By almost any measure, the UFC's card in Ireland on Saturday was a smashing success: The fights, top to bottom, were largely excellent. The atmosphere in the arena was incredible. There was drama, as a star seemed to be born.
Anyone who had something bad to say about the show at the O2 Arena in Dublin was simply looking for something to complain about.
When considering atmosphere and quality of card, it was right at the top.
Here is my list of the 10 greatest UFC shows considering crowd, quality and significance of fights, and atmosphere in the arena:
10. UFC 66, Dec. 30, 2006, MGM Grand Garden, Las Vegas -- The main event of this show featured the rematch between light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell against former champion Tito Ortiz. The build-up to the fight was intense and the atmosphere inside was charged. When Liddell walked to the cage, it was almost as though the walls shook. On the undercard, Keith Jardine scored a massive upset by knocking out the beloved fan favorite Forrest Griffin.
9. UFC 60, May 27, 2006, Staples Center, Los Angeles -- Matt Hughes, the reigning welterweight champion, faced the legendary Royce Gracie in the main event in a catchweight bout. It was a battle of then versus now and showed the progress the sport had made in a short period of time, as Hughes easily handled Gracie. The crowd was passionate and gave both main event fighters a great reception.
8. UFC 51, Feb. 5, 2005, Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas -- There were three of the company's five titles at the time on this card, with Ortiz defending his belt against Vitor Belfort in the main event. Andrei Arlovski submitted Tim Sylvia to win the heavyweight title and Evan Tanner knocked out Dave Terrell to claim the middleweight title. With so many of the company's biggest stars on the bill, the arena was jammed and the fans were highly enthusiastic.
7. UFC 40, Nov. 22, 2002, MGM Grand Garden, Las Vegas -- This show was the first major success of the Zuffa Era, which began in 2001. The main event featured a light heavyweight title fight between Ortiz and Ken Shamrock, the long-time UFC and Pride fighter who was coming off of a stint in the WWE. The co-main event featured a No. 1 contender's match between Liddell and Babalu and the third bout was a welterweight title match between Hughes and Gil Castillo. It brought in a mix of MMA and pro wrestling fans, who were there to see Shamrock, and it was an electrifying scene.
Paul Taylor in an outstanding match. The fights were good and the crowd loved the show.6. UFC 75, Sept. 8, 2007, O2 Arena, London -- A large, energetic crowd in excess of 16,000 turned to watch a UFC-Pride title unification bout between UFC champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Pride champion Dan Henderson. Michael Bisping scored a heated decision over Matt "The Hammer" Hamill in the co-main and Marcus Davis submitted
5. UFC 157, Feb. 23, 2013, Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif. -- On this night, the Honda Center turned into the Ronda Center, as a large, boisterous crowd of 13,257 turned out to see women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey defend her belt against Liz Carmouche. It was the first women's fight in UFC history and the buildup was intense. Rousey received an incredible ovation as she stepped into the cage.
4. UFC 83, April 19, 2008, Bell Centre, Montreal -- A crowd of 21,390 showed up to see hometown hero Georges St-Pierre get revenge and reclaim the welterweight title from Matt Serra. The card turned St-Pierre into the company's biggest star at that stage and he was received like it was his hometown.
3. UFC 129, April 30, 2011, Rogers Centre, Toronto -- The UFC's first stadium show was a massive, runaway success. A crowd of 55,724 turned out to see St-Pierre defend his belt against Jake Shields. The card also included a featherweight title match between Jose Aldo and Mark Hominick, which had a dramatic finish as Hominick rallied in the third to nearly defeat Aldo. The show also marked Randy Couture's final appearance in the cage, as he was knocked out by Lyoto Machida.
2. UFC 100, July 11, 2009, Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas -- The show was a celebration of the sport and included two title fights. Brock Lesnar retained the heavyweight title in the main event with a dominant win over Frank Mir. St-Pierre topped Thiago Alves in the co-main and Henderson knocked out Bisping with one of the most devastating shots ever in a bout on the main card. The fans seemed to sense the significance of the event and were fully engaged throughout.
1. UFC Fight Night 46, July 19, 2014, O2 Arena, Dublin, Ireland -- All 9,500 tickets sold out within three minutes, a tribute to the popularity of McGregor, a hometown boy who routed Diego Brandao in the main event. No arena was ever louder or more passionate. UFC president Dana White said the decibel level hit 103 at one point, while a rock concert is about 110. But it was a constant din as the fans rarely quieted down.
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