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, who 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 and 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 was 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. He 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 taken 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 the 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 causes Shamrock to roll underneath Ortiz, who lands some good shots on Shamrock. Shamrock rolls again and is able to get back on 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 a while.
Both fighters are legends of the sport. It’s surprising that the two fighters never faced off again.