fucker can tell me that Phil Baroni and Matt Serra where all natural in those early Zuffa days.

It's funny you mention Baroni. I was listening to Big John and Thomson's podcast this morning. Thomson mentioned that there is speculation that Baroni abused PEDs throughout his career. 

I agree that most of the UFC fighters from the early to mid 2000s were probably on illegal PEDs. They just had to regulate their usage more than the Pride fighters. 

Edited by jimufctna24

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#2 - Shogun Rua vs Dan Henderson 1 - UFC 139 - Nov 19th 2011

Oh yes. This was always going to rank highly. For one, they’re two of my all-time favourite fighters so them facing off was always going to be cool as fuck for me. But the fact that it surpassed even my expectations made it all the more special.

If you followed Pride at all, you’ll know this fight was probably going to happen at some point if the promotion didn’t close in 2007. I think it was pretty imminent when Pride went down. They both won big Grand Prix Tournaments in 2005. Shogun at Middleweight, Hendo at Welterweight. They both had a mostly successful 2006 and then came Pride 33 in Las Vegas.

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The last great Pride show and a night that would mark the final appearances for both Shogun and Hendo in the organisation. Shogun knocked out Alistair Overeem for the second time that night. And in the main event, Hendo wiped out Wanderlei Silva with a sledgehammer of a left hook to become the new (and final) Pride Middleweight champion.

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It was a brutal KO and ended the 4 year title reign of Wandy in memorable fashion.

You have to think that the logical next challenger for Hendo would’ve been Shogun, right? Not only would it have been a mouthwatering clash for fans at the time, but the story wrote itself. Shogun was seen as ‘the man’ at Middleweight by most fans after winning the GP, despite not having the belt. He’d taken a backseat in the division out of respect for his Chute Boxe teammate and close friend Wanderlei Silva. But now Wand was no longer champ, it opened the door for Shogun to finally challenge for the gold. A title shot he’d already earned in 2005 after the GP win. It was perfect. Shogun coming to avenge Wandy’s loss and take the title.

Shogun confirmed during the Countdown for this, that him and Hendo were supposed to fight in Pride.

“I got very close to fighting Dan Henderson twice. In the 2005 Grand Prix, Henderson lost to Little Nog. I ended up facing Little Nog. Later on when Dan defeated Wanderlei Silva, and took the Pride belt from him, I was supposed to fight him, but those fights never happened.” - Shogun Rua

Wasn’t to be though.

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Between dodgy goings on behind the scenes with the old Yakuza and TV deals crumbling, Pride went under. The UFC swooped in and they held their last show in April 2007. That was that.

So Henderson vs Rua was dead in the water. Who knew if it’d ever happen? They both made their UFC debuts that September. Shogun lost to Forrest Griffin, which was a shocking upset at the time. Hendo lost to Rampage in a Pride vs UFC 205lbs title unification match. They bounced around after that. Shogun spent a long spell out with a knee injury, returned in 2009 and looked like shite in his win over Mark Coleman. But once the ring rust was off he beat Chuck Liddell, got robbed against unbeaten Lyoto Machida, then knocked Machida out cold in the rematch to become the UFC Light Heavyweight champion in 2010.

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Lovely.

But then lost it to Jon Jones in his very first defence.

Hendo lost another unification fight at 185 against Anderson Silva. Then won his next 3 fights, most memorable being his earth shattering one punch KO of Michael Bisping at UFC 100. He then went to Strikeforce after a contract dispute with the UFC. So with Shogun and Henderson now in different promotions, the fight seemed like it was destined to never happen. Hendo went 3-1 in Strikeforce and scored what probably ended up as the biggest victory of his career when he knocked out Fedor Emelianenko in their one round of craziness in July 2011.

But just when you thought you’d never see it, in the summer of 2011 it was announced that Dan Henderson was returning to the Octagon. The Fedor fight was the last on his Strikeforce contract and it turned out Strikeforce’s days were numbered anyway. So he re-signed with the UFC and...

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Shogun Rua vs Dan Henderson

UFC 139: Shogun vs Henderson

November 19th 2011

San Jose, California

Just like that, it was on. 

These two were still very much in the mix at this time. Shogun was coming off a first round KO win over Forrest Griffin. His only recent loss was the Jones one and he wasn’t far removed from solving that Machida puzzle. And Hendo was on a win streak coming over from Strikeforce and had just knocked out Fedor. I think most felt like they’d passed their prime slightly, but they were far from over the hill.

Like with Hunt vs Bigfoot, I think everyone went into this fully expecting a fun fight. I don’t think anyone was quite ready for what we got though.

“It’s a fight that fans have been wanting to see forever and now they get to. I’ve got an opponent on the other side who’s gonna try and knock my head off if I don’t knock his off first. So I’m gonna go out there and try to knock him silly. I definitely feel like I can knock Shogun out.” - Dan Henderson

Another cool thing about this fight was, the UFC had just made the change that all main events, not just title fights, would now be 5 rounds. I was actually at the first official non-title 5 rounder earlier in the month when Chris Leben vs Mark Munoz headlined UFC 138 In Birmingham. But that one didn’t go 5 rounds. This one wasn’t expected to either but it was cool that they had 25 minutes to play with nonetheless.

Usual PPV commentary team of Goldberg and Rogan. Referee Josh Rosenthal says ‘Let’s fight’ and we’re off.

Round 1: Both look a little cautious to start but that shit doesn’t last long at all. Hendo scores the first clean connection, catching Shogun with a hard right hand coming in and then briefly trying a standing guillotine...

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Shogun escapes, only to be on the receiving end of a barrage of strikes against the cage.

“Shogun’s in big trouble! He’s standing right in front of him. Shogun’s a bloody mess already.” - Joe Rogan

Fuck me, we’re a minute in. Hendo clips him again and Shogun’s going all out for the takedown. No luck though. Hard elbow by Shogun but Hendo just looks at him as if he spilled his pint.

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Shogun drops Hendo now! As you can see it wasn’t a flush punch, just kind of cuffed him around the head, but it was enough to put him down. Shogun looking for the uppercut. Henderson 10-9. Would’ve been a 10-8 if not for Shogun getting that knockdown.

Round 2: Mostly a clinch battle for the opening minute or so. They break and it starts again. Hendo tees off...

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Shogun is taking a thumping here. He’s taking it well but it’s a horrendous start to this fight all the same. Shogun is upping the aggression now, throwing bombs, as Goldberg talks about his pace slowing. What? Take your meds and get out, Michael. Both swinging for the fences. Shogun’s face is showing some war wounds now but he lands a nice right hand. Hendo fires back. Better round for Shogun but still Hendo’s 10-9.

Ha, Rosenthal cocks up and shouts “OK, last round”, forgetting it’s a 5 rounder. And Henderson corrects him. Forgot about that.

Round 3: Rogan’s banging on about Shogun’s dodgy cardio, while Shogun is throwing punches and trying to remove Henderson’s head from his neck. Both swinging and Shogun is getting the better of it slightly. Hard body kick from Shogun. Finally, Shogun seems to be gaining some momentum, then...

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Hendo fucking nails Shogun, floors him and proceeds to drop fucking BOMBS on him one after the other. Hendo is throwing punches like he’s swinging a bloody mallet. Shogun’s fucked. Absolutely bollocksed. This would be stopped these days, I’m sure. But Shogun’s somehow back from the dead and rolling for a leg lock...

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What the fuck?! Crowd’s going apeshit now. Shogun loses the leg lock but he’s up and throwing shots. Unbelievable. He is a mess though. His face is all swollen and bashed up, blood all over him. He’s a zombie at this point. Just clinging on against the fence trying to catch a breather. And there’s still 2 minutes left in the round.

“What a warrior Shogun is!” - Mike Goldberg

Shogun’s going for the takedown again and Hendo is elbowing his brains out. The old Travis Browne elbows of doom. Shogun completes the takedown though and now he’s landing punches. Back on the feet and Shogun’s actually landing some good shots, even after that mauling. Mad bastard. Henderson 10-9.

Again, this would be a 10-8 for sure now but under the old criteria, it’s a 10-9 for me because Shogun did come back in the second half. 10-8s back then were for complete dominance in a round not just a near finish.

We’re heading for the ‘championship rounds’, even though there’s no championship on the line. Shogun is looking a bit Elephant Man, Hendo is looking pretty knackered.

Round 4: Shogun gets the takedown right away and lands some shots as Henderson gets up. They have a mad scramble on the ground which sees Hendo briefly get the crucifix, mount and rear naked choke positions but Shogun escapes to his feet.

“WHAT A FIGHT!” - Joe Rogan

Now Henderson gets a takedown, controls from the top for a little bit and lands some punches before Shogun is able to get back up.

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Shogun with a monster uppercut that rocks Hendo down to his toes!

Best punch landed by either man yet. Hendo is badly hurt and stumbling all over the place. But he’s somehow still throwing that right hand back! These guys are made of granite. Both winging haymakers again. Shogun lands a left hook and gets a takedown and passes almost immediately into full mount. Fuck me. Punches from the mount. Hendo survives and somehow winds up on top in guard as the round ends. Shogun 10-9.

“We may very well be witnessing the greatest fight in UFC history.” - Mike Goldberg

Truest thing that wally ever said.

Round 5: Both collide and Shogun gets the early takedown.

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Mount! And there’s still 4 minutes to go. Terrible start to the round for Henderson, this. What a wild reversal of fortunes. Shogun, exhausted and probably still concussed, is raining down punches.

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Both men’s white shorts are soaked in blood. Shogun with more punches from the mount. Hendo’s getting fucking hammered now. Shogun can’t put him away. A combination of Shogun’s exhaustion and Hendo’s hardness is all that’s keeping this from being stopped right here.

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10 seconds left and Shogun postures up one last time for a final flurry. Hendo survives. Shogun 10-8. So I’ve got it a draw.

Winner - Dan Henderson by unanimous decision.

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No problem with that. I think a draw was the right score but maybe they gave Hendo a 10-8 for the third. I did feel like if anyone got the decision, it should be Henderson. Shogun was too far behind after the third and, if he couldn’t finish, a draw was the best he could hope for.

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In the end though, it’s one of those fights that was so great that you remember how good it was more than who won or lost. Both men came out with their stock raised. And thank fuck they brought in the 5 round main events when they did. Otherwise, this would’ve just been remembered as a 3 round one-sided beatdown. Shogun’s comeback in the last two rounds is what turned it into a classic.

In 2018, the fight got put into the UFC Hall Of Fame. And deservedly so. 

They met again in 2014, as the main event of a Fight Night in Brazil. It was a good fight but not a patch on the first one. Shogun was winning fairly handily, and dropped and almost finished Hendo a couple of times. But a H-Bomb to the face in the third sent Shogun away with a loss and a smashed nose for his troubles. Shame it didn’t end up as a trilogy really. But in another way, like Hunt vs Bigfoot, I wish they’d left the first fight as a one-off. 

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Legends. 

Edited by wandshogun09

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Hendo always excelled against brawlers. These fighters were more likely to trade with him square on or circle towards his rear hand, which opened up more opportunities for him to land his H-Bomb. Therefore, the Chute Boxe pair and Feijao were both made for him. The lazy version of Fedor (post-2006 onward), and the pre-Parillo version of Bisping also had similar defensive frailties that played into his hands.

I thus believe that Hendo might have beaten Shogun had they met in Pride. The only difference would have been that Hendo would not be on TRT. Hendo only started using TRT in early 07 when he fought Wanderlei in Vegas. He was 100% clean when he fought in Japan apparently. 

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#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 day, I had this at #2 behind Shogun vs Hendo. But rewatching both fights back-to-back, this just one pips it for me.

Not a huge amount of backstory to this fight. They’d already fought once in November 2013. It was a 3 rounder on the GSP vs Johny Hendricks undercard and Lawler won a close split decision. Decent fight, as I recall, but nothing special, especially by Lawler’s usual standards. Since then, Lawler had gone on to win the title from Hendricks after two gruelling battles. Rory had re-established himself with 3 big wins over Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffiedine. The Woodley win in particular was mega impressive and to this day is one of the best performances of Rory’s career. He completely tooled Woodley. So Rory had earned a crack at the title. And given that he’d already had a close fight with Lawler two years earlier, the rematch made sense.

Going in, there wasn’t a whole lot of talk or buzz for Lawler vs MacDonald 2. In the summer of 2015, McGregormania was very much running wild. The monster Aldo vs McGregor fight was originally set to headline this card and the UFC had gone all-out with that World Media Tour of press conferences. So Robbie and Rory were just extra trimmings. Their co-main event was lost in all the hype surrounding the headliner. It also didn’t help that Rory was known to be a bit inconsistent in terms of how entertaining his fights were to watch. For every amazing performance like his Woodley and Diaz fights, there’d be a snoozer like his Wonderboy and Ellenberger fights. So the hype was lacking going in. I was as guilty of it as anyone else. I didn’t give Lawler vs MacDonald much thought at all until the weigh in.

Nothing major happened, but I saw the staredown and there was just something about it.

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You rarely see Rory do stuff like putting his fist in the other guy’s face like that at a weigh in. And Lawler was having none of it. There was just something about it. A certain extra intensity there. You could tell they were both really up for it. Maybe there was a bit of anger at their fight being overlooked. Whatever the case, I was a little bit more amped up after seeing that.

“I always go in there trying to demolish my opponent. I have a will to win that won’t be broken. I really don’t see anyone in the division stopping me. I just feel that I’m the best right now and no-one’s on this level.” - Rory MacDonald 

— — — — —

“I wanna go out there and dominate and show that I’m the best fighter in the world. I’m looking to finish. I’m looking to knock you out, submit you if possible. Really, I just wanna go out there and beat you up.” - Robbie Lawler

OK then. Both have made their intentions clear. They’ve done the mean mugging at the weigh in. Let’s get on with it. 

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Robbie Lawler (c) vs Rory MacDonald - Welterweight Title

UFC 189: McGregor vs Mendes

July 11th 2015

Las Vegas, Nevada

I forgot how the UFC really went out of their way to make this show stand out as something special. Just before the two main fights here, the lights go down and we get a sweet little bit of fancy production with highlights and graphics actually being projected onto the Octagon canvas itself.

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Looks wicked. Completely forgot about it. Surprised they haven’t done anything like this since. It was a cool touch. 

Anyway, onto the action. 

Round 1: They get off to a slow start here. To the point where you start thinking ‘come on lads’ and fearing it’s going to turn into a staring contest. Rory goes for a takedown and Lawler stuffs it without much bother. Neither are doing a great deal here, it’s very much a ‘feeling out’ round. But Rory is looking the better of the two and landing a little bit more frequently for my liking.

“The only problem with a round like this, they’re feeling each other out but who the hell knows who won that round? You really can’t go back to your corner confident.” - Joe Rogan

I had it for Rory 10-9 myself.

Round 2: Pace is picking up slightly and they both look a little bit more urgent but there’s still not much going on. With about 90 seconds left, Lawler finally starts to let his hands go and it’s working as he’s making a mess of Rory’s face already.

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Lawler 10-9.

Round 3: OK, no fucking about anymore. I think the feeling out process is over. Lawler is absolutely drilling Rory with some nasty straight lefts that are snapping his head back. Rory is bloody now and Lawler is bringing the pain.

“Rory’s face is a MESS! He’s bleeding from several cuts now.” - Joe Rogan

Lawler defending the takedowns beautifully here and just busting Rory up with his boxing. Rory isn’t going away though. He’s still in this. And right when I think that...

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He whacks Lawler big time with a headkick. Lawler even partially blocked it with his arm and it still rung his bell. He’s on jelly legs now. But as always with Lawler, he’s still dangerous as fuck when he’s hurt. He’s firing back with venom as they both throw down. Rory smells blood. Rory with a flying knee. Suddenly, Lawler looks in real trouble. Rory unloading the heavy artillery now. He’s got Lawler backed up on the fence and is just blasting away with everything from punches to elbows to knees. Lawler is fucked. He’s moving and returning fire just enough to prevent John McCarthy stopping it but he’s getting messed up here. Somehow, barely, Lawler survives the round and staggers back to the corner. Rory 10-9 but a strong argument for 10-8.

Round 4: Rory is on him immediately now. He’s continuing the GBH he started in the previous round. He’s crushing Lawler now. Smashing him to a pulp against the cage again with punches, elbows and a fucking horrible knee that I’m baffled how Lawler stayed conscious from, let alone how he stayed standing.

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Rory keeps landing headkicks, which Lawler keeps eating and marching forward. I don’t understand it but he just keeps shaking them off. More elbows from Rory and this is getting to that stage where it’s uncomfortable to even watch. Yet another bastard headkick from Rory! Lawler’s face is all swollen. Just noticed that Rory foot looks fucked up as well. Looked it up and apparently he fractured his foot in this fight. And the nutcase is still throwing kicks at Lawler’s cement head with it! Now Lawler is coming back. How? Rory still can’t take him down. They trade strikes again as the buzzer goes and one of my favourite moments in UFC history happens...

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Lawler spits a load of blood out and then they both just stand their ground staring each other down. One of those iconic, raw, animalistic moments in the midst of battle. Proper goosebumpy moment.

Rory 10-9.

The corners seem like they’re in total chaos between rounds. Both men must be falling to bits at this point.

But Lawler seems to be loving life;

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Seriously, what is wrong with the mad shite?

Over in the other corner, Rory looks all kinds of fucked up. Like, proper disturbingly broken up. Look at this gif showing Rory at the start of each round.

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And that’s the guy who I have AHEAD on the scorecards going into the last round! He looks absolutely buggered. And it must be soul destroying for him to look over at Lawler, who is screaming at the crowd and buzzing to get the 5th round underway. He’s thrown everything at Lawler, broken his foot on his head and everything. And Lawler’s HAPPY.

Round 5: We enter the final round and Lawler is just going to town on him now. He’s walking through Rory’s headkicks to land punches, for fuck’s sake. What do you do against a maniac like that? He seems to be hurting and rocking Rory with nearly every punch now. Rory is at the end of his rope. About a minute in, Lawler lands a straight left, directly to the already smashed nose of Rory, and that’s a wrap.

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The final straw. Rory just crumbles to the ground and Big John mercifully calls it off.

Winner - Robbie Lawler by TKO. Round 5 - 1:00.

Lawler, with his fucking lip hanging off, goes berserk. While Rory lies there in a bloody heap with his face falling off. 

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There’s probably no other two gifs that sum up the extreme highs and lows of this crazy sport better than that.

“What an incredible fight! And a fight where both men were really pushed to the limit. But Robbie Lawler, like champions do, found a way to win.” - Joe Rogan

Lawler is still going nuts. He looks like he’s still got a couple more rounds in him. 

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”That was an accumulation of a beatdown! That wasn’t one punch. That was years of fighting, right there, comin’ to fruition. I’m the champ, I’m here to stay!” - Robbie Lawler 

So yeah. Best fight of the decade for me. And one of the best fights I’ve ever seen full-stop. It starts off slow but gradually builds and builds and gets more intense and violent as it goes on. Even for a career as awesome and full of crazy wars as Lawler’s, this was next level stuff.

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“One of the sickest fights...THE sickest fight you will ever see. Not one of them, THE sickest fight you will ever see!” - Dana White

They’re both probably not far off being done now. Lawler is slowing down and Rory has gone all religious and hinted at retirement over the last few months. But they’ll always be linked because of this fight.

And it seems they’re training together a bit these days. Here they are just last week.

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Great to see. 
 

So with that, my Top 25 of the decade...

25 - Miesha Tate vs Ronda Rousey 1 (Strikeforce - March 3rd 2012)

24 - Brock Lesnar vs Shane Carwin (UFC 116 - July 3rd 2010)

23 - Gilbert Melendez vs Diego Sanchez (UFC 166 - October 19th 2013)

22 - Korean Zombie vs Yair Rodriguez (UFC Fight Night - November 10th 2018)

21 - Anderson Silva vs Michael Bisping (UFC Fight Night - February 27th 2016)

20 - Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz 1 (UFC 196 - March 5th 2016)

19 - Dennis Bermudez vs Matt Grice (UFC 157 - February 23rd 2013) 

18 - Jim Miller vs Joe Lauzon 1 (UFC 155 - December 29th 2012)

17 - Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen 1 (UFC 117 - August 7th 2010) 

16 - Benson Henderson vs Anthony Pettis 1 (WEC 53 - December 16th 2010) 

15 - Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje (UFC 218 - December 2nd 2017) 

14 - Jose Aldo vs Chad Mendes 2 (UFC 179 - October 25th 2014) 

13 - Robbie Lawler vs Carlos Condit (UFC 195 - January 2nd 2016) 

12 - Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard 2 (UFC 125 - January 1st 2011) 

11 - Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje (UFC Fight Night - April 18th 2018) 

10 - Eddie Alvarez vs Michael Chandler 1 (Bellator 58 - November 19th 2011) 

9 - Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard 3 (UFC 136 - October 8th 2011) 

8 - Israel Adesanya vs Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 236 - April 13th 2019) 

7 - Nick Diaz vs Paul Daley (Strikeforce - April 9th 2011) 

6 - Wanderlei Silva vs Brian Stann (UFC Fight Night - March 3rd 2013) 

5 - Michael Chandler vs Eddie Alvarez 2 (Bellator 106 - November 2nd 2013) 

4 - Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson 1 (UFC 165 - September 21st 2013) 

3 - Mark Hunt vs Bigfoot Silva 1 (UFC Fight Night - December 6th 2013) 

2 - Shogun Rua vs Dan Henderson 1 (UFC 139 - November 19th 2011) 

1 - Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald 2 (UFC 189 - July 11th 2015)

 

That’s a wrap. 

Edited by wandshogun09

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Agree wholeheartedly with the number 1, thanks very much for doing this Wand I've throughly enjoyed it and eagerly awaited each fight. I've watched the vast majority as we've went and will be giving #1 a watch tonight.

I'm certain you hear this often but you have a real knack for this. Well done. 👏

Edited by ElCece
1 not 10

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👍 

I surprised myself by actually seeing this through to the end, unlike those Pride show reviews I never got around to finishing. 

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3 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

👍

I surprised myself by actually seeing this through to the end, unlike those Pride show reviews I never got around to finishing. 

they've been my goto reading when taking a dump since Xmas 👍🏻

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As always, tremendous work, wand. You've probably sewn up 2020's wandshogun09 Award already.

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Awesome thread, nice work wand. The perfect choice for #1, that fight had it all, amazing action, brutality and heart.

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3 hours ago, Egg Shen said:

they've been my goto reading when taking a dump since Xmas 👍🏻

High praise right there 😂 

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I'm amazed that you were able to put them all into numerical order. I would have really struggled with that. 

As an example, which was really the better fight? Diaz vs Daley or Jones vs Gusty? The former was a 5 minute shootout, while the latter was a 25 minute war. Moreover, while Sonnen vs Silva 1 was legendary and thus warrants inclusion on these sorts of lists, it wasn't a particularly thrilling fight. Therefore, I am not sure where I would rank it. 

Those sort of considerations would have sent me batty. Nevertheless, your final order is very reasonable. I don't think many would take exception to it. 

Edited by jimufctna24

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