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In the month of November the UFC is celebrating its 25th anniversary of putting out numerous events that has changed the history of fight sports. Armed with their mission of making fights that the people want to see, contrary to fan’s experience with boxing, the UFC has a stunning reel of miraculous moments that will surely mesmerize fights fans, and sports fans alike. Going through this highlight reel, we take a look at some of the most memorable moments in the UFC’s illustrious silver jubilee. Moments that will forever be cherished by fans of the fight game.
Many would consider UFC100 to be one of the most successful events in UFC history, and many would argue that this fight card has set the bar for the quality of pay-per-view events to come. To start off, UFC100 boasted its roster of breathtaking match ups of some of the biggest draws in the sport. At that time, Brock Lesnar was considered to be the most recognizable face in the UFC and was set to have a rematch with Frank Mir, who defeated Lesnar in his first UFC outing, 90 seconds into the first round. Lesnar since then has improved to become a juggernaut in the cage, and fans were clamoring to see the rematch for the prestigious UFC Heavyweight title. Next up was a welterweight championship fight between UFC hall of famer George St. Pierre and challenger Thiago Alves, which ended in a dominant victory for GSP. We also witness the brutal knock out of Michael Bisping after a thunderous haymaker from Dan Henderson, which is considered one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history.
This event at that time was the most bought PPV event at 1.6 million buys. Succeeding UFC pay per view events will always be measured against the success of UFC100, and it was only until UFC202, 7 years later, that this record was broken.
The introduction of the women’s division
In 2011, UFC president Dana White stated the he would never allow women to fight inside the octagon, which didn’t ruffle many feathers given the shortage of talent in women’s MMA at the time. But come January 2013, the UFC held its first women’s bantamweight championship with a fight between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche. The fight ended in Rousey’s patented arm bar after a valiant effort from Carmouche in the opening frames of the fight which was a thrill for fight fans to see. This paved the way for numerous stars in the octagon and long list of amazing fights to come in the UFC’s bantamweight, straw weight and feather weight division.
Since the acquisition of Strikeforce and its talented women’s division, the UFC has put up several astounding fights in the women’s division. Following the reign of Ronda Rousey, we saw the rise of stars like Miesha Tate, Holly Holm and Amanda Nunez in the bantamweight division. We witnessed the reign of Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Rose Namajunas’ ascension to the throne. And, the highly anticipated debut of Cyborg in the octagon when the featherweight division was established. Currently, the UFC’s roster of talented women is in abundance which is an opportunity for spectacular match ups in the making.
The Ultimate Fighter
During the early days of Zuffa’s acquisition of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the challenge the organization had was putting the sport in the limelight of the general public and attracting more than just hardcore fight fans but sports fans in general. So in January 2005, the Ultimate Fighter series debuted. This drew millions of views and made the UFC a mainstream sporting event. Many would say that TUF was the means for the UFC to remain in the mainstream scene and continue on to its expansion.
The Ultimate Fighter became a source of talent for the UFC as we see the likes of Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, TJ Dillashaw, Nate Diaz, Tony Ferguson, Matt Serra and many more come out of TUF and make a tremendous impact in the UFC. We also witnessed the historic fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar in the TUF Season 1 Finale, which Dana White would regard as the most important fight in UFC history.
Conor McGregor’s rise to fame came at exactly when the UFC was dreadfully starving for a star. The organization was missing a vital piece, with the retirement of Georges St. Pierre, the downfall of Anderson Silva and Ronda Rousey, and Jon Jones’ issues outside the cage which affected his career. Conor McGregor started his UFC career with thunderous victories in the UFC’s featherweight division. McGregor put up a 6 fight win streak while doing an outstanding job marketing his fights with his champion persona and high level trash talk.
It was at UFC 194, that McGregor shocked the world with his unbelievable knock out of Jose Aldo 14 seconds into the fight, which became the fastest KO in UFC title fight history. He went on to face Nate Diaz, where he would experience his first loss in the Octagon. And in that loss, came a PPV event for the ages. UFC202 was when we saw the rematch between McGregor and Diaz, a fight that the UFC spent millions to market. And the fight did not disappoint, as fans were treated to a spectacular championship caliber fight that was one for the ages, which ended in Conor’s favor. This event went on to have a buy rate of 1.65 million views beating the record of UFC100 and further increasing McGregor’s stock. Conor would then go on to claim the UFC Lightweight Championship from Eddie Alvarez making him the first fighter to simultaneously hold titles in two different weight classes. And in the spirit of breaking records, Conor McGregor became the first active UFC fighter to fight in the boxing ring, against the great Floyd Mayweather Jr. The fight was heavily marketed all over the world which drew 4.3 million PPV buys, in which Conor claimed a 30 million dollar pay day. With the attention drawn from the Mayweather fight, Conor went to face Khabib Nurmagomedov, a fight with a lot of backstory and drama, which fans all over the world were clamoring for until the end. This fight became the UFC’s highest selling PPV with 2.4 million views, smashing his own record at UFC202.
Conor has a made a very crucial impact on the sport, as he took the UFC to another level of fame with his colorful marketing techniques and brash demeanor. He proved that making it in the sport was not just about your performance in the octagon, but also your performance in the press being that the UFC was no longer just in the fight business, but also the entertainment business. By making him the face of the organization, the UFC had a star in the likes of Lebron, Brady or Floyd. A face that the general public will follow and be invested in, which once again put the UFC in mainstream spotlight.