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5/17/16: Top Five Most Shocking Title Fight Upsets in UFC History
With Stipe Miocic knocking out Fabricio Werdum for the UFC Heavyweight Championship on Saturday at UFC 198, today I look at my five most shocking title fight upsets in UFC history. This is a completely subjective list, with pre-fight odds, upset factor, matchups, and finish/outcome taken into account. If you’ve got others on your list, send them my way at MMATorchEditor@gmail.com!
5. T.J. Dillashaw demolishes Renan Barao (UFC 173): Into this title opportunity, Dillashaw had won one fight after a close loss to Raphael Assuncao, and though he’d put together some impressive performances in a four fight win streak prior to the Assuncao bout, it had come against lesser competition. None of that suggested that he was going to come in Las Vegas and halt the nine year unbeaten run Barao had enjoyed to that point in his career. There was no reason that it was an even fathomable result. But that’s exactly what happened, as Dillashaw destroyed Barao from the opening bell, knocking him down several times early, continuing that assault throughout a four and a half round performance before he finally took Barao out with a head kick in the fifth round. It was incredible work from Dillashaw that seemed to come out of nowhere, though he’s since backed it up with a repeat performance in their rematch and what should have arguably been a decision in his favor against Dominick Cruz.
4. Randy Couture defeats Tim Sylvia out of retirement (UFC 68): The only non-finish on my list, and a fight that doesn’t really hold up to repeat viewings save the first few minutes, this was nevertheless one of the craziest title wins in UFC history. In retrospect it doesn’t necessarily seem that way, but look at where things were at that time in 2007 for Randy Couture. “The Natural” had retired more than a year earlier after his second loss to Chuck Liddell, got inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in the summer of 2006, and had embarked on some other career endeavors. Tim Sylvia had captured the Heavyweight Title in 2006 and defended it twice to cap off a six-fight winning streak. Couture coming back and winning that title didn’t seem like the most likely of scenarios; then Couture damn near knocked Sylvia’s head off in the opening of the first round, sent the crowd in Columbus, Ohio, insane, and spent the rest of the 25-minute fight controlling the action for the win. That opening knock down is what will be remembered, and stands as one of the craziest title results ever.
3. Holly Holm kicks Ronda Rousey’s head off (UFC 193): There are many who would probably place this at the top of the list with how dominant Rousey had been until this fight, but when looking back on the matchup it’s still pretty easy to see how this happened. Rousey’s head-strong gameplan has always left her open to getting hit, she just hasn’t had to deal with very many strikers legitimately capable of hurting her before she could do what she does best. Holm coming into the fight was far and away the best striker Rousey had ever faced, but most simply expected Rousey to get her down and finish her. Instead, Rousey got rocked right off the bat, allowing Holm to control most of the matchup before delivering that stunning, fight-ending head kick in the second round. It was incredible, but not quite the most shocking we’ve seen in the Octagon.
2. Matt Serra knocks out Georges St-Pierre (UFC 69): There was absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe in 2007 that Matt Serra could become the UFC Welterweight Champion. Prior to entering the “comeback” season of The Ultimate Fighter, Serra had gone just 4-4 in eight prior UFC appearances, and he only won that season by a narrow margin when he edged a split decision against Chris Lytle. To take out St-Pierre as Serra did in that first round was quite frankly one of the most shocking things that’s ever happened in the UFC, and it would be another nearly six years before something would come along to surpass it.
1. Chris Weidman floors clowning Anderson Silva (UFC 162): Anderson Silva had been untouchable throughout his UFC run. Almost literally. There were very few fighters who had been able to actually connect on strikes against him, and he’d made a habit throughout his UFC run of making fighters look silly as they attempted to hit him. He enjoyed straight up mocking opponents while he was in the cage with them, ducking, moving, generally just out-classing them on the feet. He was trying to do the same against Chris Weidman in July of 2013, and it at least started off as if he would continue having that level of success. Then Weidman changed everything with a winging right hand that finally connected on the hands-down “Spider,” and the landscape of the middleweight division was irreversibly changed from there.
[Photo (c) Matt Roberts via USA Today Sports]
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