Top 10 Significant UFC Fights

With UFC 100 a week away on July 11, I decided to look back at what got the UFC to this point. Here is my take on what I believe are the 10 most significant fights in UFC history, helping the company become what it is today.

1. Stephan Bonner vs. Forrest Griffin – Ultimate Fighter Finale 1: This fight was not only the most memorable fight to watch, but may also be the fight that really pushed the UFC into the next level of mainstream popularity. Following the debut season of The Ultimate Fighter, a show which UFC President Dana White and co-owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta funded out of their own pocket, the finale took place live on Spike TV, which was airing live fights for the first time in the history of cable television. The UFC knew it needed something big to happen to not only keep a cable television deal, but earn future advertisers, and also prolong its reality show for future seasons. Bonner vs. Griffin delivered just that. The two fought to the very end and both were so even, it was impossible to decide a clear winner for most fans. The fight at one point drew 10 million viewers, which was just what the UFC needed. The back-and-forth, non-stopped action gave the UFC an identity to fans that had never seen it before and got the ball rolling that has allowed the UFC to snowball into what it is today.

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UFC 92 New Years Bash Preview

On Saturday December 27 at 7:00PM ET, the UFC will put on its biggest show of the year in hopes to close 2008 out with a huge bang. Once again live at the MGM Grand Arena the UFC offers a stacked card with two title fights, a grudge match that’s roots come from the old Pride FC of Japan, as well as two other bouts that feature popular names.

Cheick KongoCheick Kongo vs. Mufasta Al Turk
The first fight of the evening pits massive heavyweights against each other when French kick boxer Cheick Kongo squares off with British submission wrestler Mufasta Al Turk. Considering the contrast in styles, look for Kongo to keep distance and separation with his brutal leg kicks, which should set up his heavy-handed knockout punches. Conversely, Al Turk will attempt to take the French kickboxer down and catch him at his weak point, which is on the ground. This fight will most likely not go to a judge’s decision.

C.B. Dollaway vs. Mike Massenzio
The first fight is followed by a battle between the ‘The Ultimate Fighter 7’ runner up and UFC favorite C.B. Dollaway and Mike Massenzio. Both fighters are stand out wrestlers so the fight will more than likely wind up on the ground with both men attempting to use ground and pound techniques. The edge should go to Dollaway, with his striking and submission game being more complete than Massenzio’s. This fight may not draw huge excitement in terms of blow after blow punches, but it does have hidden potential for a quick, don’t blink submission finish.

Rampage vs. the Axe Murderer III
After two vicious fights and two even more vicious knockouts in Japan’s Pride Fighting Championship, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson – the former UFC light heavyweight champion – will face the ultra aggressive former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva for a third time. The first two fights were wars, with both ending in knockouts by Silva. But both were also early in Rampage’s inexperienced career when he was just a brawler with a wrestling background, and who was facing a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and Muai Thai expert. Since their last meeting, Rampage has immensely improved his boxing and technical skills, and hopes to avenge his previous losses.

The Axe Murderer will look to go out and attack, close the distance and clinch to unleash vicious knees and elbows, which has stopped Jackson in previous matches. Even though Silva has not used the Muai Thai clinch as much in the UFC, he is still a heavy hitting, wild swinging fighter who is one of the most entertaining and dangerous strikers in the business. Look for fireworks between the two and don’t get up or you may miss a brutal knockout.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Frank Mir
The Interim Heavyweight championship is on the line when Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and fellow Ultimate Fighter 8 coach Frank Mir will put everything on the line for the Interim Heavyweight title and the chance to fight former WWE star and UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in a merging of the two titles. Both men have better-than-average striking skills with Mir excelling at kickboxing and Nogueira at boxing, but this is a fight between two Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts that will likely go to the ground and stay there. Mir is a finisher, but Nogueira has never been submitted or knocked out in MMA. Mir has gassed and been TKO’d a few times before, so look for Nogueira to set him up for very slow and technical Jiu Jitsu styles, and then go for sweeps to mount and pound Frank. Mir’s best chance is to get the take down, pass the guard and hope to choke Antonio out. The winner of the co-main event will get Brock Lesnar next, which should be a great fight.

Forrest GrffinForrest Griffin vs. Rashad “Sugar” Evans
The Light Heavyweight Championship features two reality TV superstars in former Georgia cop Forrest Griffin and ex-Michigan State wrestler Rashad “Sugar” Evans. Griffin is the Season One winner of “The Ultimate Fighter,” while Evans was the champ of Season Two. Both will meet to see who is the best at 205 in the UFC.

Griffin is known for his exciting wars with Stephan Bonner, Tito Ortiz and Shogan Rua. He’ll attempt to out-will and out-slug the undefeated Evans, who has a highlight reel of knockouts including a crushing overhand right of Chuck Liddell and a head-kick to Sean Salmon. These two fighters are sure to put on a show and this is expected to be the biggest fight card the UFC has had all year. All MMA fighters and fans alike will be watching to see the ever growing and always exciting 205 pound division in one of the most thrilling sports around.

UFC 92 has the superstars and match up to bring more and more people to the growing sport of Mixed Martial Arts. As usual, Dana White and the UFC team always look to thrill, as well as top previous fight cards and superstar matchups. Don’t miss these fights.

–Written By TSR Contributor John Duke

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