Each December I count down the top 25 fights in UFC history. With each day of December, I will be revealing the newest fight on the list, with the #1 fight being revealed on Christmas morning. With approximately 550-600 new UFC fights each year, the list will look different than the year before. The criteria for ranking these fights are the amount of action, competitiveness, and significance of the fight (main events/title fights tend to get some extra credit).
So let’s get to the list
List so far
* The list was completed before Camacho/Brown, Medeiros / Oliveira, and Alvarez / Gaethje occurred, all would have been considered for the list
- #25 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Randy Couture
- #24 Cheick Kongo vs Pat Barry
- #23 Chris Leben vs Yoshihiro Akiyama
- #22 Frank Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz
- #21 Andrei Arlovski vs Travis Browne
- #20 Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard 2 & 3
- #19 Georges St. Pierre vs Johny Hendricks
- #18 Chuck Liddell vs Wanderlei Silva
- #17 Diego Sanchez vs Karo Parisyan
- #16 Karo Parisyan vs Nick Diaz
- #15 Johny Hendricks vs Robbie Lawler 1 & 2
- #14 Diego Sanchez vs Nick Diaz
#13 Justin Gaethje vs Michael Johnson
July 7th, 2017
Main Event of The Ultimate Fighter Season 25 Finale
T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Justin Gaethje was an undefeated fighter that was just signed by the UFC. He was one of the hottest free agent pickups in recent history, due to his run as the WSOF champion. Johnson was a top 10 ranked fighter that wanted to show that Gaethje wasn’t ready for the big leagues of the UFC. As soon as the fight was announced, the two fighters started to take shots at each other. During a press conference, the two had a legendary encounter due to the terrible back and forth.
The first round begins and both fighters get right at it. However, Johnson rocks Gaethje almost immediately. He lands a left switch to the body, and a straight right hand. Gaethje swings back, but Johnson is way too fast or him and lands another right hand. Johnson starts to open up with his hands, but is staggered by a right hand by Gaethje. Gaethje wings two haymakers and lands both of them. Gaaethje follows up with three hard leg kicks, but is tagged again with a right hand, Gaethje is tracking Johnson down, who is backing up while trying to land punches to Gaethje’s body. Gaethje lands five unanswered heavy leg kicks until Johnson landed a left hand. Gaethje hits a hard straight right to Johnson’s midsection and follows with three unanswered kicks. Johnson takes a deep breath and is blasted by a left hook that buckles his knees. Johnson waves Gaethje to come forward, and Gaethje lands three short right hooks and another hard leg kick. He stands directly in front of Gaethje, who put him in a shooting gallery. Gaethje seems to be landing all his short hooks at will. The UFC newcomer seems to be gaining some serious momentum. He lands two more hard shots. The fighters clinch and exchange hard knees to their opponents’ body. Johnson is throwing a lot but it is Gaethje that is landed the better of the exchanges. However, as the round is ending, Johnson hits Gaethje with an uppercut that gets his knees to buckle. He follows it up with a takedown. As Gaethje gets up, Johnson grabs the clinch and destroys Gaethje’s body with knees. Johnson also lands a jumping knee and some other shots on the feet.
The action in the 2nd round is almost impossible to describe. They both come out aggressive. Gaethje lands some hooks, while Johnson counters with straight 1-2 combinations. Gaethje tries to slow Johnson down by firing off several leg kicks. Johnson lands a crushing right hand, that has Gaethje stumbling around like a drunk on New Years. Johnson swarms the hurt fight with uppercuts. They exchange uppercuts and elbows in the clinch. Johnson lands another hard left hand to the body and another to the head. Johnson digs to the body, as Gaethje is desperately trying to show that he isn’t done. Henri Hooft, Johnson’s head coach is screaming to his student to work the body, which Johnson does. Johnson is opening up with 1-2 combinations until he is tagged by a right uppercut and stumbles. Johnson is badly hurt. Gaethje lands 3 earth-shattering right uppercuts, but somehow Johnson remains on his feet. Johnson falls to his back after Gaethje lands an elbow, but Gaethje makes the referee stand Johnson up. Gaethje hits a step knee to Johnson’s body and follows with a right hand to the face. Johnson tries to fire back but is buckled by a heavy leg kick. Johnson shoots for a takedown but is blocked. Gaetje sees the end of the fight in site and lands a 1-2 followed by a flying knee. With Johnson against the cage, Gaethje unloads knees on Johnson crumbles to the canvas and the referee says he had too much.
Results and Notes:
Gaethje instantly won over the UFC crowd and became nicknamed the most violent man in MMA.
Johnson would move down to the featherweight division after the fight.