UFC 202 featured two of the most electrifying men currently in the sport in Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz, and both love-them-or-hate-them fighters turned in an incredible battle. When the dust cleared, McGregor was declared the winner in a very close decision, that truthfully could have gone either way. McGregor’s victory sets up a third fight for these two competitors which could be even more exciting than the first two.
After the fight, many considered it to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest UFC fight of all time. Is that a fair assessment? Here are my top six UFC fights of all time.
6. Conor McGregor vs Jose Aldo (UFC 194)
This was the fight that launched McGregor to the top of the UFC world, becoming a household name in the process. The fight lasted 13 seconds, in one of the most shocking knockouts in UFC history. Aldo had held the featherweight belt for nearly a decade, and all of his work was wiped out in one punch. McGregor had arrived, and this incredibly short fight would lead to the amazing McGregor-Diaz fights to follow.
5. Holly Holm vs Ronda Rousey (UFC 193)
Ronda Rousey is arguably as big a name as Connor McGregor. Together, the two have launched UFC into the mainstream conscious, with Rousey dominating her opponents at a rate as impressive as Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt (How topical!). So this fight lands on the list of greatest of all time because, like McGregor-Aldo above, the shocking upset to the most dominant female fighter’s reign was so swift and brutal. It remains to be seen when Rousey will fight again, but the world will surely be watching.
4. Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen I (UFC 117)
The best fights are the ones that play out like movies. One fighter dominates, while the fighter on his heels comes from behind for a dramatic win. This took place at UFC 117, with Sonnen shocking the crowd watching by completely dismantling the then champ Anderson Silva. Silva had looked mostly unbeatable in his career, but a relative newcomer was challenging him. As hope seemed lost, Silva reached back and swiftly ended the fight in the fifth round with a triangle arm bar for submission win, as the crowd went wild.
3. Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz II (UFC 202)
As mentioned above, McGregor was on top of the world following his victory over Aldo. It seemed he could not be stopped, until he took on Nate Diaz at UFC 196 and shockingly was defeated in brutal fashion. Naturally, the rematch would be one to look out for. This time, McGregor trained hard, humbled by his loss, and seemed focused the entire fight. Round after round, the fight went back and forth, and truly no fighter looked to be the clear victor. After a major slugfest and all out brawl, McGregor was declared the victor, setting up a sure to be epic third and final fight between the two.
2. Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard II and III (UFC 125 and 136)
To fully appreciate the legacy of these two fighters, you need to look at both the second and third fights. In the second, Maynard was absolutely dominating Edgar in the first round, sending him to the ground on several occasions. It appeared that with only one or two more strikes Maynard would win the fight in incredibly quick fashion. However, Edgar recovered, and the following rounds were stuff of legend. In a match he knew he had to win, Edgar pushed as hard as he ever did, to come all the way back and force a tie-decision at the end. Fans were stunned at Edgar’s tenacity to overcome such a deficit. Edgar, proving that he was one of the best fighters in his division, would knock out Maynard in the fourth round of the third fight to show his dominance and cement his legacy.
1. Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonner (The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale)
This fight is perhaps the most famous and important fight in UFC history. It is credited as being the fight that saved the UFC, and allowed SpikeTv to pick up the Ultimate fighter for a second season. While the main event was Ken Shamrock vs Rich Franklin, Griffin-Bonner will forever be remembered for the incredible showing. In a blow for blow match, both fighters stood and delivered devastating punches to each other over and over, with neither side ceding an inch. It is one of the most electrifying fights ever witnessed, with both fighters leaving it all in the octagon for the shot at a UFC contract and glory.