Over the past nearly 25 years, the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts as a whole has provided fight fans with countless shocking, compelling moments, but some memories stick out as much more shocking than the others.
Fighters have had their legs snapped like a twig mid-fight, thrown sucker punches after the bell, and done several other seriously jaw-dropping occasions inside the octagon.
Check out the 10 most shocking moments in MMA history:
10. Paul Daley Punches Koscheck After Bell
It’s kind of funny that punches and kicks thrown within regulation time don’t raise any eyebrows, but one strike errantly thrown after the bell is enough for a lifetime ban.
Daley learned the hard way that the UFC does not tolerate cheap shots. The scene was indeed quite jarring, as no one has thrown a cheap shot so blatantly before or since.
The sucker punch caused complete pandemonium and the fallout forced “Semtex” out of the UFC for good. The scene was truly shocking and caused a great deal of confusion before “Big” Dan Mirgliotta quickly stepped in.
Definitely a shocking moment for UFC fans.
9. Diaz Brothers’ Strikeforce On CBS Brawl
Another instance where fighters just couldn’t keep the violence within regulation. After Jake Shields beat Dan Henderson years back, Jason “Mayhem” Miller stormed the cage politely demanding a rematch with the then-Strikeforce middleweight champion.
Shields’ pals Nick and Nate Diaz, flanked by Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, quickly jumped “Mayhem” live on CBS to horrified executives who could only look onward as MMA’s legitimacy on network television went up in flames.
The Strikeforce brawl forced MMA off of big network television for years, and the bad boy reputation the Diaz brothers earned here has followed them ever since.
8. Anderson Silva Breaks Leg In Weidman Rematch
Five years ago, the greatest middleweight of all-time lost by knockout and then by brutal leg break two fights in a row against the same opponent.
As if Chris Weidman’s second-round knockout over Silva at UFC 162 wasn’t shocking enough, the rematch was even more shocking, as a checked leg kick by Weidman resulted in a gruesome leg break that sent “The Spider” careening to the canvas in visible agony at UFC 168.
Until Anderson’s two fights with Weidman, he was unmistakably the best striker and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet. Seeing him laying on the ground, holding his broken leg and screaming in pain, was beyond shocking to witness.
As fight fans, we see these men and women brave all sorts of injuries and unnatural situations with stoicism. It’s rare to see them crack, which made this scene ever more disturbing for fight fans to see.
7. McGregor KOs Aldo In 13 Seconds
This fight had been rescheduled a few times, so there was plenty of time for these two to get under each other’s skin while fans eagerly waited.
McGregor expertly played the part of the heel and tormented Aldo for months on end.
For Aldo’s amazing years-long run as champion to end in 13 seconds was as shocking as it gets. The defeat was made exponentially worse due to the fact that McGregor was the one to dethrone the champion.
Even though McGregor called his shot and predicted a first-round knockout, watching that prophecy actually play out was beyond shocking to see.
It’s as shocking now as it was when it happened, and that makes this a pretty shocking moment in UFC history.
6. Jon Jones Stripped For Third Time
Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, well, you know the rest.
The fact that it had happened prior didn’t lessen the blow when fight fans heard the news that Jones would be stripped of the belt again after knocking out Daniel Cormier at UFC 217.
In some ways, fans were shocked because surely Jones had to have learned something the first time. It seemed impossible for Jones to make the same mistake twice after coming back from all that adversity caused by the first failed PED test before 2016’s UFC 200, and that was after he had been initially stripped of the belt for his infamous Albuquerque hit-and-run.
But he did it. It was somehow even more shocking the third time around, and accepting the no-contest result was a hard pill for fans to swallow, fans who had just literally seen Jones head kick “DC” into unconsciousness.
Jones is still sidelined due to the fallout from UFC 217. Just because it had already happened somehow didn’t make it any less shocking the third time around.
5. Brock Lesnar’s UFC 200 Return
Everything about Lesnar’s UFC 200 comeback fight against Hunt was bizarre and over-the-top. True to Lesnar’s professional wrestling background, the whole thing was a circus.
Lesnar had famously defeated Frank Mir 100 PPVs prior, and perhaps for nostalgia alone, the UFC wanted Lesnar on UFC 200.
The man who broke the story, Ariel Helwani, was blacklisted by Dana White and the UFC, who did everything in their power to bury him for breaking the story.
From there, Lesnar’s comeback fight continued on its shocking path, with Lesnar winning a rugged decision against Hunt. The circus didn’t stop there, of course, with Lesnar ultimately testing positive for a banned substance, turning his victory into a no-contest.
Lesnar retired again after being hit with a USADA suspension. Although he’s teased yet another comeback, nothing has been set in stone. But if it’s anything like his UFC 200 debacle, fight fans will be in for another circus for sure.
4. Fedor Emelianenko Loses To Werdum
For longtime fight fans, this shocking MMA moment ended Fedor’s decade-long unbeaten streak and showed the world just how good Werdum truly was.
Fedor had always found a way to win; whether he was submitting Kevin Randleman after being dumped on his head or weathering an early storm from Brett Rogers to score a second-round knockout, “The Last Emperor” had survived difficult situations but always came out on top.
Against Werdum, that comeback never happened, and Emelianenko was quickly submitted for the first time in his career.
It was a truly shocking moment for MMA fans, as Fedor winning was as sure as the day was bright. He just always found a way to win, but not against Werdum.
Without a doubt one of the more shocking moments in MMA history.
3. Conor McGregor Attacks UFC Bus
This is the most shocking MMA moment for a number of reasons. For one, Conor is the promotion’s biggest star, who attracts the most attention.
That worked against McGregor as the media picked up on the story, of Conor and his goons attacking a bus containing fighters preparing for UFC 223. The target was Khabib Nurmagomedov, but the whole thing was so stupid and tabloid-centric that it spread like wildfire.
The courtroom was packed with press for McGregor’s arraignment, his handcuffed perp walk, every kind of humiliating thing imaginable. It was just a repeated black eye on the sport of MMA.
The amount of media coverage this story got is unprecedented for MMA and the UFC, and that’s what makes it the most shocking MMA moment.
2. Ronda Rousey Knocked Out Down Under
Before UFC 193, Rousey was undoubtedly the queen of MMA, and her dominant title defenses suggested she wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Then Holly Holm happened, and “Rowdy” Ronda was beat from pillar to post until a head kick from Holm ended Rousey’s title reign and essentially her MMA career in general.
No one really saw it coming instead of the most extreme of hardcore fight fans, who knew how good of a striker Holm was. Rousey lost so badly against Holm that she was never the same fighter ever again. A brief comeback was squashed in 46-seconds against Amanda Nunes, and Rousey has since moved on to WWE.
For all of the mystique she created about herself, to see that crash down was shocking indeed.
1. Matt Serra Knocks Out GSP
Matt Serra’s time as welterweight champion may have been short-lived, but it will forever go down in MMA history as one of the most shocking moments.
Serra made good on an opportunity to face St-Pierre at UFC 67 after winning season four of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). The submission specialist, who was already at a size disadvantage, found his mark with a well-placed overhand that put GSP on wobbly legs, and the scrappy former lightweight went for broke, winning the UFC welterweight title in the process.
Serra was a massive underdog, making his victory and the nature of GSP’s defeat even more shocking for fight fans watching worldwide.