With the UK and much of Europe on national lockdowns, we’ve got you covered in terms of entertainment while you’re stuck at home!
Today, we shift from looking at fights to the wider stage. We’ll count down five of the most favourited MMA events ever produced. Each will be packed with insane fights, sensational finishes and some of the most legendary names in the history of the sport.
If you’ve not seen any of these before, rest assured you’re in for a real treat, but if you have, we’re pretty confident you’ll relish the chance to re-watch them.
We’ve selected these events based on the overall quality of fights (obviously), their magnitude and historical significance, however filtering out these from the thousands of MMA cards from over the years has proven to be a challenging, yet hugely satisfying task.
So without further ado, why not use this extra time you’ve got at home to refresh up on some of the reasons you got into MMA. Or, if you’re completely new, to gain some of the purest, most graphic and visceral inspiration from MMA: 5 Epic Fight Events Every Fan Must See!
- PRIDE — Final Conflict 2005 GP (Aug. 28, 2005)
- UFC 205 — Alvarez vs. McGregor (Nov. 12, 2016)
- The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale (April 9, 2005)
- PRIDE 33 — The Second Coming (Feb. 24, 2007)
- UFC 100 (July 11, 2009)
The Pride days will always be remembered as the ‘wild west’ of mixed martial arts, producing as it did some of the biggest stars in the modern era of the sport.
Final Conflict 2005 featured a stacked card that showcased the young Mauricio “Shogun” Rua scoring two, first-round finishes in one night to win the 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix. It could be seen as the highlight of his career, ahead of many spectacular moments including a UFC Championship.
The night also saw two heavyweight legends in Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko Cro Cop compete in perhaps the greatest heavyweight collision of all time.
UFC 205 stands amongst the most successful MMA events of all time for a host of different reasons.
Maybe most importantly, in 2016, MMA broke the barrier that had stood in the way of progress for a long time: New York City. It was only fitting to see the UFC make their mark in Madison Square Garden.
In an event destined for legacy, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor became the first dual-weight champion to hold both belts simultaneously, Tyron Woodley took Stephen Thompson to a draw in one of the most entertaining welterweight title fights ever, and Joanna Jędrzejczyk fought off Karolina Kowalkiewicz in a technical war.
The UFC and MMA as a whole would perhaps not be where it is today if it wasn’t for the massive risk that The Ultimate Fighter was.
The TUF series, which has its 29th season on the way, was a final attempt from the Fertitta brothers to pump UFC into the mainstream.
The show was of course a huge success, but the finale is what really stands the test of time. It was the first time a UFC fight card was broadcast live on free cable TV.
Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar engaged in a back and forth wild war. Meanwhile, around three million people were tuning in and exposing themselves to MMA for the first time, and many experts tributed this moment as marking the sport’s inception into mainstream America.
In the end, after an outstanding contest, both fighters were offered UFC contracts, and a new deal for a second season was made on the spot. Historically, this is arguably the most significant event in the promotion’s history.
At one point in time, you could make a solid argument that PRIDE had a stronger roster than the UFC, and that’s certainly supported by the stellar card presented at PRIDE 33.
Aesthetically, PRIDE brought a completely different MMA vibe to Vegas. The promotion always preferred a more glamorous approach to its set up and marketing, which contrasted massively with the UFC at the time, along with its iconic ring, of course.
In a night that consisted mostly of finishes, and perhaps the biggest moment in Dan Henderson’s iconic career, there was absolutely no room for snoozing on this one.
Grapplers will undoubtedly relish in Nick Diaz’s use of the rarely seen Gogoplata choke on Takanori Gomi, despite the victory being overturned.
In fact, all finishes on this card were absolutely insane. It deserves the utmost credit as one of the most perfect shows ever produced around mixed martial arts.
To what many fans still attribute as the peak of modern MMA, it doesn’t get much bigger, badder, and better than this.
To mark their 100th pay-per-view show, the UFC went all in, with two of the biggest box office draws at the time in Brock Lesnar and Georges St-Pierre defending their titles, Ultimate Fighter 9 coaches, Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping battling out their differences, and an undercard that could’ve easily sold on pay-per-view as well.
In the main event, Lesnar was able to savagely avenge his UFC debut loss to Frank Mir, beating him with ground strikes. GSP elegantly dominated Thiago Alves in a five-round clinic, and Dan Henderson landed one of the most brutal strikes in history to literally stun the world.
Even now in 2020, the event is ranked fourth in the most all-time PPV buys, and is often, and rightfully so, still talked about as one of the greatest MMA shows of all time.