There have been some great fights in UFC history, but these are the top 10.
These fights were selected by both the magnitude of the fight, what it meant to the sport and the actual fight itself. For example, Tyson Griffin vs. Clay Guida was a great fight, but it was only a main card fight on a nothing show. Brock Lesnar against Randy Couture was a mega-fight with lots of hype, but the fight itself wasn't up to the standards the hype set.
The fights on this list lived up to and far surpassed the hype and delivered in all aspects.
Here is the beginning of my list of the top 10 fights in UFC history. Stay tuned to MMAForReal.com on Wednesday for the remainder of the list.
10. Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort -- UFC 15, Oct. 17, 1997
Vitor Belfort had run through Tra Telligman, Scott Ferrozzo and Tank Abbott in less than three minutes heading into his UFC 15 fight with Randy Couture. At the time, Couture had only two professional fighters under his belt and was a heavy underdog against "The Phenom."
The lesson learned during the next 8:16 was something MMA fans would come to know and love during the next 11 years — never count out Randy Couture.
9. Royce Gracie vs. Kimo -- UFC 3, Sept. 9, 1994
The battle between Royce Gracie and Kimo could be termed as the UFC's first back-and-forth technical fight.
Gracie had run through his first seven UFC opponents, winning both the UFC 1 and 2 tournaments.
His fight with Kimo, though, saw Gracie face his stiffest test to date. Kimo's strength wore down Gracie, forcing him to pull Kimo's hair, ripping out a chunk. Eventually, Gracie would secure a fight ending armbar. The test was so stiff, though, that he had to bow out of the next fight with Harold Howard.
8. Frank Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz -- UFC 22, Sept. 24, 1999
The middleweight championship fight between Tito Ortiz and Frank Shamrock at UFC 22 is memorable for a few reasons: First, it marked Shamrock's final appearance inside the UFC. Second, it molded Tito Ortiz into the fighter that quite possibly kept the UFC afloat through the grim years.
Shamrock showed his sharp mind by outlasting the young, brash Ortiz, eventually forcing him to submit to strikes in the fourth round.
7. Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock -- UFC 40, Nov. 22, 2002
At the time, this was the biggest fight in UFC history by far. It shattered pay-per-view records and brought in a huge gate in Las Vegas. The feud between these two had been going for several years and was finally going to culminate in a fight for the UFC light-heavyweight championship.
Shamrock, using his fame he got in the WWF, pushed and promoted the fight, including kicking a chair in the air (which was conveniently caught by Dana White) and promising to beat Ortiz "into a living death."
Despite being dropped to a knee in the opening minute, the fight was all Ortiz. He battered Shamrock for three rounds before his corner stopped the fight. When all was said and done, Shamrock's face looked like it was put through a meat grinder and the legend of Tito Ortiz grew further.
6. Quinton Jackson vs. Dan Henderson -- UFC 75, Sept. 8, 2007
Through the early part of 2008, this was the most-watched fight in MMA history. The fight for the unified light-heavyweight championship between UFC champion Quinton Jackson and PRIDE champion Dan Henderson was one for the ages.
The extremely competitive fight was back-and-forth for five championship rounds, with neither man able to gain a significant edge on one another. The two fighters displayed exactly what mixed martial arts was all about during the course of the 25-minute fight, with Jackson taking a narrow unanimous decision victory to unify the UFC and PRIDE 205-pound titles.