Every bout has an underdog. The margins between the two competitors are usually narrow enough to ignore. However, there are some instances when the two fighters that walk into the Octagon are mismatched either in the eyes of fans or bookmakers or both. In such cases, when the world expects the favourite to walk away with an easy win, very few rise to the occasion.
Anyone who has followed the UFC is usually treated to a tonne of upsets but there are few that seemed an impossibility before the fight, owing to various reasons, making the underdog’s victory all the more impressive. Here are the 5 most unbelievable upsets in the UFC.
#5 Chris Weidman vs Anderson Silva 1 (UFC 162)
Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva is a sure future entrant into the hall of fame. The Brazillian who dominated any MMA promotion he graced with his presence, was on the longest title streak in UFC history of 10 consecutive title defences and 16 straight wins when he was set to face Chris Weidman back in 2013.
The then middleweight champion was expected to leave the arena with the belt in his hand for the eleventh consecutive time and young Weidman seemed like a mismatch even though the American was on a roll of his own.
The Spider began the fight with his usual skilled nonchalance. Despite being taken down by Weidman, Silva dealt with the early pressure, controlling the fight as it went to the ground and dominating subsequently on the feet. The Brazilian even taunted the American by calling him toward the fence and slipping most of Weidman’s barrage of combinations.
Everything seemed to be going as planned for the veteran even in the second, as he continued to mess with the wrestler, taunting him to keep throwing and even pretending to be dazed. That was when Weidman caught on to Silva’s pattern and threw a perfectly timed right which he set up with a 1-2 followed by a lazy back hand. The right that connected sent SIlva crashing to the mat as Wiedman swarmed with ground and pound to claim the UFC Middleweight championship.
#4 Renan Barão vs T J Dillashaw 1 (UFC 173)
Every betting organisation saw T J Dillashaw as the underdog going into this 2014 title fight. The American mixed martial artist wasn’t even supposed to fight for the title originally leading up to the event.
However, after his initial opponent, Takeya Mizugaki, dropped out of the fight, Dillashaw was moved up the card to face the then Brazillian champion, Renan Barao who had already defended his title thrice and was in the top 5 pound-for-pound list at the time.
So it's really no surprise that the warriors walked into the Octagon with the MMA world expecting a retention.
Dillashaw began the fight cautiously, bouncing around the champion with incredible footwork and analysing his patterns. The American’s camp back then, American Alpha, and T J's coach Duane Ludwig had one clear-cut strategy to test the Brazillian’s cardio, which they presumed was affected because of Barao’s intense weight cut.
Constantly shifting stances and feinting, got Dillashaw in range through the entirety of the bout and set-up the first big knockdown of the fight. As the American backed away with his hands down, he timed a huge right with Barao’s entry into range knocking him to the canvas.
He nearly finished the fight but Barao held on to fight another round after Dillashaw attempted a choke that didn’t take.
Barao seemed more like himself in the second as T J faded a bit only to come on strong in the third and fourth as planned to take advantage of the champ’s fading cardio. He almost finished it again at the of the third with a head kick but there wasn’t time left in the round to do so.
The head kick, however, found Barao’s neck eventually in the fifth round as the American used his angles and unpredictability to confuse the champ. Dillashaw wasted no time as he rained down fists, followed by ground and pound as the whole world watched in shock.
The fact that the bout wasn't even supposed to happen in the first place just adds to the upset factor in this first fight between the two.
#3 Ronda Rousey vs Holly Holm (UFC 193)
Ever since she made her Strikeforce debut in 2011, ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey was seemingly unstoppable. As every dominant performance followed the other, Rousey became more invincible.
A crushing victory over Bethe Correia added to the hype that Rousey floated on as she entered the cage at UFC 193. Rousey was pretty aggressive during the weigh-ins and remained stone-faced as she began the fight, while her opponent and the underdog challenger Holly Holm seemed calm.
As soon as the fight began, however, it was Holm who unleashed her fury, immediately dictating the pace with scrupulous footwork and bating the Champion using her reach advantage. Rousey looked out of her element as Holly Holm forced her to chase the former boxer and kickboxer, thereby leaving the ‘Rowdy’ champion’s chin exposed.
It was this strategy that finally caught Rousey out. After a first round that saw Holly Hold dominate, Rousey lunged in the south-paw threw a left that dropped the champion and then completed it with a stunning leg kick and ground and pound to win the belt and leave the MMA world with it mouth open.
#2 Luke Rockhold vs Micheal Bisping 2 (UFC 199)
The main event of UFC 199 was originally a rematch between the then Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman. But after Weidman was ruled outfollowing an injury, his replacement Micheal Bisping stepped up for the championship fight with ten days notice. Rockhold was victorious in their previous encounter and few believed that the outcome would change in the second bout.
Bisping had many chances to taste gold prior to this one but always fell short during the fight for number one contender. This was his first shot at the title and no one, besides Bisping, gave the Count a shot in the fight. Rockhold was on the back of a victory over Weidman and looked unstoppable with a storm of question mark kicks and unorthodox angles.
The Englishman, however, paid no attention to the hype following Rockhold and was confident as ever before the fight began. Rockhold walked in with understandable confidence and had an air of surety all around him. The champion began the fight with his hands down and tagged the Count with ease, while Bisping chose to sit back and counter.
Bisping continued to feint and push until he saw his opening. The opening came when Rockhold, who kept his hands down throughout the fight, missed with a jab to the body that Bisping countered with a quick right hook to the body followed by a left hook to the temple that left the Champion dazed.
The challenger smelt blood and won the title by smacking Rockhold with another left hook and a barrage of fists as he fell onto the cage. The fight is considered the biggest upset of the year and is a true testament to Bisping’s fight IQ.
#1 George St-Pierre vs Matt Serra 1 (UFC 69)
Touted as the greatest upset in the history of the UFC, this main event tussle for the UFC welterweight title was a story right off a fantasy series. The challenger Matt Serra, who had a sever height and reach disadvantage, seemingly stood no chance against the machine that was and arguably still is George ‘Rush” St-Pierre. At a time when GSP just beat veteran Matt Hughes, the Olympian was the clear favourite.
The more-athletic GSP dictated the momentum early on in this surprisingly short fight as Serra relied on his boxing to slip the super-sonic combinations that whizzed past him, occasionally looking for the counter himself.
It was a simple body-face combination that unravelled Rush finally as Serra slipped to plant the combo sending the Canadian spinning. Serra rushed after the wobbling GSP landing at every opportunity he got before GSP scrambled for a takedown.
The attempt was easily thwarted by the BJJ black belt Serra who went on to fire a big right and completed the upset with the traditional ground and pound before being declared the new champion.
GSP admits to this day that he should have put more into the fight and claims that he wasn’t ‘ready for it’ as he made his way to the Octagon. Regardless, this fight stands out as the biggest upset in the UFC to date.
Which is your favourite upset in the UFC? Say your piece in the comments section below.
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