The fight game is unpredictable, and you never know the future of any fighter. But sometimes a rear-view mirror is needed for us to assess the situation. This is the only game where the loser loses the most physically, and mentally. But this is the only game where the loser on one night has so much to gain.
We will look at the fights that were perceived to be within the normal course. But now it has gained more value since the defeated fighter went on to achieve great things in their career:
#5) UFC Fight Night 26: Conor McGregor vs. Max Holloway
Conor McGregor was going to be someone different. It was apparent from just his second fight and in his rise to the top, he defeated Max Holloway. This fight was interesting since McGregor didn’t famously KO him but etched out a unanimous decision victory. He had torn his ACL at the end of the second round and relied on his wrestling chops to get the victory.
This win would’ve been one of many during his ascension. But now that we know what Holloway is capable of, this victory feels so special. “Blessed” would go on a historic 13-fight winning streak, becoming the featherweight champion, and defend it, multiple times. His next loss would come against Dustin Poirier when Max went up a weight class.
#4) UFC 222: Beneil Dariush vs. Alexander Hernandez
The 25-year-old Alexander Hernandez was making his debut in UFC, and he was handed a staple of the lightweight division in #12 ranked Beneil Dariush. Hernandez was talking a big game before the fight, and he walked the walk as well. In less than a minute of 1st round, he flatlined KO’d Dariush to announce his arrival.
Hernandez was quickly climbing the lightweight division ladder but was stopped by Cerrone. Since then, he hasn’t been able to make his mark on the game, now going down to featherweight. He is 6-6 in the UFC. But after being KO’d, Dariush went on a tear with an 8-fight win streak. He fought and defeated big names in the lightweight division. Dariush was in the title picture before Charles Olivera finally defeated him and ended his winning streak since Hernandez.
#3) UFC Fight Night 128: Merab Dvalishvili vs. Ricky Simon
After not being selected by Dana White at the Contender Series, Ricky Simon was called up for a late replacement fight against the 27-year-old Merab Dvalishvili. This is one fight that must be watched to believe it. In a high-octane fight, Simon was given a TKO victory for a guillotine choke in the dying seconds, but the ref never stopped the fight.
Since that controversial win, Simon has secured a place in the UFC’s elite bantamweight division. He’s ranked #12, but his win over Merab looks even more beautiful with each fight that Merab participates in. Dvalishvili since losing that fight, is on a 9-fight win streak. He could’ve fought for the championship but has denied it in the past. But now with Sean O’Malley holding the belt, we may have Merab crowned a champion soon. If so, Simon’s victory would look even better.
#2) UFC Fight Night 141: Alistair Overeem vs. Sergei Pavlovich
The 38-year-old Overeem was clearly out of his prime when this fight rolled around. The demolition man in his heyday had demolished the who’s who of the MMA Heavyweights. Being 2-3 in his last five, Overeem was paired up against the debuting Pavlovich. Late in the first round, Overeem tripped the Russian and then got on top and started raining down bombs. The ref called the fight before the bell rang.
Overeem retired from MMA when he left the UFC in 2021. Since then, he had been competing in kickboxing again, until he retired from Glory Kickboxing earlier this year. He has many great wins over many great heavyweights but, one of his final wins has stood the test of time. Pavlovich was 26 when he faced Overeem, since then he has remained unbeaten in the UFC. With the new blood looking to take over from the old guard, Pavlovich may find himself in the title picture at the back of his six fights win streak.
#1) UFC 192: Islam Makhachev vs. Adriano Martins
Less than two minutes into the first round, the Brazilian knocked out one of the most highly touted prospects in the lightweight division. His KO punch sent shockwaves throughout the MMA world. With the world-class corner against him, The Brazilian didn’t get intimated one bit.
Since defeating Makhachev in 2015, Martins couldn’t get another win in his next couple of fights and was released by the UFC. Outside the premier organization, Martins failed to win again in his next 3 fights and then retired. Makhachev on the other hand, is on a 12-fight win streak, has captured gold, and defended it as well. The Dagestani is turning out to be one of the most dominant fighters in all of UFC history. But he’ll not have one thing that his mentor Khabib has: a clean 0 losses record, courtesy of Adriano Martins.
Michael Johnson has a couple of wins over the lightweight royalty that will forever have his name in the history books. On UFC on FOX 3, Johnson completely shut out Tony Ferguson and won a comfortable decision. After which Tony went on his famous 12-fight win streak and captured the interim title.
Johnson four years later once again did the impossible as he flat-lined future interim champ Dustin Porier under two minutes of the first round in UFC Fight Night 94.