McGregor, Lesnar, Diaz: What are the greatest MMA fights of all time?

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UFC have recently enjoyed rapid growth in support, and the same can be said for the world of MMA as a whole.

The brutal combat sport is watched by millions year-on-year and can produce some of the most exciting and entertaining clashes on box office television.

Since the first staged UFC bout in 1993, there have been countless fights that have gone down in the history of the sport, but it's not just Dana White's company that plays host to spectacular MMA fights.

The sudden popularity of UFC means that it is the most popular pay-per-view buys - more so than boxing and even WWE. 

Ownership under White and Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta means that the sport has visited over 20 countries, with more than 300 events.

While many bouts within the sport will go under the radar to anyone but the hardcore fans, several could make the cut as some of the greatest bouts of all time.

For that reason, Cleveland.com have tried to rank the 50 best MMA fights, and here they are in full!

50-31

50) Tony Ferguson v Edson Barboza (UFC - TUF 22 Finale, 2015)

49) Stipe Miocic v Daniel Cormier 2 (UFC 241, 2019)

48) Dustin Poirier v Max Holloway 2 (UFC 236, 2019)

47) Abel Trujillo v Jamie Varner (UFC 169, 2014)

46) Jose Aldo v Chad Mendes 2 (UFC 179, 2014)

45) Andre Arlovski v Travis Browne (UFC 187, 2015)

44) Dustin Poirier v Justin Gaethje (UFC on Fox 29, 2018)

43) Fedor Emelianenko v Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira 1 (Pride 25, 2003)

42) Georges St-Pierre v B.J. Penn 1 (UFC 65, 2006)

41) Nate Diaz v Conor McGregor 1 (UFC 196, 2016)

40) Roger Huerta v Clay Guida (UFC - TUF 6 Finale, 2007)

39) Benson Henderson v Donald Cerrone 1 (WEC 43, 2009)

38) Max Holloway v Calvin Kattar (UFC on ABC, 2021)

37) Dan Henderson v Wanderlei Silva 2 (Pride 33, 2007)

36) Brock Lesnar v Shane Carwin (UFC 116, 2010)

35) Wanderlei Silva v Brian Stann (UFC on Fuel TV, 2013)

34) Robert Whittaker v Yoel Romero 2 (UFC 225, 2018)

33) Matt Browne v Erick Silva (UFC Fight Night 40, 2014)

32) Eddie Alvarez v Michael Chandler 2 (Bellator 106, 2013)

31) Yancy Medeiros v Alex Oliveira (UFC 218, 2017)

50-31 Summary

Very few anticipated Michael Chandler, the Bellator Lightweight World Champion, and Eddie Alvarez to be able to match the quality of their first clash, but the duo came very close in 2013.

An epic final round on the day saw both camps come close to losses. Alvarez, arguably, had more remaining, but failed to finish Chandler - the judges, rather controversially - handed the fight and title to Alvarez.

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This year's meet-up between Holloway and Kattar can be seen as a turning point in the fighting style seen within UFC. For many years wrestling has proved to be the most valuable weapon, but striking has seemingly knocked it from its perch.

30-11

30) Chuck Liddell v Tito Ortiz 1 (UFC 47, 2004)

29) Mirko Cro Cop v Wanderlei Silva 2 (Pride Final Conflict, 2006)

28) Anderson Silva v Chael Sonnen 1 (UFC 117, 2010)

27) Don Frye v Yoshihiro Takayama (Pride 21, 2002)

26) Eddie Alvarez v Justin Gaethje (UFC 218, 2017)

25) Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira v Mirko Cro Cop (Pride Final Conflict, 2003)

24) Chris Leben v Yoshihiro Akiyama (UFC 116, 2010)

23) Robbie Lawler v Carlos Condit (UFC 195, 2016)

22) Gilbert Melendez v Diego Sanchez (UFC 166, 2013)

21) Jorge Santiago v Kazuo Misaki 2 (Sengoku Raiden Championships 14, 2010)

20) Chuck Liddell v Wanderlei Silva (UFC 79, 2008)

19) Nick Diaz v Takanori Gomi (Pride 33, 2007)

18) Pat Barry v Cheick Kong (UFC Live, 2011)

17) Leonard Garcia v Chan Sung Jung (WEC 48, 2010)

16) Michael Chandler v Eddie Alvarez 1 (Bellator 58, 2011)

15) Nick Diaz v Paul Daley (Strikeforce: Diaz v Daley, 2011)

14) Diego Sanchez v Clay Guida (UFC - TUF: United States v United Kingdom Finale, 2009)

13) Frankie Edgar v Gray Maynard 2 (UFC 125, 2011)

12) Israel Adesanya v Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 236, 2019)

11) Justin Gaethje v Michael Johnson (The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption Finale, 2017)

30-11 Summary

Very few fights have matched the hype around Liddell-Ortiz in 2004. Dana White introduced both fighters to the sport, and fans were treated to quite a clash 17 years ago.

The UFC 47 match-up produced one of the most-watched clips of UFC history; Chuck Liddell's rapid-fire bombs on a helpless Ortiz until he surrendered to the fetal position.

Don Frye's 2002 clash with Takayama was hardly a spectacle for technical fighting; it would not have looked out of place outside a bar on a standard Saturday night.

The duo went completely at each other, clenching each other's heads and just wailing away. The fact this lasted for six minutes remains a feat in itself.

10-1

10) Zhang Weilli v Joanna Jerzejczyk (UFC 248, 2020)

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9) Cub Swanson v Doo Ho Choi (UFC 206, 2016)

8) Wanderlei Silva v Quinton Jackson 2 (Pride 28, 2004)

7) Conor McGregor v Nate Diaz 2 (UFC 202, 2016)

6) Dan Henderson v Shogun Rua 1 (UFC 139, 2011)

5) Jon Jones v Alexander Gustafsson 1 (UFC 165, 2013)

4) Mark Hunt v Antonio Silva 1 (UFC Fight Night, 2013)

3) Matt Hughes v Frank Trigg 2 (UFC 52, 2005)

2) Robbie Lawler v Rory MacDonald 2 (UFC 189, 2015)

1) Forrest Griffin v Stephan Bonnar (UFC - TUF 1 Finale, 2005)

Whilst several women's fights could have made the list, only Weilli-Jedrzejczyk's 2020 clash makes the cut. It is admirable, however, that their clash last year manages to break into the top-10 of all-time fights.

Jedrzejczyk showed her technical ability early on, but Weilli matched her with impressive power. Fans were staggered as to how the two continued to fight despite the huge hit to Jedrzejczyk's head. The fight was a close one, but Weilli emerged as the narrow victor.

Another fight to have shocked fans as to how both left alive was Hunt's 2013 meet with Silva. The fight has been seen as one of the most brutal MMA battles to have taken place. 

As both camps went to town on each other, each second handed an opportunity for a conclusion. It was certainly not a clash for those with weak stomachs, but it is a huge fight for diehard fans.

The fight to come out on top, however, is Griffin-Bonnar in 2005. The match lacked quality, but the historical significance is second to none. As the pair bombarded each other in hope of winning the fight and, therefore, lapping up a six-figure contract, they left everything in the Octagon.

Griffin came out on top on the day, but both deservedly received UFC contracts. It was a fight that signalled only the beginning for UFC.

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