Unfortunately we don’t have any UFC action this weekend, but fear not. Let’s revisit Keith Shillan’s top 25 fights in UFC History to get our fix. We’ll countdown through the week until we reach number 1. If you watch all five fights each day, it’s just like watching a main card!
#25. Roger Huerta vs Clay Guida
December 8th, 2007
Main Event of the Ultimate Fighter Season 6 finale
Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada
At this time, Roger Hueta was being shaped into a UFC superstar. The UFC had a young, talented, fighter that happened to be Mexican American. The UFC brass was hoping that Huerta would be their Oscar De La Hoya, and bring in the Mexican boxing fans to the UFC. Huerta grew national attention just before this fight, when he became the first fighter in MMA history to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Huerta, who was just outside the top 10 rankings, faced his toughest test of his career, when he faced perennial top 10 fighter, Clay Guida. Guida was known for his non-stop pressure, unstoppable takedowns, and a willingness to go toe to toe with anybody.
This fight was crazy action packed, with both fighters pressing forward.
The first round started in a flurry. Guida shot a deep shot on Huerta’s legs, and immediately picked him over his head, and slammed him on the ground. Huerta quickly scrambled to his feet, only to have Guida slam him to the ground again. Huerta rolled underneath Guida and grabbed a deep knee bar. Huerta yanked on his Guida’s knee, while the Carpenter punched Huerta, several times. While both guys were wrestling around, Guida landed a viscous knee. Then both guys sat down on their punches, and started to land bombs on each other. Huerta mixed in several high kicks, until Guida landed a blast double leg takedown. However, as soon as Guida landed the takedown, Huerta locked in a Kimura. Huerta used the submission attempt, to get Guida’s back. After Huerta was too high on the back, Guida flipped him over and landed on top position. Huerta swung his hips around and got a deep armbar on Guida, but somehow Guida escaped again, and finished the round on Huerta’s back.
The second round started off with a bang too. Both guys immediately exchanged big flurries at each other for about five seconds, until Guida changed levels and got a takedown. As Huerta was scrambling to his feet, Guida landed an uppercut on Huerta, that looked similar to when Mario punches the bricks in the Nintendo game, sending Huerta flying across the octagon. Huerta got to his feet and both guys threw another crazy exchange, but Guida landed another takedown. and during a scramble, got Huerta’s back again. Huerta attempted to get to his feet, but Guida picked him up again and slammed him hard. Guida started to land big shots to Guida’s head from behind. Huerta got back to the feet, but Guida landed several strikes. It looked like Guida was taking over, until Huerta landed a huge left hand that buckled Guida. With Guida hurt, Huerta went in for the kill, but Guida caught El Matador with a big right hand that floored him. Guida went in for the kill himself, landing big ground and pound, even hitting him with several double punches, similar to Hulk smashes, until the round ended and being saved by the bell.
Huerta was down 2-0 and looked desperate starting the third round. Huerta threw everything he had into a flying knee, that send Guida crashing to the canvas. Huerta spun behind Guida, and sunk in a rear naked choke, causing Guida to tap out.
Results and Notes:
#24. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Randy Couture
August 29th, 2009
Main Event of UFC 102
Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon.
There really doesn’t need to have any introduction. If you are reading this, chances are you know all about these two fighters. Both guys are legends of the sport. I recently ranked both guys in my top 10 greatest MMA fighters ever. Couture was a 5 time UFC champion, winning the belt in two different weight classes. Nogueira won the Pride FC heavyweight title, and also won the UFC interim heavyweight title.
Both guys were near the end of their career when they faced. Noguira was 33 year old, but been through so many wars previously, while Couture was 46 years old at the time of the fight.
Couture had just lost his UFC heavyweight title to Brock Lesnar, while Nogueira had just lost his interim heavyweight title to Frank Mir. This fight was about legacy.
In the beginning of round 1, Couture looked very light on his feet. He landed several shots, until Nogueira dropped Couture with a big right hand. Nogueira jumped into a very deep D’Arce choke. Couture found a way to escape from the submission, put on him for several minutes, by one of the greatest grapplers in MMA history. The fight gets to the feet, and Couture lands several big shots as the round ends.
In the second round, the action picks up even more. The Natural started to land bombs again, but Minotauro hurt Couture with a big left hook. Couture responds with a takedown and very big ground and pound. However, Couture overextends himself, and Nogueira lands a perfect scissor switch, to gain the top control. Nogueira sinks in a deep head and arm triangle. Somehow, Couture gets out again, but Nogueira lands big ground and pound. Couture is able to scramble to his feet, and again lands big shots. Nogueira responds with his own shots, and both guys fire shots to the end of the bell.
In the third round, the start where they left off in the second. Both former champions throw bombs at each other, with Nogueira landing the best shot of the fight, a uppercut that floors Couture. Nogueira goes in for the kill, landing several unanswered hammerfists. Couture is desperate, and attempts to scramble. Nogueira grabs Couture’s back, and sinks in hooks. After shots from behind, Couture reverses Nogueira, and starts landing his own ground and pound, trying to win the fight. The crowd goes crazy, up to the bell, as Nogueira lands another scissor sweep. Two legends letting it all hang out.
Results and Notes:
Nogueira wins a unanimous decision.
This fight was so good. It probable didn’t have as much action as the #24 and #25, but at Couture’s and Nogueira’s age, it was just plan nuts. Both guys have arguable the greatest heart of all time. Plus the fight gets more points for being a main event, and a dream matchup for many.
The biggest difference in this fight, seemed to be the size advantage and power Nogueira had on Couture, who really should just be a light heavyweight.
I wish these guys fought during their primes. However, this fight didn’t let down. It was an honor watching these guys fight.
#23 Cheick Kongo vs Pat Berry
June 26th, 2011
Main Event of UFC Live 4: Kongo vs Berry
Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Former, K-1 Kickboxer, Pat Berry was starting to make a name for himself inside the octagon, because he was working on his wrestling with Brock Lesnar. Cheick Kongo was a main stay in the UFC, having his 14th fight in the UFC at this time.
Both guys were known for their striking technique and power.
We were promised a standup war, we had no idea what was coming up.
So this fight will have the least amount of action of any fight on the list. But the little bit of action was worth a full 25 minutes of action.
The first two minutes of the fight was slow. Both guys were trying to establish range. But everything changed when Berry landed an overhand right that dropped Kongo to his knees, with his body hunched over and he appeared knocked out. Berry hit the what appeared to be unconscious Kongo, with about 7 or 8 shots, knocking Kongo over. Joe Rogan screams “It’s all over”
But Kongo started to move and stood up, only be faceplanted by another overhand right by Berry. Kongo scrambles to his feet, and get’s up looking like the dead guy in Weekend at Bernie’s (was the dead guy Bernie?, I can’t remember).
Berry moves in to finish what appeared to be a lifeless Kongo, but Kongo throws a short right uppercut, and knocks Berry out in the best comeback in UFC history.
Results and Notes:
Kongo made the miraculous come from behind knock out. I might get shit for picking this fight, because it had about 20 seconds of action, but as Mike Goldberg said, “this was the prefect example of are you kidding me” and Joe Rogan replied, “yeah, it’s a holy shit moment”.
Both guys had some success inside the UFC, but both never lived up to their potential. Berry ended up retiring, and is engaged to current women’s strawweight, Rose Namajunas, while Kongo currently fights in Bellator.
#22. Chris Leben vs Yoshihiro Akiyama
July 3rd, 2010
Co-Main Event for UFC 116 Lesnar vs aCarwin
MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Chris Leben was always known for his fun, action packed fights, but none of his other fight tops his fight with Yoshihiro Akiyama. The fight almost didn’t happen. Akiyama was originally scheduled to face Wanderlei Silva. Silva got hurt just 11 days before the fight, and was replaced by Chris Leben.
Leben entered the fight on a two fight win streak, while Akiyama was coming off his UFC debut win over Alan Belcher at UFC 100.
The fight didn’t have a single dull moment. The first 5 seconds into the fight, Akiyama catches a kick from Leben and lands a takedown. Leben fights to get to his feet, and lands back two flush left hands. Akiyama responds with a hard right hand, and a takedown. Leben, immediately scoots his hips, and locks in an armbar. The Japanese fighter wiggles out, and starts to land ground and pound on Leben. Leben grabs another armbar from bottom, but “Sexyama” was able to slide out of it, and starts to set up an inverted triangle. As Leben works his way out of it, Akiyama puts in a Kimura, and then switches to a guillotine. Leben is able to pop his head out of the guillotine and gets to his feet. Once on their feet, Leben hits a hard 1-2 punch, but Akiyama lands a trip takedown to end the round.
The second round picks up the intensity even more. Leben lands a hard left hand with Akiyama responding with a hard body kick. Leben hits a hard 1-2 combination that backs Akiyama up, and the “Crippler” follows it up with another left hand. Akiyama lands a very nice spinning back fist. Leben responds by landing a Superman punch. Then both exchange hard shots from the pocket. Akiyama lands another hard left, and an overhand right. This sparks a crazy exchange of shots, with both guy landing a lot, making it look like “rock em, sock em robots”. Leben drops Akiyama with a left hand. Akiyama is able to get to his feet, and the “rock em, sock em robots” continues. Akiyama lands a picture perfect Judo toss. Leben is pinned against the cage,while Akiyama lands shots. Leben gets to his feet, and attempts a standing guillotine choke. Akiyama pulls his head out and the two start banging it out again. Leben starts getting the better of the exchanges, and starts to land huge left hands. Akiyama is clearly hurt, while Leben lands shots and the round ends.
The third round picks up right where the second round ended. Leben lands a nice left hand, and uppercut combination and then hits a high kick. Akiyama is stunned but drop Leben with an overhand right. The Japanese fighter started to land elbows from on top, while the American surprisingly is landing punches from underneath. Leben grabs an armbar and it looks like it might end the fight, however Akiyama stacks Leben on his head and lands on top. Akiyama goes for a head and arm choke. Leben wiggles out, and lands shots from the bottom, while Akiyama lands from the top. Leben starts to hit elbows from the bottom, and with 35 seconds in the round, throws up a triangle choke. The crowd is going nuts, as Leben forces Akiyama to tap out with 20 seconds left.
Results and Notes:
This fight was absolutely insane, with non stop action. Leben made a career on fights like this. This also showed why Akiyama is such a star in his home country.
Both guys have several fights in the UFC with mixed results. Leben has retired since. Akiyama hasn’t fought in over a year. He hasn’t officially retired, but it seems likely that he has.
#21. Frank Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz
September 24th, 1999
Main Event of UFC 22
Lake Charles Civic Center, Lake Charles, Louisiana
This is one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history. Frank Shamrock was the first and only UFC middleweight champion (later to be named Light Heavyweight) and was viewed as unbeatable. He was a perfect 4-0 in the UFC, with 4 stoppages. Tito Ortiz was 3-1 in the UFC with 3 straight wins. He wass young, cocky, and mean.
After, Ortiz beat two former Lion’s Den fighters, his disrespected the team that Shamrock came from. Thought Shamrock broke away from the Lion’s Den and formed his own team with Maurice Smith, Javier Vazquez, and Tsuyoshi Kosaka called the Alliance, the UFC still used the angle as the first grudge match. The angle would return to be even bigger with the feud between Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock (Frank’s adopted brother).
There was no feeling out to start the fight. Shamrock threw a kick at Ortiz, who immediately catches it, and lands his own right hand. Shamrock is taken down by Ortiz, who immediately starts landing ground and pound. Shamrock is able to scatter to his feet, but is taken down again by Ortiz. While being taking down, he scoots his hips and attempts an armbar, which Shamrock was most famous for. Ortiz avoids the submission and starts more ground and pound, with short elbows. Shamrock is able to get to his feet again, but is immediately slammed back on the ground by Ortiz, who once again lands some ground and pound. Shamrock is able to get to his feet one more time, and the two fighters exchange shots on the feet. Ortiz initiates a Muay Thai clinch, and lands a hard knee. He gets a body lock and slams the champion to the ground a fourth time. Shamrock starts to land punches from bottom, which Ortiz responds with heavy elbows from on top, the best shots of the fight so far. The round ends.
Shamrock opens the second round with a high kick that lands on Ortiz. Ortiz responds with a right hand and left hook combination and a fast double leg takedown. Shamrock almost lands a sweep, but Ortiz holds on to the top position and starts some more ground and pound. The challenger lands a very big right hand, that opens a cut on Shamrock. Shamrock locks on a guillotine choke, but is unable to submit Ortiz. However, Shamrock uses the near submission to get to his feet, where he lands a big hard short elbow. Ortiz grabs a body lock and slams Shamrock to the mat again, as the round ends.
The third round starts with a bang with Shamrock landing hard kicks and Ortiz responding with punches. Shamrock lands a hard step knee, but Ortiz counters with another double leg takedown. Ortiz opens with ground and pound from the guard, but is able to pass to side mount, where he lands more ground and pound.. Shamrock scrambles, and Ortiz briefly has Shamrock’s back. Ortiz lands a big right hand from behind, which cause Shamrock to roll underneath Ortiz, who lands some good shots on Shamrock. Shamrock rolls again, and is able to get back to his feet. Ortiz lands a hard jab, and then both fighters exchange heavy shots. Ortiz ends the round by landing another nice double leg takedown.
Shamrock starts the fourth round, appearing to catch a second wind. Shamrock starts with a hard body kick, and then several leg kicks to both the inside and outside of Ortiz lead leg. Ortiz lands a hard right hand, but Shamrock circles away and lands more leg kicks. Shamrock is appearing to get back into the fight, and lands a nice 3 punch combination on the challenger. Shamrock appears to be getting the better of the exchanges and lands 3 hard right hands on Ortiz. Ortiz shoots in and gets another takedown, and initiates more ground and pound. Shamrock elevates Ortiz and brief gets the top position on Ortiz, who scrambles to his feet. Shamrock lands a big flurry on Ortiz, who fires back with his own. Ortiz follows with another double leg takedown, but is caught in a guillotine choke as they hit the ground. Shamrock uses the choke to help get to his feet, while Ortiz drops down on a low single. With Ortiz clutching Shamrock’s leg, the champion lands two extremely hard elbows on Ortiz, who is hurt back and lets go of Shamrock’s leg. Shamrock finishes off Ortiz with two big handfists, while Ortiz taps the mat to end the battle.
Results and Notes:
Shamrock won the fight via 4th round submission. This was his last fight in the UFC, as he retired. Though he would return several times after that, he never fought in the UFC again.
Ortiz went on to win the vacant title over Wanderlei Silva in his next fight. Ortiz defended the title several times, and became the face of the organization for awhile.
Both fighters are legends of the sport. It’s surprising that the two fighters never faced off again.
Tune in tomorrow for 16-20!