Whether a fighter’s goal is based on legacy or financial gain, claiming victory inside the octagon is imperative. UFC win bonuses increase a fighter’s earnings, and a winning streak can lead to a better contract.
Additionally, enough wins will earn a fighter a title fight, not only earning them a World Championship, but also increasing their income even further by earning a percentage of UFC PPV sales. Thus, all practitioners of mixed martial arts fighting under Dana WhiteDo it to win.
However, for one fighter to win, another must lose. Sometimes a victory for a fighter is clear and expected. Other situations differ, resulting in fights where one combatant appears to be on the verge of defeat before suddenly claiming victory in the most unlikely of circumstances. This list looks at 5 of those cases.
#5. Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry, UFC on Versus 4
Whereas pat barry became something of a meme due to his overreactions to the corner of Rose Namajunas, the former kickboxer was once a fixture in the UFC Heavyweight division. The powerhouse American was set to face his former kickboxer Cheick Kongo at UFC on Versus 4.
When the two entered the octagon, chaos ensued. Minutes into the 1st round, Barry slipped inside Kongo’s jab and countered it with a knockdown right over the top, knocking his foe down. The Frenchman tried to get up as ‘HD’ dove after him with an avalanche of blows that rattled him even more.
Kongo managed to survive by holding on to Barry’s leg. But as he got up, he was immediately knocked down a second time by another right hand. Defeat seemed almost certain. However, the previous sequence repeated as Kongo held onto his enemy’s leg to recover.
After both men got to their feet, ‘HD’ stalked the Frenchman, following him to the fence before a counter right hook from Kongo rattled him off. Barry stumbled, but a right uppercut from the Frenchman flattened him. As his foe lay unconscious, Kongo emerged victorious from a fight he once seemed seconds away from losing.
#4. Antônio Silva vs Alistair Overeem, UFC 156
Alistair Overem should have defeated Antônio Silva at UFC 165. At least, that was the thought on most people’s minds following the duo’s infamous encounter inside the octagon. Prior to the fight, he was on an 8-fight winning streak and had recently made his UFC debut with a landslide victory over Brock Lesnar.
Unfortunately, the title fight against Junior dos Santos which should have been next was cut short after Alistair Overeem failed a pre-fight drug test. Thus, “The Demolition Man” was suspended from sports for a period of 9 months. Upon his return, he faced Antônio Silva in a fight that many expected him to win.
“Bigfoot” had just beaten Travis Browne to bounce back from a 2-game losing streak. Fans saw him lose to both Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier in the 1st round of each fight. When the Brazilian faced his Dutch rival inside the octagon, the 1st and 2nd rounds went as planned.
Overeem edged Silva to an unlikely degree in the first 2 rounds, with ‘Bigfoot’ landing just 7 significant strikes over 2 rounds compared to Overeem’s 49. Round 2 also saw the Dutchman land a takedown with an upper body shot to further establish dominance.
With just 1 lap remaining, Silva seemed to have absolutely no hope of winning. However, the disdain Overeem showed for his foe’s skills was such that he fought with both hands low, abandoning his defense entirely and exposing himself to a thunderous uppercut from “Bigfoot”.
What followed was a barrage of punches that floored a superior fighter who became too nonchalant to keep fighting smart. Thus, Alistair Overeem lost by KO against an opponent for whom he had no respect.
#3. Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin, UFC 116
The clash between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin at UFC 116 was billed as a titanic showdown. At the time, Brock Lesnar was the UFC heavyweight champion and led a 3-fight winning streak that included victories over legendary foes like Frank Mir and Randy Couture.
Meanwhile, Shane Carwin was an undefeated knockout artist who had just won the UFC interim heavyweight title with his own win over Frank Mir. The unification bout between him and Brock Lesnar was highly anticipated. When the two men entered the octagon, the world watched with anticipation.
The fight started in classic Carwin fashion, with brutal punches. As Lesnar attempted to secure a takedown, his efforts were thwarted by his equally imposing foe. Lesnar suffered a knockdown in the 1st round, and his fate seemed all but sealed once Carwin pounced with a vicious ground and pound.
Their fight seemed dangerously close to being stopped. Many fans disputed that the fight could have been stopped, but the referee gave Lesnar every opportunity. At the end of the 1st lap, Carwin was exhausted. So when the 2nd round started, he had no energy to fight Lesnar’s takedown.
In less than 2 minutes, the former interim champ hit a triangle arm choke. Somehow, “The Beast” clawed his way back from the brink of a TKO loss to force his foe to surrender.
#2. Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman, UFC 278
Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman had been entitled to a rematch since their first clash 7 years ago. The Nigerian’s undefeated run in the UFC had stretched to 15 wins in total, including victories over standout foes like Colby Covington, Gilbert Burns and Tyron Woodley.
By contrast, “Rocky” was leading his own unbeaten streak, having amassed 9 wins and 1 no contest. At UFC 278, Leon Edwards battled to dethrone the most dominant welterweight since Georges St-Pierre. The 1st round was interesting, with “The Nigerian Nightmare” conceding the first withdrawal of his MMA career.
However, Kamaru Usman’s physique and relentless wrestling game quickly overwhelmed ‘Rocky’ as the demands of high altitude Salt Lake City sapped Leon Edwards of his cardio. The next 3 rounds were lopsided in favor of Kamaru Usman as the Nigerian completely defeated his opponent.
As ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ imposed his will on his opponent, Leon Edwards grew increasingly tired. Eventually, his will to fight seemed to have evaporated as “Rocky” fought back with a crestfallen facial expression. With just a minute left in the final round, however, Leon Edwards proved his doubters wrong.
Just as Daniel Cormier nullified ‘Rocky’ chances, the Briton-Jamaican faked a 1-2, tricking Kamaru Usman into slipping outside what he thought was a straight left – and into a high left kick that instantly knocked the big Nigerian unconscious.
#1. Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, UFC 117
Prior to his fight duo with Chris Weidman, Anderson Silva was fundamentally tied to another NCAA Division I wrestler he had fought with twice: Chael Sonnen. Before the rise of Conor McGregor and Colby Covington, Chael Sonnen was MMA’s main talker.
Years ago, Chael Sonnen embarked on a 3-fight winning streak that earned him a title fight against reigning UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. The Brazilian legend was on a 13-fight winning streak and feared by virtually every other 185’er in the world.
Chael Sonnen was the only fighter who didn’t fear “The Spider”. Instead, the All-American dared to believe he could defeat the mixed martial artist who was once heralded as the greatest of all time. At UFC 117, Sonnen stunned the MMA world when he rocked Silva with a punch en route to a takedown.
Throughout the fight, Sonnen edged and defeated his foe in dominant fashion. Silva simply had no answer for his brash rival, and in the 5th round it looked like one of the greatest winning streaks in UFC history was coming to an end. However, with 2 minutes remaining, “The Spider” reversed the impending upset.
The Brazilian got a triangle armbar that Sonnen couldn’t escape. As the American resisted, the double threat of the choke and the armbar proved too great and Sonnen tapped it, giving Silva the most unlikely win of his career.