The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has been serving us the highest form of mixed martial arts competition since its establishment, especially over the last decade. In this span, the UFC has promoted a legion of fights – some good fights and a few forgettable ones.
But there are a couple of bouts that have stood the test of time and will be cherished forever in our memories. These iconic fights gave us plenty of things to talk about; lethality, off-the-ring drama, and controversies.
Here’s our list of the top five greatest UFC bouts in the last ten years.
Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor II (2016)
There have been many renowned rivalries in the UFC, but only a select few come close to Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz‘s feud.
It all started when Diaz handed McGregor his first UFC loss, to the surprise of many. McGregor was the man to beat in the welterweight class before this fight and was known for knocking out opponents without much stress. But his loss to Diaz in their first meeting set up grounds for a rematch in the summer of 2016.
The fight went on till the fifth round and lasted 25 minutes. Diaz was slightly more dominant than his arch nemesis, landing the more notable strikes and registering more control time. But McGregor made the more decisive moves, dropping Diaz three times.
The result could have easily gone both ways, but McGregor won the bout by a 2:1 majority decision to avenge his loss. There have been talks of a third fight ever since. Could 2023 be the year to finally settle the score between these two?
Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson (2017)
Justin Gaethje is no stranger to iconic bouts, but arguably, the greatest fight of his incredible career came in 2017. Gaethje, who was unbeaten at the time and had defended his now-defunct World Series of Fighting lightweight belt five times, made his debut in the Octagon vs. veteran fighter Michael Johnson. It was one of the most hyped fights of the year, and it proved to be a classic.
The mma odds outside the US had Gaethje as the favorite to win the bout, but Johnson nearly pulled a surprise by almost knocking him out in the first round. But Gaethje came back in the second round in a show of strength and resilience to win the fight by TKO.
The victory added more hype to his resume and is widely regarded as one of the greatest comebacks in MMA history. According to Sherdog, there was no better fight in 2017.
Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit (2016)
Robbie Lawler’s title defense vs. Carlos Condit had the word “iconic” written all over it. It was one of the hottest UFC stories of 2016.
Both fighters were regarded as two of the brightest welterweight fighters at the time, and a championship belt on the line meant the fight was bound to be spectacular. And it delivered beyond expectations.
The evenly contested bout lasted five rounds, and the winner had to be decided by split decision. Lawler came out on top in this one, but many fans believed Condit should’ve won. The fight was so good; the outcome is still heavily debated among fans and pundits to this day.
Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson I (2013)
There have been a couple of underdogs who have risen to the occasion in the UFC, but only a few have done so brilliantly, like Alexander Gustaffson. A decade later, this fight is still being talked about as one of the GOAT fights.
Jon Jones, widely regarded as the greatest MMA fighter of all time, was unbeatable during his peak years. Before this fight, he had defended his light heavyweight belt six times.
Gustafsson was predicted to be a walk in the park for Jones, but the Swedish fighter would go on to put on a show, giving Jones arguably the toughest fight of his stellar career.
Although the fight was unanimously decided in favor of Jones, Gustaffson won many hearts with his stunning ring performance.
Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald II (2015)
Many fans weren’t expecting much from this fight, as the first meeting between these two in 2013 did not have too many talking points. Robbie Lawler won the bout by split decision, to no one’s surprise.
But the second meeting proved to be a classic bout and is generally considered one of the greatest UFC fights of all time. Lawler’s welterweight belt was up for grabs, and Rory MacDonald proved to the world that he wanted it badly.
It was a bloodbath from the first round, and by the fourth round, both fighters had sustained deep bruises to the face. Lawler would settle the score in the fifth round by downing his competition, but it was the kind of fight you wished had no winner or loser. A classic true and through.