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6/8/16: Five Most Unexpected Title Runs in UFC History
Given Michael Bisping’s shocking title win at UFC 199, today we take a look at some of the most surprising UFC Title changes in the organization’s history.
5. Holly Holm (2015-2016): Holly Holm’s reign atop the women’s bantamweight division didn’t wind up lasting long, but that doesn’t make the title win any less shocking. No one expected Ronda Rousey to be taken out the way she was, least of all Rousey herself, and the completely one-sided nature of the fight made for a dramatic display in Australia as she tried to hold on while getting pummeled by Holm. It was as brutal a way for a champion to lose their belt, and seemed to come a bit out of nowhere.
4. Forrest Griffin (2008): Forrest Griffin winning the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship wasn’t supposed to be a realistic outcome at UFC 86. The Ultimate Fighter season one winner had already established himself as someone to watch out of that finale bout with Stephan Bonnar, but he’d had some significant setbacks six fights into his UFC run when he somehow upset the then consensus top name at 205 lbs. in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. That got him a shot at Quinton “Rampage” Jackson after a stint coaching on TUF, and he took advantage with a surprisingly strong gameplan that wound up working enough to earn him a decision and a title around his waist.
3. T.J. Dillashaw (2014-2015): Dillashaw wasn’t supposed to beat Renan Barao. No one had in nine years. Dillashaw was a fight removed from a decision loss to Raphael Assuncao when he got his shot at the title pretty much by default. That didn’t stop him from seizing the opportunity, and he shook up the bantamweight picture for a solid amount of time when he took Barao out at UFC 173. It was such a complete and dominant performance, one he would repeat just over a year later to defend the belt against Barao, that it was the rare moment of an unknown, unproven, and unexpected challenger staking their claim atop a division.
2. Michael Bisping (2016): There’s no telling whether Michael Bisping will have any kind of considerable reign as UFC Middleweight Champion, but he’s the UFC Middleweight Champion. That alone is as unexpected and unlikely a result as anyone could have dreamed up, and we’re now in a world where we’re discussing just whom Bisping will face to defend that belt. Bisping knocking out Luke Rockhold was such a viscerally shocking result that less than a week later it remains hard to believe.
1. Matt Serra (2007): Still, Bisping beating Rockhold is not the most surprising outcome of all time. That still and perhaps always will belong to Matt Serra for his 2007 stoppage of Georges St-Pierre. GSP had won that title decisively over Matt Hughes the previous October, less than two years after his first shot at that belt. He was so good in that rematch that most expected a lengthy run to follow, and he simply needed to dispatch of the next challenger in order to start that. It wasn’t expected to be a problem given said challenger had just won his shot through the “comeback” season of The Ultimate Fighter, and hadn’t had a ton of success in the UFC to that point. Unfortunately for GSP, power can always win out over an unprepared and perhaps sloppy fighter, and he got caught early. Serra pounced, finished the fight, and got to spend the next year enjoying himself as champion in the UFC.
[Photo (c) Jake Roth via USA Today Sports]
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