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2000-09 in MMA: Top 50 Fights Of The Decade

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Just popping in from lurking to say thanks for this thread and the previous one, they've been great to read.

3 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

#28 - Takanori Gomi vs Tatsuya Kawajiri - Pride Bushido 9 - Sep 25th 2005

Honestly, there’s about 5 fights on Bushido 9 that I could’ve included here but I’ve narrowed it down to this one. One of the best MMA cards ever and if you’re looking for a way to pass a couple of hours you could do worse than watching the whole show. It’s brilliant. Skimming through it again now, there might actually have been a couple of fights that were even better than this but this was my favourite of the bunch.

Funnily enough I watched Bushido 9 over the weekend having and it's just as good as I remembered, especially the Lightweight GP. I think the two Joachim Hansen fights against Yves Edwards & Hayato Sakurai were probably my favourites but Gomi vs Kawajiri was great too while it lasted though I always found it surprising that they were matched up in the first round.

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#8 - Diego Sanchez vs Karo Parisyan - UFC Fight Night - Aug 17th 2006 Sanchez was still unbeaten at this time. 15-0 and the UFC hype machine had been fully behind him coming off his TUF win a yea

OK then. I’m FINALLY finishing this thing. Can’t believe how long it’s taken me. Fucking March this started. Here’s numero uno... #1 - Roger Huerta vs Clay Guida - The Ultimate Fighter 6 Fin

#2 - Josh Thomson vs Gilbert Melendez 2 - Strikeforce - Dec 19th 2009 OK then. Wanted to include more Strikeforce in this countdown but a few fights just narrowly didn’t make the cut. This one genu

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Cheers @Lasty and yeah, the Hansen fights are the ones I was thinking of but I started running out of spaces (even with 50!) to include all the fights I wanted to and had to leave some out.


#26 - Abel Cullum vs Hideo Tokoro - DREAM 9 - May 26th 2009

Back to DREAM. So this won’t be on Fight Pass but I’ll tack the video on at the bottom of this post.

I only caught bits and pieces of DREAM around this time. Like ONE and Rizin now, I just don’t get around to watching them much because of all the UFC, Bellator and Boxing we get now (or did before Covid). It was similar back then. With UFC, Strikeforce and WEC about, something had to give and it was usually DREAM. Which is a shame because, like I said in the Alvarez vs Kawajiri post, they put on some fun cards.

Tokoro had been on a patchy run of form heading into this one. With a record of 24-20-2, you’d be forgiven for writing him off as a shitehawk. But he was great to watch. I think a lot of times his own recklessness was his major downfall. But whenever I watched him, I’d always be reminded that he was better than his near 50-50 record suggested. He was a real highlight of that HERO’S promotion as well. If I can stomach listening to Pierre Guillet again, I’ll have to go back to them because I’ve got vague memories of Tokoro having some belters on those shows. His most notable fights at this time were his wins over Royler Gracie in 2006 and Brad Pickett in 2007. He also fought to a draw with Royce Gracie in 2005 where he was the much smaller man.

This was part of the Featherweight Grand Prix. Tokoro had already lost his opening round matchup but was brought back, presumably because someone got hurt? Cullum was 15-2 here and had fought a bit on the King Of The Cage and ShoXC Challengers cards.


Abel Cullum vs Hideo Tokoro - Featherweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final


May 26th 2009

Yokohama, Japan

‘Cowboy’ by Kid Rock kicks in and naturally I’m expecting Donald Cerrone to walk out. But it’s this little fucker...


Abel Cullum. Looking all of about 15 years old.

Michael Schiavello, Guy Mezger and Mike Kogan are providing commentary for this fight. A welcome change of flavour. Sick to death of Mike Goldberg at this point. How the hell did we put up with him all those years?

Round 1: Standup battle early and, well actually it’s not much of a battle. Tokoro is having his way. I think this might be the only fight I’ve seen of Cullum so I’m not too familiar with him. But the commentators are saying he’s not much of a striker and it shows. Tokoro drops him with a knee to the body and then out of nowhere...


Beautiful! Tokoro is tying him up in knots but Cullum just about survives it. Cullum with knees to the head then they go into some mad series of transitions on the ground. Seriously there’s too much going on here to do it justice. You’ll have to watch it for yourself. Trading on the feet now and, in fairness to Cullum he’s giving it a good old bash. They wind up back on the ground. And Cullum is going for a kneebar! But Tokoro decides that just stamping on his fucking head is the best escape. This is insane the positions they’re in. Like a violent game of Twister.


Cullum going all Hughes-Trigg 2 on him with the big running slam. The ground war continues as they exchange strikes and positions willy nilly. Awesome round.

Round 2: Straight away the round begins and...


Really? What the fuck are these cunts on? Tokoro gets on top from there and is going for subs and dropping knees like there’s no tomorrow. Cullum tries to stand up and Tokoro secures the choke.


And that’s all she wrote. He didn’t even have the hooks in. He set it up with one leg grapevined and just committed to it 100%. Cullum was so exhausted he couldn’t fight it off.

Winner - Hideo Tokoro by submission. Round 2 - 1:38.

Just a fantastic, fantastic fight. I hadn’t seen it since around the time it happened so it was like it was fresh to me. If you’ve never seen it do yourself a favour and find it on YouTube.

Tokoro fought on with typically inconsistent results. I don’t know if he’s retired now but he last fought in 2017 and got sparked in a round by Horiguchi. His record stands at 34-30-2. He’s 42 years old now so you’d hope that’s it. But you never know with MMA. Especially in Japan. It’s a shame he wasn’t...well, better. He clearly had skills but for whatever reason he just couldn’t translate it into any type of run of consistency. Would’ve been cool to see him mix it with the UFC and WEC boys about a decade ago but he was always rebounding from losses so I guess they never even gave him a serious look. Such an exciting fighter to watch though. 

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5 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

#28 - Takanori Gomi vs Tatsuya Kawajiri - Pride Bushido 9 - Sep 25th 2005

I am really enjoying your write-ups in this thread, but I especially enjoyed this one. 

There was stiff competition for the distinction of the world's best fighter in the mid-2000s. Fedor's stock was at an all-time high after his wins over Cro Cop and Big Nog. Shogun had just blitzed the field to win Pride's Middleweight GP. And GSP was making the UFC's Welterweight division look like amateurs (seriously check out his fight with Frank Trigg in August of 2005)

Yet, it is reasonable to argue that Gomi was the world's best fighter in the mid-2000s based on activity and strength of opposition. Between December of 2004 and February of 2007, he posted a 9-1 record. The two blemishes on his record during that timeframe were his two fights with Aurellio - the first of which he lost by submission, the second he won by a razor-thin decision victory in a painfully dull affair. Yet, his knockout wins over Kawajiri, Ishida, and Sakurai - three of the best lightweights of that era - and additional wins over a handful of other decent fighters, all easily cancel out those pair of underwhelming performances 

The guy was an absolute demon in his prime, which sadly didn't last as long as it should have. 

Edited by jimufctna24
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#25 - Josh Barnett vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira 1 - Pride Final Conflict Absolute - Sep 10th 2006

We’ve finally reached the halfway point. I’ve just realised that the last couple of entries have been grappling wars. Well, here’s another one but this time it’s the big boys.

Everyone knows Pride didn’t really give a fuck about weight classes or putting matches together where there was a massive size difference. I mean...


So it wasn’t a huge surprise when they announced that the 2006 Grand Prix tournament would be Openweight. It was still pretty much just a Heavyweight tournament as it turned out. But of course, mad fucker Ikuhisa Minowa entered as he was right in his ‘giant killer’ phase back then. And Fedor was out with a hand injury, so Wanderlei pumped himself up with burgers and steroids to replace him.

Nogueira had an easy first round draw and pissed through Zuluzinho. Barnett submitted Aleksander Emelianenko. Then in the Quarter-Finals, Nogueira beat Fabricio Werdum on points and Barnett quickly submitted Mark Hunt. So the Semis were set...



Cro Cop vs Wanderlei and Barnett vs Nogueira. Who would take the gold? Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if they switched those matchups around. I can’t even imagine Wandy vs Big Nog or Barnett. In the end, I’m happy with the route they took because it gave us a Heavyweight classic.


Josh Barnett vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira - Openweight Grand Prix Semi-Final

Pride Final Conflict Absolute 2006

September 10th 2006

Saitama, Japan

At this point in the night, Cro Cop had just destroyed Wanderlei. So the winner of this would meet Cro Cop in the finals. Some prize, eh?

There’s actually a bit of needle here between Barnett and Nogueira in the pre-fight video. I remember a bit of talk before the second fight but forgot about this. Probably the only time I recall anyone talking shit on Nog.

“I’d say it’d probably be best for him if he just got taken out quickly. Because if this goes the distance, I wanna put a monumental hurting on this guy. He really thinks his shit don’t stink and that flies don’t hover around his head when he hasn’t had a bath in a week. I’d be surprised if I take him out quickly but I do intend to take the guy out.” - Josh Barnett


“He don’t like me anymore? I understand he has to be very focused. He knows he’s gonna fight a very tough guy and I feel the same. He’s very tough. I have a special motivation in this tournament just because of him, because he’s a very tough opponent.” - Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Ah man, I felt bad for Nog when he said “he don’t like me anymore?” Why did you have to do that Josh? 

Because it’s a tournament and the winner will have to fight twice on the same night, it’s just 2 rounds here. Still a 15 minute fight with the 10 minute first round though, so Pride weren’t doing them any favours.

Round 1: Both looking quite sharp with their hands early on. Both connecting with some good shots. Barnett mixing it up a bit more with knees and leg kicks. Then out of nowhere...


Wouldn’t be a Big Nog fight if he didn’t get decked at least once, would it? Barnett’s on top now but Nog does a nice job avoiding any real significant damage and he manages to take top position himself. Barnett nullifies him, gets back to his feet and he’s going for the kill;


Nog’s too crafty for that though and he’s out of there. The crowd is loving this. So am I. Nog with a takedown again but Barnett’s threatening with a leg lock. Nog back on top.


Uh oh. So many twists and turns here, it’s great to watch. Nogueira punching from mount. He goes for the armbar with less than a minute left but Barnett gets out and is on top dropping punches as the bell goes. Hard to split them. They both had about 50% of the round. Probably slightly lean towards Josh for the knockdown and sub attempts. Awesome stuff. That 10 minutes absolutely flew by.

Round 2: Barnett comes out swinging. Nog shoots for a single-leg but Barnett winds up on top of him. Nogueira reverses position with a kind of ankle pick off his back! Nog with ground and pound and smoothly passes the guard and into mount. But Barnett shifts his weight and rolls Nog over. From under his mount! Beautiful. A minute to go and Barnett tries to stamp on his face and uses it to pass guard. He’s after a Kimura but Nog defends so he switches to a kneebar...


It’s looking bad but the time runs out. Nogueira was saved by the bell there because I don’t think even he was getting out of that one.

Winner - Josh Barnett by split decision.


It was close but I felt like the right man won. He had more attempts at a finish in the first round then he ended the fight strong with that kneebar. It’s a great fight either way. One of my favourite Heavyweight fights ever. It’s mad because watching this back now, this was 2006 but it could easily have been 2020. MMA has evolved a lot over the years but if you had a time machine and you could stick this version of Barnett or Nogueira into today’s UFC roster, I genuinely think they’d give pretty much anyone a run for their money. You don’t see technical classics like this at Heavyweight, even in today’s UFC.

Of course, Barnett lost to Cro Cop later that night in the GP Final. But it ended on a bit of a sour note because he got poked in the eye just before the finish. He was getting battered before that but it was still a shame to see the tournament end like that for him, especially after going through that war with Nogueira.

Barnett vs Nogueira 2 went down a few months later at Shockwave on New Years Eve.


Again, there was some shit talk going in, stemming from the decision in the first fight. Nog said Barnett was lucky to get the decision and it didn’t go down well at all.

“I think Nogueira’s delusional if he thinks he won that fight. He’s supposed to be the greatest ground technician and tactician in the world of MMA. THE greatest of all! And yet I beat him on the ground, I had him trying to get out of more submissions. His version of winning is laying on top of me...hitting me about as hard as he hits himself when the lights are off. I don’t know how this guy thinks that he beat me.” - Josh Barnett


It was another great fight and another close one. This time Nogueira got the decision.


Loved both fights but watching them both back just now, the first one edges it for me. The rematch is great too and I’d highly recommend just watching them both. But the first is a classic, in my opinion. The rematch is mostly standup but with these two you want to see them grapple and the first one had a bit of everything.

Sometimes I think it’s a shame they never had a trilogy decider but, thinking about it, I think I actually prefer that they ended up neck and neck after two incredible close battles. There was a time when Barnett was pushing for a rubber match when they were both in the UFC but Nog was knackered by then and got flattened by Roy Nelson around that time and called it a day. Probably for the best it didn’t happen. Leave it at 1-1. They fought in their primes, why tarnish that?

Edited by wandshogun09
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#24 - Chris Horodecki vs Shad Lierley - IFL 14 - Jun 1st 2007

This is definitely one that’s been pretty much completely forgotten. In large part because IFL as a promotion is nothing but a fuzzy memory these days. I can’t say I followed IFL much back in the day. We had no way of watching it here and when I had to fuck about torrenting shows, it was usually WEC or the Japanese stuff. IFL just never really got on my radar. It was a funny concept as well with the teams. You’d have say Bas Rutten coaching a team and Renzo Gracie coaching a team. Then Pat Miletich, Marco Ruas and so on. It’s cool that they tried something different and I liked that it blended old school and new school. You can see the logic with the team thing as well, Americans love team sports. But you can only go so far with that. Unless you’re going to have 6 man tag MMA (and yes I’m aware that’s happened in other places), it’s never going to be a team sport. Doesn’t help that a lot of the teams had really cheesy names like ‘The Seattle Tiger Sharks’.

Regardless, IFL were only around a couple of years at most. I’m not even sure I saw any of their fights while they were still in business. But I went back and watched a fair bit of it later on, got a couple of DVDs cheap off Amazon that I must still have somewhere. They put on some good fights, in fairness. But one stood out from all the fights I saw.


Chris Horodecki vs Shad Lierley

IFL 14: Everett 

June 1st 2007

Everett, Washington

Horodecki is 19 here! He doesn’t even look that old to me. He was 10-0 at this time and already had wins over Bart Palaszewski and Ryan Schultz on previous IFL shows. He was off to a good start. Lierley was just 2-0 here.

I think I first heard about this fight when someone on here recommended it. Pretty sure it was Magnum Milano. By then I was familiar with Horodecki from WEC so I gave it a watch at some point. I didn’t regret it.

Commentators are Kenny Rice and Bas Rutten. Seems it’s 4 minute rounds as well. Was that always the case in IFL? I didn’t remember that.

Round 1: Both throwing with bad intentions right off the bat here. Pretty much zero feeling out as Lierley rushes him;


Horodecki landing some nice punches but Lierley refuses to take a back step and he’s swinging right back. You can tell it’s early in Lierley’s career because he seems really overexcited in the exchanges but it’s a lot of fun so far. Wild striking all the way here.


Horodecki is starting to pull ahead now as Kenny Rice tells us that Horodecki’s coaches used to lie about his age to get him fights when he was 16. Lierley’s not folding though. He’s slowed down a bit but you can tell he’s still up for it. Horodecki cracks him across the jaw with a headkick and some knees from the clinch but Lierley keeps throwing his hands. Horodecki going to the body now. Lierley back with big knees. Christ almighty.

“This is a fight, ladies and gentlemen! Round number one, it’s unbelievable!” - Bas Rutten

They continue to slug it out until the bell goes. And they either didn’t hear the bell over the crowd or they just want to carry on fighting because they have to ring the bell again to get them to stop. Horodecki 10-9. Tremendous round.

Between rounds we see the late Shawn Tompkins working Horodecki’s corner.


Crowd’s going mad now. Lierley has a crazy wide-eyed look about him now. Horodecki still looks like your paperboy.

Round 2: They pick up right where they left off, throwing non-stop punches. And Horodecki gets the better of it...


But Lierley’s straight back up like Michael Myers and gets a takedown. Ground and pound. They go to Stephen Quadros for his quick thoughts on the fight so far...

“So far it’s been the Round And A Half Of The Year. That first round was unbelievable. Shad Lierley stood in the pocket and traded with the most dangerous Lightweight in the IFL.” - Stephen Quadros

Wait a minute. So we’ve got Quadros and Rutten there yet they stuck Kenny Rice in as the play-by-play announcer and relegated Quadros to basically doing the Eddie Bravo bit? Amateurs IFL, amateurs. No wonder they didn’t last.


Caution to the bastard wind again. They’re really swinging for the fences. Lierley shoots for a takedown and manages to take the back. He’s going for the choke but he’s being hindered by them being up against the ropes. Back on the feet and Horodecki putting it on him. Boxing Lierley up and sprawling nicely. He lands a headkick at the end of the round and Lierley runs AT him. That’s some Robbie Lawler DNA there. Hell of a round again but another one in the books for Horodecki, I think.

Round 3: Rinse and repeat. Just a tornado of strikes from both men. Horodecki landing big shots but Lierley’s just absorbing them. It’s mad.

“I don’t know what Lierley’s head is made from.” - Bas Rutten 

You and me both, Bas.

Lierley’s got him down again but Horodecki still keeps throwing punches from the bottom. Quick standup from the ref and they’re back to trying to behead one another. Body shots from Horodecki again. Lierley with another takedown and some hammerfists but Horodecki pops back up. Lierley looks absolutely buggered now and Horodecki lands a spinning kick to the body as the bell rings.

Winner - Chris Horodecki by unanimous decision.


A fucking joy to watch. Just bell-to-bell bedlam. It’s even crazier when you take into account that one of them was only 19 years old and the other was only 2-0 in MMA. Total chaos from start to finish.

What happened to Horodecki? He looked like a great prospect here. And at 19 and training under Shawn Tompkins, he had all the potential in the world. He reminded me a lot of a young Gilbert Melendez here. He fought a bunch after this but went an uninspiring 10-7-1-1. He last fought in 2016. I wonder if it was a similar thing to Mark Hominick’s decline where Tompkins’ death just seemed to fuck him up mentally. It’s a shame but the first thing that comes into my head when I think of Horodecki these days is that time he got his head kicked off while running away from Anthony Njokuani in WEC...


I never heard of Lierley before or after this fight. It was like he just appeared out of nowhere to give us this one corker of a fight then fucked off. Looking up his record on Sherdog it seems he only fought 5 more times and finished up at 5-3 in 2010 on a loss to Wilson Reis.

Anyway, this was quality. It’s another one that’s not on Fight Pass (surprised the UFC haven’t already got the rights to IFL actually) but the full fight is on Dailymotion here...


Edited by wandshogun09
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Wasn't Lashley in IFL at one point?

The teams idea doesn't sound so bad - just that completely inventing new ones seems stupid and contrived when you've already got gyms. Wasn't there a TUF themed around Blackzilians vs. ATT (or was it AKA)?

I actually quite like the idea of having teams based around gyms. Then you can have individual championships and team championships - that way, matches can mean a little more even if there was no real consequence to them in terms of title contendership.


Nova Uniao
Team Alpha Male

Sure I've missed a few, but that's more than enough to go on.

EDIT: Just checked, and it seems Serra-Longo is now Longo-Weidman (which sounds like a measuring instrument).

Edited by Carbomb
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I'd completely forgotten about Horodecki/Lierley.  That was a great fight.

The IFL did air on ITV4 towards the end of 2007, although without checking I've no idea how up to date the shows were.  My hunch is not very and it only lasted six weeks at most, if that (I've only got four shows that I recorded and back then I was recording and trading for any and all MMA I could find).

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4 hours ago, Carbomb said:

Wasn't Lashley in IFL at one point?

Lashley made his MMA debut 6 months after the IFL folded. He had a brief stint in Strikeforce and later in Bellator. 

4 hours ago, Magnum Milano said:

I'd completely forgotten about Horodecki/Lierley.  That was a great fight.

The IFL did air on ITV4 towards the end of 2007, although without checking I've no idea how up to date the shows were.  My hunch is not very and it only lasted six weeks at most, if that (I've only got four shows that I recorded and back then I was recording and trading for any and all MMA I could find).

The ITV shows were my only exposure to the IFL. I don't remember much about them, other than they were shown really late at night and were highlight shows. 

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On 5/13/2020 at 2:49 PM, wandshogun09 said:


In many ways that GP was where my MMA fandom peaked. As a relative newcomer to the sport everything was fresh to me at the time - the characters, the action, etc. I wasn't the slightest bit jaded with the game. 

Pride, while in its final year, was still producing some of its best shows. The promotion had found a perfect balance between sport and spectacle. They gave you stunning video packages, packed stadiums and the odd fun freakshow fight, but also the lion's share of the best fighters on the planet. The UFC had the better Welterweight and Middleweight divisions by the end of 2006, but Pride still had the best Heavyweight, Light-Heavyweight and Lightweight classes. 

Josh Barnett was Pride's main man for me. It wasn't his charisma, his ground game, or his love for pro wrestling that drew me to him. It was all three! I decided in early 2006 that I would support him in the OP Grand Prix, even though he started as a rank outsider and remained one throughout the tournament. He was the underdog going into his quarter final showdown with Hunt, and even odds for his first round duel with Aleksander Emelianenko - yet he won both fights quickly via submission. 

On finals night, he was once again the underdog for his semi-final match-up with Big Nog. That fight, which you excellently analysed above, was my MMA highlight of 2006 and remains the biggest win of Barnett's career. Then came the anti-climatic final against Cro Cop where the ride sadly ended. However, I quickly realised that the circumstances behind the stoppage - the eye-poke and Cro Cop having a much easy route to the final - actually helped Barnett save face a bit. I didn't believe deep down that Barnett could beat Cro Cop in a fair fight, but at least I had something to cling onto. I was therefore fully onboard the Pride and Josh Barnett bandwagon going forward.

I probably should have known that Pride was on borrowed time. I had known about the Yakuza scandal since the summer, but like many at the time, I chose to bury my head in the ground and delude myself into thinking that it would eventually blow over. For some reason it was while watching Final Conflict 2006, a great show in its own right, that I finally accepted that the MMA landscape was about to change drastically. And it did, only 2 months later when it was announced that the UFC had purchased Pride. In a lot of ways, I haven't enjoyed MMA quite as much since. 

Edited by jimufctna24
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#23 - Melvin Manhoef vs Cyborg Santos 1 - Cage Rage 15 - Feb 4th 2006

Back to the land of Dave O’Donnell and fackin’ tearups. And this is an old classic. Of all the mad, fun and outright strange fights Cage Rage put on, this was my favourite in the promotion’s history.


Melvin Manhoef has become one of my absolute favourite fighters to watch over the years but I think this was my introduction to him. And what an introduction. He was 11-2-1 in MMA at this time and had won his last 5 in a row. He’d just won the Cage Rage Light Heavyweight belt in his previous fight. He was a Kickboxer first and foremost though and was just as exciting to watch in that game. He wasn’t massively well known outside of Holland in 2006, especially in MMA circles, but a quick look at any fight footage of him would be enough to make anyone want to see him fight. He never really had much of a ground game and was always a bit of a one trick pony. But fuck me that one trick was so entertaining. He was basically a smaller, much more technical and even more aggressive version of Kimbo Slice.


Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos was probably the more recognised name to MMA fans at this point. He was a member of the Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil, had fought in Pride and Pancrase and he’d already been in with Pele Landi-Johns, Yuki Kondo and a young Shogun. At this time he was 12-7 and coming off 4 stoppage wins. He was also married to Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino. Surely the most terrifying couple since Fred and Rose West.


Melvin Manhoef (c) vs Cyborg Santos - Light Heavyweight Title

Cage Rage 15: Adrenaline Rush

February 4th 2006

London, England

Someone can’t spell ‘adrenaline’.

For some reason, Cage Rage 15 won’t play on Fight Pass for me. Keep getting an error message. Had to search for this on there and the individual fight video works.

Commentators are Malcolm Martin, who I don’t remember, and the ‘Fight Professor’ Stephen Quadros. Yes! There’s some other bloke talking as well, who they don’t even bother naming, and he’s cockney as fuck. He’s already said ‘SAHBAWG SAN’OS’ a few times.

Ha, I forgot to mention Cage Rage’s ring announcer when reviewing the Zaromskis vs Mason fight earlier in the thread.


Remember this guy? Mark Aplin. Again, Cockneyed up to the max and always usually had a white jacket on. I didn’t mind him though. He always seemed proper enthusiastic and I liked when he’d say stuff after the fight like “give a round of applause for the runner up”. The ‘runner up’ in a fight 😂  I googled him and can’t find any information about him but I could swear I read on the Cage Warriors forum years ago that he’d died. Got to be a good decade ago now at least because I haven’t looked on Cage Warriors for bloody ages. Don’t even know if the forum is still going.

Round 1: Cyborg throwing a few kicks early on but it’s just the calm before the storm. And we’re off. Manhoef has found his groove and starts to really open up with his attacks.


Beautiful combinations from Manhoef here. And Cyborg is starting to get overwhelmed. They clinch a bit, which is good news for Cyborg and allows him time to recover. But he’s still taking knees to the body.


And they’re off again. Fucking wild exchanges here but, luckily for both men, little of it actually connects.

“Somebody’s going down. Somebody’s going down!” - Stephen Quadros

Melvin’s really bringing the pain now. Cyborg’s always dangerous but Manhoef is just the sharper of the two and is pulling ahead whenever they start trading. Both are breathing a bit heavy as the round draws to a close. And it’s not surprising given the leather they’ve both thrown here. Cyborg gets a late takedown and is going for a heel hook as the horn goes. Great fun. Tough one to score because Manhoef landed the better strikes but Cyborg had that takedown and submission attempt at the end. Think I’d give it to Cyborg actually.

Round 2: Both going to town and Manhoef is firing off the combos again. Cyborg is there for it though, all the way. And he’s landing more of his own shots back now. Manhoef’s cardio seems to be flagging.


And now it’s Cyborg turning up the heat with the Thai clinch. Manhoef’s in some real bother here and Cyborg is cracking him with punches against the fence. Knees to the body from Cyborg and a big uppercut that snaps Manhoef’s head back. But now Cyborg appears to be fading. The kitchen sink wasn’t enough and Manhoef is just standing there with his hands on his hips.


This is nuts.

Manhoef with a second wind and he’s swinging for the fences. Cyborg covering up and hitting back where he can. Both are fucking knackered but Manhoef manages to put together a series of rights and lefts that get through...


And Cyborg is done. The referee waves it off but Cyborg doesn’t know where he is and is still trying to hammerfist Manhoef on the chest after it’s over. He’s in fucking la-la land.

Winner - Melvin Manhoef by knockout. Round 2 - 3:51.


What a fantastic brawl. Nothing pretty about it and it’s a stark contrast to some of the technical classics in this list over the last page or so but it’s a heck of a ruck. Bell-to-bell madness.

Cyborg was never the best but he was pretty consistently exciting to watch. After this fight he went 9-10 before getting his skull cracked by MVP in 2016. That was his last fight. He did knock out Marius Zaromskis in a wild one rounder in Strikeforce in 2010 and also had a tremendous fight with Nick Diaz in 2011, which he lost. There were a lot of ups and downs.

Manhoef put together a few more wins after this, including a 17 second KO over Ian Freeman. In the years that followed he added wins over the likes of Kazushi Sakuraba, Kazuo Misaki and Denis Kang to his resume. But his most memorable win from this time, from his whole MMA career actually, was his 18 second knockout of Mark Hunt. That was crazy given the size difference and the fact that Hunt was as close to impossible to KO as it gets back then and had eaten prime Cro Cop’s kicks like KFC. Manhoef was a BAD motherfucker. If you’re unfamiliar with him, watch this highlight;

But he wasn’t without faults. Like I said earlier, his grappling game was always lacking. And while he had some big wins, he also had a bunch of losses in the years following the Cyborg war. Guys like Yoshihiro Akiyama, Gegard Mousasi, Paulo Filho and Mamed Khalidov just proved to crafty and/or well rounded for him. And of course, there was that mental come from behind KO he suffered against Robbie Lawler. But Manhoef will always be one of my favourites. He’s 32-14-1-2 in MMA now. That’s on top of a 52 fight Kickboxing career. He’s 44 now and not the chiseled pitbull with muscles on top of muscles from his prime years. But he’s still coming off a couple of wins in Bellator and still looks dangerous when he lets his strikes fly. Hopefully he’s nearly done though. 

2006 wasn’t the last time Manhoef and Cyborg would cross paths. People forget that they actually had a rematch in April 2014. For a promotion called Gringo Super Fight in Brazil. Manhoef bashed him in 46 seconds to win that organisation’s highly prestigious title;



Edited by wandshogun09
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I loved watching Manhoef. Think it was someone on here (probably you or jim) who posted a highlight reel of his stuff, and from then I'd try and dig up whatever I could.

He seemed to have a bit of a glass jaw that impeded him as much as his lack of a ground game; at least, that's how it looked.

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I don’t know if it was a case of glass jaw or more that he was just so wild and aggressive that he left himself open to be caught clean a lot of times. That was especially evident in the Lawler fight. He was eating Lawler for breakfast, lunch and dinner and shitting him out. But he didn’t account for Lawler being a weirdo who seemingly gets turned on by pain and got clobbered while going for the kill. Manhoef never seemed to have the best chin but I always thought it was his lack of defence that let him down more than anything on the feet. Probably a bit of both.

What a beast though. 


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#22 - Carlos Condit vs Jake Ellenberger - UFC Fight Night - Sep 16th 2009

This came very early into Condit’s UFC career but he’d already built up a reputation as one of the top Welterweights in MMA and one of the most exciting fighters to watch in the world pound-for-pound. He was 23-5 and came into the UFC when WEC’s 170lb division was dissolved and merged into the UFC’s Welterweight roster. He was the WEC champ and had been in some brilliant fights during his time there but found himself on the wrong end of a split decision loss to Martin Kampmann in his Octagon debut. It was another great fight though and one I’m sure I had Condit winning. This would be his second UFC outing.

Ellenberger was making his UFC debut here. 21-4 and looking like a top prospect. He’d fought in Bellator, IFL, Bodog, King Of The Cage, M-1, pretty much everywhere but the big stage. 


Carlos Condit vs Jake Ellenberger 

UFC Fight Night: Diaz vs Guillard

September 16th 2009

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Side-note - if you’re ever bored and want a fix of UFC, but don’t fancy sifting through a 5 hour card, you can do a lot worse than this Fight Night. The main card’s only 4 fights and there’s not a dud in the bunch. Only downside is you have to put up with Mike Goldberg AND Kenny Florian on commentary.

This was the second fight on the show, and it had to follow a batshit crazy slobberknocker between Nate Quarry and Tim Credeur (SPOILER - more on that later 😉), a tough act to follow.

Round 1: Less than 30 seconds in and Ellenberger has got him down. Wrestling was never Condit’s strong suit, was it? As always though, he’s ridiculously active off his back and he manages to get back to his feet without taking too much punishment. But Ellenberger packs a fucking punch, as Condit soon finds out.


Condit’s still conscious but he’s in a tornado of ground and pound here and just barely survives it. Ellenberger going for a D’Arce choke now, Condit pops up and he’s had enough. He goes on the offence with some knees, but Ellenberger’s power turns things around again;


Jesus fuck. Condit is granite and you don’t really see him turtle up like that. But Ellenberger is turning him to dust every time that right hand lands. He had some real venom in those hands. Condit again somehow weathers it and gets Ellenberger down. Within seconds he’s in the mount. What the fuck? What a difference 20 seconds can make. Ellenberger now with a guillotine but no joy. So much going on here. Ellenberger 10-9. Would’ve been 10-8 if Condit didn’t get him mounted. Excellent round.

Round 2: Ellenberger with a big power double-leg right away again. Condit tying him in knots from the bottom with the rubber guard and inflicting any kind of damage he can with the elbows. Condit was such a battler. Even if you took him down you’d get beat up almost as much as you would on the feet. Ellenberger isn’t getting much done on top just because Condit won’t stop moving and attacking with elbows and sub attempts. He’s constantly having to defend. Condit’s working for a Kimura, Ellenberger defends it but in doing so Condit is able to sweep him and get mount again.


Awesome stuff from Condit here. Ellenberger is sinking fast. But Condit loses position by trying to take the back and Ellenberger ends up on top again.

“What has kind of plagued Carlos Condit, is his aggressiveness. He’s very exciting to watch, it makes him dangerous but at the same time it also makes him vulnerable. He loses position sometimes and tends to go for it and get caught sometimes on the feet. He has to be able to balance that killer instinct that he has.” - Kenny Florian

As much as I hate to admit it, Kenny’s spot on with this assessment. And in a way, with hindsight, it sums up Condit’s whole career. But if he didn’t fight like that, he wouldn’t have been Carlos Condit. And that style won him a lot of fights too. Anyway, he’s giving Ellenberger hell at the end of the round. Condit 10-9.

Round 3: Both have had to come through some adversity in this one and you can see they’re both a bit more weary of each other now. Condit with a headkick, but Ellenberger shrugs it off and takes him down...


Condit is just non-stop again from the bottom though. He must’ve been a nightmare to fight against back then because standing up he was most likely kicking your arse. And you might outwrestle him but good luck surviving that guard. Even Goldberg recognises that Condit is the busier of the two here. When Ellenberger does land some ground and pound though, it sounds devastating. Briefly back on the feet and now Ellenberger is going for a guillotine. 


But Condit isn’t sweating it. He pops his head out and now he’s on top. And he’s making Ellenberger pay. He keeps switching between submission attempts and strikes and Ellenberger doesn’t know what to do for the best here. He’s drowning. Condit’s all the fuck over him. He takes the back but, again, gets overly aggressive going for an armbar and Ellenberger gets out. He shoots for a takedown with about a minute left but Condit winds up on top. Condit’s got the back mount and raining down strikes as the fight ends. Condit 10-9 easy. Possible 10-8.

Winner - Carlos Condit by split decision.


I remember some moaning about the decision at the time but I don’t know why. Rewatching it now, as great and competitive as it was, I definitely had Condit winning. He outworked him from his back and had him mounted in the second and he won the last round clearly. I think a lot of people just remember Ellenberger hurting Condit in the first round when thinking about who should’ve won but the verdict was correct for me.

Condit’s journey in the UFC is fairly well documented. He was in the best stretch of his career at this point and followed this up with stoppage wins over Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy and Dong Hyun Kim. We didn’t know it at the time but, in February 2012, his career peaked when he won a close decision over Nick Diaz to become the UFC interim champion.


He gave a valiant effort against Georges St Pierre in their unification match, and even dropped GSP with a headkick, but he ultimately got dominated. And it was all downhill from there. Since the loss to GSP he’s gone 2-7. He’s lost his last 5 fights and been submitted in 3 of them. The incredible war with Robbie Lawler in 2016 has been the only bright spot but even then, he lost and hasn’t been the same since.

Ellenberger still looked like a force for a while after this. He won his next 6 fights and beat Diego Sanchez in a corker in early 2012. It went downhill later on though and he wound up losing 9 of his last 11 fights. Pretty mad how hard he dropped off. There was a time when he seriously looked like a future contender. But he ran into the meat grinder of Lawler, Rory, Gastelum, Masvidal and so on and the wheels just came off. He retired in 2018 after 4 consecutive losses. It was a pretty nice moment though, all things considered, as he got to retire in his hometown and leave his gloves in the Octagon.

So yeah, Condit vs Ellenberger was a brilliant fight. It got sad for both later on in the UFC but at this time in 2009, they were on fire. 

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13 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

Remember this guy? Mark Alpin. Again, Cockneyed up to the max and always usually had a white jacket on. I didn’t mind him though. He always seemed proper enthusiastic and I liked when he’d say stuff after the fight like “give a round of applause for the runner up”. The ‘runner up’ in a fight 😂  I googled him and can’t find any information about him but I could swear I read on the Cage Warriors forum years ago that he’d died. Got to be a good decade ago now at least because I haven’t looked on Cage Warriors for bloody ages. Don’t even know if the forum is still going.

Yeah, I remember reading that as well. I am fairly certain he died in 2009. 

Like you, I can't find any confirmation. The Cage Warriors forum barely works anymore and there is no information about him in Sherdog's archives. 

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