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Before UFC 229: A look at 7 of the biggest UFC shows of all time

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
05 Oct 2018, 01:54 IST

#2: UFC 52: Couture vs. Liddell II – 04/16/2005 – Las Vegas, Nevada

Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture main evented the first show following the 'TUF boom'
Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture main evented the first show following the 'TUF boom'

Why was it a big show?

Despite the success of UFC 40, the UFC continued to struggle for mainstream acceptance in the years that followed. But in 2005, they managed to land a television deal with Spike TV, and the first series of The Ultimate Fighter followed. The show was a massive success and brought a whole new fanbase to the promotion, and the Finale card – which featured the classic fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar – only cemented the UFC as the hot new thing.

UFC 52 followed a week later and was main evented by the coaches of the inaugural TUF season, Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell, fighting for Couture’s Light-Heavyweight title. Despite the lack of a bitter rivalry between the two, TUF had effectively made them the biggest stars in the promotion. The undercard was strong too, with a Welterweight title fight between Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg the main highlight, as well as early appearances from future stars like Georges St-Pierre and Patrick Cote.

What happened?

The show turned out to be an all-time great for the UFC as the fighters took the opportunity they were given – the show set a new buyrate record of 280k – and basically every fight delivered in spades. Hughes vs. Trigg was an instant classic, featuring a remarkable comeback from Hughes to retain his title, and in 2015 it became the second fight to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. St-Pierre vs. Jason Miller and Cote vs. Joe Doerksen were also amongst the best fights of 2005.

The main event ended quickly as Liddell knocked Couture unconscious with a right-hand midway through the first round to claim the Light-Heavyweight title, and from there he became the UFC’s most bankable star, basically supplanting his friend-turned-rival Tito Ortiz. With so many new eyeballs on the product, the UFC needed to knock this one out of the park and they did so in style.

Success rating: *****

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