MMA is different from other sports in that an individual’s stock can increase significantly in the event of a loss. In team sports like football or basketball, if you lose, you go home, and you’ve taken a big hit in terms of rankings. However, in MMA, a fighter can lose and still move up the rankings and maybe even fight for a title after a loss.
All along cfu history, the above has happened many times. So let’s look at the times a UFC fighter “won” even though he lost his fight inside the cage. Much to the shock of many fans, it actually happened multiple times.
ten Anderson Silva (against Daniel Cormier)
The main event of UFC 200 was Daniel Cormier’s long-awaited rematch with Jon Jones. However, when Bones appeared the week of the fight, the promotion was doing its best to find a suitable replacement. They finally found one in former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
The Brazilian was greeted as a hero for putting up the dangerous fight on three days’ notice. While he ended up losing, Silva put up a valiant effort and even rocked the champion in the third round with a body kick and a flying knee.
9 Thiago Santos (against Jon Jones)
Thiago Santos was considered another helpless challenger when he fought Jon Jones at UFC 239. Like almost everyone before him, the Brazilian needed to get crushed. Instead, he fought the fight of his life and nearly dethroned Jones.
The fight nearly ended in the first round, when Santos tore his ACL, PCL and MCL in one leg. Despite this horrific injury, he fought on and arguably defeated Jones. While Santos ended up losing by split decision, he remains the only fighter to pull a scorecard from Bones.
8 Kevin Lee (against Tony Ferguson)
The UFC 216 main event between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee was a bit odd on paper. While El Cucuy clearly deserved the interim lightweight title opportunity, the latter was barely ranked in the top ten and was considered far from a contender at the time. Many fans expected Ferguson to cross Lee.
Instead, Lee put up a great fight. In fact, he dominated the early rounds of the contest and outplayed the jiu-jitsu ace on the mat. As he was finally caught in a third-round submission, Lee proved he was among the greatest lightweights on the planet that night.
7 Conor McGregor (vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov)
UFC 229 was the biggest UFC pay-per-view ever. However, that doesn’t mean anyone actually expected the fight to be close. Conor McGregor was a big underdog, as it was his first fight in years, and Khabib Nurmagomedov had literally never lost a round in his career up to this point.
While Nurmagomedov will never compete again, his fight with McGregor will go down as the most competitive of his career. Despite taking a lot of damage, the Notorious landed his fair share of shots and remains the only man to have all three judges scoring a round for him. He was also paid a lot of money, so he won there too.
6 Nate Diaz (against Leon Edwards)
The fight between Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz at UFC 263 was a weird matchmaking, to say the least. One was a contender about to fight for a title, while the other was years away from his prime and fighting in a weight class.
For the first four rounds, Diaz watched every bit of the underdog he was hailed in. However, in round five he almost did the impossible, shaking Edwards badly in the last minute. While Diaz was unable to secure the finish, his latest surge proved once again why he is one of the most entertaining fighters of all time.
5 Yoel Romero (against Paulo Costa)
UFC 241 was the scene of one of the greatest fights of all time, as Yoel Romero took on Paulo Costa. The Brazilian was the division boogeyman, while the Cuban was fresh off his insane rematch with Robert Whittaker.
It’s hard to say either lost in this fight, but technically Romero did it by decision. However, the fight was so entertaining that he even received a title shot in his next fight. Unfortunately, his fight against Israel Adesanya wasn’t as entertaining as his fight against Costa.
4 Diego Sanchez (against Gilbert Melendez)
Gilbert Melendez was still considered the greatest lightweight on the planet when he faced Diego Sanchez in 2014. While the former Strikeforce champion was still a top contender, The Nightmare wasn’t even classroom. The fight was seen as a bit of a tune-up fight for Melendez.
Instead, Sanchez gave Melendez a hell of a three rounds at UFC 166. Although he didn’t end up scoring the win, he proved himself to be one of the greatest fighters in the game. all time action. He even received a ranking after the loss.
3 Anderson Silva (vs Israel Adesanya)
The impromptu UFC 234 main event between Anderson Silva and Israel Adesanya was seen as a passing of the torch. The latter was considered a future champion, while The Spider was years away from his prime. Many expected Adesanya to easily cross the former title holder.
Instead, Silva and Adesanya pulled off a technical masterpiece. All the little tricks the former champ had up his sleeve were pulled off in this 15-minute classic. While Silva ended up losing, he was able to leave the cage with his head held high in his final pay-per-view headliner.
2 Lando Vannata (against Tony Ferguson)
Tony Ferguson was expected to host the main event of a Fight Night card against fellow countryman Michael Chiesa in 2016. However, when the latter collapsed on short notice, an unknown Lando Vannata stepped in. Despite being in the middle of his historic winning streak, Ferguson had a tough fight.
In his octagon debut, Vannata looked like a seasoned veteran against Ferguson. He knocked down El Cucuy and nearly finished him in the first round. While he ended up losing via submission in the second, he made his mark on his debut.
1 Petr Yan (against Aljamain Sterling)
Fans had never seen a disqualification in a UFC title fight before, until 2021. Petr Yan was winning his fight with Aljamain Sterling, but that all changed in the fourth round when he landed a big knee illegal.
The fight ended up being called off and Yan lost his UFC bantamweight title. In a turn of events, he was still seen as the champion by many fans who believed Sterling was faking an injury. Their rematch a year later saw The Funk Master badly booed during the build-up, although he may have caused the upset.
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