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Las Vegas holds a sacred place in sports history. On top of being the first place where legal sports betting was allowed in 1949, the city and its surrounding area has played a key role in many sports moments. A hub for combat events, boxing and later mixed martial arts, Las Vegas has expanded in recent years to include some of the major sports in America, including the WNBA, NHL and NFL. Two of those teams, the Aces and Golden Knights, have even hoisted championship trophies in the early years of their franchises' history

As the eyes of the world descend on Sin City for Super Bowl LVIII with the Kansas City Chiefs taking on the San Francisco 49ers, let's take a closer look at some of the biggest moments in the history of Las Vegas to date.

15. Sabrina Ionescu breaks 3-point contest record

July 15, 2023

In the WNBA, the 3-point contest is synonymous with Allie Quigley. At least it was. After winning her fourth competition in her hometown of Chicago in 2022, the Sky guard promised this would be her final competition. Quigley was true to her word and even sat out the entire 2023 WNBA season. It's hard to top a four-time champion, but that's exactly what New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu did last year.

The former Oregon Duck went 25-of-27 in the final round, including 20 straight shots from the perimeter. Her tally of 37 points made her the best 3-point contest shooter in the history of the WNBA and its parent league the NBA. Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry set the NBA record (31 points) in 2021. Ionescu and Curry will shoot it out later this month at the 2024 NBA All-Star 3-Point Contest in Indiana. -- Erica Ayala

14. Fan Man: Evander Holyfield vs. Riddick Bowe II

Nov. 6, 1993

This unified heavyweight title rematch between future Hall of Famers is best remembered by two words: "Fan Man." That was the moniker given to daredevil James Miller, who crashed his powered paraglider (featuring a giant propeller backpack which resembled a fan) onto the ring apron in Round 7 of the outdoor event, which caused a 21-minute delay. Luckily, neither fighter was injured by the bizarre event. Miller, however, could not make the same claim. After landing into the ring ropes unharmed, he was viciously attacked by both fans, security and members of Bowe's team, leaving Miller hospitalized in the aftermath of his arrest. What was most unfortunate was how much the delay altered the outcome of the fight.

One year after the two engaged in a classic slugfest to earn fight of the year honors as Bowe took home a decision win, their rematch saw Bowe build an early lead. But not only did Miller's arrival cause a distraction, forcing both fighters to don heavy coats in order to wait out the lengthy delay in the cold Autumn air, Bowe's pregnant wife fainted at ringside. Holyfield seized the momentum once the fight restarted and fought off a late Bowe rally in the championship rounds by outboxing him in the second of three exciting fights between the two. The majority decision win saw Holyfield join Floyd Patterson and Muhammad Ali as the only heavyweight champions to regain their titles directly from the man who took it from them (a feat Lennox Lewis and Anthony Joshua would also go on to achieve). -- Brian Campbell

13. Jerry Tarkanian's final home game at UNLV

March 3, 1992

"Tark the Shark" was one of the most interesting characters in college basketball history. A mainstay at UNLV for two decades, his teams played at an incredible pace that overwhelmed opponents throughout the game. His 1990 Runnin' Rebels went all the way to the national championship. But his success wasn't without controversy as the coach who was known for chewing a towel on the bench was constantly at odds with the NCAA. Tarkanian announced that the 1991-92 season would be his last with the program and his team finished 26-2, but banned from postseason play. His final home game at the Thomas and Mack Center saw the Rebels defeat Utah State 65-53 as the city said goodbye to a legend.

12. The Bite Fight: Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield

June 28, 1997

After Evander Holyfield pulled off a titanic upset by stopping Mike Tyson in the 11th round of their November 1996 meeting, the pair were set for another huge fight when they rematched the following June. The notoriously-unhinged Tyson had been pushed to the edge by what he felt were repeated and intentional headbutts from Holyfield in the first fight, which became a focus heading into the second meeting.

Sure enough, a Holyfield headbutt in Round 2 opened a cut over Tyson's right eye. Tyson, who had been mostly dominated in the first two rounds, then committed one of the most notorious in-ring acts in boxing history, engaging in a clinch in the third round and biting off a chunk of Holyfield's right ear and spitting it out onto the canvas. After a delay caused by the foul, the fight resumed only for Tyson to bite Holyfield's left ear. After the second bite was verified in the corner after the end of the round, referee Mills Lane called the bout off, disqualifying Tyson and sending the former heavyweight champion into a rampage that continued both in the ring and into the crowd. -- Brent Brookhouse

11. NASCAR in Las Vegas; Jimmie Johnson's photo finish

March 12, 2006

While Formula 1's Las Vegas Grand Prix last November commanded international attention, Las Vegas' love affair with motorsports has long centered around NASCAR and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. First opened in 1996, Las Vegas has hosted NASCAR Cup Series races every year since 1998, and the Las Vegas area has subsequently produced several racers at the top levels of NASCAR: None more known or more successful than brothers and Cup Series champions Kurt and Kyle Busch.

Las Vegas has produced many highlights over the years, but arguably no moment in speedway history is more memorable than the conclusion of the 2006 Cup race. Setting up his move in a two-lap dash to the finish, Jimmie Johnson got a run to the outside of Matt Kenseth in the final corner, drag racing him back to the checkered flag to beat Kenseth in a photo finish by 0.045 seconds.

As it turned out, that finish would serve to foreshadow the end result of the 2006 season as Johnson ultimately beat Kenseth by 56 points to win his first Cup championship at season's end. -- Steven Taranto

10. Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor

Aug. 26, 2017

The richest fight in combat sports history, in terms of live gate and revenue, and the second biggest in terms of pay-per-view buys (4.4 million) also ushered in a new era of crossover fights involving athletes from separate sports (which continues today). Mayweather, then 40, returned from a two-year retirement to extend his record to 50-0, moving one victory past the mythical 49-0 mark of former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano as it pertains to retiring with an unbeaten record. But for a pro boxing debut, the 29-year-old McGregor, who entered as the reigning UFC lightweight champion, ultimately impressed in terms of his ability to extend Mayweather before succumbing (amid exhaustion) to a 10th-round TKO defeat, despite never being knocked off of his feet.

The bigger story was the way the event galvanized crossover audiences across the globe, largely due to the perfect storm nature of pairing the two richest and most popular athletes in their respective combat disciplines. The fact that a large chunk of the casual audience who became invested in the event actually believed in McGregor's chances of winning only helped in the anticipation, as both Mayweather ($100 million) and McGregor ($30 million) received huge guaranteed purses with the prospect of tripling that amount should the fight approach record sales numbers. That's exactly what it did, helped along by a brilliant four-city world promotional tour, including co-promoter and UFC president Dana White, which saw both fighters exchange colorful trash talk to the level of performance art. -- Brian Campbell

9. Raiders debut in Las Vegas

Sept. 21, 2020

After years of playing games at the decrepit Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in, Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis found his team a new home in Sin City. The team would be moving to Las Vegas after breaking ground on what would become Allegiant Stadium in 2017. 

After spending the next three years in Oakland, the team made its debut as the Las Vegas Raiders in the 2020 NFL season amid the pandemic. On Sept. 21, 2020, the Raiders played their first home game at Allegiant Stadium, and it was a fruitful one as they defeated the New Orleans Saints, 34-24. Quarterback Derek Carr threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns to lead the team to victory. Josh Jacobs added 101 all-purpose yards on 30 touches, while tight end Darren Waller had a monster game to the tune of 12 catches, 105 yards and a touchdown. The Raiders would go on to finish 8-8 in their inaugural season in Las Vegas, marking the franchise's best record since 2016. -- Chris Bengel

8. Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo I

May 7, 2005

This lightweight unification bout between skilled and respected brawlers was attended by a mere 5,168 fans in a fight nationally televised on Showtime. But for those who were lucky enough to be present, it wasn't hyperbole to suggest they had witnessed -- quite possibly -- the greatest fight in boxing's long and decorated history. And, yes, it was really that good. In fact, had the fight not ended in such dramatic fashion (akin to a "Rocky" movie) in Round 10, it still would've easily secured fight of the year, if not the decade, due to the savage toe-to-toe onslaught that started from the opening bell. But because Corrales rose twice from the deck in the same round in which he rallied to later finish Castillo against the ropes, it allowed the fight to instantly reach the pantheon of greatness.

From Hall of Fame trainer Joe Goossen's flashy shirt and unforgettable motivation in the corner of Corrales to the incredible heart (and chins) shown by each competitor, this classic title fight simply had it all. The only lament surrounds how much each fighter permanently left of themselves in the ring that night. Even though Castillo, who had missed weight, would win their rematch by knockout four months later, neither one would ever be the same again. A 2006 trilogy fight was called off some 24 hours before when Castillo missed weight again and Corrales, who would tragically die in a 2007 motorcycle crash nearly two years to the day of their first bout, chose not to proceed with the fight. -- Brian Campbell

7. Aces bring first professional sports team title to city

Sept. 20, 2022

After four seasons of heartbreaking losses in the playoffs, the Las Vegas Aces finally won their first WNBA title over the Connecticut Sun in 2022. The Aces became the first professional team in Las Vegas to be crowned champions, and apparently winning is contagious. Nine months after the Aces won, the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Florida Panthers for their first Stanley Cup title. Not to be outdone, the Aces made it back-to-back in 2023 by beating the New York Liberty.

Although both series wins for the Aces happened on the road, the party on the Las Vegas Strip each time was the Champagne berry on top. A'ja Wilson's alcohol-fueled postgame media interviews, Kelsey Plum's cigar smoking, Sydney Colson's Instagram lives from the parade float, and head coach Becky Hammon's money stack -- to pay any censorship fines -- only endeared the Aces to their fanbase and the city. Nobody's liver was safe, as Wilson, the Finals MVP, did encourage everyone to stay hydrated. Additionally, singer Usher finally engaged with Wilson's tweets and he invited the Aces to one of his performances at Dolby Theatre at Park MGM. Can the Aces top their epic championship celebrations in 2024? I, for one, wouldn't mind finding out.  -- Erica Ayala

6. Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao

May 2, 2015

Year after year, there was only one fight on the minds of boxing fans: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao. The two men emerged as the biggest stars in the sport, and the two pound-for-pound best, as they rose through divisions and vanquished a string of high-level opponents through the 2000s. The idea of Mayeather's near-perfect boxing technique against the speed and power of Pacquiao had minds racing, but the two teams could not come to terms to get the men in the ring until May 2, 2015.

Rather than meeting in their early 30s, the delays in making the fight meant Mayweather entered the ring at 38 and Pacquiao at 36. While the fight was past its best-buy date, it still captured imaginations across the globe as it set records at the live gate and on PPV with 4.6 million purchases in the U.S. alone.  The record-breaking business, however, did not support what was in the ring as Mayweather's defense left Pacquiao befuddled. Mayweather ultimately took a unanimous decision by scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 118-110. -- Brent Brookhouse

5. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor

Oct. 6, 2018 

The biggest fight in MMA history was also the biggest grudge match UFC has ever promoted as Nurmagomedov, the unbeaten lightweight king, took on a McGregor who previously held the 155-pound title and never lost in the cage. Not only was this the perfect style contrast between grappler and striker, the UFC 229 main event was the culmination of a blood feud escalated by an incident at UFC 223 in Brooklyn, New York, some six months earlier. McGregor flew in from Ireland unannounced to defend the honor of teammate Artem Lobov, whom Nurmagomedov had verbally accosted and threatened in an exchange that was caught on camera. McGregor attacked a bus window with a dolly in the bowels of the Barclays Center that featured Nurmagomedov and a handful of UFC fighters and employees. The subsequent September press conference, held at New York's Radio City Music Hall to promote the event, yet without fans as a security measure, featured some of the darkest trash talk exchanged between fighters in UFC's 30-year history.

McGregor, who snapped an MMA layoff of nearly two years for the fight after boxing Floyd Mayweather in 2017, was dropped by Nurmagomedov in Round 2 before succumbing to a rear-naked choke two rounds later. But that's when the action really heated up. Nurmagomedov uncharacteristically attacked McGregor's corner by throwing his mouthpiece, hurdling the cage and landing a flying drop kick on his opponent's jiu-jitsu coach, Dillon Danis. That set off a melee between camps as Nurmagomedov's entourage entered the cage from various angles to attack McGregor just as the crowd nearly spilled over into the fracas as arena security was barely able to restore order. The event was nothing short of a blockbuster as UFC 229 set MMA records for the attendance and live gate in Nevada, while shattering the sport's PPV mark with 2.4 million buys. -- Brian Campbell

4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar passes Wilt Chamberlain

April 5, 1984

A record once believed to be untouchable was broken on a fabled night in Las Vegas. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar surpassed Wilt Chamberlain's all-time scoring mark of 31,419 points in 1984 after a career-long journey to the incredible feat.

Chamberlain finished his illustrious 14-year career at a number that even to this day still seems unfathomable. But on April 5, 1984, during a regular-season meeting with the Utah Jazz, Abdul-Jabbar nailed a skyhook over two Jazz defenders in the fourth quarter to surpass Chamberlain's record at 31,421 points in his career.

The shot further cemented Abdul-Jabbar's status as one of the greatest to ever play the game, but instead of setting the record in front of thousands of Lakers faithful at the Forum, or in a visiting team's arena, he broke the record at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. It's an interesting tidbit about this historic moment, but the Jazz struggled to fill out their arena in Salt Lake City that season, and the solution was to host a handful of home games in Las Vegas. It ended up being the perfect storm, as a sold out crowd of 18,389 showed up to watch Abdul-Jabbar make history. -- Jasmyn Wimbish

3. Golden Knights win Stanley Cup

June 13, 2023

When the Vegas Golden Knights came into existence in 2017, owner Billy Foley said his goal was to win a Stanley Cup in six years. The Golden Knights delivered on that promise last summer when they defeated the Florida Panthers in five games to hoist the Stanley Cup on the ice at T-Mobile Arena. Vegas even threw some style points on top of its championship victory, hammering Florida, 9-3, to clinch the series in Game 5. Captain Mark Stone scored a hat trick, including an empty-net goal that sent the crowd into a frenzy and started the party in Sin City.

The Golden Knights' Stanley Cup victory was big for a number of different reasons. For starters, it completely changed the expectations for expansion teams moving forward. Vegas used the new expansion draft rules to its advantage, and it created a Cup contender right out of the gate. Secondly, the Golden Knights could and should serve as a model for roster construction. They weren't afraid to take some huge swings on the trade market, and they were rewarded with two franchise cornerstones in Mark Stone and Jack Eichel. Finally, Vegas kind of made the rest of the league re-evaluate the value of the goaltending position. Adin Hill, who entered the season as the team's third goaltender, transformed into a brick wall and posted a save percentage of .932 in the postseason.

Perhaps the coolest part about the celebration was that Jonathan Marchessault, one of the six original Golden Knights, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP with 13 goals and 12 assists. -- Austin Nivision

2. Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns

April 15, 1985

While boxing had a fantastic year in 2023, it's unlikely the sport ever again reaches the heights of competitive matchmaking and drama seen in the era of "The Four Kings." In the late 70s and early 80s, Marvin Hagler, "Sugar" Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns shared the ring as elite fighters who all brought out the best in each other.

No fight from that era matched the greatness of the eight minutes of action produced by Hagler and Hearns in April 1985. Hagler, defending his undisputed middleweight title, came out of the corner hard, throwing bombs at Hearns. Hearns didn't back down and retaliated with his own heavy power shots. The back-and-forth action continued until Hagler finally hurt and dropped Hearns for the stoppage in Round 3. In just under eight minutes of action, the two men combined to land 190 punches, just 39 less than Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. combined to land over 12 rounds in their superfight 30 years later. -- Brent Brookhouse

1. Chris Moneymaker wins World Series of Poker

May 24, 2003

Poker has always occupied a space in the American imagination, dating back to the days of the "Wild West" where stories of villains and heroes alike sat around tables in saloons with whiskey and a deck of cards, producing legendary stories such as that of the "dead man's hand" when Wild Bill Hickock was shot dead while allegedly holding black aces and eights. In 2003, Chris Moneymaker added another chapter to that storied history when he turned an $86 entry to an online satellite tournament into a $2.5 million win in the main event of the World Series of Poker at Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas.

No one hand represents Moneymaker's run from amateur to the most famous poker player in the world like his "bluff of the century" against Sammy Farha when the pair were playing heads-up for the championship. Despite missing his draw on the river, and with Farha having the better hand, Moneymaker bluffed Farha out of a big pot, flipping momentum at the final table and setting up his win. After seeing an amateur go from an $86 entry to multi-millionaire on national television, the world experienced an unprecedented poker boom where poker programming -- from World Series of Poker, to World Poker Tour, to Celebrity Poker Showdown -- was borderline inescapable on TV. -- Brent Brookhouse