Posted 09/26/2013 by Marlene Taborda in Untethered MMA

The Undisputed 10 Best Title Fights in UFC History

By Mike Fagan, September 26th, 2013 

Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson put on one of the finest title fights in UFC history. And that got me thinking, Hey, self, what are some other great title fights of the UFC history? Maybe you should write a list and publish it to that there web page you write for. That sounds like a wonderful idea! Of course it’s a wonderful idea. Now grab that rag and clean yourself up.

So, here’s that list, with the caveat that I’ve compiled said list with fights that I’ve watched live. Why? Because that’s what I’m deciding to do. If you don’t like it, I’m sure you can find a list to your liking here.


11. Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, UFC 117

I jotted down all the title fights I wanted to include and ended up with eleven. I couldn’t justify cutting this out, and I didn’t want to deal with figuring out how to format an Honorable Mention. So you get a bonus fight. Hooray!

I had a non-MMA fan friend watching this fight with me who went outside for some reason after the fourth round. He came back inside right after the fight ended and couldn’t believe Silva had won. That’s why this fight is at 11. It’s like an SNL sketch: kind of fun at the start and then hammering the same dumb punchline over and over for 20 minutes (holy shit keep your sketches under 5 minutes, young comedy writers). Difference here is that we get a satisfyingly awesome conclusion.


10. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Tim Sylvia, UFC 81

This is like that Silva/Sonnen SNL sketch if someone smart came in and cut out all the unfunny bits and left you with some real sharp comedy. Sylvia beats up Big Nog for two rounds. This is sad because everyone loves Nog (when we forget about his weird thing about rolling with the gays), and Sylvia is literally the biggest sack of X-Pac Heat in MMA history. Then Nog goes Nog; he takes Sylvia down, baits him into escaping, and chokes him out with a guillotine. And the crowd rejoiced. Yay!


9. Anderson Silva vs. Dan Henderson, UFC 82

When my buddy and I bought tickets for this fight we thought, “Holy shit! Anderson Silva vs. Dan Henderson! What a ticket! Let’s buy 8 a piece and then sell them to all the rubes outside the arena for some SICK PROFIT.”

On fight day, we’re standing outside the Nationwide Arena. It’s cold and dreary, and we’re a couple of 24 year olds who have no idea how to scalp tickets. We watch real life ticket scalpers having a hard time getting rid of any of their shit. They start offering to take our tickets off our hands under face value. We decline. We decline some more. We decline some more. Then we give in because we might as well not take a total wash on this and holy shit be smarter about trying to make a profit on the UFC in the future, assholes.

At least the fight was awesome.


8. Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz, UFC 143

Another buddy and I watched this in 3-D at the River East theater in Chicago. It was great. The 3-D took a few fights to get used to, but it paid off. You got a better sense of distance and a better sense of the impact of strikes landed. It was great, and the crowd was really into, too. Unfortunately, I believe this was the first and last of the UFC’s 3-D broadcasts.

So, maybe the 3-D colored things for me or maybe it was the active crowd in the theater, but I thought this fight was great. I guess if you were expecting Condit to stand in front of Diaz like a moron it sucked, but I enjoyed watching Condit outsmart Diaz, and I enjoyed Diaz try to trap Condit into his game.


7. Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber, UFC 132

For whatever reason, this fight gets lost in the shuffle when talking about great fights. Probably because, though it was competitive, Cruz won a comfortable unanimous decision. This is fun, though. Cruz and Faber have a real rivalry, even if you can never be too sure just how much two fighters dislike each other for realsy. This fight went all over the place, with great striking and grappling and transitions in between.


6. Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin, UFC 116

The greatest moment of Brock Lesnar’s career and the beginning of his downfall. Carwin welcomed Lesnar back from his diverticulitis trip with a barrage of artillery, emasculating Lesnar into the fetal position on the fence. Unfortunately for Carwin, lactic acid is a thing, and by the end of the round he was the steam engine to Lesnar’s John Henry. Carwin had nothing left in the second; Lesnar took him down with ease and transitioned into a slick arm triangle to pull off the comeback.


5. Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard, UFC 136

In a vacuum, I like this fight better than the rematch. It’s basically the same story, except with a dramatic and unexpected finish. We’ll get to that in a bit, though. What made that fight great though was the spontaneity of the thing. We thought it had potential to be a good fight. It ended up being a great fight. This rubber match had higher expectations, and while I think it delivered, it lacked the “Holy shit!” moments of the rematch.


4. Quinton Jackson vs. Dan Henderson, UFC 75

Like Cruz vs. Faber, this fight is oft forgotten. And like Cruz vs. Faber, this fight went all over the damn place. Unlike Cruz vs. Faber, this had the historical significance of being the first UFC/Pride title unification and the first title fight on Spike TV (or free TV?).


3. Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson, UFC 165

This could just have easily swapped places with Jackson/Henderson. The latter has more historical significance, but Jones/Gustafsson will probably end up with more rewatchability. And drama. Holy hell. It would have been great if Goldberg and Rogan had pointed out that the Ontario commission removed Greg Jackson from Jones’ corner. But even without knowing that, Jones seemed off from the start, and he looked flummoxed with Gustafsson throughout the fight. The highspot comes in the fourth, though, after a round that Gustafsoon looked to be winning comfortably, Jones wins back the round with a late flurry that almost (should have) finished the challenger. It saved the fight and the title for Jones, in the champ’s most impressive performance to date.


2. Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard, UFC 125

You don’t often see a champion get knocked down three times in the first round and end up retaining the title. Yet, that’s what happened at UFC 125. Maynard beat the hell out of Edgar to the point that you start wondering if Edgar’s corner needs to do something to protect their fighter. Instead, Edgar storms back to win 3 of 4 remaining rounds and force a draw. There are arguments that the judges should have awarded Maynard a 10-7 in the first. Had that been the case, Maynard wins the title by split decision. Instead, we were treated to a third fight. Poor us.


1. Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin, UFC 87

I took a lot of shit for listing this as my favorite fight of 2008, and I’ll probably take a lot of shit for listing it as the greatest title fight in UFC history (that I’ve seen live wah wah). But you’re dumb. Here’s why:

1) The light heavyweight title has been the UFC’s marquee division for some time. It’s appropriate that the division sit atop of a list like this.

2) This fight told a great story. Griffin gives Jackson a tough first round before being knocked down (more on this in a bit). He comes out in the second and lands a leg kick that buckles Jackson’s knee, rendering him completely ineffective for the entire round. Somehow, Jackson battles back to win the third and fourth on one leg before Griffin edges close fifth round. This all played into the scrappy challenger in Griffin versus the cocky swaggering champ in Jackson.

3) Judging controversy! So, remember how I said Jackson knocks down Griffin at the end of the first round? Somehow two of the judges gave the round to Griffin. Holy hell! Also, none of the judges gave Jackson the third, which was bad too.

4) Jackson slams Griffin out of a triangle in the fourth.

5) It’s just the best OK? Go watch it.


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.



Marlene Taborda