We started yesterday with the beginning of the top 10, but these are the best of the best.
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 top 5 of my list of the top 10 fights in UFC history.
5. Forrest Griffin vs. Quinton Jackson -- UFC 86, July 5, 2008
Everybody expected Quinton Jackson to smash Forrest Griffin heading into their light-heavyweight championship fight at UFC 86.
But Griffin has a different plan.
Despite a tough first round in which he was dropped, Griffin battled back to take a razor-thin unanimous decision victory.
Griffin used leg kicks to badly damage Jackson's lead leg, something the champ could never recover from.
Winning this fight also catapulted Griffin to his short-lived status as the world's No. 1 205-pound fighter.
4. Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz -- UFC 47, April 2, 2004
The first fight between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz was electric. The fight that so many fans had been waiting for was about to happen. It was UFC 47 in April 2004. The speculation that Tito was ducking Chuck only added fuel to the fire, despite both fighters coming off humbling losses — Ortiz to Randy Couture and Liddell to Quinton Jackson in PRIDE.
Despite that, the fans didn't care, as they wanted to see the two longtime rivals finally going to war.
The crowd was off the hook as the fighters entered the Octagon. Ortiz threw his beanie to the crowd only to have a fan throw it back.
The first round was competitive, with Ortiz daring to stand and trade with Liddell. Liddell flurried at the end of the first round, seemingly finding his range.
It wasn't long into the second round when Liddell put Ortiz away — 38 seconds in fact. An unintentional eye poke sent Ortiz reeling against the cage, where Liddell proceeded to put together one of the most vicious and memorable punching combinations in UFC history as Ortiz covered up. One final punch came through and sent Ortiz to the ground as referee John McCarthy stepped in to stop the fight.
3. Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar -- The Ultimate Fighter Finale, April 9, 2005
What can be said about this one? This fight literally saved the UFC as the two unknown fighters went toe-to-toe for 15 minutes, bringing the crowd at Cox Pavilion to its feet on multiple occasions.
The close fight, eventually won by Griffin by straight 29-28 scores, was booed by the live crowd, but UFC President Dana White said there was no loser and awarded both Griffin and Bonnar the vaunted six-figure contract with the UFC.
By no means a technical masterpiece, the two fighters showed the heart and desire to keep going despite being tired. They gave their all for 15 minutes and helped the UFC gain a second season of TUF on SpikeTV. The organization hasn't looked back since — and it has Griffin and Bonnar to thank for that.
2. Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia -- UFC 68, March 3, 2007
The UFC's initial foray into Ohio came at UFC 68 and featured 43-year old Randy Couture coming out of retirement to face 6-foot-8 heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia.
Not many gave Couture a chance, but the two-time heavyweight champion proved he still had it. The crowd built and built in anticipation of seeing the legend return to the Octagon.
Couture did not disappoint, knocking Sylvia down with the first punch of the fight.
The following 24:50 was an exercise in destruction. Couture out-stuck and out-grappled the younger, heavier Sylvia enroute to straight 50-45 scores.
Personal memory: UFC 68 was my first time seeing UFC in person and the show did not disappoint. The electricity inside Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio was something to behold. How many times have you heard a crowd count down the final 10 seconds of a fight like it's New Year's Eve at Times Square?
1. Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg -- UFC 52, April 16, 2005
Who knew a fight that lasted a little more than four minutes could be the best fight in UFC history? This one did it because it had it all.
UFC 52 was one of the biggest cards in UFC history, coming a week after The Ultimate Fighter Finale. The two coaches on The Ultimate Fighter, Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell, were to face off in the main event in a rematch for the UFC light-heavyweight championship.
The co-main event, also a rematch, but this one for the UFC welterweight championship, between Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg, showed up the main event by providing one of the most exciting one-round fights in UFC history.
The drama started when Trigg accidentally low-blowed Hughes. Referee Mario Yamasaki did not see the foul and didn't step in. Trigg, smelling blood, stepped in and rocked Hughes badly, almost finishing the fight. Eventually, Trigg would get his back and almost had secured a rear-naked choke.
But Hughes was able to escape and then, in one of the most dramatic moments in UFC history, Hughes lifted Trigg up, put him on his shoulder walked calmly across the cage and slammed Trigg to the mat. The moment drew one of the loudest cheers in UFC history to that point, even bringing ring announcer Bruce Buffer to his feet in the background.
From there, it was all Hughes, as he would quickly finish Trigg with yet another rear naked choke.
Personal memory: This was my first UFC event in quite a few years. I had gotten back into the sport courtesy of "The Ultimate Fighter" and didn't know who a lot of these guys were. Well, suffice to say, these two forever implanted themselves in my mind because of this fight, as did Georges St-Pierre and Jason "Mayhem" Miller, who put on a great fight in the evening's opening match. Seeing Hughes lift Trigg and slam him and the subsequent roar of the crowd is one of my favorite MMA memories. This fight truly did have it all. Of all the fights in UFC history, this one is the best.