Top 10 Most Iconic UFC Moments: Unforgettable Highlights 1

In the world of mixed martial arts, where the moments are fleeting but their impact can echo through time, there exists a collection of memories that etch themselves into our collective consciousness. Welcome, dear readers, to the top 10 most iconic moments in UFC history, where we peel back the layers of time and rekindle the embers of greatness.

Before we unveil our top 10, let us tip our hats to the honorable mentions. We pay homage to these fighters who etched their names in the annals of UFC history, though their feats remain just outside our prestigious list:

  • Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald II: A crimson-soaked war of attrition that left onlookers breathless, as two men pushed the boundaries of human endurance.
  • Ronda Rousey’s UFC debut: The Rowdy one, shattering the glass ceiling with fists of fury, catapulted women’s MMA into the mainstream with her first Octagon appearance.
  • Daniel Cormier’s heavyweight championship win: Akin to David slaying Goliath, the everyman Cormier’s fist found Stipe Miocic’s jaw, cementing his status as a two-division titan.
  • Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson I: A titanic struggle, where the seemingly invincible Jones was pushed to his limits, leaving both fighters forever changed.
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement: With a perfect record and a heavy heart, the Eagle soared into the sunset, leaving behind a legacy of dominance and unparalleled grappling prowess.

And there are a bunch of recent UFC highlights that deserve consideration, as well, including Jon Jones’ successful heavyweight debut, Israel Adesanya exacting his revenge on Alex Pereira, Leon Edwards’ fifth-round knockout of Kamaru Usman, and many more.

But now, let’s move forward and continue with our list of the Top 10 Most Iconic UFC Moments.

#10 – Anderson Silva’s front kick KO

Anderon Silva's front kick KO against Vitor Belfort
With the audacity of a painter’s stroke, Anderson Silva’s foot met Vitor Belfort’s chin, forever etching one of the most iconic moments in UFC history. (Zuffa LLC)

The scene is set: UFC 126, where two titans of Brazilian MMA square off in the Octagon. Anderson Silva, the middleweight champion, known for his striking wizardry, faces Vitor Belfort, a man of comparable prowess. It was a high-stakes battle that had fans on the edge of their seats, but the end came suddenly, like a bolt of lightning from a clear sky.

Silva, ever the innovator, unleashed a front kick that seemed to defy the laws of physics, connecting flush with Belfort’s jaw. The impact reverberated through the arena as Belfort crumpled to the canvas, and the crowd gasped in disbelief. It was a moment that showcased Silva’s genius and precision, elevating him to the status of MMA legend. This electrifying knockout, emblematic of Silva’s creativity and skill, will forever remain etched in the memories of those who witnessed it.

Silva’s front kick knockout is one of the best finishes of all time (UFC)

As we venture further into the heart of our rankings, prepare yourself to relive iconic moments that have defined the sport and captivated audiences around the world. From shocking upsets to displays of sheer brilliance, we continue our journey through the best UFC moments and highlights that have left indelible marks on the annals of MMA history.

#9 – Matt Serra’s monumental upset

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The unassuming Serra cracked the GSP enigma, toppling the welterweight king and recording one of MMA’s greatest underdog stories (Zuffa LLC)

The annals of UFC history are replete with tales of underdogs overcoming insurmountable odds, and Matt Serra’s stunning upset of Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69 is no exception. St-Pierre, the welterweight champion, was a picture of excellence, a human synthesis of technique and athleticism. Serra, a scrappy veteran with a penchant for defying expectations, entered the cage as a significant underdog.

In an electrifying display of perseverance and heart, Serra capitalized on a momentary lapse in St-Pierre’s focus, unleashing a barrage of punches that overwhelmed the champion. With each thunderous strike, the collective disbelief of the MMA world grew, culminating in Serra being crowned the new welterweight king.

This Cinderella story remains one of the most unexpected and captivating upsets in UFC history, embodying the spirit of competition and the transformative power of a single moment.

#8 – Anderson Silva’s great escape

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Silva snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, securing a last-minute submission that left fans breathless (Zuffa LLC)

In the realm of iconic comebacks, few can rival Anderson Silva’s incredible submission victory over Chael Sonnen at UFC 117. For four and a half rounds, Sonnen dominated the middleweight champion, employing relentless wrestling and ground-and-pound to batter Silva. With each passing moment, the unthinkable became more plausible: the Spider, a legend of the sport, was on the verge of defeat.

Yet, in the waning moments of the final round, Silva, battered but unbroken, summoned the will to lock in a triangle armbar, forcing Sonnen to tap out in a jaw-dropping reversal of fortune.

The Spider’s improbable victory remains a shining example of the indomitable spirit that lies at the heart of mixed martial arts, and a testament to the notion that even in the darkest of hours, hope can still prevail.

As we journey further into the heart of the top 10 most iconic moments in UFC history, the moments grow more iconic, and the stories behind them more enthralling. Stay with us as we delve deeper into the best UFC highlights and the moments that have shaped the sport we know and love.

#7 – Khabib Nurmagomedov submits Conor McGregor

Top 10 Most Iconic UFC Moments: Unforgettable Highlights 4
In a clash of titans, the Eagle’s grappling prowess enveloped the Irish whirlwind, forcing McGregor to yield (Zuffa LLC)

The culmination of months of animosity, UFC 229 was a volcanic eruption of passion and enmity. Khabib Nurmagomedov, the undefeated Dagestani phenom, locked horns with the prodigious Irishman, Conor McGregor. The energy in the air was electric, the tension palpable.

As the fight progressed, Khabib’s grappling prowess stifled McGregor’s striking, eventually leading to a fourth-round submission victory.

In the chaos that followed, a post-fight brawl erupted, casting a shadow over an already contentious event. This moment transcended the confines of the Octagon, as the feud between the two camps left an indelible mark on the sport’s history.

#6 – Holly Holm’s head kick heard ’round the world

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Defying the odds and shattering the myth of invincibility, Holm’s foot met Rousey’s head in a ballet of destruction (Zuffa LLC)

In the realm of the best UFC moments, few can match the seismic shockwaves that emanated from UFC 193, when Holly Holm dethroned the seemingly invincible Ronda Rousey. Rousey, an Olympic judoka turned armbar queen, had built a legacy of dominance that captured the hearts and minds of fans worldwide. Her aura of invincibility was palpable, and many considered Holm’s chances of victory to be a mere pipe dream.

Yet, on that fateful night in Melbourne, the dream became a reality as Holm’s striking prowess and strategic mastery unveiled the cracks in Rousey’s armor. In the second round, Holm connected with a perfectly timed head kick that sent Rousey crashing to the canvas, marking the end of an era.

Holm’s knockout is not just one of the most iconic UFC moments, but also one of the very best upsets in MMA history, too (UFC)

The shocking upset not only signaled the arrival of Holm as a force to be reckoned with but reminded us of the ever-present element of uncertainty that makes MMA so enthralling.

#5 – Nate Diaz’s improbable triumph

Nate Diaz submits Conor McGregor
Diaz de-rails the McGregor hype train at UFC 196 (Zuffa LLC)

The unpredictable nature of the fight game is exemplified by the unforgettable moment when Nate Diaz, the perennial underdog, submitted Conor McGregor at UFC 196. The brash Irishman, already a featherweight champion, sought to conquer the lightweight division. However, Diaz, a late replacement, stood as an obstacle to McGregor’s unyielding ambition.

The battle was fierce, as McGregor landed heavy shots, but Diaz’s resilience saw him endure the onslaught. As the second round unfolded, Diaz’s boxing began to overwhelm McGregor, and in a moment of sheer vulnerability, the Notorious succumbed to a rear-naked choke.

Diaz’s triumphant submission exposed the first chink in McGregor’s armor, and in doing so, etched his name into the annals of UFC history.

#4 – Royce Gracie puts Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on the map

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Royce Gracie in action during UFC 1 on November 12, 1993 (Getty Images)

A seminal event in the history of mixed martial arts, UFC 1 was a spectacle designed to answer one question: which martial art would reign supreme? Royce Gracie, a slender Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, stepped into the Octagon, unfazed by the hulking figures that awaited him. His performance would forever change the landscape of combat sports.

Gracie navigated through the tournament with an air of quiet confidence, demonstrating the power of technique and leverage against physically imposing adversaries. By submitting all three of his opponents, Gracie not only claimed victory but introduced the world to the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This watershed moment in UFC history laid the foundation for the sport we celebrate today.

As we reach the pinnacle of our top 10 most iconic moments in UFC history, the atmosphere intensifies. These moments have not only left an indelible mark on the sport but have captivated the hearts of fans around the world. Stay tuned as we continue to explore the best UFC highlights that define the essence of mixed martial arts.

#3 – Conor McGregor’s 13-second masterpiece

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In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, McGregor’s left hand met Jose Aldo’s jaw, toppling a king and crowning a new era (Zuffa LLC)

Amidst the tapestry of iconic moments in UFC history, Conor McGregor’s 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo at UFC 194 stands as a testament to the power of belief and the art of mental warfare. Aldo, the long-reigning featherweight champion, had ruled his division with an iron fist, leaving a trail of defeated challengers in his wake. McGregor, the brash Irishman with a penchant for verbal jousting, vowed to dethrone the king and claim the crown for himself.

As the cage door closed, anticipation hung heavy in the air. But before the dust could even settle, McGregor delivered a lightning-fast left hand, sending Aldo crashing to the canvas and sealing his fate as the new featherweight champion.

This stunning victory, immortalized in the annals of UFC lore, showcased the meteoric rise of McGregor and the beginning of a new era in the sport.

#2 – Conor McGregor becomes the first simultaneous two-division champion

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Top 10 Most Iconic UFC Moments: Unforgettable Highlights 12

In an unprecedented feat, Conor McGregor cemented his place among the legends of the sport by capturing the lightweight title while still reigning as featherweight champion. At UFC 205, McGregor faced Eddie Alvarez, a battle-tested veteran with an iron will.

With surgical precision, McGregor dismantled Alvarez, securing a second-round TKO and achieving the unthinkable. In the storied annals of the UFC, no one had held two belts simultaneously, making this moment an iconic testament to McGregor’s extraordinary ambition and skill.

Conor McGregor’s UFC 205 post-fight interview is etched into the minds of mixed martial arts fans around the world (UFC)

As we conclude our exploration of the best UFC moments, we’ve traversed the emotional spectrum, from heart-pounding thrills to the devastating lows of defeat. The final moment encapsulates the essence of mixed martial arts, an ode to the indomitable human spirit that drives these athletes to push beyond the limits of their bodies and minds.

#1 – Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar’s war that saved the UFC

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Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar trade punches during the live Ultimate Fighter Season Finale on April 9, 2005 (Getty Images)

In a moment that encapsulates the raw emotion and relentless determination of the human spirit, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar went toe-to-toe in a battle for the ages at the inaugural Ultimate Fighter Finale. Their contest wasn’t just a fight; it was a visceral symphony of heart, skill, and tenacity that captured the imagination of millions.

As the two men traded blows and bloodied each other’s faces, their courage became a testament to the very essence of mixed martial arts. Their relentless pursuit of victory, even in the face of exhaustion, inspired a new generation of fans and future fighters.

It’s no hyperbole to say that Griffin and Bonnar’s epic clash was a pivotal turning point for the sport. Their slugfest demonstrated the enthralling drama and competitive spirit that defines the best UFC moments, elevating the organization to new heights and securing its place in the mainstream consciousness.

In this article, we’ve ventured through the annals of UFC history, unveiling the greatest UFC moments and highlights that have left an indelible mark on the sport. The stories of these athletes, their grit, and their determination serve as a reminder that, in the heat of battle, there is an undeniable beauty in the struggle.

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