Every combat sports fan has a favorite fight. As we currently get through a MMA hiatus, The Scrap staff shared the bouts that they’re most fond of.
Joel Torres (@joeyfights): Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald 2 – UFC 189
Man, I could have honestly gone back and forth with my choice. But when I sat and thought about it, this was the MMA fight that reminded me how much I love this sport and why I wanted to cover it again.
Around this time, I was a broke college student who couldn’t afford many of the pay-per-views. Our campus also didn’t have the proper channels for me to catch all the cards either. But for this one, I drove back home to watch it with my cousin and college roommate.
This fight was absolutely insane, and one I’ll never forget. I grew up a Georges St-Pierre fan, and Rory being a protege, I was a fan of his from the beginning. Seeing Rory hold a UFC belt was a sight I wanted to see in my lifetime. Robbie robbed me of that but made me a fan forever after that fight.
I’ll never forget how battered Rory’s face was and Robbie’s lip during his post-fight interview. Both men looking like bloody Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. And let’s not forget that chilling face-off before the final round. Goosebumps. This fight confirmed my love for the sport, and will forever go down as one of the best UFC fights in history.
Rory Robinson (@RawrEWreckz): Brian Bowles vs. Dominick Cruz – WEC 47
This fight will perpetually go down as my favorite in Mixed Martial Arts history for a collection of reasons. For starters, Cruz has remained my favorite MMA fighter of all-time throughout the fleeting duration of our sport. From my viewpoint, this fight was one of the most useful examples of understanding Cruz’s unorthodox yet successful style.
Immediately, Bowles regressed to back foot fighting as Cruz established the pressure with unparalleled footwork. The level changes, stance switches, and counter-striking were invigorating and shifting.
Cruz showed to be an arbitrary handful for the then-champion Bowles, who tried to eventually thrust ahead and land commanding strikes. Still, Cruz prevailed lightly on his feet using unimaginable head movement fused with flawlessly timed strikes.
Bowles continuously looked three steps slower than Cruz. Which, was an added “wow” factor due to Bowles’s established pace and power. In the second round, Brian forced repetitious futile punches with such energy that it thrust him towards the cage.
The highlight of the bout was when Cruz landed a sequence that ended in a sturdy leg kick that dumped Brian to the canvas.
The uneven clinic performed by Cruz pushed medical doctors to end the fight after the end of the second round. Weirdly enough, the fight stopped during a commercial break. Bowles was shown hobbling on his battered leg and it was later announced that he suffered a broken hand.
Cruz became the WEC bantamweight champion of the world that night. WEC 47 was the inception of Dom growing into the greatest fighter of all-time in the division. Furthermore, it provided foreknowledge towards what would turn into a Hall of Fame Career.
As a pioneer of the smaller weight classes and an all-time great fighter, Cruz verified his dominance and launched his legacy on that memorable championship night.
Brandon Sibcy (@B_S_Sibcy): Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes 2 – UFC 179
Then-champion, Jose Aldo first met Chad Mendes at UFC 142. That bout was rather one-sided; ending in the waning seconds of the first round when Aldo caught Mendes square on the jaw with a vicious knee. Over the next two years, Aldo would defend his title three times and Mendes would go on a tear winning five straight, four of them by KO/TKO.
The rematch would be set for UFC 179.
From the opening bell, fans knew this one would different. Mendes came out on fire and dropped the champion in the opening seconds. Aldo leaped back to his feet and a brawl for the ages was on. Both men had great moments in the bout. Mendes’ striking was greatly improved from their first meeting and he had little issue standing in the pocket and trading with the greatest featherweight of all time. Sure, Mendes lost a lot of those exchanges, but he won more than anyone had expected him too.
Aldo’s masterful takedown defense was on display and even when “Money” ― who set up many of his takedowns nicely ― did get the Brazilian down, Aldo would pop right back up. The fight was a chaotic war that many scored 2-2 heading into the fifth round, even if the Brazilian judges scored it four rounds to one for Aldo. The fight made the list for “Fight of the Year” on many pundits’ lists in 2014 and secured itself as arguably the best featherweight title fight in MMA history.
Drake Riggs (@DrakeRiggs_): Dominick Cruz vs. Takeya Mizugaki – UFC 178
Like Rory, Dominick Cruz is also my all-time favorite fighter right alongside Chael Sonnen. Meaning there are several different choices I could pick from to take this spot, including Cruz’s epic coronation against Brian Bowles. It just depends on the mood I’m in and when you’re asking me.
Ultimately, it boils down to the moment(s) that were the most emotionally impactful. Therefore I was torn between Cruz vs. TJ Dillashaw and what I’m ending up going with, Cruz vs. Takeya Mizugaki.
By this point, Cruz was stripped of his crown and had been out for years and I was sure that it was the early end for one of the MMA world’s all-time greats. Instead, he miraculously came back after multiple of what is generally career-altering/ending injuries to his lower body. In doing so, he looked better than ever by stopping the surging top 5 contender in just a minute with strikes.
Upon Cruz’s return, I and everyone else watching never expected such a flawless performance under the circumstances. My nerves were through the roof for this fight as per usual but to a higher extent this time. As the fight ended with Cruz punching away against the cage, I remember jumping for joy and nearly passing out from happiness for “The Dominator.” Yes, a tear or two may have been shed.
His story of perseverance and determination was and is just so awe-inspiring and inspirational. It was essentially part one of not only the greatest career comeback in MMA …but all of sports history.
Austin Luff (@AJMMA_): Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar 1 – The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale
When the question was posed to the Scrap staff what our favorite fight was, I thought it would take more time to decide. I have a lot of favorite fights in the UFC’s 25-year history. McGregor vs. Diaz 2, Georges St-Pierre vs Michael Bisping, and many more. However, the answer was immediately clear to me.
My favorite fight came to mind straight away. My favorite fight of all time is Stephan Bonnar vs Forrest Griffin 1. I have very strong feelings about this fight and its historical significance. In my opinion, this was the fight that saved the UFC in a lot of ways and laid the foundation. Five round wars in today’s UFC are common, but back then this fight was revolutionary. The fight, the story behind the fight, and what it ended up meaning to MMA makes this a no brainer.
Caroline Romero (@CROMERO1971): Kelvin Gastelum vs. Israel Adesanya – UFC 236
UFC commentator Jon Anik called the fight between Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236 “one of the greatest title fights you will see.” The bout was a five-round unanimous decision battle for the interim middleweight title.
“The Last Stylebender” came to the table with a 14-fight win streak and a recent win over Anderson Silva. Gastelum was on a 2-fight win streak with recent wins over Michael Bisping and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. The fighters put on a show that many fans will agree was the best fight of 2019. The win brought Adesanya his first UFC title.
Gastelum came out aggressively to the middle of the ring at the beginning of the fight while Adesanya kept a cool and calculated distance. The American almost knocked Adesanya down but “Izzy” wasn’t having it. In the second round, he dropped Gastelum with a straight right punch. The fight was a stand-up battle of punches and neither fighter was going to give up.
Gastelum came out the aggressor in round four again and managed to hurt Adesanya causing him to retreat. Heading into the fifth round both fighters were tied winning two rounds apiece. Adesanya was the dominant fighter in the round and almost got a triangle choke submission. He managed to knock down Gastelum three times in the round.
Both men put their heart and soul into this fight and fought a five-round war with the battle scars to prove it. In the end, Adesanya won the fifth round with a 10-8 scorecard leading to the final score ending at 48-46 on all three judge’s scorecards.
Lee Brown (@Levanstian757): Jon Jones vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson – UFC 135
My favorite all-time MMA fight was an easy pick for me. “Rampage” Jackson was challenging Jon Jones for the light heavyweight championship on September 24, 2011.
Jackson was the guy that sparked my interest in the UFC when he defeated the iconic Chuck Liddell to win the light heavyweight title. Jon Jones was an upstart but he had already become the youngest champion in UFC history.
The reason why this fight will always be my all-time favorite is because it was my retirement gift to myself. My first live UFC event featuring two fighters that made me fall in love with the sport and I was witnessing it live.
Jones would retain the title by submitting Jackson via rear-naked choke in the fourth round. As my twenty-two-year career in the Air Force was coming to an end, my love for the UFC was rounding into shape. Thanks “Rampage” Jackson and Jon Jones!