McGrath’s top 25 fights in UFC history: Part 5 (1-5)

By David McGrath, MMATorch Contributor

Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor after their UFC 202 fight (photo by Joshua Dahl © USA Today)

We’re back with our countdown of the top 25 fights in UFC history. Be sure to check out part 1, part 2part 3 and part 4 if you missed them. Disagree with David’s picks? Is there a fight you think deserves to be on the list? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @MMATorch.

5. Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald – UFC 189, July 11, 2015

This battle took something from both men. Just look at MacDonald’s nose nowadays, look at the fact that Robbie Lawler, nicknamed ”Brutal Bob” for a reason has only fought twice since then. This absolute showstealer for the welterweight championship was a barn burner, a slugfest. My favorite part is the bell rings to signal the end of the round and both men just stand there bloody and stare at one another. MacDonald ate left hand after left hand and gave out front kick after front kick and jab until the last left hand in the beginning of the 5th shattered his already broken nose. Lawler won by TKO, but eventually lost the welterweight title to Tyron Woodley. MacDonald is now the welterweight champion for Bellator.

4. Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson – UFC 165, Sept. 21, 2013

There’s something intriguing and downright fascinating about a champion who is so utterly dominant that you cannot even conceive a way he or she could lose. Jon Jones was that guy. I say this because coming in to UFC 165 most thought Jones had a layup against the up and coming Gustafsson. What he had was the biggest test of his career. Down two rounds going into the third, Jones exploded with spinning elbows to the head that cracked Gustafsson’s skull apart leaving the mat looking like a horror movie circa 1978. Gustafsson proved his incredible toughness and chin, eating headkick after headkick and elbow attempt. Jones was taken down for the first time in his career. It was a real eye opener for Jones, who needed to face the adversity of someone coming at him of almost equal skill for 5 rounds. Jones won a very controversial decision, I had it scored 3-2 Gus. Stay tuned though, Jones coming off suspension will face Gustafsson on December 29 for the light heavyweight title.

3. Cub Swanson vs. Dooho Choi – UFC 206,  Dec. 10, 2016

There was no feeling out period here, just hay-makers from start to finish. This fight absolutely stole the show of UFC 206. Cub Swanson hammered Choi with right hands to the chin, and he kept getting up and coming back. The fans were literally on their feet from start to finish , as there were no dull moments in this decision. It’s absolutely amazing both fighters held on to make it to the judges scorecards. Swanson was victorious in a unanimous decision. Choi has only fought once since, and Swanson has lost three straight, however they both etched their place in history with this epic.

2. Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero – UFC 225, June 9, 2018

This fight had the wind taken out of its sails at the Friday weigh-in when 41 year old Yoel Romero missed weight, making it a non title fight with the Kiwi striker Whittaker. Didn’t matter. Yoel conserved energy through two rounds and absolutely exploded in the third. I would argue that the third round might be the most exciting round in UFC history. Yoel badly hurt Whittaker, then Whittaker hurt Yoel badly, then Yoel took over again. Both men were absolutely out on their feet. The fans in Chicago couldn’t have cared less about weight or titles at that point. The fourth and fifth were exercises in heart and guts, both men clearly hurt and jelly legged just trying to survive. In the end, Whittaker did enough to overcome Romero by decision, and give fans the #2 greatest fight in UFC history.

1. Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor – UFC 202, Aug. 20, 2016

From the build-up to what was on the line, this is the greatest fight in UFC history. You could argue we would have gotten no two weight title shot, no MAY-MAC and certainly no UFC 229 if Conor doesn’t prevail over the iron willed Diaz. Conor’s back was 100% against the wall. Conor hit Diaz with everything in this fight, a bevy of vicious leg kicks that left Nate’s leg purple and put McGregor on crutches and that left hand showed up early and often. And still, Diaz almost knocked him out. In round three, Diaz stormed Conor against the cage and unloaded combos and somehow Conor stayed conscious. Rounds four and five were the back and forth slugfest that UFC fans dream about. Just two guys at the absolute top of their games with pride on the line. Diaz, with a chance to solidify that his victory over McGregor at UFC 196 wasn’t a fluke, and McGregor looking to avenge that loss. McGregor won a razor thin decision in the UFC’S biggest pay-per-view to date. I am expecting we will get the trilogy the fighters, and the fans all deserve in 2019. McGregor- Diaz part 3 anyone?

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