Friday, May 24, 2024

Top 10 UFC fights of the decade

Following on from our Premier League team of the decade and Formula One Grands Prix of the decade, we decided to take a look at the top 10 UFC fights of the 2010s. This decade has been huge for the UFC, with the sport capturing the eyes of millions of new fans.

It has also seen some absolutely incredible bouts, just trying to narrow down 10 years of fighting into a list of 10 was one hell of a task, but take a look below to find the Lazy Fan Sports top 10 UFC fights of the decade.

10) Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz II

There will be some split opinions on this one. Personally I wasn’t sure if I wanted to include the fight on this list or not, however I also know that there are some fans that would put it towards the top of the list, so here it is. This is a fight that was intense in the moment, but doesn’t quite hold the same awe when watching it back.

This fight took place at UFC 202 in August 2016, coming after Nate Diaz would pick up a surprise win over McGregor at short notice. The build up for this fight was like few others we have ever seen, with both men ultimately being fined for throwing cans and bottles around at one of the pre-fight press conferences.

Fans were intrigued to see how McGregor would adapt following his defeat in the first fight, many pundits and experts felt that facing Diaz on a full camp could only end in an even worse result for the Irishman. The two men would play out one hell of a fight that would keep fans on the edge of their seats for all five rounds.

McGregor would dominate early, landing some heavy leg kicks to try and mitigate the movement of Diaz, however McGregor would end up injuring his own leg throwing the kicks. Diaz would control the middle rounds of the fight before McGregor would gain a second wind at the end of the fight. Coming down to the judge’s scorecards, with McGregor picking up the majority decision win.

It was an incredibly back and forth fight with fans debating afterwards whether McGregor won or if Diaz had been robbed. There isn’t quite the clamour for a trilogy that we once saw, but few fans would turn their noses up at it if it came about.

9) Robert Whittaker vs Yoel Romero II

These two men had an absolute war when they fought for the second time, in fact they had a fantastic fight when they faced off the first time. Coming into this fight at UFC 225 the middleweight title was supposed to be on the line, however in typical Yoel Romero fashion, the Soldier of God would miss weight, meaning that the bout was no longer for the belt.

Some thought that this could take away from the fight, however both men would go out and put absolutely everything on the line. No champion wants to lose a fight, even when it isn’t for his title and Whittaker was no different on this night. The champion would give his all despite breaking his hand in the first round, doing enough to just eek out a split decision victory. It was another fight that fans were unable to agree on, with a vast amount of people (including myself) feeling that Romero won the fight.

It would’ve been great to see a third fight between these two men, hopefully we still will sometime soon.

8) Robbie Lawler vs Carlos Condit

Robbie Lawler took on Carlos Condit in his first UFC title defence and it would immediately become one of the best title fights in the history of the company. This was a big fight for both men, as Lawler would be looking to cement himself as a real champion by completing a title defence and Condit was coming into this bout knowing that he was likely getting his last opportunity at the belt.

The two men would exchange early in the first round, Lawler chasing after Condit as he looked to defend the belt with the same style that won it for him. Lawler would end up being caught in the first round and dropped by Condit with the challenger looking like he was moments away from claiming the belt. Lawler would return the favour by dropping Condit with a counter punch in the second round, setting a tone for the rest of the fight as the two men would continue to go back and forth.

Somehow this fight managed to go all five rounds with Robbie Lawler eeking out a split decision victory over Condit, allowing him to go on and have another all time classic fight later down the line.

7) Cub Swanson vs Dooho Choi

Next up is a fight that always held the possibility of being fantastic, however no-one expected it to turn out as well as it did. The two men would face off on the main card of UFC 206 back in 2016 and would put on a strong contender for fight of the year.

The final 10 seconds of this fight alone most likely deserve a place on this list, as Swanson would attempt a cartwheel kick but fail to connect and fall with exhaustion, before getting back up and throwing absolutely everything he had into a big left hand that would send Choi sprawling to the mat, allowing Swanson to get on top and start throwing some bombs to end the fight. The sight of Swanson on his knees, hands pointed towards the rafters, became absolutely iconic.

Looking back at this fight it’s fair to argue that this is where both men peaked. Swanson has gone on to have some fantastic fights since this, but he is on the start of a decline. Meanwhile Choi has failed to win a fight since this loss, a true shame.

6) Mark Hunt vs Bigfoot Silva I

This would be the first of two fights between these men and there isn’t too much technical to say about it. Two behemoths would enter the Octagon and stand across from each other, intent on unleashing a world of pain onto their opponent and leaving them laying flat on the canvas while their arm is raised into the air. Everyone expected that to be the outcome of the fight, it was just a matter of which man would be in each position.

In a fight that would take everyone by surprise the two men would be able to put one another down, with heavy strikes being thrown from both sides and landing cleanly. Cuts being opened, blood pouring and neither man wanting to back down. By the end of the fight they were both utterly exhausted and yet somehow managed to keep throwing heavy fists in a desperate hope that one of them would fall to the ground and be unable to continue.

The fight would go all five rounds and land in the hands of the judges, who were unable to decide a victor, meaning the fight would end as a draw. A fitting end to a fantastic fight.

5) Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen I

Anderson Silva was the dominant champion that looked untouchable, Chael Sonnen was the new contender, full of confidence and talking shit. Most people were expecting Silva to take care of Sonnen in short order and move on, leaving the loudmouth in the dust. That is definitely not what happened.

Silva was on a tear, he had defended his UFC middleweight championship seven times in a row and was looking to make it eight against Sonnen, however the a NCAA Division 1 All American was not going to let that happen easily. Sonnen would dominate the fight for four and a half rounds, battering Silva and looking as though he was pushing his way towards a monumental decision victory.

With just two minutes left in the fight Silva needed a hail Mary to retain his title and avoid losing. With Sonnen on top of him, in full guard (where he had operated for most of the fight) Silva managed to do exactly that. Silva would manage to sink in a triangle, to the shock of both the commentators and the audience and force Sonnen to tap with just two minutes left in the fight.

This was just the first of two fights between the two men, it’s safe to say that the second fight didn’t quite go the same way.

4) Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard II

If this was a list of fights ranked by the heart of the champion, you would be hard pressed to find something that could rank above it. This fight was for the lightweight championship, taking place at UFC 125 back in January 2011, the second time that these men had fought.

Coming into the fight Edgar had just one loss on his record, which came against Maynard in their first fight. The Bully was undefeated, looking for a repeat of his last performance against Edgar to claim the belt.

In the first round it looked like that’s exactly what we’d get, with Maynard knocking Edgar down numerous times over the course of the round. Frankie was sent to the canvas by strikes four or five times in the space of two minutes, eating a barrage of strikes on the ground too, yet somehow managed to survive to the end of the round despite being more wobbly on his feet than me after I’ve had one too many drinks.

By hanging in through the first round, Frankie was able to fight back in the second, as Maynard had gassed himself out attempting to finish his opponent. The two would trade rounds back and forth for the remainder of the fight, with it ultimately being scored a draw after it went the distance.

3) Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson I – UFC 165

This fight was one of the greatest in UFC history, let alone of the greatest in the decade. Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson put on a show that fans would not forget. In fact this fight was so good and so controversial that fans would be desperate for a sequel all the way up to last year, when we would finally get it.

Jones had dominated the light heavyweight division for a number of years, taking out top contenders and veterans on his rise to the title and across his first five title defences. When it was announced that he would be taking on the similarly dominant Gustafsson, fans were more than excited.

The two men certainly did not disappoint, with Gustafsson giving Jones by far the toughest test of his entire career – not just to the point, to date still. Both men would be sent to the hospital after the fight suffering from multiple cuts and a vast amount of swelling.

There is still a debate raging throughout MMA forums today as to whether or not Jones won this fight. Many fans feel as though Gustafsson was robbed, many feel that Jones rightfully won and as always there are some who feel it should have been a draw, but beyond all of that, this was simply one of the greatest fights of all time.

2) Shogun Rua vs Dan Henderson – UFC 139

Even by this point in their careers Shogun Rua and Dan Henderson were essentially considered to be legends of the sport. Shogun and Hendo both had storied careers dating back to their time in PRIDE, not even considering the time they had spent in the UFC.

The two men stepped into the cage for the main event of UFC 139, back before every main event needed to be a title fight and put on one of the greatest shows that we have ever seen.

Henderson and Rua would go back and forth for the entire fight, with Rua sustaining a heavy cut above his left eye with Henderson piling on the pressure. Rua would be able to fight back and knock Henderson down, giving fans a feeling of what they could expect for the rest of the fight.

The fight ended up going the distance and would be left in the hands of the judges, who as always would cause plenty of drama. They would give a decision victory to Henderson, while both the victor and Dana White would come out after the fight and explain they felt it should have been a draw.

1) Robbie Lawler vs Rory McDonald II – UFC 189

Here we are, the greatest fight of the decade and this choice should come as a shock to absolutely no-one. If you haven’t seen this fight already, stop reading this and go and watch it right now.

Robbie Lawler and Rory McDonald not only put on the greatest UFC fight of the decade, but the greatest fight of all time. This is one of those fights that gives you goosebumps to watch, sitting back and watching these two guys give absolutely everything this have in order to come out of that fight with the title. Just watching the way that McDonald collapses to the floor holding his crushed nose, unable to take any more punishment.

I have never seen two fighters give so much for one fight, just take a look at the photos below to see the state of these guys after the fight.

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