7 Best MMA Fights of All Time

MMA matches can shock, terrify, and inspire at the same time. Watching two people push themselves to their mental and physical limits in the cage or octagon can be a life-changing experience. And some MMA fights will forever be remembered throughout history.

The best MMA fights of all time include Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustaffson, Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald, and Randy Couture vs. Gabriel Gonzaga. Other incredible MMA fights are Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor (Fight Two), Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar, and Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche. 

While some bouts seem slow and lackluster, some MMA fights give you goosebumps and have you hanging onto the edge of your seat. In this article, we’ll dive into some of the most phenomenal MMA fights of all time. 

jon jones vs alexander gustafsson

Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustaffson 

Heading into this fight, Jon Jones was virtually untouchable, having quickly dispatched many former champions. This fight was the UFC 165’s title bout, and Jones came prepared to defend his title again like he did so many times before.

However, unlike his previous matches, Gustaffson managed to give Jones a run for his money here, staying in the ring for a full five rounds. The Swede even managed to take Jon Jones down a couple of times – a feat all of Jones’ opponents had failed to do.

This fight saw a lot of back and forth, with each man exhibiting superhuman endurance, taking blows without faltering. 

When the match ended, and both fighters were exhausted, Jones came out on top in terms of points, managing to retain his title. Many UFC fans still swear that Gustaffson deserved the win. However, there are judges for a reason, and when a fight is so evenly matched, an official point system is the only way to arrive at a unanimous decision.

And although Gustaffson lost, his performance will always be remembered by fans of the sport. In fact, the UFC recently announced that they would be inducting this fight into the UFC hall of fame.

Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald

These fighters already exchanged blows back in 2013, with Lawler coming out on top at the time. At the time, Lawler managed to win by split decision. However, the second fight between these two behemoths is one that will go down in history as one of the best MMA fights of all time.

Unlike their last match, Lawler would be defending his newly-won welterweight title. But as Rob said in the pre-fight interview, he wasn’t there for promotions or the flash and bang of the UFC. He was there to be himself and show his opponent what he was capable of. Fortunately for fans, both fighters came with this bulletproof mindset, leading to a legendary match.

The most exciting part about this match was the constant back-and-forth between the two. Initially, Lawler managed to land some heavy blows, making it seem like MacDonald was a goner. However, MacDonald pushed himself hard in the third round, managing to knock Rory around enough for fans to believe the fight was over.

However, the welterweight champ hung on until the fifth round, finally knocking out MacDonald. For UFC fans, who won the fight was less important than what the two warriors displayed during this bout. This fight was a shining example of what humans are capable of when they’re pushed to the absolute limit of their abilities.

Randy Couture vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

Randy Couture, famous for being the oldest professional MMA fighter in history, decided to retire in 2006. However, he returned in 2007 and shocked the world in this intense bout with the giant Gabriel Gonzaga.

Most fans believed Couture was well past his prime and that Gonzaga was sure to send the champ into his final retirement. Gonzaga, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, managed to land some destructive blows on Couture throughout the first couple of rounds. And when you’re in the heavyweight category, getting hit can cause more damage than you’d imagine.

In fact, Couture broke an elbow trying to block one of Gonzaga’s kicks to the face. With a broken elbow and his face bloodied up, it seemed like it was over for the champ. However, Randy is known as ‘The Natural‘ for a reason, and he wasn’t going to accept defeat so easily.

Instead, he kept his opponent at a distance, harassing him till the moment was ripe. Finally, in the third round, Couture launched a devastating flurry of blows, taking Gonzaga out in a TKO.

The TKO was impressive, but keeping his cool while protecting a broken elbow in the middle of a fight has elevated Randy to legendary status. And his tenacity makes this fight one worth watching over and over again.

Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor (Fight Two)

This list wouldn’t be complete without the MMA’s notorious Conor McGregor, a man who has brought an undeniable flair and drama to the UFC. McGregor and Diaz had faced off earlier in 2016. After a heated press conference where McGregor resorted to name-calling, the champ was taken out by Diaz, among boos from the entire crowd.

Conor demanded a rematch later that year, stating he couldn’t live with the fact that someone like Diaz had defeated him.

In their second match, McGregor clung on for all five rounds, finally winning the fight by the judge’s decision. It’s one of the first fights where McGregor went the entire distance, considering his fights usually end in a knockout. 

However, McGregor fans will remember their idol for this match, considering he stayed on, refusing to accept his previous loss and proving his critics otherwise. Aside from being the most-watched UFC fight at the time, it also exceeded viewers’ expectations, with both fighters displaying incredible endurance and agility. 

Bonnar vs Griffin

Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar

This iconic fight was considered the spark that brought MMA to the limelight, garnering millions of fans who previously knew nothing about the sport. At the time, fights weren’t as technical, considering fighters weren’t trained in various martial arts like they are today. However, this fight was phenomenal to this day due to the tenacity and sportsmanship shown by both contenders.

Before this fight, the UFC was a reality show, and Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar were competing for the first UFC contract in the season finale. 

But this fight turned into a slugfest, with both men landing and taking heavy blows and simply carrying on with the fight. Until then, the public hadn’t seen this kind of punishment in sports, and the match converted thousands of random internet surfers into hardcore UFC fans.

In the end, Griffin managed to take the lead by a point, but both men were signed by UFC thanks to their astonishing performance. Aside from being one of the best MMA fights of all time, this bout has been credited as being the reason for UFC’s commercial success.

Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche

One of the most remarkable women’s MMA fights in history had Ronda Rousey take home the belt after quickly concluding the fight in the first round. And while the fight may have lasted only one round, it’s significant and worth a mention considering it’s one of the first female fights in UFC history.

The exchange was exciting as Carmouche continued to fend off Rousey’s attempts and submission. Carmouche managed to hold her own for the most part until Rousey dropped her onto the floor and got her in an arm bar. The positioning was perfect, and Carmouche quickly tapped out. 

However, the few minutes this fight lasted left a lasting impression on MMA fans for years to come.

Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen

Sonnen was known as one of the UFC’s most prolific trash-talker, with a fight record that didn’t do justice to the image he portrayed. On the other hand, Silva was a legend in the UFC, with one of the most dominant streaks of all time.

As such, fans concluded that Chael would get what was coming to him – a sweeping victory for Anderson Silva. However, the fight exceeded expectations, with Chael Sonnen taking the champ down more than a few times during the bout.

To most MMA fans, it seemed as though Silva was finally at the end of his rope and on the brink of losing his title. However, Silva held on till the opportune moment and managed to execute an arm triangle causing his opponent to tap out.

And while this fight may not be remembered as the most gruesome or awe-inspiring, the sheer one-sidedness paired with the epic comeback makes this bout a memorable one in the history of the UFC.

Final Thoughts

These are some of the best MMA fights of all time, fought by what can be considered some of the world’s top athletes. 

While most fights are bloody, brutal, and exhilarating, these matches took the sport to a new level. These fighters showed fans what the human mind and body are capable of and will always be remembered for it.

The sport of MMA continues to evolve, and fights like these make it worth the watch. 

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