The UFC is without a doubt one of the world's greatest combat sports organizations today. The very best fighters from all over the globe put their skills to test inside the promotion's famed Octagon, doing battle with one another in a bid to prove their dominance in the realm of Mixed Martial Arts.
Considering the high stakes in a UFC fight, it's no surprise that the margin for error in the sport if extremely low. Resultantly, even a minor error could lead to a fighter falling victim to a brutal KO or submission -- losing the fight, as well as their career momentum as a whole.
Today, we take a look at some of the biggest mistakes made in UFC Championship fights. These mistakes often happened to be the turning point of the matchup, following which, the other fighter capitalized and went on to dominate the fight from there onward.
So, without further ado, here are the 5 biggest mistakes made in UFC title fights...
#5 Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier 2
Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier's first encounter came at UFC 182, in a matchup that saw both fighters put forth brilliant technical performances over the course of the 5-round bout, with Jones eventually walking away the victor by way of Unanimous Decision. However, in their rematch which took place at UFC 214, Jones ended up annihilating Cormier in the 3rd round of their matchup.
Intriguingly, Jones often noted that Cormier has a bad habit of ducking sideways so as to avoid his opponents' strikes. Now, while the latter's bobbing-and-weaving striking defense may be useful to dodge punches, it does leave 'DC' more susceptible to kicks (especially roundhouse kicks!).
At UFC 214, after getting briefly out-boxed by Cormier in the first couple of rounds, Jones made sure that he kept landing roundhouse kicks on his foe's body nonetheless. In Round 3, Jones feigned a body kick and instead went for a roundhouse left head-kick -- with Cormier ducking right into the strike, thereby effectively doubling its impact.
Cormier was visibly stunned, as Jones went on to take him down, and rain down a few thunderous punches and elbows, before the fight was called off by the referee. Jones was declared the winner by way of KO, however, the fight's result was later overturned to a No-Contest after it was revealed that Jones had tested positive for banned PEDs in relation to the UFC 214 fight.
Nevertheless, the drama that ensued the fight didn't change the fact that the excessive sideways ducking, ultimately proved to be the biggest mistake Cormier made in his fight with Jones.
#4 Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos 2 and 3
Dos Santos entered UFC 155 as the UFC Heavyweight Champion, however, the biggest error he made in the fight turned out to be the fact that instead of circling out of harm's way, JDS would move back in straight lines upon being pressured by Velasquez's strikes. That, in turn, opened up opportunities for takedowns, as the latter repeatedly took Dos Santos to the mat and wore him out.
Velasquez beat JDS from pillar to post, and ended up winning a Unanimous Decision, thereby recapturing the UFC Heavyweight Championship which he'd lost to JDS back in 2011. Furthermore, their trilogy fight took place at UFC 166 in 2013, and went much like their second fight -- except this time around Velasquez managed to stop JDS by way of TKO in Round 5.
Dos Santos' mistake of moving back in straight lines, and abandoning the disciplined footwork he showed early in his career, cost him dearly in his 2nd and 3rd fights against Velasquez.
#3 Luke Rockhold vs. Chris Weidman
Then-undefeated UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman put his title on the line against top contender Luke Rockhold at UFC 194. The fight between the duo seemed pretty even up until the 3rd round, when Weidman threw a telegraphed spinning heel kick at Rockhold.
Before the slow kick could even get to its target -- which, in this case, was likely Rockhold's head -- the latter closed the distance and grabbed Weidman. Rockhold spun and intelligently utilized his own body-weight to drag his foe to the mat, and proceeded to secure the mount position from there onward.
Rockhold spent the remainder of Round 3 raining down a terrifying barrage of punches, elbows and hammer-fists on Weidman from the mount position. The buzzer signaled the end of the round, after which a bloody and battered Weidman somehow made it back to his corner.
Weidman deserves all the credit in the world for bravely coming out for the 4th round, as Rockhold subsequently took him down again, and rained down more ground-and-pound -- securing a TKO finish, in order to win the UFC Middleweight Championship. The aforementioned ill-advised spinning heel kick turned out to be Weidman's biggest error in a fight that was quite even until that moment in Round 3.
#2 Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey
Then-undefeated UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey faced former professional boxing world titlist Holly Holm at UFC 193 in 2015. Most experts predicted Rousey to take Holm down and arm-bar the latter into submission in the very first round.
Needless to say, they were dead wrong! Rousey kept charging at her foe in straight lines and made absolutely no efforts to establish angles and range before trying to engage in a striking battle with Holm. The latter, on her part, fought brilliantly and kept tagging Rousey with a number of beautiful, crisp, counter punches.
Round 2 featured much of the same, as Holm eventually started sitting down on her punches and truly started whipping Rousey's head back with each successive counter punch. A softened up Rousey ended up eating Holm's left leg roundhouse head-kick, and a few follow-up punches, before Holm was declared the winner by way of KO.
Rousey's poor footwork and overzealous pursuit of Holm in straight lines of attack proved to be a huge strategic error in her UFC 193 bout against the latter.
#1 Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo
Then-Interim UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor faced Undisputed UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo at UFC 194 back in 2015. The build-up to the fight featured McGregor talking a considerable amount of trash against Aldo, whilst the latter had remained relatively stoic for the most part.
When the duo finally faced off inside the Octagon at UFC 194, it only took McGregor 13 seconds to knock the legendary Aldo out cold. While they say that hindsight is 20/20 -- in the aftermath of the fight, most experts noted that McGregor's mind-games played a huge role in his easy win against Aldo.
After all, it was one of the rare occasions when Aldo completely abandoned his footwork, and instead, literally charged towards his foe in a straight line -- only to get countered with a huge pull-back left hand by McGregor. The latter then landed a picture-perfect hammer-fist on Aldo, who was already out before his body hit the mat.
McGregor had beaten Aldo by way of KO and was the new UFC Featherweight Champion. Needless to say, Aldo's poor choice of footwork in the aforementioned fight, has now gone down in MMA lore as one of the biggest mistakes in a UFC Championship fight.
Which mistakes do you think were the costliest in UFC title fights? Sound off in the comments!