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 it
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
- #12 Matt Hughes vs Frank Trigg 2
- #11 Mark Hunt vs Antonio Silva 1
- #10 Jose Aldo Jr vs Chad Mendes 2
- #9 Diego Sanchez vs Clay Guida
- #8 Randy Couture vs Pedro Rizzo 1
- #7 Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson
- #6 Gilbert Melendez vs Diego Sanchez
- #5 Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz 2
- #4 Forest Griffin vs Stephan Bonnar
- #3 Dan Henderson vs Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
- #2 Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald 2
#1 Cub Swanson vs Doo Ho Choi
December 10th, 2016
Main Card of UFC 206
Air Canada Center, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
This UFC card lost a lot of buzz coming off of the historic UFC 205 due to outside circumstances. The UFC was hoping that the historic night from UFC would help build the PPV numbers of this card, which was also the lead in to the return of Ronda Rousey at UFC 207, later in the month. The card seemed cursed though. First, the main event of Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson got cancelled due under two weeks for the card, due to an injury to Daniel Cormier. To make matters worst, the main card fight of Tim Kennedy and Rashad Evans was cancelled due to Evans not receiving a fight license. Lastly, just to make matters worst, Anthony Pettis and Max Holloway was bumped to the main event with the interim featherweight title on the line, but Pettis missed weight, and was unable to win the title.
Swanson entered the fight on a 2 fight winning streak and ranked #5 in the world, but was actually the underdog to Choi, who was a perfect 3-0 in the octagon with 3 first round knockouts.
The entire card was thought to be a disappointment and this fight didn’t receive much buzz.
There is no feeling out in this fight. Both guys come out throwing. Choi opens the fight by cracking Swanson with a right hand and then he grabs a Muay Thai clinch and lands three hard knees to the body and a briefly trips Swanson to the ground. Choi holds on to a front headlock and blasts 4 hards knees to Swanson’s head because Swanson escapes. Swanson lands three hard leg kicks but is hit by a right hand. Choi lands a 1-2 combination. Swanson lands an overhand right that briefly backs Choi up. Choi steps forwards but Swanson cracks him with an overhand right and follows it up with a leaping left uppercut and kick to the body. Both fighters exchange shots in the pocket with Swanson getting the better of the action. Choi tries to clinch but is caught by 2 Swanson uppercuts. Choi lands an uppercut and right hand as they break the clinch but Swanson lands his own right hand. Choi lands a 1-2 combination but Swanson follows up with a huge overhand right. Swanson lands a 1-2 combination but the Asian fight lands a big right hand. They clinch and Choi pushes Swanson against the cage. Swanson lands a knee to the body with his back to the cage and is able to turn Choi against the cage. Swanson lands solid knees in the clinch. As they break, Swanson lands an overhand right and a kick to the body. He follows up with an inside leg kick and another overhand right. Choi lands back to back right hands while Swanson lands two kicks and another overhand right. Swanson attempts a snatch single on Choi, who defends the takedown and lands a knee as the round ends. Close round, which I scored 10-9 Swanson
The second round actions starts immediately. Choi opens with two right hands. They exchange blocked high kicks. Swanson lands a left hook a Choi lands his own. They step in the pocket and briefly exchange bombs. They clinch and Swanson lands a hard knee and two hard body shots. Choi lands a jab and a left hook but is backed up by a Swanson kick. Swanson unloads a 6 punch combination that has Choi hurt badly. Choi briefly falls down and is hit by about 10 punches from Swanson. He lands two huge left hands that drop Choi. Choi cracks Swanson with a big shot. Crazy action. Swanson replies with a 3 punch combination. Choi is trying to retreat but is cracked by two more overhand rights and a hard body kick. They start an exchange in the pocket with Choi landing two big shots. Swanson is hurt bad and Choi unloads about 10 big shots on him. Really, really insane action. Swanson backs up to the cage, and Choi is throwing everything he has at him. He lands some big body shots and a killer right hand that buckles Swanson’s knees. Somehow Swanson survives and hip throws Choi. While on top, Swanson lands some ground and pound. Swanson lands a big shot from on top as Choi escapes. Both guys land bombs again. Swanson connects with a three punch combination. He follows up with a big left hook and then lands a cartwheel kick to Choi’s chin. Swanson smiles and then lands a look away left jab. Choi lands a left hand and a high kick. He then lands a 1-2 combination. Swanson leaps and hurt Choi with a right hook. Then he swarms Choi by landing a series of hooks. He lands a big right hand. Then a spinning back fist and unloads another combination of big shots. Choi is hurt bad and Swanson lands two more big shots on him. They exchange some bombs in the pocket as the round ends. One of the craziest rounds in all MMA. Could go either way. 10-9 Swanson.
The crowd is going crazy as the round begins. Both guys throw bombs immediately. The action is insane again. Swanson lands a hard elbow and several body kicks and Choi responds with a 1-2 combination. Choi stuffs a single leg takedown attempt by Swanson and hurt him with a right hand. He stuffs another takedown attempt by Swanson and lands a hard knee to the body and a right hand.Choi unloads 3 unanswered right hands to Swanson’s chin. He gets behind Swanson and lands more right hands. He briefly takes Swanson down and tries to put in the hooks, but Swanson reverses him. Choi almost sweeps him over, but as they scramble Swanson regains the top position. Choi lands 3 hard elbows from the bottom to the top of Swanson’s head. Swanson postures up and lands a hard right. Choi scrambles to the feet but is cracked by a 3 punch combination by the American which buckles Choi’s legs. He starts to unload a 1-00 punch combination. Choi tries to grab Swanson but is hit by a perfect Freestyle wrestling headlock toss.They scramble to the feet and Choi lands a hard knee to the body and unloads a right hand right uppercut combination. They both sit in the pocket and unload big shots on each other. Unbelievable action. They just stay in the pocket and unload shots. You can’t describe this. Choi grabs Swanson and briefly gets his back. He takes Swanson down, who quickly Grambie rolls to his feet. One minute left and both guys are bloody. They exchange in the pocket again landing hard shots. They clinch and Choi briefly trips Swanson down. They get back to the feet and exchange knees. Crowd is going crazy. The exchange crazy big shots in the pocket again. Swanson hurts Choi bad with a right hand and follows it up with about 20 punches trying to take Choi out. Swanson finishes the combination with another cartwheel kick and a spinning backhand that drops Choi. Swanson finishes the fight with hard shots from on top. 10-9 for Swanson.
I scored it 30-27 Swanson but the fight was much closer than my scorecard suggests.
Mike Goldberg summed up the fight perfectly when he said, “What a fight, unlike anything we have ever seen”.
Results and Notes:
Swanson wins the fight by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
When we originally did this countdown from December 1st to December 25th of 2016, this fight wasn’t allowed to be on the list because we started the countdown before it happened. I am worried that I might be living in the moment because this is the most recent fight on the list. However, besides being the greatest fight in history, it turned what was considered to be a disappointing card on paper to the best event of 2016 and one of the best fights cards ever. The UFC was so pumped about this fight, they reshowed the event on Fox Sports 1 just two weeks later and got huge ratings (On Christmas Eve too).
People can debate this list to the cows come home. There is plenty of fights on this list that deserve the #1 spot. However, for me nothing top the brawl between Swanson and Choi.