In the last decade, fans have seen a lot of different impressive events. Some fighters’ careers have risen, some were forgotten, and even some promotions disappeared.
We collected the most impressive fights of the ’00s in one article, you have to rewatch.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mirko Filipovic
The heavyweight championship bout between the champion Fedor Emelianenko and the challenger Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic from Croatia. The excitement for the fight was enormous, which was only logical because two of the best heavyweights of their time were fighting in the ring. Cro Cop presented the biggest challenge of the undefeated Russian’s career, and many predicted that the coronation of a new champion would happen before our eyes.
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Instead, Fedor retained his belt and stayed as one of the GOTY fighters. We saw Fedor interrupt what was thought to be the best heavyweight puncher in the standup. Fedor blocked all of Cop’s trump cards and prevented him from catching his fight rhythm. The Last Emperor took his victory without using the ground-and-pound that all of his opponents so avoided.
Clay Guida vs. Diego Sanchez
Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida headlined the card for The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale tournament. Very unpredictable that this fight became a standout. What followed was a brutal confrontation that witnesses will hardly ever be able to forget.
Sanchez took the entire 1st round, doing a lot of damage, but Guida was able to turn the tide of the fight, giving a decent fight in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. In the end, Diego Sanchez won by split decision, but it was equally possible to give victory to each of the two fighters.
Anthony Pettis vs. Benson Henderson I
WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson faced #1 ranked Anthony Pettis at WEC 53. In the last event in WEC history before merging with UFC, Pettis and Henderson had the most sensational and illustrious fight in the almost 10-year history of this organization. You couldn’t have imagined a better scenario for the event than the one that came out. The fight was very even and entertaining. By the fifth round, the fighters came to the brawl with an approximate score of 2-2. The fifth round was supposed to be decisive.
That’s when Pettis landed a punch that would later live inseparably from himself. Benson was standing at the net. Anthony swiftly ran up to it, rebounded, and delivered a “Showtime kick” to the face of Henderson. This punch decided the outcome of the fight, making Pettis the champion and setting a bright point in the organization’s last event, before the sale to the UFC.
At the post-fight conference, Benson Henderson asked reporters, “That punch will be the star of the highlights now, right?”. This punch, indeed, has become a highlights star and has transcended the sport. Now it’s hard to say who is more popular, Anthony Pettis or that very punch of his? Either way, it was a great moment that once again brought attention to the sport’s gaining momentum.
Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva
For years, fans have been asking, how could Pride’s top talent compete with UFC fighters? In 2007 Zuffa bought Pride, and it all happened. A fight between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva had long seemed unrealistic, and the event covered all expectations once it happened. Both fighters have aggressive and brutal fighting styles, which created an excellent fight pattern that took your breath away.
Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar I
If you don’t know the history of the UFC and this event, in particular, you’re more likely to be puzzled. Let’s go in order and as briefly as possible. After the Fertitta brothers bought the bankrupt UFC and tried to “bring it back to life,” much time and investment passed. Still, the project was not paying back the money invested, and, having tried all the possible ways, a friend of the Fertitta brothers, Dana White, asked them to try one last attempt. To start a TUF reality show, which they would have paid for themselves, but it did not work out the way they wanted either.
The logical way was to sell the promotion. But if it weren’t for one ‘but’: the reality show finale, which Spike TV broadcasted, was an incredibly entertaining fight. Perhaps even the most optimistic viewer wasn’t expecting a perfect scenario of two young, bloodthirsty lions wanting to prove that they belong in the UFC.
Forrest Griffin and Stephane Bonnar was The Event that in the middle of it [as legend has it], viewers of this brawl began calling their friends and acquaintances, asking them to turn on Spike TV and watch TV immediately. It is impossible not to overestimate the significance and greatness of this fight because had this fight gone any other way, the UFC, the entire mixed martial arts world, would probably have a completely different outline. This fight is inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, taking both heroes of the event with it. A legitimate first place.