Posted 08/16/2013 by admin in Untethered MMA

The Quintessential MMA Mixtape for Education & Entertainment

By Mike Fagan, August 16th, 2013 

People used to share music via the mixtape. Before CD burning and peer-to-peer networks and iTunes and Spotify, people – real, red-blooded human beings – would crouch over a boom box for hours creating their own music cassette from the radio and CDs and other cassettes. I mean “for hours” literally. However long your mixtape ended up was the bare minimum of time you needed to work on it.

I had a favorite mixtape that sat in my (mom’s) car all through high school. It had a bunch of pop punk on it. I recorded it through my computer (thanks Napster!), and toward the end of one of the sides you’d hear an AIM instant message notification. Specifically, that door opening thing when people would come online. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is a big deal when you’ve got that tape deck cranked to 11 listening to Five Iron Frenzy’s “Blue Comb ’78” and you hear a creeky fucking door swing open in your car.

Anyway, mixtapes used to be the best way to introduce your friends to new music and ween them off Kid Rock and Powerman 5000. Or ween yourself off that shit, because that’s what I listened to when I was an angsty high school freshman.

But what if you wanted to introduce a friend to MMA in a world without Youtube and torrent trackers and DVD burners and the like? Grab a VHS, hit that SLP record, and let’s fill three hours* of tape with the best of MMA’s past and present. It might look like this:

* – Three hours of listed fight times. Yeah, there’s the in-round stuff and the walk-ins and blah blah blah. This is my list. Shut your mouth.


Royce Gracie vs. Art Jimmerson, UFC 1, 2:18

Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock, UFC 1, 0:57

Royce Gracie vs. Gerard Gordeau, UFC 1, 1:44

The Gracies, for better or worse, kickstarted this MMA thing, and you might as well pay homage to that upfront. This includes the first of two Ken Shamrock beatdowns on this tape. Any time you can include two beatdowns of Ken Shamrock, you’re in good shape.


Jon Hess vs. Andy Anderson, UFC 5, 1:23

I originally left this out, but I picked the wrong Liddell-Ortiz fight, and needed to make some late changes. So this is in. Why? Because it’s the fight that kickstarted my love affair with MMA. It’s goofy. It’s silly. It’s what the early UFC looked like when Gracie and Shamrock and Severn weren’t in the cage. It’s the best.


Mark Coleman vs. Dan Severn, UFC 12, 2:57

A comprehensive look at the history of MMA is not complete without these two. Severn won the UFC 5 and Ultimate Ultimate ’95 tournaments, and split two fights with Ken Shamrock over the UFC Superfight Title (the latter fight more deserving of an “MMA misses” mixtape). Coleman won UFC 11, became UFC heavyweight champion in this fight, and would later win the Pride Grand Prix 2000. The fight itself isn’t that great, but it’s short, and Coleman wins with a neck crank you’ll never see in the modern age.


Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Carlos Newton, Pride 3, 15:19

From Gracie to Gracie Killer. Ideally, you’d use Sakuraba’s 90-minute Iron Man match with Royce from the Pride Grand Prix 2000, but it’s not worth half your tape length. Sakuraba-Newton is one of the earliest (and still one of the best) examples of fun, high-level grappling in MMA, though, and deserves its spot here.


Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takayama, Pride 21, 6:10

OK. This is probably a work, at least in the sense of a handshake agreement to go out and hockey fight at the bell. But whatever. It’s fun as hell and a great contrast to Sakuraba/Newton. Required viewing for every MMA fan.


Frank Shamrock vs. Kevin Jackson, UFC: Japan, 0:16

Frank Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz, UFC 22, 19:42

Before Frank Shamrock became the out-of-touch, adult-braced color commentator he is today, he was arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. These two fights showcase that. First, the quick destruction of an Olympic gold medalist, then the methodical outwitting of a younger, faster, stronger opponent.


Phil Baroni vs. Dave Menne, UFC 39, 0:18

David Terrell vs. Matt Lindland, UFC 49, 0:24

Two brutal knockouts in the UFC’s dark age that come in great handy as time fillers! Yo, but seriously, the New York Bad Ass is the best ever, and this KO of Menne may be one of the most violent things you’ve ever seen in a regulated cage fight.


Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg, UFC 52, 4:05

B.J. Penn vs. Matt Hughes, UFC 46, 4:39

These are out of order on purpose. You want to show Hughes’ dominance before Penn’s upset, and Hughes-Trigg II is probably Matt Hughes’ best work. It’s also one of the most exciting rounds and finishes in MMA history.

It’s also hard to pick a single Penn fight. The first Uno fight (an 11-second knockout) is worthy, but doesn’t truly express Penn’s brilliance. The Takanori Gomi fight is a little long (12:35) for a one-sided beatdown. The Joe Stevenson fight is quicker (9:02) and ends with a spectacular blood faucet, but Stevenson ended up as an also-ran. So, Penn-Hughes I it is.


Mirko Cro Cop vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Pride Final Conflict 2003, 11:45

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mirko Cro Cop, Pride Final Conflict 2005, 20:00

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Fabricio Werdum, Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum, 1:09

This is a nice little arc of the Pride heavyweight division. It would have been nice to squeeze one of the Fedor-Nogueira fights in here, but Nogueira-Cro Cop might be the quintessential Nogueira moment, and Fedor-Cro Cop, in my mind, is the greatest mixed martial arts fight of all time.


Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Kazuyuki Miyata, K-1 Hero’s 5, 0:04

More time filler, but also a good showcase of KID Yamamoto.


Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva, UFC Brazil, 0:44

Wanderlei Silva vs. Kazushi Sakuraba, Pride 13, 1:38

Wanderlei Silva II vs. Quinton Jackson, Pride 28, 13:26

I hate leaving off Silva vs. Henderson II and completing the rise and fall of Wanderlei, but time constraints are a bitch. But hey, if you’re into unconscious Wanderlei Silva, you still get that here. You also get a great reminder of the brutality that comes with soccer kicks and knees to the head of a grounded opponent. And that’s not all! You also get Quinton Jackson’s unconscious and limp body hanging in the ropes.


Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock II, UFC 61, 1:18

Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz, UFC 66, 13:57

Griffin-Bonnar I may have saved the UFC, but these two fights – which combined for nearly 2 million PPV buys – really pushed the UFC into the position of global brand leader. Oh, and look whose name appears in both!


Quinton Jackson vs. Chuck Liddell, Pride Final Conflict 2003, 8:10

Quinton Jackson vs. Ricardo Arona, Pride Critical Countdown 2004, 7:32

Quinton Jackson vs. Chuck Liddell, UFC 71, 1:53

It should tell you something that Quinton Jackson has more fights (4) than anyone else on this list. That thing that it is telling you is that I am (or was) a Rampage mark. The scary thing? I only left off Griffin-Jackson and Jackson-Henderson – maybe my two favorite UFC title fights ever – for time. He’s a manchild, in every sense of the word, but in his prime, few men were involved in high-level, high-entertainment fights as consistently as Rampage.


Georges St-Pierre vs. Matt Hughes, UFC 79, 9:54

Hughes was past his prime at this point, but the ending – St-Pierre by armbar – mirrors the armbar Hughes won with in their first fight, and is a fitting end to this trilogy. It was the official passing of the torch in the UFC welterweight division, and the second fight in GSP’s current 11-fight winning streak.


Anderson Silva vs. Chris Leben, UFC FN 5, 0:49

Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin, UFC 64, 2:59

Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin, UFC 101, 3:23

The fifth-round submission of Chael Sonnen may end up as the defining moment in Anderson Silva’s career, but these three fights shed a better light on what made Silva the greatest fighter in the sport to date. Silva embarrasses legitimate top guys in Franklin and Griffin. And while Leben, correctly, will be remembered as a journeyman middleweight, he was 15-1 at the time of this fight, and oddsmakers listed him as a 2-1 underdog. So he wasn’t a total bum, but Silva made him look like one anyway.


Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir II, UFC 100, 6:48

Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez, UFC on Fox 1, 1:04

Two milestone fights for the UFC. First, Lesnar and Mir on the UFC’s 100th big show draw an MMA-record 1.6 million pay-per-view buys. That number should stand for the next few years. Then, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos headline the first-ever UFC fight on a major American network. The broadcast sucked, eschewing a lightweight fight between Ben Henderson and Clay Guida for an hour dedicated to a main event that lasted 64 seconds.


Jose Aldo vs. Cub Swanson, WEC 41, 0:08

The final bit of filler and a nod to Jose Aldo as we head into the final stretch.


Cris Cyborg vs. Gina Carano, Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg, 4:59

Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche, UFC 157, 4:49

The two most important women’s MMA fights to date. Gina Carano was the first woman to capture any sort of mainstream attention, and it’s easy to forget how big her fight with Cris Cyborg was. And, of course, Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche headlining a UFC PPV is serious business. The future of women’s MMA may fall on Rousey’s shoulders, too. Carano left for Hollywood, and Rousey is already taking roles. If she bails as well, will another star emerge to fill the vacuum?


Jon Jones vs. Brandon Vera, UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones, 3:19

We end with Jon Jones, the current future of the sport, literally breaking someone’s face.

By my count, that’s exactly 3 hours long. ‘Natch.


Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at, also available as a podcast via iTunes.