The Best UFC Cards of All Time
Throughout the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s 29 years of history, the best fights have been the ones that have had a profound impact on both the sport and its fans.
These fights were so significant, in fact, that they live on long after their initial moment in the octagon, becoming iconic in and of themselves.
MadLabs MMA has assembled this list of 5 of the most important fights to ever unfold on the UFC octagon. Whether you agree with the order or not, this list was created based on fan and expert opinion alike. If it’s here, it was legendary!
Let’s jump in!
Gracie vs Gordeau - UFC 1 (December 1993)
Of course, any list of the most influential UFC fights would be incomplete without starting off with the event that kicked off the entire history.
The fights were absolutely brutal compared to today’s standards. The rules did not include any weight classes, dress codes, and essentially no restrictions on attacks. At this time, the company’s slogan was: “There are no rules!”.
As the organization grew in popularity, of course regulations came into place such as round length, cage size, equipment standards, and which moves could be performed.
Fighters of all styles competed, giving the world a sample of what “mixed martial arts” would come to represent. But the star of the night was 26-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Royce Gracie, who forced his opponent Gerard Gordeu to submit in one minute and 44 seconds. Gracie would go on to become a legend in his own right.
Mendes vs McGregor - UFC 189 (July 2015)
Due to last minute changes to the card, Chad Mendes stepped up to replace Jose Aldo to fight for the interim lightweight title. The fight was one of the toughest McGregor had ever seen in his career at the time, but he was able to make an impressive recovery, knocking Mendes out at the end of the second round.
A great fight, no doubt, but the truly stunning fight was the co-main event, Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald, fighting for the welterweight title. After an exciting 5 rounds, Lawler was able to land a knockout and defend his title.
Additionally, the rest of the card was fantastic. There were two flying knee knockouts in the main card, not to mention the rear-naked choke landed by Gunnar Nelson over Brandon Thatch.
Completely loaded with action, UFC 189 was one of the most thrilling events the company has ever held.
Lesnar vs Mir - UFC 100 (July 2009)
The UFC’s 100th event, headlined by Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, was bound to be a special one.
This card was full of heavy hitters like George St-Pierre, Jon Jones, and Mark Coleman. Racking up 1.3 Million PPV orders, the event was the highest-sold PPV in the company’s event at the time.
In a moment so brutal it is still discussed in the news more than a decade later, Michael Bisping was hit by Dan Henderson with a 2-punch combo knockout so vicious it would make even the most hardened fighter flinch. Bisping recalls being so stunned from the knockout that he didn’t know he had fought yet.
Georges St-Pierre also ascertained a powerful victory over Thiago Alves in a great five round fight. Finally, Brock Lesnar fought Frank Mir, delivering a mean knockout in the second round, defending his title for the first time.
Henderson vs Rua - UFC 139 (November 2011)
In a fight that started out as a one-sided beatdown by Henderson, Rua was able to turn the fight around in a stunning knockdown. Once Rua took control on top, the Brazilian was able to start turning things in his favor.
The two engaged in a technical, fast-paced, and riveting back and forth, fighting all across the cage. Engaging in grapples on the wall and the floor, and brutal hand to hand at the very center of the octagon, the fight was an absolute sight to behold.
After a chaotic and intense five round battle, Henderson was given the unanimous decision, with a tight 48-47 lead, but it was not without much consideration for the impressive fight Rua put up.
The fight immediately went down in viewer’s minds as one of the most incredible fights they’d had the pleasure of witnessing. In fact, UFC President Dana White himself called the event “the greatest fight he’d ever seen”.
McGregor vs Diaz - UFC 202 (August 2016)
This highly anticipated event featured the second fight between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor. The card sold 1.6 Million PPVs, making it the highest sold PPV event in UFC, by a long shot.
McGregor suffered a tough defeat in his first bout against Diaz in UFC 196, being submitted in his first UFC defeat, a major upset. After a long and tense lead up to the event, McGregor was able to earn his revenge. For five rounds, the two traded vicious blows, taunting each other as they’re both beaten bloody.
At the end of the fight, it seemed it could have been either man’s game. Ultimately, McGregor came out on top, in what was undoubtedly one of the UFC’s most exciting redemption arcs.
To add to the excitement and memorability of the event, the card featured future stars and champions such as Colby Covington, Marvin Vettori, and Raquel Pennington.
This has been our list of the 5 most influential and impactful UFC events of all time!
We hope that this has given you an ideal list of historical UFC fights to go back to and revisit, or to enjoy for the first time if you’re lucky enough to have not seen them yet.