A list of the best UFC fights in the history of the sport

A list of the best UFC fights in the history of the sport

Samuel Lisubila
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:19 PM

Mixed Martial Arts has been in existence for thousands of years. Growing in popularity in recent years, it has become one of the most exciting sports, garnering up to 550 million fans worldwide. There have been amazing fighters featured in the sport who have shown their ferociousness mercilessly against their opponents. This article features the best UFC fights in the history of the sport.

A list of the best UFC fights in the history of the sport
Alex Pereira battles Israel Adesanya during their Middleweight fight at UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden on 12 November 2022 in New York City. Photo: Jamie Squire
Source: Getty Images

Mixed Martial Arts is a brutal sport. It is violent and sometimes can turn bloody. As much as that is the case, warriors who have proven themselves face off in the ring in a deadly battle in a bid to be crowned the Ultimate Fighting Champion. Let us go down memory lane and reflect on the best fights witnessed inside the octagon.

Greatest UFC fights of all time

10. Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor - 2016

Best UFC fights in history
Nate Diaz applies a chokehold to win by submission against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on 5 March 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Rey Del Rio
Source: Getty Images

In 2016, two greats waged some greatness in an epic five-rounder at UFC 202. The battle began months before when Nate Diaz handed the Irish man his first UFC loss with a second-round submission. McGregor was charged up, and fans' anticipation couldn’t have gotten higher.

The two welterweights engaged in a bloody brawl through all five rounds. While Nate threw more significant strikes, Conor showed strength in the clinch and solid takedown defence down the stretch, dropping his rival three times. Judges were in a fix but, however, handed Conor the win in a majority decision win.

9. Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar - 2005

Best title fights in UFC history
Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin after their Light Heavyweight Final bout during the live Ultimate Fighter Season Finale at the Cox Pavilion on 9 April 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Josh Hedges
Source: Getty Images

This old-school classic was regarded as the godfather of modern UFC as it would serve as a springboard to launch the MMA to a different level. The light heavyweight fight came when UFC struggled to make it mainstream, earning Griffin and Bonnar the perfect spot to bridge this gap.

The two put on one of the greatest shows in a fifteen-minute dazzler, showing the need to win. Forrest Griffin won the fight after all three judges voted in favour of him, bagging a six-figure contract on the spot. This fight induced more fans into the MMA and paved the way for hundreds of rising stars.

8. Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson - 2017

Best UFC fights in recent history
Justin Gaethje punches Michael Johnson in their lightweight bout during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena on 7 July 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Brandon Magnus
Source: Getty Images

After a magnificent reign as the World Series of Fighting Lightweight Champ, Justin was now making his debut in MMA. This was a brutal way to welcome him into the UFC, going against one of the best in the art. However, he didn’t seem to hold back, seeming to be as dangerous as his opponent. As he is used to, once he stepped into the octagon, he started swinging without any tactical approach.

Both had striking masterclasses, with every shot heading exactly where it was supposed to with an objective to end the fight immediately. In the first round, Johnson pushed the rising star to the edge of unconsciousness. Coming into the second round, Gaethje displayed unwary toughness that ended the match via a TKO stoppage. This classic match stands as one of the sport’s greatest comebacks.

7. Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit - 2016

Most popular UFC fights of all time
Robbie Lawler punches Carlos Condit in their UFC welterweight championship bout during the UFC 195 event inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on 2 January 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Josh Hedges
Source: Getty Images

In early 2016, Robbie Lawler was to face Carlos Condit in one of the most anticipated UFC fights. Robbie was expected to defend his welterweight title in a fight that was expected to be as dramatic as it got from the most exciting fighters then. The fight lasted for five rounds of heavy blows that would take down lesser fighters. Lawler won the battle via a split decision. However, fans thought Carlos had it, and that verdict is still debated today.

6. Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry - 2011

Best MMA fights in history
Pat Barry kicks Cheick Kongo during a Heavyweight contest at the UFC on Versus 4 event at the CONSOL Energy Center on 26 June 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo: Josh Hedges
Source: Getty Images

This fight features on this list as one of the shortest fights in history. The fight only went for a single round before deciding the fate of the two heavyweights. The two met in 2011 in an anticipated match that was undoubtedly expected to be one contest of a lifetime. Cheick and Pat went head to head, and before anyone knew it, Kongo was sent crashing to the canvas, receiving punch after punch.

Just when it seemed Kongo could not take another punch, the unexpected happened. The Frenchman descended and floored Barry with a heavy punch of his own that left spectators dumbfounded. A few punches later, the match was over as Barry lay on the ground, his back on the floor, staring at the French Sensation. This still stands as one of the most dramatic one-round fights in the sport.

5. Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier - 2012

UFC best fights of all time
Chan Sung Jung kicks Dustin Poirier in a featherweight bout during the UFC on Fuel TV event at Patriot Center on 15 May 2012 in Fairfax, Virginia. Photo: Josh Hedges
Source: Getty Images

In 2012, the world witnessed one of the most complete fights it has seen, thanks to two of the most skilled featherweight fighters. Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier put on a show in a four-round match that is often overlooked but still deserves the glory it earned.

The fight was one of a kind, displaying all tactics, skill and prowess, and every weapon in the MMA arsenal was fully displayed. However, in the fourth round, Dustin suffered the first major loss of his UFC career against the Korean Zombie.

4. Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk - 2020

Best UFC fights in history
Weili Zhang punches Joanna Jedrzejczyk during her split decision win to retain her strawweight title at T-Mobile Arena on 7 March 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Harry How
Source: Getty Images

There is only one way to describe the battle between the two, a war. This was not the typical fights UFC fans are used to, as Weili Zhang and Joanna fought as if the world depended on it. Joanna was, at the time, the reigning champ in the division’s history, but that didn’t seem to scare her counterpart, who was also the strawweight champion.

The two went head to head in destructive combat, leaving an immense physical toll on both. Weili’s face had been destroyed, while Joanna was left with a horrendous hematoma that made her forehead swell severely. Chinese star Zhang ended up winning via split decision.

3. Jon Jones vs. Alexanders Gustafsson - 2013

Best UFC fights in history
Alexander Gustafsson punches Jon 'Bones' Jones in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout at the Air Canada Center on 21 September 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo: Al Bello
Source: Getty Images

22 September 2013 was a date that would remain in the minds of many UFC diehards as the day one of the best fighters and champions at the time, Jon Jones, was put to the test. He seemed unbeatable since winning the light heavyweight title with a TKO win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in 2011 and had defended the title six times. However, Alexanders proved to be the only man who could stop him with his deadly rear-hand uppercut technique, which had proven to be a menace and the ultimate portion that would take anyone down.

Going into the fight, Alexanders gave Jones a hard time with his footwork tactic that took the reigning champion down. On the other hand, Jones unexpectedly only secured a takedown in the five rounds. Unfortunately for Gustafsson, ‘Bones’ came out with the victory after a unanimous decision from the judges and continued his reign in the division. This came out as one of UFC's best fights of all time

2. Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua - 2011

Best title fights in UFC history
Dan Henderson and Mauricio Rua touch gloves to start their UFC Light Heavyweight bout at the HP Pavillion on 19 November 2011 in San Jose, California. Photo: Josh Hedges
Source: Getty Images

Thousands were gathered at the HP Pavilion in San Jose to witness one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history. Dan Henderson was to face off against Mauricio Rua in a contest that would test both stars' capabilities and rank among other greats in the industry. Both seemed fearless and possessed their savage knockout power and superhuman abilities.

The light heavyweights exploded at each other for five wild rounds as they took turns to destroy one another in the unmerciful contest. Henderson was granted the win in a unanimous decision by the judges. The fight garnered multiple accolades and was later inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2018 as one the best UFC fights in recent history

1. Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald - 2015

Most popular UFC fights of all time
Robbie Lawler kicks Rory MacDonald in their UFC welterweight title fight during the UFC 189 event inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on 11 July 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Josh Hedges
Source: Getty Images

In 2013, the two welterweights met, but it wasn’t as classical as the second time in 2015 with Lawler’s title on the line. The banter between the two had risen to unexpected heights, and the rematch was something one wouldn’t miss, crowning it as one of the most popular UFC fights of all time. MacDonald seemed to be the right dance partner, a great matchup that led to legendary between-rounds staredowns which, up to date, go unmatched.

The first round started easy, and the two were cautious in their blows. Coming into the second round, everything rose from zero to a hundred, the two throwing blows, uppercuts, kicks and everything humanly possible to take the other down. The Octagon floor was painted red, and the fighters were unrecognisable from the destruction on their faces.

The fifth round was decisive when Lawler unleashed a powerful left-hand punch to the nose that sent Rory to the canvas to end the night. This high-level classical stands as one of the best title fights in UFC history.

Who is the best UFC fighter of all time?

Best UFC fighters of all time
Anderson Silva of Brazil prepares to fight Uriah Hall in a middleweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on 31 October 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Jeff Bottari
Source: Getty Images

Anderson Silva stands as the greatest UFC fighter of all time. This comes greatly from his multiple, and some of the most dominant titles reign in the sport’s history. With his incredible skill and his tactical defence by movement, once he stepped into the octagon, everyone knew what was coming next, a knockout.

Is there a difference between UFC and MMA?

MMA which stands for Mixed Martial Arts is a sport while UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship is an organisation that supports MMA fights. MMA is getting great recognition attracting fans from all over the world and has become financially lucrative.

Is MMA bigger than boxing?

While MMA is growing significantly, it is not yet bigger than boxing. Boxing has more PPV purchases and was rated more popular than MMA, even though its popularity is staggering. Also, boxers are paid more than UFC fighters.

MMA has been present for ages and the world has seen some of the best fighters face off in matchups considered a menace. From all kinds of categories, the best UFC fights have been witnessed and have taken part in the growth of the sport to where it stands. As more fighters are getting into the sport, also more fans are part of the entertainment and the game is expected to snatch top positions from other bigwigs very soon.

READ ALSO: Neymar vs Ronaldinho: Who is the most skilful among the two Brazilians?

Sportsbrief.com recently published an article on a comparison of two of the most skilled Brazilian players. Brazil has undoubtedly produced some of the best footballers in the world. Neymar and Ronaldinho are both at the top of the list but who is greater than the other when it comes to skill?

Samuel Lisubila photo
Samuel Lisubila