UFC has been the home to some of the best fights in mixed martial arts history. Since becoming an official organization in 1993, the company has gone from Royce Gracie all the way to Conor McGregor. In between, we have gotten to witness all-out wars, vicious knockouts and amazing submissions.
We have decided to rank the top 20 most influential fights in UFC history. These are fights that broke barriers, changed how the company did things or set the stage for things to come down the line.
Without further ado, it's time!
20. Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida (2009): These two get things started in a hurry. Considered to be one of the best in-cage stare downs ever, Sanchez and Guida only got better from there. The first 15 seconds of the fight was punches on punches on punches. Guida got rocked early but fought back and the two left everything they had in the Octagon from there. This fight easily took home 2009 Fight of the Year honors after Sanchez won via split decision after this war of The Ultimate Fighter coaches.
19. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Chuck Liddell (2007): Rampage is one of the most polarizing figures in UFC history. You either love him or hate him. In just his second fight in the UFC, Jackson got a shot a long-time light heavyweight champ and UFC legend Chuck Liddell. Jackson did not waste his opportunity at Liddell and dropped him with a vicious right hand in the first round for the knockout. It ushered in a new era for the light heavyweight division with less certainty at the top and more turbulence among the fighters.
18. Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald (2015): This was an absolutely brutal fight. The co-main event for Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes featured a little-known champion Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald. Through the first four rounds, both men were left bloodied and bruised. MacDonald's nose and eyes looked broken and Lawler's upper lip was split in half, but in the end, these two gave us the 2015 Fight of the Year with Lawler winning by unanimous decision.
17. Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson (2013): The reigning light heavyweight champion was ready to step in and walk through another opponent in Gustaffson. Little did Jones know how strong the Swede was in the Octagon. These two threw everything they had at each other in what was considered the 2013 Fight of the Year. Jones landed one of the more unique strikes in MMA history with his reverse elbow to the head as a part of the 25-minute war.
16. Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz 1 (2002): Considered to be one of the biggest feuds in UFC history, Shamrock and Ortiz finally did battle in 2002. It was Shamrock's first fight back in the UFC since 1996 and he laid it all on the line against Ortiz. The two went toe-to-toe for three rounds before Shamrock's corner called a stop to the match. The main event of UFC 40 helped show that the company could make money off of pay-per-views by doubling the buyrate of regular events, according to UFC data.
15. Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II (2005): This fight makes the list for its two iconic moments. Hughes was nearly finished early on when Trigg was able to get his back and apply a rear-naked choke. But Hughes managed to escape and continue to fight. Then, Hughes picked up Trigg, carried him across the Octagon and dropped him to the canvas. He went on to score a submission victory and retain his welterweight title.
14. Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture I (2003): The first fight of the trilogy set the stage for what was to come from the light heavyweight division. This fight could be considered what set the tone for the light heavyweight division's stardom over the next decade. Liddell was the young(er) gun at 32 with a 12-1 career record. The 39-year-old Couture was coming off of two straight losses for the heavyweight crown. What resulted was an absolute war with Couture ground-and-pounding his way to a TKO. It paved the way for Liddell, Couture, Tito Ortiz and Vitor Belfort to carry the division for the next few years.
13. Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman I (2013): All good things must come to an end, and for Silva, Weidman was the man to stop his run. Silva was on the longest run in UFC history as a champion, despite his in-ring antics where he typically taunted opponents. He did the same in his bout with Weidman, practically begging him to take a swing. When Weidman obliged, Silva hit the canvas and never got up. It was a stunning upset to say the least, but its significance was more about ending Silva's incredible historic win streak at 16.
12. Jon Jones vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (2011): The fight that started it all for 'Bones.' Jones was a stand in for Rashad Evans, who was set to challenge Rua for the light heavyweight crown. But Jones did not waste his opportunity, scoring a second-round knockout of the champ. It started Jones' run as light heavyweight champ -- a title he has never lost in the Octagon. (He was forced to vacate his belt while battling legal trouble in 2015.)
11. Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin I (2006). 'The Spider" began his reign in the middleweight division when he scored a brutal KO of champion Rich Franklin. Silva, in just his second UFC fight, obliterated the champ with his wide array of strikes and the Muay Thai clinch he has since made famous. Silva did not lose another fight until 2013. His records for longest title run and most title defenses still stand.
10. Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping (2009): Henderson was already a veteran coming into this bout against upstart Bisping. This fight could have been the main event on any other card but was the third fight at UFC 100. The two went to war early on before Henderson delivered the defining knockout of the card. Henderson caught Bisping right on the chin and sent him straight to the canvas. It is still considered by many to be one of the top knockouts in UFC history and won 2009 Knockout of the Year from Fighters Only Magazine.
9. Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz (2016): McGregor turned himself into a superstar in the fight game with his mouth and his fists. The young Irishman states time and again he will fight anyone, anywhere. So when he was scheduled to take on Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight crown while holding the featherweight title, it was already surprising enough. But when dos Anjos pulled out with injury and Diaz stepped in, McGregor agreed to fight at welterweight, a full 25 pounds above his normal weight class, something no UFC fighter had ever done before. Both men built the fight up amazingly and did not disappoint in the Octagon. McGregor landed great shots, but Diaz wouldn't fall. McGregor made a mistake, ended up on his back and tapped via guillotine choke. One of the biggest surprises in UFC history.
8. Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz I (2004): After training together before stepping into the Octagon for a title fight, the two were actually friendly. Then, after a year and a half of negotiations, Liddell and Ortiz were ready to battle. The two biggest names in the sport at the time lasted just two rounds when Liddell scored a TKO victory after lighting up Ortiz with a flurry of punches. The fight sparked a huge rivalry between the two that helped catapult each career.
7. Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie II (1995): The rematch of Shamrock's loss to Gracie at UFC 1 was for the UFC Superfight Championship. The two competitors went toe-to-toe for 36 minutes straight without either gaining a significant advantage. The war was ruled a draw since there were still no judges for the event at the time. Both fighters left the cage disappointed in how everything played out, but it showed just what the company needed to gain more success and popularity.
6. Georges St-Pierre vs. B.J. Penn II (2009): The first time in UFC where a champion faced a champion. Penn, the reigning lightweight champion, was ready to take on Georges St-Pierre for his welterweight crown and become the first fighter ever to hold belts in two weight classes. St-Pierre, making his fourth title defense, had no interest in letting that happen. GSP went on to score TKO after the fourth round when Penn's corner called for a stop.
5. Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm (2015): "Holm doesn't have a shot. There's no way she's walking out of the Octagon with the belt. More easy feeding for Rousey." Little did we know "The Preacher's Daughter" had the exact formula needed to take down the longest reigning women's champ ever. Rousey was the heavy favorite going into a match that became one of the biggest payouts to gamblers ever for those who took Holm. This fight served as an important reminder that even the greatest fighters in UFC history can be figured out or beat on any given day, especially when Rousey was unable to get Holm to the ground for a submission attempt. Holm hit hard and fast, stood her ground and was simply better on this day.
4. Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture III (2006): The last part of the trilogy was set to be epic. After both fighters scored TKO wins in the first two meetings, Liddell and Couture were ready to lay it all on the line. This fight got so many people interested in just what the hell was going on in this sport and everyone knew going in somebody was getting knocked out. Liddell scored KO blow in the second round to defend the light heavyweight crown and continue his run as one of the best fighters in UFC history.
3. Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche (2013): Dana White said in 2011 we will never see women fight in UFC. Little did we know that one woman would become the sport's biggest star just four years later. In 2012, White signed women's Strikeforce champion Ronda Rousey to a UFC contract and created the women's bantamweight title. In 2013, White made Rousey the main event for UFC 157 against Liz Carmouche - the first ever women's fight in the UFC. Rousey did not disappoint, scoring an arm bar submission in the first round, her seventh consecutive victory via arm bar. Rousey would go on to become a huge star in the sport but just look at where we have come from women's MMA.
2. Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir II (2009): After losing the first bout with Mir in 2008 in just his second professional fight, Lesnar continued to ascend through the ranks. He won the heavyweight title two fights later by knocking out legend Couture in the second round. Then, at UFC 100, he faced the only man to whom he had lost at the time. The main event at the company's biggest event brought us a transcendent star. Lesnar exercised the demons, trapping Mir on the ground and dropping vicious punches and elbows to score the second-round TKO. UFC 100 is still the highest selling pay-per-view in company history, thanks in large part to Lesnar's stardom.
1. Forest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar (2005): THE FIGHT. There is no UFC in its current form without this classic war. The fight credited with saving the company as Griffin and Bonnar went to war in The Ultimate Fighter 1 finale in 2005. The fight was supposed to be for a UFC contract, but president Dana White was so impressed with both fighters that he gave each a six-fight deal. Griffin won the fight by unanimous decision after getting rocked in the second round. The doctors considered stopping the fight but allowed him to continue. Griffin would go on to become one of the most beloved figures in UFC history.