November: A pivotal month in MMA historyPosted on November 5, 2012, 12:05 PM by Mike Drahota
The month of November marks the anniversary of the UFC's Denver, CO debut back in 1993. On that fateful night, an event that was at the time regarded as a brutal spectacle more than a true sport launched something that would grow into much more. Royce Gracie dominated those early events (although ultimately not the first), but now fighters have evolved into something altogether well-rounded. MMA is a worldwide phenomenon, with UFC events popping up all over the world as they continue to expand in rapid ways. Traditionally, the month of November has been an excellent month for the UFC and Pride back in its heyday. Let's take a look at what the month of November has contributed to the growing sport of MMA.
Last year, some great fights took place in November, headlined by one of, if not the, all-time bests in Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua at UFC 139. The two fighters simply would not give up and took more damage than any normal human could fathom. Ultimately Henderson took home the decision but there were no losers on that night. I myself will never forget that night, down to every detail, because of that epic battle between two legends that still fight on to this day.
The week prior to that last November also marked a huge accomplishment for the UFC in that they made their large-scale network television debut on Fox when Junior dos Santos took the Heavyweight belt from Cain Velasquez's hands. Both fighters were found to have serious knee issues during the bout, but that did not stop dos Santos from earning a brutal stoppage victory in a mere 64 seconds. A year later, the two will rematch this December to fight for the title once again.
In 2010, November marked the month for a Light Heavyweight bout between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Lyoto Machida. While Rampage took home the decision, this might be a fight that Machida would be wholly favored to win in present time. In 2008, November was the time when an epic passing of the guard took place at Heavyweight. Randy Couture had come out of retirement to beat Tim Sylvia for the belt, but Brock Lesnar was simply too big and too strong for the aging Natural. Lesnar would go on to become one of the sport's biggest stars ever before Diverticulitis seemed to sap his strength and effectiveness.
In 2006, the UFC came out guns blazing for UFC 65: Bad Intentions. This was another changing of the guard as legendary Welterweight champion Matt Hughes was knocked out in brutal fashion by rising star Georges St-Pierre, thus beginning his dominant reign as champion. Six years later, GSP returns from knee surgery to face Carlos Condit in an attempt to unify the belt. Back in 2003 the UFC celebrated its tenth anniversary by inducting Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie into the Hall of Fame. UFC 34 in 2001 marked the event of the controversial slam victory of Matt Hughes over Carlos Newton. Hughes has stated he was out in a Triangle choke during the slam. It was also the event where a young Frank Mir made his promotional debut.
Pride FC also held some amazing events during the month of November back in its heyday. Starting with Pride 8 back in 1999 the event marked the first time the legendary Kazushi Sakuraba beat a member of the Gracie family as he became known for. A huge event came four years later, when over 67,000 fans packed the Tokyo Dome to see Pride: Final Conflict 2003, where Wanderlei Silva defeated Rampage and Big Nog defeated Cro Cop by submission. As Pride FC unfortunately fell from grace, November 2006 marked the advent of Pride Bushido Survival finals.
So November was the month when MMA was first unveiled to the public. It has grown into something that very few, if any, would have foreseen coming. Yes, it has been a trying year for the UFC, with injuries, a cancellation, and more shuffling than a Blackjack dealer, but overall, MMA has become a well-liked sport the world over. Will it become more popular or plateau? Tough to say, but this November should mark another great one for the sport, with the first-ever UFC in China and the return of the great Georges St-Pierre. If you have any other great MMA memories from the month of November, discuss them below.