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Three Fights to Welcome You to MMA

Credit to UFC, WME, Endeavor, Zuffa

If you're a new fan, a returning fan, or just looking to catch up on great fights you might have missed over the past few years I'm here to help you out today. In this article I will look at three different MMA fights from the UFC and why I believe they are must watch fights for any fan of the sport. This will be a continuous saga I hope to add to over the course of time as it's hard to just pick three great fights in the history of the UFC. My criteria is relatively loose and this is in no particular order today but overall I'm looking for skill level showcased, atmosphere and ambience or as the kids say now a days, the vibes, the buildup, the consequences at stake, etc. Overall this will give you a solid foundation to build upon as you continue to enjoy and grow in your combat sports fandom. If you're brand new welcome! If you're returning welcome back! Now let's get started.

1. Rory Macdonald VS: Robbie Lawler 2

I know I said this list is in no particular order but it feels like this is a great number one to open with. This is the fight that ignited my combat sports passion and resulted in the obsession I have today. The stakes were extremely high, Rory was the young contender making waves in the UFC, touted as the next generation ready to claim the throne. He was the beginning of the wave of young contenders who had exclusively focused on martial arts and mixing those arts specifically for high level competition in the UFC. Before him many competitors and their training methods were still in infancy, much like the sport itself. Training was wrestling specific, striking was specific in that you either did boxing or Muay Thai etc. There wasn't yet a consistent and applied focus on all the arts combined into one in an organized system. Rory was training in this way since a teen and many pundits thought Robbie was a product of the old generation and their habits. Rory was on a UFC tear, making his debut in 2010 by their second meeting in 2015 Rory was 5-2 with notable wins over stiff competition in the welterweight division such as Nate Diaz, B.J. Penn, Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley, and Tarec Saffiedine. His only blemishes were losses to Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler the first time in a razor close split decision loss that was back and forth. Robbie was on a three fight win streak having just won the 170 pound title from Johhny Hendricks, a man who was once feared in the welterweight division and many would argue beat GSP for only the second time in his career. A Strikeforce and UFC veteran, Robbie had been competing since Rory was 12 years old and had a decided advantage in the experience department. July 11th, 2015 the two met again with Robbie putting the 170 pound belt on the line. UFC 189 was one of the best all around PPVs in UFC history, the whole event is worth a watch and this fight is a big reason why. Even the walkouts were amazing, Rory to 46 and 2 by Tool, Robbie choosing Hold On I'm Coming by Sam and Dave. Once the fight began it was actually hated and actively booed by fans for the first two rounds. The fight quickly went from 0-100 after the 3rd however, producing one of the most iconic and testosterone producing moments in combat sports history. I'll leave the picture below and not spoil the rest.

Credit to UFC, Endeavor, WME, Zuffa

2. Conor McGregor VS: Chad Mendes

In an era where we are lucky to get two or three great fights on a PPV card UFC 189 had finishes in every fight on the main PPV card and gave us two legendary fights. After Rory and Robbie everyone wondered how Chad and Conor could top that performance and they arguably did if not at the minimum equate to it. Originally scheduled to finally have his shot at the 145 pound featherweight title against unbeaten in 13 years Jose Aldo, Conor was instead thrown a curveball and matched up with the man many thought to be his kryptonite, Chad Mendes. Chad was a stocky and aggressive American wrestler, Conor was an Irish striker with what many believed to be questionable grappling. Jose and Conor started the UFC's first worldwide press tour in January 2015, with many thinking Jose pulled out due to the gamesmanship and trash talk of Conor rather than a rib fracture. In any case Conor was now not only forced to wait on his title shot but also take a fight on 17 days notice against a man whose style was the complete opposite of what he had been training for and widely regarded as the man to stop his hype train. The walkouts for both men go down as probably two of the best in UFC history. For the first time the UFC allowed a live performance by the artists of the two men's walkout songs. Conor with the iconic Foggy Dew performed by Sinead O'Connor and Chad with Aaron Lewis performing Country Boy. Maybe it's just bias from currently writing but those two walkouts might never be rivaled in the sport. Words honestly fail to convey the atmosphere. Even knowing the winner before watching as it was years after the fact I first saw it, I'm still in shock at the result. Incredible fight.

Credit to UFC, WME, Endeavor, Zuffa

3. Joanna Jedrzejczyk VS: Zhang Weili

There's honestly a lot wrong with women's MMA in the UFC right now unfortunately. One thing that has been a bright point and in my opinion the best division in women's MMA point blank period would be 115 pounds the strawweights. The 115 pounders are better than a lot of men across divisions let alone the other female divisions. The queen for years and legend of the sport was Joanna. After winning the belt and defending it an unheard of 5 times before losing to Rose Namajunas, Joanna found herself worked back into title contention in March 2020, right before the world shut down. Zhang was making her first title defense after an emphatic KO of Jessica Andrade to win the belt. Many were conflicted as to who would win, Zhang was the newcomer and Joanna was back in title contention but counted out continuously. Zhang needed to prove she was the rightful champion and not just the recipient of a fluke KO win over Andrade. Joanna was fighting to preserve legacy and reclaim her belt. What followed was 25 minutes of the most incredible fight in back and forth fashion between two of the best strawweights in the entire world. Shortly after the Covid 19 pandemic would render sporting events and normalcy an afterthought until May 2020 when the UFC would deliver again. This fight lets the action do the talking for it and you just have to watch to witness the greatness of the division and the competitors in it.

Credit to UFC, WME, Endeavor, Zuffa


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