NO. 1 -- UFC 52
SPORT’S TOP STARS FILL MEGACARD
April 16, 2005, MGM Grand Garden, Las Vegas
The star-studded main event ended when Chuck Liddell avenged a prior defeat and knocked out Randy Couture just 2 minutes, 6 seconds into the rematch to take the light heavyweight championship for the first time. Frank Trigg took advantage of a low blow to welterweight champion Matt Hughes that the referee missed to sink in a choke on the weakened champion. But Hughes displayed his mental toughness by rebounding to slam Trigg into the mat in a highlight that is still part of almost every video the UFC puts together. The card still wasn’t complete, as a bloody battle between Georges St. Pierre and Jason “Mayhem” Miller also took place, with St. Pierre earning the decision.
NO. 2 -- UFC 22
SHAMROCK-ORTIZ CARD NETS BIG RATING
Sept. 24, 1999, Lake Charles Civic Center, Lake Charles, La.
The battle between Frank Shamrock and Tito Ortiz was one of the best fights in the history of mixed martial arts. Each fighter flashed moments of brilliance, but in the end, Shamrock pounded out the victory and retained his middleweight title when Ortiz submitted due to strikes late in the fourth round. It would be the end of Shamrock’s reign, however, as he announced he was leaving the UFC. He never returned. Also, Chuck Liddell got a first-round stoppage of Paul Jones, and Matt Hughes made his first appearance in the UFC, a unanimous decision win over Valeri Ignatov.
My personal favorites are more recent. I'm basing it on the experience in the arena during the 60 UFC events that I've covered.
UFC 68 in Columbus is hard to beat. The crowd of 19,000-plus set a record and the main event upset featuring Randy Couture over Tim Sylvia was unbelievable. Jason Lambert also shocked Babalu and Matt Hughes returned to toy with Chris Lytle. Rich Franklin also made his comeback by manhandling Jason MacDonald.
UFC 83 is also high on my list. That was possibly the most energtic and loud crowd to ever watch a UFC event. It also featured the bizarre Kalib Starnes-Nate Quarry fight. The crowd noise for Jason Day over Alan Belcher and Jason MacDonald over Joe Doerksen was awesome. But nothing matches the emotion of the crowd before, during and after Georges St. Pierre bullied Matt Serra. I'll always remember the banner draped over the front row of the upper deck featuring a tombstone -- "RIP Matt Serra." It was also the night referee Dan Miragliotta turned security guard (pictured). Some jackass rushed down the aisle towards the cage and was tackled by the 6-foot-4, 296 pound Miragliotta, who slapped on a rear-naked choke.
Cage Potato tabbed UFC 52 as its second choice and UFC 92 at No. 1.
- Matt Hughes
- Chuck Liddell
- Frank Shamrock