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8/15/16: Five Most Memorable Fights I’ve Seen in Person
Through my more than eight years at the helm at MMATorch, I’ve had the privilege to attend several major MMA events, and I’ve been present for a number of significant and memorable fights. As I wind time my time covering the sport, here are the five fights I’ve seen live that stand out most.
5. Fedor Emelianenko knocks Brett Rogers’ head off (Strikeforce “Fedor vs. Rogers”): A year and a half into my tenure on this site, I trekked down to Hoffman Estates, Ill., to see one of the greatest of all time compete in person. Fedor Emelianenko’s subsequent highlight-reel destruction of Brett Rogers is something that will never leave my brain. The crowd reaction to that finish was insane, and to get to see “The Last Emperor” at that time before his eventual fall from the elite was special.
4. Carlos Condit sends Martin Kampmann out of the sport (UFC Fight Night 27): Condit is one of those fighters who has rarely been in a bad fight, and has almost always been a purveyor of ridiculously insane violence. Such was the case on an August night in Indianapolis in 2013, as he handed Martin Kampmann such a brutal loss that Kampmann never fought again. This was Condit back to his best after consecutive losses to Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks, and it’s a fight I’ll never forget.
3. T.J. Dillashaw picks Renan Barao apart (UFC on Fox 16): Dillashaw’s first win over Barao was absolutely shocking at the time. His follow up in the rematch a year later was amazing. Seeing that fight play out at Chicago’s United Center last July was fantastic, and it was one of the most technically sound and exciting individual performances I can remember. This also happens to be the first live main event my wife was able to attend as well, giving it another bump up my list.
2. Anthony Pettis captures UFC Lightweight Title over Benson Henderson (UFC 164): The delayed reaction to Pettis’ armbar over Henderson in the Milwaukee crowd at the Bradley Center nevertheless gave way to an eruption of cheers for the hometown kid. It was a special moment in that particular crowd at that particular time, and the emotions of the result as Pettis celebrated with his mother after the win made it something even bigger. It was the culmination of the talent Pettis had shown to that point, and though he’s since been on a downturn that victory is a highlight to remember.
1. Georges St-Pierre busts up Jon Fitch (UFC 87): My first ever live UFC experience left an indelible impression on me in August of 2008, and the main event performance of Georges St-Pierre – propped up by the crowd reaction it brought at the Target Center in Minneapolis – remains on par with any sporting event I’ve ever attended. A raucous Canadian contingent had that arena as loud as any I’ve been in, and St-Pierre’s masterful destruction of Jon Fitch for his first successful title defense ever was my first in-person exposure to that level of greatness. Seeing the damage on Fitch’s face up close after that fight is also something that won’t ever be erased from my mind.
[Photo (c) Jason Silva via USA Today Sports]
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