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The 5 best UFC pay per view cards in history

The UFC has delivered 228 (229 if you count UFC 37.5) pay-per-view events in its illustrious history and has presented numerous memorable moments and breathtaking action. While some of the cards have not delivered in the same manner as others, there are some which have more than made up for them.


However, some cards have notably been better than others. This slideshow counts down the five very best.



#5 UFC 129: St. Pierre vs Shields - April 30, 2011

George St. Pierre rocks Jake Shields

UFC 129 was one of the most hyped shows in company history back in 2011 and had the much anticipated main event of George St. Pierre and Jake Shields delivered it would likely have been number one on this list.


However, St. Pierre vs Shields failed to excite over five rounds, largely bereft of the pulsating action every fan expects from these two fighters. The set up was perfect. The Welterweight Champion, GSP had defeated virtually every one there was to beat in his division except Shields who had been unbeaten in over six years.


GSP would win the lacklustre bout and retain his Welterweight title.


Underneath, the action was phenomenal. Lyoto Machida defeated UFC legend Randy Couture with a stunning crane kick which knocked the veteran out cold. Like that, Couture's long MMA career was over.

The show was significant also for hosting the first Featherweight Championship bout in UFC history. The match more than lived up to the hype. Jose Aldo and Mark Hominick delivered one of the best fights of 2011 in an all-action encounter memorable for a gigantic swelling on Hominick's head that drew a collective gasp from the live crowd.

Mark Hominick - Braved a horrific head injury

Vladimir Matyushenko crushed Jason Brilz with a terrifying flurry of punches for the brutal knockout.

Finally, Benson Henderson's UFC debut was worth the wait as he beat Mark Bocek in another hugely entertaining fight. Bendo delivered exciting flurry after flurry en route to a decision victory.

UFC 129 was the card that had everything except an exciting main event.

#4 UFC 202: Diaz vs McGregor 2 - August 20, 2016

Conor McGregor - Victorious at UFC 202

UFC 202 was a significant event, being the first to be presented under their new ownership of William Morris Endeavour.

The main event was a Welterweight re-match between Conor McGregor and Nick Diaz. McGregor had lost his previous fight with the veteran Diaz at UFC 196, earlier in the year.

McGregor who seemed to be on a non-stop tour of UFC's weight classes, having competed at Welterweight and Featherweight between 2015 and 2016. Incidentally, he would then compete at Lightweight in his next UFC bout at UFC 205.

There are no superlatives to do the McGregor-Diaz clash justice. It was an all-out war. McGregor dominated the first two rounds with kicks and punches, largely keeping Diaz at bay until momentum began to shift as McGregor tired.

Diaz unloaded with a huge series of combinations and take-downs in the third as McGregor gasped for breath as he luckily survived to take the bout into a fourth round, which made the fight the longest of his career.


McGregor somehow got a second wind and came out swinging, making a right mess of Diaz's face as he did so. The final two rounds saw the pair exchange a huge amount of stiff strikes and McGregor won via a narrow majority decision. It was tight, but probably the right result.

Anthony Johnson's bout with Glover Teixeira didn't last long but for its 13-second duration engrossed the audience. The two exchanged blows immediately but Johnson hit harder and that was all she wrote.

Anthony Johnson didn't get paid by the hour at UFC 202

Further down the card, Donald Cerrone beat Rick Story. Brutal finishes were the story of this event as Cerrone finished Story with a computer gamesque combination of body shots followed by an incredible high kick. Another flurry of punches finished Story. What a match this was.

Mike Perry impressed on debut as he defeated Hyun Gyu Lim knocking him down three times in a little over 200 seconds of action. In truth, Lim was out on his feet after the first knockdown and did well to regain his footing. Brutal action but ridiculously entertaining,

Tim Means beat Sabah Homasi in a hugely impressive performance. His clinch work was a thing of beauty and he picked apart his opponent with all the poise of a skilled veteran. A star-making display ended when Means finally destroyed Homasi's face and the referee mercifully stopped the massacre.

UFC 202 was pure entertainment from top to bottom.

#3 UFC 116: Lesnar vs Carwin - July 3, 2010

Brock Lesnar - Defended the UFC Heavyweight Championship against Shane Carwin

Brock Lesnar's UFC Heavyweight Championship defence against unbeaten challenger Shane Carwin was the draw for UFC 116 and the main event delivered in spades.


Carwin had finished all 12 of his previous opponents in the first round and came close to doing the same to Lesnar. The champion hung in there and survived to round two where Carwin began to tire and Lesnar was able to lock on a submission for the win. It was perhaps Lesnar's finest MMA fight and an incredibly entertaining battle of the behemoths.

George Sotiropoulos won a unanimous decision against Kurt Pelligrino which was fairly one-sided in favour of Sotiropoulos but nevertheless was a hugely entertaining, technically proficient affair.

The "American Psycho" Stephan Bonnar once more lived up to his name in an all-out war with Krzysztof Soszynski in a rematch of their encounter at UFC 110. A tremendously entertaining fight as both men traded blows from the start. By the second round, both men were already pouring out blood and Bonnar would end the fight with strikes soon after. Incredible entertainment.

Stephan Bonnar is bloodied but victorious at UFC 116

Perennial contender Chris Lytle faced Matt Brown in another exciting fight with plenty of strike combinations and submission attempts. Lytle took the win with a beautiful arm-lock which forced Brown to verbally submit as he was unable to tap out.


The co-main event was originally scheduled to be Yoshihiro Akiyama versus MMA legend, Wanderlei Silva. However, after Silva pulled out due to injury, Chris Leben stepped in and a fight of the year contender took place. In a blistering fight, with wild exchanges, numerous takedowns and tremendous grappling, Leben ensured a surprise finish when he became the first man to ever submit Akiyama. An absolutely brilliant match on a tremendous UFC card.

#2 UFC 199: Rockhold vs Bisping 2 - June 24, 2016

Michael Bisping wins the Middleweight Championship

Michael Bisping's career highlight was one of the brightest spots on a stunning card. The Briton finally won a UFC Championship, defeating Luke Rockhold in re-match of their bout at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs Bisping, two years earlier.

This time the result was reversed with Bisping victorious. It was an upset. Rockhold began in confident fashion having dominated the Brit in their previous encounter. Rockhold kept Bisping at a distance with front kicks and right hands before Bisping smashed Rockhold with a vicious left hook that floored the Champion.

As Rockhold struggled to his feet, Bisping smashed him again and finished him off for an incredible win. A truly memorable moment in MMA history.

Bantamweight Champion, Dominick Cruz defeated veteran Urijah Faber in the final of their trilogy of fights. What a match it was. Cruz was majestic and put forth one of the finest MMA performances ever as he consistently stayed one step ahead of his legendary opponent. Faber was no passenger in the bout, however, as he landed plenty of kicks and right hands to the Champion in five rounds of superb action. However, despite the entertainment, there was only ever one winner.


Max Holloway and Ricardo Lamas traded blow after blow in a hugely enthralling Featherweight encounter which had title implications. With it all on the line, the two fighters did not disappoint. Holloway dominated the first round but Lamas showed incredible toughness by hanging in the fight.

He displayed even more grit in the second as Holloway dominated on the ground and standing up but could not find a way to put Lamas away.

The final round saw the pair exchange huge flurries of punches and they were still going at it when the bell sounded. Holloway was the winner by decision, but it was a hell of a ride to get to that point.

Dan Henderson showed the world he was far from washed up and destroyed Hector Lombard with an incredible back elbow to the temple which laid Lombard out for a very long time.

It wasn't just the finish that was memorable, the first round was a chaotic display of striking combinations as both fighters threw insane bombs at each other but somehow survived being knocked out. One of the hardest hitting matches you are ever likely to see and just insane entertainment.

Dan Henderson - Showed the world he was far from washed up at UFC 199

Oh Bobby Green! Dustin Poirier took no nonsense from his opponent when Green talked trash to him with his hands down. Poirier picked his spot on more than one occasion and put Green down for the count. This was a wildly fun opener and the perfect way to kick off one of the all-time greatest UFC cards.


#1 UFC 189: Mendes vs McGregor - July 11, 2015

Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald stole the show in an all-time classic

The greatest UFC card of all time was a wild affair, highlighted by its main events pitting Conor McGregor versus Chad Mendes in an Interim Featherweight Championship bout and Welterweight Champion, Robbie Lawler versus Rory MacDonald. It's fair to say both of those bouts met all expectations and then some.

Lawler and MacDonald contested what could be the greatest MMA fight of all time. Lawler renowned for his devastating punching power soon found his range and began smashing MacDonald's face with ease. MacDonald's face soon resembled something out of a horror movie as blood poured out of it like a fountain.

It looked like the fight was a mere formality at that point, then somehow, MacDonald fired back in round three with a crushing head kick which knocked Lawler silly. MacDonald literally smelling blood as it began pouring from Lawler also, then unloaded with a series of vicious elbows and punches that nearly earned him the fight. Somehow Lawler survived.


The rest of the fight ebbed and flowed with stunning striking combinations as both men wore each other down before finally in the final round, Lawler punched MacDonald straight in the nose where an audible crunch could be heard as it broke. Finally, MacDonald was done and Lawler was victorious. It was a fight more closely resembling a massacre but was unforgettable for anyone who witnessed it. An absolute marvel of a contest.

In the main event, Mendes and McGregor had a lot to live up to. They also delivered. Mendes was a late replacement for Jose Aldo but was heavily favoured to win in many quarters due to his superior wrestling skills. The entrances were something to behold as Irish singing legend, Sinead O' Connor sang a haunting rendition of the traditional Irish song, "The Foggy Dew", to play McGregor to the ring which added to an already electric atmosphere.


The pair traded stiff shots immediately and Mendes unloaded with work on McGregor's elbow as he seemed to prepare for a guillotine. McGregor survived until round two. Mendes dominated the second as well, as he put down McGregor to the mat attempting to work a finish. The Irishman, backed by the heavy Irish contingent in the crowd willed himself free and smashed Mendes with a huge left hook that put him down. The fight was over and McGregor had banished any pre-match questions on his ability as a potential Champion of the division. McGregor-mania was running wild.

McGregor wins amid wild scenes at UFC 189

Further down the card and another Featherweight bout electrified the audience. Dennis Bermudez defeated Jeremy Stephens by knockout with an insane jumping knee that knocked Stephens into another stratosphere.

The action proceeding the brutal knockout was even more glorious, as the pair gushed blood, as they exchanged stiff combinations. A truly amazing match which was another match of the year contender on a card full of them.

Gunnar Nelson beat Brandon Thatch in something of an upset in double quick fashion as he brutally knocked Thatch down with a stunning combination before slapping on a choke to win. Hugely impressive performance from Nelson at just the right time for his career after a disappointing loss to Rick Story in his previous bout.

In the opener, Thomas Almeida bested Brad Pickett in a fantastic match-up which was yet another fight of the year contender. Almeida was dropped by Pickett early on and suffered another knockdown courtesy a flying knee. Somehow Almeida recovered to smash Pickett with a massive right hand. The pair finished the opening round trading bombs in an incredibly keenly fought contest.

The fight soon ended in the next round as Almeida dodged a flying knee attempt from Pickett and hit one of his own, as Pickett crashed to the mat, completely out of it. Another classic on what is unarguably the finest UFC and indeed MMA card of all time.

Edited by
Anirban Banerjee
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