The 10 best UFC on FOX fights, ranked

With the UFC currently churning out cards across multiple platforms such as ESPN, ESPN+ and ABC, it can be easy to forget about the promotion’s history on previous networks that helped launch the world’s MMA leader into the juggernaut that it is today.

Initially reaching a broadcast deal with FOX Sports in August of 2011, the UFC went on to air live fight in primetime from November of that year until December of 2018. This also included additional UFC Fight Nights and broadcast content for FOX’s various cable properties, which included FOX Sports 1, FX and FUEL TV.

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Not only would this agreement lead to the UFC’s first televised events on network television in the U.S., but it also sparked a more “corporate era” of the company in regard to the uptick of its show schedule and more mainstream marketing tactics that quietly contributed to its capability to make a multibillion-dollar sale to WME-IMG in 2016.

During this time, the UFC obviously looked to its top talent to fill these cards, even leaning on underappreciated and/or underpaid fighters such as Demetrious Johnson and Nate Diaz (whom the promotion traditionally butted heads with at the negotiating table).

This post pays homage to some of the UFC fighters who made the FOX era an incredibly fun follow-up to the organization’s “Golden Era.” Note: It would be too difficult of a list if I included Fight Nights from FS1, so this list will strictly be focused on the fights that aired on the big FOX network.

Without further ado, here are my top 10 fights that aired on FOX …


Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Lyman Good at UFC on FOX 25 (July 22, 2017)

Despite this fight between Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and Lyman Good taking place on the prelims, UFC on FOX 25 was a card that aired the final four prelims on FOX’s main network, qualifying it for this list.

But what really qualifies it, however, is the fact that this battle between dos Santos and Good was an incredibly violent and fun affair for a fight that went the distance.

Dos Santos, a hardcore fan favorite who was criminally buried on undercards, found himself in a grueling firefight with another underrated talent in Good (who definitely looks the part of a puncher).


Both men shoed flashes of their ground game in an attempt to get the jump on the other, but it’s the back-and-forth striking dynamics on the feet that earned this fight “the hipster spot” on my list.

Anthony Pettis vs. Charles Oliveira at UFC on FOX 21 (Aug. 27, 2016)

Mauricio Rua vs. Brandon Vera at UFC on FOX 4 (Aug. 4, 2012)

Max Holloway vs. Cub Swanson at UFC on FOX 15 (April 18, 2015)

Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein at UFC on FOX 7 (April 20, 2013)

Alan Belcher vs. Rousimar Palhares at UFC on FOX 3 (May 5, 2012)

Despite this fight only being a one-round affair, I have a major soft spot for Alan Belcher’s upset over Rousimar Palhares back at UFC on FOX 3.


If you look at the history of UFC offerings on big FOX, things didn’t really start cooking until the third show, which was the promotion’s first four-fight main card headlined by lightweight stalwarts Nate Diaz and Jim Miller. That said, Belcher and Palhares arguably stole the show that night.

Belcher, who shared some similar parallels with one Darren Till, was a fighter who had all the potential talent in the world but struggled to string together consistency. However, after overcoming a detached retina and a controversial split decision loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100, Belcher found himself on another three-fight winning streak as he approached his scariest test to date.

Palhares, at this point, already had a reputation for bad behavior in regard to hooking submissions and was riding his own three-fight streak heading into this meeting. The Brazilian was able to quickly get things to the ground via a snatch single leg, but Belcher immediately reversed Palhares a la “the truck” position (which, of course, led to Joe Rogan going crazy on commentary).

Even though Palhares was able to get free and search for his patent leg locks, Belcher demonstrated excellent defensive fundamentals when it came to weight distribution and leverage en route to scoring a ground-and-pound stoppage. This was Belcher’s last win under the UFC banner.


Jose Aldo vs. Jeremy Stephens at UFC on FOX 30 (July 28, 2018)

Andre Pederneiras and Jose Aldo
Andre Pederneiras and Jose Aldo

Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson 1 at UFC on FOX 6 (Jan. 26, 2013)

In what was one of four headline appearances on FOX, Demetrious Johnson’s first meeting with John Dodson is probably my favorite title defense from the pound-for-pound great’s catalog.

Dodson, who was the first person to meaningfully contend with Johnson in the speed department, was basically the flyweight version of Chuck Liddell given his devastating counterpunching and getup ability.

Dodson was able to catch Johnson on multiple occasions throughout the first two rounds, but “Mighty Mouse” and his team made some smart adjustments down the stretch by incorporating some beautiful clinch warfare.

Not only did you get the first glimpses of Johnson’s vaunted clinch game, but this is arguably the first fight where D.J. begins to put it all together.


Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner at UFC on FOX 4 (Aug. 4, 2012)

Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje at UFC on FOX 29 (April 14, 2018)

Coming in at No. 1 is an unforgettable fight between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.

As I’ve said many times before, this era of lightweight matchups that involved fighters like Poirier and Gaethje arguably made for the strongest parallels that MMA can provide in regard to the “Four Kings”/boxing’s middleweight division in the early 1980s.

This classic took place in Gaethje’s home state of Arizona and had all the hallmarks of a fight involving “The Highlight.”

Akin to his previous outing opposite another violence king in Eddie Alvarez, Gaethje’s fights from this era often resemble two race cars that are struggling to stay intact before hitting the finish line – and this was no different. Poirier struggled to stay standing due to Gaethje’s relentless leg assaults, but still managed to make reads and adjustments down the stretch.

Even though I can always fall back on subjectivity and personal bias for my reasoning, I feel pretty good about this battle being in the top spot.

*Honorable mentions: Edson Barboza vs. Dan Hooker at UFC on FOX 31; Robert Whittaker vs. Ronaldo Souza at UFC on FOX 24

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie