If you watch MMA long enough, every fight, knockout, and submission begins to look familiar — which makes these classic bouts that much more special.
Wanderlei Silva Wins Via Choke
vs. Bob Schrijber @ Pride Grand Prix 2000 Opening Round, 1/30/00
Though he has two other submission victories on his record due to strikes, Wanderlei Silva has only ended one fight in his 15-year career with a legit, bonafide submission hold. It went down during his third PRIDE appearance against renowned kickboxer Bob Schrijber, in a reserve bout for the 2000 PRIDE GP. After some standup brawling, Wandy secures a takedown, immediately lands in mount, and slugs “Dirty Bob” until the Dutchman is forced to roll. From there, Silva sets up a rear-naked choke — you can tell that grappling’s not really his strong-suit — and eventually gets the tap.
Tito Ortiz Fights Outside of the UFC
vs. Jeremy Screeton @ West Coast NHB Championships 1, 12/8/98
After going 1-1 in his Octagon debut at UFC 13, Tito Ortiz took a tune-up fight at an NHB tournament in Los Angeles. The result was a fast, gnarly, PRIDE-style victory for the future superstar. Screeton shoots in on Ortiz, but the Huntington Beach Bad Boy uses his own formidable wrestling skills to reverse his opponent onto the mat. Two brutal knees to the head later, and Screeton was tapping out the morse code to “get me the fuck out of here.” Ortiz was invited back to the UFC the following month, and has never left. Seriously, we can’t get rid of this guy.
Cris Cyborg Loses a Fight
vs. Erica Paes @ Show Fight 2
Even at 19 years old, with just a few months of training under her belt, you could tell that Cristiane Santos was going to grow up to be a badass. A former competitive handball player discovered by Chute Boxe’s Rudimar Fedrigo, Santos made her MMA debut in Curitiba, Brazil, against a fellow rookie named Erica Paes. Santos comes out as the aggressive beast we all know and love, but Paes manages to grab a leg and crank a kneebar until Santos taps. (It’s basically Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir 1, as performed by Brazilian women.) Fortunately, Santos got back up on the horse and won her next ten fights, eight by brutal KO/TKO. Now she’s “Cris Cyborg,” a champion so dominant that logical challengers don’t even exist anymore. Say, what’s Erica Paes up to these days?
See also: Jose Aldo loses a fight
A 32-Man One-Day Tournament? Seriously?
Ricardo Morais vs. Alex Andrade, Onassis Parungao, Maxim Tarasov, Victor Yerohin, and Mikhail Illoukhine @ Absolute Fighting Championship 1, 11/25/95
(Click the image to see the video.)
Old-school Potato readers know that this is one of my favorite MMA moments ever. Though UFC 2 introduced the concept of the 16-man tournament the previous year, the AFC decided to go even bigger for their debut event, setting up a massive 32-fighter bracket in Moscow. Unsurprisingly, the biggest dude won — a 6’7″ Brazilian monolith named Ricardo Morais. Later known as “The Mutant,” Morais beat down his first four opponents in less than two minutes apiece, before choking out Russian MMA pioneer Mikhail Illoukhine in a ten-minute battle of attrition. Morais slowly faded into obscurity after that night — his most well-known fights are his PRIDE losses to Mark Coleman and Aleksander Emelianenko — and luckily, no fight promotion was crazy enough to hold a 32-man single-night tournament ever again.
Demian Maia Wins Via TKO
vs. Raul Sosa @ Tormenta en el Ring, 9/21/01
Think of it as the inverse of the Wanderlei Silva fight at the beginning of this list. Maia began his UFC career with five straight submission victories — and is now riding a much-less-exciting five-fight decision streak. But the jiu-jitsu ace actually ended a fight with his fists once, and it came in his pro debut, which took place in some sort of gymnasium in Venezuela. Maia immediately drags Raul Sosa to the ground, scores back-control, and slugs his prey in the head until the fight ends at the 0:48 mark.
Kazushi Sakuraba’s controversial rematch with Royce Gracie took place in Los Angeles, and it was the only time that Saku fought outside of his home country. The fight came seven years after Sakuraba and Gracie’s legendary 90-minute meeting at the PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Finals, and while Saku seemed to have the edge again thanks to his takedowns and submission attempts, the judges unanimously ruled in favor of Gracie, who later tested positive for steroids. Anybody in the mood for a rubber match?
Note: I searched the Internet for Josh Barnett vs. Gan McGee at UFC 28 (the UFC’s only super-heavyweight fight) and Elvis Sinosic vs. Jeremy Horn at UFC 30 (Sinosic’s only victory in the UFC), but came up short. If you know of any other one-time-only MMA occurrences, let us know in the comments section…