White was already envisioning a McGregor-Khabib Nurmagomedov lightweight world title rematch when he lured the Notorious One out of retirement and back into the octagon. Instead, he learned yet again that there’s one truism when it comes to combat sports such as competitions like the UFC, and that is that there are no guarantees.
In a sport where one decisive blow can turn a match, upsets are going to happen. These are the most shocking upsets in UFC history.
“Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier by Jeff Bottari is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Holly Holm over Ronda Rousey
In the 1940s, heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis carved a path through the division, dispatching all comers in what the media dubbed his bum of the month club.
UFC women’s bantamweight champion Rousey took a similar path of no prisoners taken through her weight class. She won all of her first 12 fights by either knockout or submission. Eleven of the bouts ended in the first round, nine of them during the first minute of action.
Holm was expected to be another notch on Rousey’s championship belt when they clashed at UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia. Instead, early in the second round former pro boxer Holm, a 7-1 underdog, knocked out Rousey, catching her with a devastating head kick, and then finishing Rousey off with a flurry of punches.
Rousey fought one more time, losing via first-round knockout to Amanda Nunes, and then retired from MMA and joined the WWE.
Chris Weideman Over Anderson Silva
Middleweight champion Silva stepped into the cage to face challenger Weidman at UFC 162 rolling along on a 17-bout winning streak. He’d successfully defended his title a record 10 times. He hadn’t lost a fight in seven years.
Early in the second round, the cocky Silva dropped his arms to his side and jutted out his jaw defiantly, as he’d done several times previously. On this occasion, though, Weidman tagged Silva with a right hand and knocked him out 1:18 into the round.
The defeat marked a turning point in Silva’s career. He never recovered from the setback. Weideman beat him again in a rematch, Silva suffering a fractured leg in the bout. These two losses were part of a 1-7-1 drought that concluded Silva’s UFC career.
Matt Serra Over Georges St-Pierre
Many MMA observers are of the opinion that Canadian St-Pierre is the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the history of the sport. When he squared off with Matt Serra to defend his UFC welterweight title at UFC 69 in 2007, it was viewed as St-Pierre simply taking care of business and dropping another opponent.
Serra came into the bout with a 10-4 record. In his previous big fight, he’d lost to B.J. Penn, so no one was giving him much hope of derailing the machine that was the 13-1 St-Pierre. In fact, St-Pierre had recently defeated Penn just two matches prior to facing Serra.
It was Serra, though, who would shock the world. He caught St-Pierre with a series of punches and won by TKO at 3:25 of the first round. The two would meet again a year later at UFC 83 and St-Pierre regained the title when the referee stopped the fight in the second round after he rained down knee strikes to Serra’s midsection and left the latter defenseless.
“George St. Pierre” by Wikimedia is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Tito Ortiz Over Ryan Bader
There are countless tales of once-great fighters who hang on too long and continue to accept bouts, even though they’re a shell of their previous selves. Ortiz fell into this category.
When Ortiz signed to fight Bader at UFC 132, the former UFC light-heavyweight champ was 0-4-1 in his previous five bouts. Ortiz had gone five years without recording a victory. People cringed at the thought of what might happen to him at the hands of the 12-1 Bader, whose only career loss to date came at the hands of UFC superstar Jon Jones.
Instead, it was the ancient warrior who showed everyone he still had a little bit of game left in him. Barely halfway through the first round, Ortiz stunned Bader with a punishing right hook. The cagey veteran then wrapped up Bader in a guillotine choke hold to gain the shocking submission victory.
Sadly, it was not an indication of a turnaround in Ortiz’s fortunes. He lost his next three fights.
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