The Top 9 Greatest UFC Upsets
In a sport that prides itself on extreme unpredictability, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise when an underdog unseats a great champion, but somehow fighters have continued to shock and inspire us with unlikely wins since the very first tournament at UFC 1. Let's take a look back and honor them by counting down the greatest of all time.
9. Frank Mir vs. Antonia Rodrigo Nogueira
It was the unstoppable man vs. the questionable comeback. Frank Mir had traveled a long and bumpy road to get where he was and he was facing one of the most war-torn veterans in mixed martial arts. Both are among the world's best Jiu-Jitsu black belts and, in 36 fights, Nogueira had never been knocked out. This was a fight that should have been settled on the mat, but Frank Mir was out to prove that he was more than a wasted talent with a useless black belt. He had no intension of taking this fight to the mat and simply overwhelmed Nogueira on the feet. He was faster, cleaner, and just better than "Minotauro" that night, handing out the legend's very first KO for a truly amazing upset.
8. Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia
You can pretty much look at Couture's entire career as a long series of upsets. From his very beginnings as an unknown wrestler, Couture was billed as an underdog and, no matter how many times he fooled the onlookers, we never learned. Luckily for him, he seems to thrive on the pressure. So many times he was counted out: "He's too old," they said. "He's too small" -- such a stubborn group, they were.
Couture was coming back after a year layoff as a 43-year old man to take on the younger, taller, trickier Tim Sylvia. The fight didn't even make sense to most. We thought he'd need help climbing the steps to the Octagon and people were just hoping he could escape the cage without getting killed, but Couture had other plans. He was there to fight and he grinded out a decisive five-round victory. He was always a fan favorite but that night he set in stone his legacy as one of the greatest and most inspiring champions the UFC would ever see.
7. Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock
This fight may not fit all your traditional definitions of a great upset since no one in the States had ever heard of, well, anyone when the UFC debuted in 1993, but when the gangly Gracie locked himself inside the cage with a hulking Shamrock, it seemed just as lopsided a match-up as there ever was. Of course, the truth couldn't be farther away. It only took Gracie 57 seconds to submit the God-like creature. As history tells it, Gracie would go on to submit Gerard Gordeau and thus winning the first-ever UFC Tournament.
But more importantly, if it wasn't for Gracie's ferocious submissions that day there's a good chance the UFC would have never taken off the way it did. The project would have turned a few heads, but ultimately fizzled out after creator Bob Meyrowitz and his partners burned through enough dough. For that reason, this fight will live as one of the greatest -- and most important -- upsets the UFC has ever seen.
6. Jens Pulver vs. Joe Lauzon
Perhaps a more fitting title would have been Jens Pulver vs. Who? One of the pioneers and first true legends, Pulver was making his long-awaited return to the Octagon against an unknown scrapper from Boston. It was supposed to a warm-up match to get Pulver ready for his run at the title, but Joe Lauzon is no man's punk and wasn't ready to fall back into the shadows. Lauzon took pure anger into the cage with him that night and it was enough to shock the cocky favorite. It took only one round for Lauzon to finish off Pulver with a brutal KO and with it, warned all the UFC's lightweights to remember his name.