Wednesday, August 18, 2010
For many of you out there the answer to this will be "No." Following the conclusion of the Strikeforce event I visited various fight communities expecting to read about the heart displayed by Miesha Tate or the slick submission attempts by Hitomi Akano.
Instead what I found were a series of discussions relating to the attractive features of the likes of Meisha Tate and Carina Damm.
What ever happened to respecting female athletes for their god-given ability to compete? But the MMA community are not alone—in every sport women are objectified and treated as lesser than their male counter parts.
But these women don't just fight for the respect of the fight community, they fight for a living—this is how they support their families and put food on their tables.
Let's look back to the most recent UFC pay-per-view, UFC 117 headlined by Anderson Silva defending his UFC middleweight title against Chael Sonnen. Silva left with $200,000 and Hughes left with $300,000 following his submission of the night bonus.
The lowest paid athletes on that show were Todd Brown, Christian Morecraft and Rodney Wallace who each left with a comfortable $6,000 for their losing efforts.
Now if we look at this past weekends Strikeforce: Challengers 10 event, the winner of the women's welterweight tournament Miesha Tate had to compete twice on that event to get the biggest pay day of her career, $18,000.
Mixed martial arts veteran Joe Riggs earned just $3,000 less than the top ten ranked 135-pound Tate for his lackluster unanimous decision victory over Louis Taylor.
The highest paid female combatant was Gina Carano for her first round TKO loss to Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos who picked up a whopping $125,000 for her headlining appearance in 2009.
And what is keeping woman's salaries so low in the MMA world? There are a number of answers to this question but it comes down to two main points.
1. The UFC does not host women's mixed martial arts bouts—it's no secret that the UFC are the biggest MMA organization on the planet, so much so that new comers to the sport tend to believe that the sport is called UFC.
Since they are the biggest organization out there, accordingly they are the organization that will pay out the highest salaries.
Now I am not arguing that if a women's division were added to the UFC line-up that we would see girls leaving with $400,000 salaries; however, it is more likely that they will be making bigger earnings working for the franchise of MMA.
2. Take it or leave it—it's a familiar story amongst female MMA fighters. They are placed in a situation where they can take a salary of as little as $1,500 for their months of hard work and training as well as their performance on the night, or they can not fight at all.
It might seem harsh,but promoters want to make as much money as they can so they have the opportunity to return to that venue, thus they will take advantage of the knowledge that women don't have many opportunities to compete and will do so for little money.
With EliteXC now out of the picture, the highest paying promoter out there for women in North America is Scott Coker and Strikeforce—the only issue with Strikeforce is they do not run events featuring women on a regular basis.
"Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world," are the words that have come out of the mouth of Dana White and keyboard warriors all over the world, as the sport evolves we all need to accept that these are women, but they are also trained professionals who compete at the highest level possible.
These girls train just as hard as the men, usually right alongside them, and when it comes time for them to perform they make a habit of stealing the show. Why should these athletes do this for so little income and respect from the people who are supposed to support them?
Thursday, August 12, 2010
October 25, 2008 was the first time this 6'4" and 238-pound Brazilian graced our television screens as a part of the UFC.
Little was known about this man—all we knew was that he was a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the Nogueira brothers and with four of his six victories coming by way of knockout or technical knockout, it was clear he had power in his hands.
However, what stood in front of him was the current consensus No. 2 ranked heavyweight fighter, Fabricio Werdum.
Werdum, at the time, held an 11-3-1 record and was coming off back-to-back TKO stoppages over top contenders Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera. Thus, Werdum was considered the heavy favourite and with this victory he could possibly be in line to fight for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
When the opening bell sounded, the corner of Dos Santos had forgotten to remind him that he was supposed to lose—it took the Team Black House student merely 80 seconds to knock out the fellow Brazilian in devastating fashion and shock the world.
Fast forward a little under two years later and Junior Dos Santos is riding high in the UFC Heavyweight division and has added the names Mirko Filipovic, Gabriel Gonzaga, Stefan Struve, Gilbert Yvel, and most recently Roy Nelson to his resume and earned the right to be next in line for a UFC Heavyweight title shot.
But what is it that's so impressive about Junior Dos Santos? Five years ago the man had never put on a pair of gloves, in a sport that typically demands years of hard work and dedication to reach the pinnacle of their desired weight class.
The 13 fights of his short career have all been preparing him for what comes next, his chance to capture the UFC Heavyweight Championship and the right to call yourself the best heavyweight combatant on the planet.
Brock Lesnar is scheduled to defend his 10 pounds of gold against Cain Velasquez on October 23, 2010 at the Honda Center in Anahiem, California. After those two behemoths lock horns the winner will set their sights on Dos Santos for a 2011 encounter.
Now with this piece am I saying that I am picking Junior Dos Santos to defeat the UFC Heavyweight Champion whomever that may be come 2011? Quite frankly, No.
I believe that Junior Dos Santos is a rising star in this great sport of ours and he has all the time in the world to learn and better himself and really cement his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
The biggest problem with Dos Santos going up against Brock Lesnar for example, is the size advantage that goes in the favor of Lesnar who enters the octagon roughly around the 275 pound range.
The solution? I believe a move down in weight would put Dos Santos at a great advantage in that stacked division. The light heavyweight weight class would be ideal for Dos Santos since he is at a size disadvantage against the big boys in the heavyweight division.
Junior Dos Santos may be the best thing to come out of Brazil in quite some time and the reality is he is only 25 years old and can already hang with the best, imagine how good this kid will be given another five years to develop his craft.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Leading into his clash with the consensus pound-for-pound king of mixed martial arts it was clear that Chael Sonnen could talk a good game, but now it was time to see if he could back it up.
When the opening bell sounded most of the fight community would have expected Sonnen to be caught in the spiders web within the first fifteen minutes, however Sonnen had different ideas.
The NCAA Division I All-American wrestler bettered Anderson Silva even in a standing contest and after securing his take-downs 'The Spider' looked like a fish out of water off his back, taking numerous strikes and struggling to improve his position.
Twenty minutes into their epic encounter and Sonnen had decisively won four straight rounds and looked as if the middleweight title was as good as his, but one mistake cost him his moment of glory as Silva threw his legs in the air to secure a triangle choke, retain his gold and shatter the dreams of Sonnen.
At the post-fight press conference when UFC President Dana White was posed with the question of granting Sonnen with an instant rematch he said “It’s definitely a rematch people want to see, we can definitely do a rematch. It was awesome. I loved that Chael talked the smack he did and then went out and backed it up.”
In recent times instant rematches in the UFC have become quite common, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua got an instant rematch against Lyoto Machida this past May and a little under three weeks from now BJ Penn will get the chance to re-capture his lightweight Championship after a razor-close decision loss to Frankie Edga;r so granting Sonnen a rematch makes sense right?
One little problem, Vitor Belfort was promised the next shot at Silva following his catch-weight bout former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin.
In my humble opinion UFC match-maker Joe Silva saw money and interest in a clash between Silva and Belfort and didn't want to risk Belfort losing a fight and dropping out of title contention so "The Phenom" has sat on the shelf promised a title shot in his future since September of 2009.
But does Sonnen's stellar effort against the undisputed king of 185 pounds put him ahead of Belfort in the cue? Personally, I will say yes -- since Belfor's return to the UFC, he has not actually competed at 185 pounds and from the prospective of a fight fan, Sonnen vs. Silva II is a much more compelling fight than Silva vs. Belfort.
However, I do not believe it is fair to either make Belfort wait longer or have him fall from title contention and face another contender to fill time so I have a simple solution -- Sonnen vs. Belfort with the winner facing Silva for the UFC Middleweight Championship.
Sonnen may not have left The Oracle Arena in Oakland, California with the ten pounds of gold that he desired but he did leave with the respect of fight fans the world over, I feel its only a matter of time until he works his way back to the top of the 185 pound rankings and gets a rematch with Silva.
Most fight fans have fond memories of a 140-pound Brazilian man named Royce Gracie submitting the much larger American wrestler Dan Severn at UFC 4 or the now infamous war between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar at the first ever UFC free-to-air event.
But what about the classic bouts that aren't talked about frequently amongst fight fans? In this series I will take a look at those classic encounters.
For this series let me take you back in time, a little over a decade ago. The date is January 20th, 2000. The world was just getting over the Y2K crisis, Eiffel 65 are topping music charts worldwide with their one hit wonder "I'm Blue," UFC is losing money taking its events to pay-per-view with a limited niche audience in the United States. Newly formed Japanese MMA organization Pride Fighting Championships (Pride FC) are about to host their first ever tournament.
At this stage Pride FC have been in business for a little over two years and have hosted eight events to date. Pride first put themselves on the map by hosting a bout between Professional Wrestler Nobuhiko Takada and member of the legendary Gracie family, Rickson Gracie.
This bout garnered a large amount of attention from Japanese fans and media who packed the infamous Tokyo Dome with an estimated 47,000 people.
Following the success of their first event Pride FC was able to secure a television deal with Fuji Television as well as pay-per-view revenues on newly formed satellite channel SKY PerfecTV.
Tournament fighting was the next step for the growing Mixed Martial Arts organization, the UFC had held one-night tournaments since its inception which got a lot of curiosity amongst spectators to begin with. Pride FC took a different route with their tournament format and hosted it over two nights with the winner earning four victories, $200,000 and the right to call himself the top MMA combatant on the planet.
For their first Grand Prix, Pride FC had gathered an impressive resume of fighters from all over the world ranging from kick boxers such as Guy Mezger and Igor Vovchanchyn, wrestlers such as Mark Kerr and UFC cast-off Mark Coleman, professional wrestler Nobuhiko Takada, fellow professional wrestler turned MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba and Brazilian jiu-jitsu pioneer Royce Gracie.
When the opening round of action had concluded eight men had advanced to the finals four months later, but not without controversy. Guy Mezger and Kazushi Sakuraba battled for fifteen minutes in a contest controlled for the large part by Guy Mezger, however when all was said and done, all four judges scored the bout a draw and opted for this fight to go into over time to determine who will advance to the quarter-finals.
This decision enraged Guy Mezger's fellow Lions Den team member, Ken Shamrock, who was never known for keeping his cool. The future UFC Hall of Famer ordered Mezger back to the locker room and forfeited the bout so Kazushi Sakuraba advanced in the Grand Prix.
When all the smoke had cleared after the first night of fights eight men had advanced in the tournament: Gary Goodridge, Akira Shoji, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kazushi Sakuraba, Mark Coleman, Igor Vovchanchyn, Mark Kerr and Royce Gracie.
May 1st, 2000 was the time to go again, this time around 38,429 packed the Toyko Dome once again to conclude the first ever Pride FC Grand Prix and determine the best mixed martial artist on the planet. Along with seven tournament bouts, this event also featured Guy Mezger facing off against Masaaki Satake and after a four-year hiatus from MMA, Ken Shamrock was making his much anticipated return facing off against Alexander Otsuka.
In the first quarter-final encounter was between Gary Goodridge facing off against the Ukranian kickboxer Igor Vovchanchyn. Goodridge landed a few shots on Vovchanchyn but for the most part Igor controlled the bout before finishing him off a little past the 10 minute mark of the first round.
The second quarter-final bout was a classic encounter for the ages, Royce Gracie facing off against Kazushi Sakuraba. This bout was contested under special rules meaning there were no judges scoring each bout and we must determine a winner.
If you enjoy a mat-based encounter or not, this was either one of the most exciting clashes in Pride FC history; otherwise, it was one of the most boring. The earlier part of the bout was controlled by Gracie, however as the bout went on the Brazilian tired himself out and Sakuraba controlled the latter part of the affair.
After 90 minutes of back and forth action the Gracie corner threw in the towel and Kazushi Sakuraba advanced in the tournament in a fight that will be talked about for years to come.
The third quarter-final encounter was American wrestler Mark Coleman facing off against Akira Shoji. Mark Coleman dominated this bout for a solid fifteen minutes both standing and on the mat utilizing his ground-n'-pound but was unable to finish the tough Japanese prospect but left with a victory and a trip to the semi-finals.
The final quarter-final bout was contested between Mark Kerr and Kazuyuki Fujita. Kerr, being the larger wrestler, controlled Fujita on the mat for the beginning of the bout but, seemingly gassed mid-way through the first round, Fujita took over, out-wrestling the American for the most part. When all was said and done the judges awarded the bout to Kazuyuki Fujita as he took one step closer to being crowned the first ever Pride FC Grand Prix Champion.
The first semi-final bout was between the man who would latter be dubbed "The Gracie Hunter," Kazushi Sakuraba squaring off against Igor Vovchanchyn. Keep in mind that Sakuraba had fought for 90 minutes against the legendary Royce Gracie earlier this evening.
Despite the war he had just been through Sakuraba took control at the beginning of this bout, obviously standing with Igor Vovchanchyn was going to spell certain disaster for the former professional wrestler so he took it to the mat where he is most comfortable. The bout raged on until Igor finished it with a belly-to-back suplex, followed up by a series of strikes which forced the corner of Sakuraba to throw in the towel after Sakuraba had just completed his 105th minute of fighting.
The final semi-final bout was scheduled to be Mark Coleman facing off against Kazuyuki Fujita however Fujita entered the ring taped up and in obvious pain so his corner threw in the towel before the two even touched, essentially forfeiting this match and giving Mark Coleman a bye to the finals.
The reason behind Fujita entering the ring and having his corner throw in the towel before Coleman was able to touch him is because this way he still received a pay-cheque for this two-second clash with Mark Coleman.
After 14 fights it all comes down to this, Mark Coleman facing off against Igor Vovchanchyn to crown the first ever Pride FC open-weight Grand Prix Champion.
Coming into this bout the two men's game-plans were clear, Vovchanchyn wanted to keep this encounter standing so he could counter-punch the American and leave with a quick victory, Mark Coleman on the other hand wanted this bout to hit the mat and use his wrestling game to control the kick boxer and ground-n'-pound out a victory.
The first round went exactly as planned Coleman using his game plan to control the large Vovchanchyn on the mat and land a number of strikes in the process. Igor, not being an accomplished mat-based fighter, did little off his back which worked in the favor of the former NCAA collegiate wrestler.
When all was said and done, Igor Vovchanchyn surrendered to the punishment a little past the two-minute mark of the second round, but what followed was possibly more memorable.
The first ever UFC Heavyweight Champion got caught up in his historic victory, Coleman screamed in triumph and charged across the ring as if to hurdle the ropes. He leaped, but once airborne, seemed to change his mind. His body went horizontal in the air, his feet got caught up in the ropes and his entire body came crashing down to the Pride canvas.
Some remember the Pride Grand Prix 2000 as the series of events that shaped modern day mixed martial arts. Others remember it for the birth of Kazushi Sakuraba as a mega-star in Japan. Others remember it as the biggest tournament in MMA history.
Whatever way you look at it, this tournament changed the sport of mixed martial arts for the better and will be one of the historic moments, not only in the history of Pride FC, but the history of MMA when people choose to acknowledge it.
Be sure to check out the next installment of Forgotten Classics coming shortly.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Strikeforce Middleweight title carrier Jake Shields has officially been released from his contract with the No. 2-ranked promotion and his Championship has been vacated.
Strikeforce president Scott Coker was a guest on MMAweekly radio show where he confirmed that his current Middleweight Champion is released from his current contract due to contractual disagreements.
"The numbers, there was a big gap between what we thought was real, and what we thought was going to work, and I call that the numbers dance," said Coker. "It is what it is, and we're going to probably be moving forward with that tournament."
The tournament suggested by the Strikeforce figure head is for a eight-man, single-elimination tournament with the winner being crowned the undisputed Strikeforce Middleweight Champion.
Potential participants in the middleweight tournament include Dan Henderson, Robbie Lawler, Cung Le, Scott Smith, Matt Lindland, Ronaldo Souza, Tim Kennedy and Evangelista Santos.
As for the man at question, Jake Shields, he is expected to sign a contract with the UFC in the near future.
Shields is currently on the biggest roll of his career having not lost a bout since 2004 and holding victories over Jason Miller, Paul Daley, Robbie Lawler, and most recently, former PRIDE FC Middleweight Champion Dan Henderson.
In the UFC, there are many intriguing matchups to test the Cesar Gracie standout whether he chooses to compete at Middleweight or Welterweight.
Monday, June 28, 2010
This past Saturday night, the consensus No. 1-ranked heavyweight in the world, Fedor Emelianenko, suffered his first defeat in almost a decade.
Emelianenko was built as a mythological creature who can defeat anyone put in front of him, but but that all came to an end in 69 seconds.
On the surface, this would look like a disaster for Strikeforce, the man they have put a lot of their focus on and the man they were planning to take to Pay-Per-View, as their headliner suffered a defeat and fell out of title contention.
But for one moment, let's take a step back and look to what the mixed martial arts community would be talking about if Emelianenko had knocked out Werdum and pushed his impressive streak to 29 straight victories.
Would we be talking about Strikeforce? No, we would be discussing the outcome of the upcoming clash between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin and all the focus would be on the UFC once again.
However, due to the defeat of "The Last Emperor," still the talk of the town is Fedor Emelianenko and Strikeforce.
Twenty-four hours later, and the terms "Fedor" and "Strikeforce" were still hot topics on twitter, and personalities from the mixed martial arts community ranging from fighters to newsletters to fans chimed in on the defeat of Emelianenko.
In reality, I think the defeat of Emelianenko has been blown out of proportion by thinking that because Fedor lost, it will signal the end for Strikeforce.
Strikeforce is not Elite XC, when Seth Petruzelli knocked out Kimbo Slice, it signaled the end of that promotion; much like Elite XC, Scott Coker has headlined Fedor Emelianenko on several cards and billed him as the best on the planet.
However, in the process, Coker has continued to build new stars, including Gegard Mousasi, Muhammed Lawal, and Brett Rogers.
To assume that all credibility has been lost for Fedor Emelianenko following one defeat is foolish; take Georges St.-Pierre for example.
In 2007 Georges had captured the welterweight Championship and was seemingly on top of the world when he came accross Matt Serra, who gave him his first knockout loss.
Did this slow down Georges St.-Pierre or stop him from making his way back to the top? Of course not.
Also, if Emelianenko defeated Werdum, who would there be for him to face? The obvious pick is to match him up with Alistair Overeem.
Overeem is the reigning Strikeforce heavyweight Champion and has had his eyes fixed on facing the Russian since he knocked out Brett Rogers this past May.
However, since Werdum picked up the victory, there's still a possibility he will get the shot at Overeem before Emelianenko.
However since Emelianenko lost his bout, he is now eligible to face lower-ranked heavyweights, which opens up the door for more entertaining bouts.
Opponents like Antonio Silva, Bobby Lashley, Andrei Arlovski, or Brett Rogers are all possible opponents for the Sambo Champion because of this defeat.
The big key to where Emelianenko's career goes from here lies with whether he re-signs under the Strikeforce banner or if he tries his luck elsewhere after his next bout.
A defeat is not always the worst thing for a career, it has been said by many before that you learn more from a defeat than you ever will from a string of victories.
Maybe this will give Emelianenko the fire he desires to push himself to cement his legacy as the best heavyweight, but only time will tell.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
As a knowledgeable fans of Mixed Martial Arts, we tend to develop an opinion of a fighter as being immortal or unstoppable due to countless impressive performances in the past.
When the underdog fighter lands that big right hand or locks in that tight submission and defeats the hero, it puts the world in a state of shock.
Due to the recent events on the Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum Event I figured this is the right time to count down the greatest upsets in MMA history.
10. Houston Alexander vs. Keith Jardine
If you look at Keith Jardine and Houston Alexander's current records you would look at me like I have two heads for having this to start out the count down of the greatest upsets of all time but it wasn't long ago this knockout rocked the UFC.
We first saw Keith Jardine as one of the standouts of the second season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Although Jardine did not go on to win the six-figure contract which was the carrot on a string for these UFC hopefuls, he did get the opportunity to face Kerry Schall on the preliminary card of The Ultimate Finale 2 where he picked up a victory and a ticket back to the elite MMA promotion in the world.
Leading into his bout with Houston Alexander, "The Dean of Mean," was on the roll of his career with back-to-back victories over top ranked light-heavyweights Wilson Gouveia and Forrest Griffin.
Houston Alexander, on the other hand, had been demonstrating the power he possessed in his right hand in smaller events around the country before getting the call up to the UFC.
Having no big names in his defeat column and a 6–1, 1 NC record it was believed by the MMA community that the single father of six was in for a long night.
Houston Alexander shocked the world and put his name out there in a really big way when he knocked out Keith Jardine before the one minute mark of the very first round in brutal fashion.
9. Anderson Silva vs. Hayato Sakurai
Judging by the successful wave Anderson Silva is riding in 2010, its hard to believe that Anderson Silva was ever a major underdog heading into a clash with Hayato Sakurai.
However in 2001 things were a lot different.
Hayato Sakurai was considered pound-for-pound one of the best fighters in the world being undefeated in twenty bouts with victories over Caol Uno and Frank Trigg.
At this stage Sakurai held the Shooto Middleweight Championship and was heading into his eighth title defense when he came across the Brazilian ace, Anderson Silva.
However Anderson Silva wasn't the accomplished Mixed Martial Artist that we see today—he was simply another fighter trying to make his mark moving up the rankings.
Silva held a 4-1 record with no real notable victories to his name so it was assumed that Sakurai would defeat Silva without breaking a sweat.
However on this night Anderson Silva showed the world why he is going to be a force to be reckoned with in Mixed Martial Arts.
He gave the Japanese sensation all he could handle and then some to secure a unanimous decision and capture the Shooto Middleweight Championship.
This had a huge impact on the Shooto middleweight division because "Mach" Sakurai was their home-grown star and Anderson Silva just took his title, never to defend it
8. Joe Lauzon vs. Jens Pulver
Following a successful run on season five of The Ultimate Fighter, Joe Lauzon was ready to take the leap up to the big time and fight in the UFC, but he wasn't given an easy night.
His opponent was Jens Pulver, the first UFC Lightweight Champion.
Pulver had made a name for himself all over the world and defeated some of the top names in the world in BJ Penn and Caol Uno.
Pulver was widely considered to be one of the best lightweights in the world for the better part of his career and Joe Lauzon was seen as a piece of meat in the way of "Lil Evil."
Fight insiders believed if Joe Lauzon were to have any chance against an accomplished striker like Pulver, he would have to take this fight to the mat and try and submit the veteran of twenty-eight bouts.
Joe Lauzon had a different idea when he knocked out Jens Pulver seconds shy of the one-minute mark of the first round to make one of the most successful UFC debuts in history and earn himself a knockout of the night honor.
7. Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Mirko Filipovic
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic had established himself as an elite heavyweight after head-kicking his way through names like Josh Barnett, Wanderlei Silva, and Mark Coleman.
Gabriel Gonzaga was seen as a star on the rise having at this point in his career when he was riding a five-fight win streak with three of those victories coming inside of the octagon.
Although Gonzaga was a large man with a great Brazilian jiu-jitsu game and power in his hands, most people saw Mirko "Cro Cop" as being the best striker in the industry and it was assumed he would pick up a TKO victory early in the first round.
The ironic aspect of this fight was the key to victory for Cro Cop was his devastating head kick which had dropped so many before him.
However, on this night it was Gabriel Gonzaga who nailed the Croatian kickboxer with a head kick to turn out the lights and deliver the biggest upset of the year.
This had a huge impact on the UFC heavyweight division at the time because most believed that Mirko would destroy the heavyweight division and capture the Championship within a year and a half.
This made the victory for Gonzaga mean so much more.
6. Matt Hughes vs. BJ Penn
In the early part of the new millennium, Matt Hughes used his large size, wrestling and ground and pound ability to defeat some of the best in the industry.
At that stage, Hughes was riding a fourteen-fight win streak with five of those being title defenses.
BJ Penn had made a name for himself fighting at lightweight and sporting a 6–1–1 record.
Many believed Penn was a great mixed martial artist and would be completely outclassed at a heavier weight class, especially against the overpowering Matt Hughes.
After a back and forth affair between Hughes and Penn, the Hawaiian underdog sunk in a rear naked choke with seconds remaining in the first round to capture his first championship at welterweight and dethrone the greatest welterweight champion of all time.
This had a huge effect on the UFC welterweight division at the time because Matt Hughes looked beatable for the first time in a long time and there was the shock factor of this 155-pounder moving up in weight and defeating the much larger Hughes.
5. Brian Bowles vs. Miguel Torres
Miguel Torres was once widely considered to be the best bantamweight not only in the WEC but in the entire world.
Torres was riding a seventeen fight win streak with the last three bouts defending his WEC Bamtamweight Championship.
Brian Bowles was seen as a rising star with power in his hands and skills on the mat but it was recognized by the majority of the world that Torres was a much more well-rounded and experienced fighter.
All signs pointed to Bowles having a tough time against the seemingly unstoppable champion.
Bowles was riding a seven-fight win streak and had earned himself a chance to face Torres.
It took Brian Bowles under four minutes to finish the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and crown himself as the WEC Bantamweight Champion.
This changed the WEC bantamweight division completely because Torres was the title carrier and was expected to hold on to that piece of gold for quite some time after defeating Takeya Mizugaki and Yoshiro Maeda to retain it.
4. Tim Sylvia vs. Randy Couture
At the beginning of 2007, Randy Couture was retired and Tim Sylvia was dominating the UFC heavyweight division with a 23–2 record with his past three victories being for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
When Randy Couture announced his return from retirement to step up and face the giant, it was believed by close to everyone watching that Randy Couture would be picked apart on his feet by Sylvia.
Especially considering Couture had lost three of his last five bouts at a lighter weight class most fans of "The Natural" didn't want to see him return due to his age and not being at his best in his past few performances.
Randy Couture utilized his trademark style to give Sylvia everything he could handle and after twenty-five minutes the fight went to the judges score cards who gave the fight to the forty-four year old veteran of twenty-two fights.
3. Forrest Griffin vs. Mauricio Rua
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was widely considered to be the best light-heavyweight fighter in the world in 2007.
Rua made a name for himself in Pride FC with victories over Alistair Overeem, Ricardo Arona, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and Quinton Jackson just to name a few.
At UFC 76 it was time for Rua to make his debut in the elite mixed martial arts organization and he was matched up against The Ultimate Fighter season one winner Forrest Griffin.
Since winning The Ultimate Fighter, Griffin had gone 3-2 and never had a really standout performance since his battle with Stephan Bonnar.
The world believed that Rua would pick this kid apart before finishing him early into the bout.
On that night though Griffin impressed the world by controlling most of the fight and wound up submitting the Brazilian late into the third round.
This put Forrest Griffin's name out there as a top tier 205-pounder.
2. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Fabricio Werdum
Fedor Emelianenko for the better part of the past decade has been considered the best mixed martial artist the world has had to offer.
Emelianenko defeated the best heavyweights in the world including Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko Filipovic, Mark Coleman, and Heath Herring.
Fabricio Werdum, on the other hand, had been riding a three-fight win streak since being cut from the UFC.
Although he was very skilled, especially on the ground, he was given very little hope against "The Last Emperor."
However, Emelianenko made the mistake of falling right into Werdum's game plan and being submitted by the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace at the one minute and nine second mark of the very first round.
The entire world stood still as Emelianenko got back to his feet, brushed himself off, and gave his post-fight interview.
It's unseen at this stage what effect this is going to have on Strikeforce and their heavyweight division but only time will tell.
1. George St-Pierre vs. Matt Serra
George St-Pierre had finally taken the reigns as the kingpin of the UFC welterweight division once he defeated Matt Hughes.
St-Pierre was riding a six-fight win streak at the time and seemed unstoppable with his well-rounded skills and ever evolving game.
It was hard to pick who would be the man to dethrone the French-Canadian.
At the time one of the more unlikely picks would've been Matt Serra.
Serra was a stand out on Season Four of The Ultimate Fighter and a skilled fighter, but nobody really thought he would become a champion.
But on that night St-Pierre got caught by Serra with a well-timed punch to drop to the mat as Serra captured the UFC Welterweight Championship for the first time.
This changed the UFC welterweight division completely because Hughes for so long was the king of the division.
When he was finally knocked off, everyone looked to St-Pierre to take his place and he got knocked off by Serra on his first title defense.