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
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
March 4th, 2001
Main Event of UFC 31
Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Couture was 37 years old, and the heavyweight champion. He was a perfect 5-0 in the UFC when he faced Rizzo. Rizzo was 27 years old. He was a great striker with an 11-1 MMA record and a 6-1 UFC record.
1st round begins with Couture landing a left hook. Rizzo pumps a jab off Couture’s head. Couture grabs a clinch, but Rizzo moves away and lands a hook. Couture clinches again. Couture starts to dirty box Rizzo landing hooks and uppercuts. Couture lands a nice knee as the break. As they break, Couture lands a double leg takedown. Couture starts to posture up and lands heavy ground and pound on Rizzo, who is pressed against the cage. Couture lands big elbows and hammerfists, looks like John McCarthy might stop the fight, but Rizzo is saved by the bell. Big round for Couture. 10-8 Couture.
2nd round begins, Rizzo lands a super hard leg kick that drops Couture, Couture attempts to grab a leg but Rizzo is sprawled out on him. Couture works up to his feet. Rizzo lands a stiff jab and a very hard leg kick. Rizzo lands a hook and follows it up with a 1-2 punch. Rizzo stuffs two takedown attempts from Couture. Coutre gets up and lands a right hand, but looks very tired. Rizzo lands a huge leg kick and then follows up with a left hook. Rizzo lands two more hard leg kicks. Rizzo lands a jab and is taking over. Rizzo lands a 1-2 combination and another leg kick. He stuffs another takedown. Rizzo lands a left hook. Couture clinches but is hit by two knees from Rizzo. Rizzo lands a right hand that drops Couture and follows up with short punches from on top as the round ends. 10-9 Rizzo.
The third round begins and Couture lands 2 straight right hands. Couture clinches and lands 3 uppercuts. As they break, he shoots for a takedown but is stuffed. They have a break in the action to check a cut on Couture. The doctor says it is okay and they go back at it. Couture lands a double leg takedown and starts landing short elbows and punches for the remainder of the round. 10-9 Couture.
Fourth round begins, Rizzo lands a left hook. Both fighters clinch. Couture lands a ton of hooks and uppercuts in the clinch, while Rizzo lands a knee. They break and Couture lands a 3 punch combination. Rizzo lands a left hook. Rizzo stuffs a single-leg takedown attempt and lands a hard leg kick. Rizzo stuffs another takedown attempt from Couture. While sprawled out on Couture, he lands some short shots. Couture works his way up and lands another takedown. He lands several hammerfists and elbows from on top. Couture attempts a key lock, Rizzo gets out. Couture finishes the round with more ground and pound. Close round. 10-9 Couture.
The fifth round begins. Rizzo lands a very hard leg kick. He stuffs a takedown attempt and lands a 1-2 combination. Rizzo stuffs another takedown from a tired Couture. Rizzo lands a leg kick and a left hook. Rizzo stuffs another takedown and while sprawled out, lands short shots to the side of Couture’s head. Couture gets up and lands a right hand, followed by a left hook. Rizzo lands a right hand. Couture misses a takedown. Rizzo lands a brutal leg kick. Rizzo lands another 1-2 combination. A final leg kicks drop Couture, and Rizzo flurries with several punches as the bell sounds. 10-9 for Rizzo. I scored the fight 48-46 for Couture.
Results and Notes:
Couture wins a unanimous decision.
They would rematch at UFC 34, and Couture would dominate and win with a 3rd round TKO.
Couture was thought to be on the way out at 37 and Rizzo on the rise at 27. However, Couture would go on to have a legendary career winning 5 UFC belts, while Rizzo would never reach a UFC main event again.