Nate Diaz is a megastar now since defeating Conor McGregor in their first bout. Sure, McGregor got the win back, but Diaz was launched in to the million dollar club. Ronda Rousey announced herself to the world by beating reigning Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate and Chris Weidman stunned the world by defeating Anderson Silva via KO. All good, and all true. On our list below we take in to account the lasting star power of the athletes and the impact the fight had not only on their careers, but the MMA world.
Note: Forrest Griffin isn’t on this list because his fight was the culmination of an entire reality TV series.
Rich Franklin vs. Ken Shamrock
Rich Franklin is a legend and was the quintessential company man since his UFC debut way back when. It wasn’t until the Cincy native defeated Ken Shamrock at the first Ultimate Fighter Finale that he became a household name. Shamrock may have been a fighter from the UFC’s fledgling days, but he was still one of the most recognizable names in UFC history so when Franklin TKO’d him – he was now a star. Rich went on to become UFC middleweight champion and despite some losses of his own was remembered for being one of the most successful, long lasting, and one of the most durable fighters ever.
Randy Couture vs. Tito Ortiz
It was a toss up between Couture’s fight with Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. The reason Ortiz won out is the significance and impact of the bout. Tito had by all accounts been ducking Chuck Liddell for so long that Dana White offered former heavyweight Randy Couture an interim championship bout with Liddell to try and coax Ortiz in to defending his own belt. A heavyweight with mixed results, Couture defeated white hot Chuck at UFC 43 and then fought Tito to unify the titles at UFC 44. Couture dominated Ortiz and even spanked him for good measure. At that moment “Captain America was born”. He later became heavyweight champion by defeating then loathed giant Tim Sylvia. Still, it was his win over Ortiz that made him a mega star.
BJ Penn vs. Matt Hughes
There are all kind of rumors about what exactly Matt Hughes was doing the night before his bout with then lightweight champion BJ Penn. We’ve heard stories from Dana White, Hughes himself, and his teammates. Most say he was in a bar drinking the night before the bout and he was not taking it seriously because he assumed that he would obliterate the smaller Hawaiian. Wrong. Penn submitted Hughes in the first round by rear naked choke and shocked the entire MMA world especially Hughes himself. The fight cemented BJ as one of the most well known fighters in UFC history.
Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments.