As we’ve seen many times in MMA, the notion of a so-called unbeatable fighter tends to be a flawed one. UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia delivered one of those truly unforgettable moments this past weekend in front of a record-setting crowd at Etihad Stadium. The air of invincibility surrounding dominant women’s bantamweight titlist Ronda Rousey was dispelled in emphatic fashion by Holly Holm in their main event battle.
Even though the talented Jackson-Winkeljohn product was undefeated, Holm was a massive underdog heading into her championship bout against a seemingly indestructible force. The 34-year-old Holm would become an overnight sensation by shocking the world with a devastating second-round knockout of the UFC’s biggest star.
After the truly shocking result in Melbourne, we take a look back at some other unexpected Octagon results. Here are the Top 5 UFC Title Fight Upsets of all-time.
5. Frankie Edgar vs. B.J. Penn (UFC 112)
Edgar was a huge underdog going into a lightweight title clash with Hawaiian legend B.J. Penn at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi. “The Prodigy” was in the prime of his decorated career as he’d made three prior 155-pound title defenses. Penn’s previous bout was a dominant and bloody TKO triumph over Diego Sanchez. He’d also been a welterweight titlist during his time with the organization, and hadn’t lost as a lightweight since a 2002 setback against Jens Pulver.
The lightweight landscape would see a changing of the guard as Edgar would turn in the performance of his career to dethrone the champion. “The Answer” rose to the occasion in his stiffest test by utterly frustrating Penn with his boxing skills, wrestling abilities and cardio to earn a unanimous decision victory.
4. T.J. Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao (UFC 173)
Dillashaw was expected to be the latest victim for dominant bantamweight kingpin Renan Barao at UFC 173. The talented Brazilian was in the midst of a remarkable 33-fight undefeated streak and had risen near the top of the pound-for-pound rankings heading into their May 24, 2014 clash in Las Vegas.
The challenger would seize control from the opening round by dropping the champion with a massive right hand. Dillashaw would turn in a phenomenal performance with his precision striking, speed and footwork as he completely outclassed Barao. He would batter the champion until finally securing a fifth-round TKO victory. It made Dillashaw an overnight star and would bring an end to Barao’s unbeatable mystique.
3. Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva (UFC 162)
While Weidman was an unbeaten challenger and seen as a legitimate threat to the record-setting title reign of middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva, there was still something surreal about the sight of the Brazilian legend getting knocked out cold at UFC 162. “The Spider” had made 10 straight successful defenses until being humbled in the main event of the July 6, 2013 event in Las Vegas.
Silva saw his 17-fight unbeaten streak come to a grinding halt when he was smashed out in the second-round. The champion paid for his continuous taunting and mocking of the challenger when he was knocked unconscious by a left hook and follow-up strikes. Weidman finally knocked the king from his throne in the most emphatic of fashions.
2. Matt Serra vs. Georges St-Pierre (UFC 69)
This welterweight title clash at UFC 69 featured a relative journeyman against a champion in peak form. Serra, who had a rather pedestrian career record of 9-4, had received the title opportunity after capturing the TUF Season 4 welterweight tournament. He was noted for his punching power and put it to good use to shock St-Pierre in Houston on April 7, 2007. GSP, who had recorded six straight wins including triumphs over B.J. Penn and Matt Hughes, was rocked in the opening stanza by a punch to the temple and finished off by follow-up strikes at the 3:25 mark.
It had likely been the most shocking moment in UFC championship history up until this past weekend in Australia. Serra would go on to lose three of his final four fights including a rematch against St-Pierre. However, he will have always have that Rocky-style moment in Texas.
As for St-Pierre, the popular and extremely athletic Canadian would go on to become one of the promotion’s brightest stars and true all-time greats. He would learn from the shocking setback against Serra and would never experience defeat again inside the Octagon.
1. Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey (UFC 193)
When Holm was first signed by the UFC, there was a strong sense of belief that the former boxing champion would someday be a legitimate threat to Rousey’s title tenure because of her formidable striking skills. However, Holm had her doubters after a pair of unspectacular decision triumphs over Raquel Pennington and Marion Reneau. Rousey had gained massive mainstream acceptance and had emerged as the organization’s top star with her string of destructive title defenses.
Despite being a huge underdog, Holm was unfazed during the entire promotion leading up to the fight and turned in a brilliant tactical performance against the Octagon superstar. She was able to avoid the champion’s trademark first-round assault with her impressive footwork, and Holm would land several effective straight left hands, elbows and kicks.
The end would come in sizzling fashion in the second-round when Holm would unleash a sensational head kick that would separate Rousey from her senses and her title. It ushers in a new era in a 135-pound division that had previously been all about “Rowdy” and her devastating exploits.