Before UFC 229: A look at 7 of the biggest UFC shows of all time
UFC 229 goes down on Saturday and as we all know, the fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor has been pushed as the biggest fight in UFC history – meaning UFC 229 will be considered one of the biggest shows in company history too.
But will it go down as a classic once the hype is over and all we’re left with are the fights? Come Sunday we’ll find out. The UFC has put on plenty of shows considered their biggest before – some good and some bad. Here’s a look at 7 of them.
#1: UFC 40: Vendetta – 11/22/2002 – Las Vegas, Nevada
Why was it a big show?
Zuffa had purchased the UFC in late 2000, but despite their best efforts, by late 2002 MMA hadn’t broken into the mainstream and the promotion was struggling financially. So they turned to a bit of old-school pro-wrestling booking and brought in one of the biggest stars of the Wild West era of the UFC – Ken Shamrock – and matched him with bitter rival and UFC poster-boy Tito Ortiz with the Light-Heavyweight title on the line.
The buzz for the show was immediately bigger than anything the UFC had experienced since those early years, with both men appearing on various TV shows to build the fight. And the UFC stacked the undercard too, showcasing a Welterweight title fight between Matt Hughes and Gil Castillo, as well as three of the promotion’s most popular up-and-comers in Robbie Lawler, Carlos Newton and Chuck Liddell.
The show went above and beyond all expectations as none of the 8 fights – including the 3 prelims – went the distance and most of them finished in violent and entertaining fashion. In the main event, Ortiz destroyed Shamrock over three rounds, confirming his position as the top fighter of the new UFC generation.
It also drew well on pay-per-view for the time period – pulling in a 100k buyrate, more than double the previous show. Legendary referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy has credited the show with being the “turning point” for MMA in North America, and it’d be hard to disagree with him.
Success rating: *****