Biggest upsets in MMA history

Sun 20 March 2022 | 8:30

While it is not uncommon to see massive underdogs pull out the most unconceivable of triumphs in breathtaking fashion, they remind us how unpredictable a combat sport like MMA might arguably be. In case you are wondering, we have taken a look at the Biggest upsets in MMA history.

Have you ever wondered why a vast majority of MMA fans stick around until the end of the fourth quarter of the fights? Perhaps they are waiting for something like an unprecedented turn of the fight.

Conventionally upsets are an indispensable part of almost every sport and MMA not only is not an exception but also its upsets are a bit different in that they are particularly unique to the sport in as much as its games are that much extremely emotional that you have to utterly prepare yourself for everything that is beyond imagination.

Just for instance consider Justin Thornton who eventually died as a result of serious repercussions he incurred by a knockout. You can find more about him on the

Top facts about Justin Thornton, the BKFC fighter who died by knockout


With this in mind, I mean, there are some huge upsets in MMA that have left the whole world quite dumbfounded, to the point that even if you have not been a fan of this game, most probably you might have heard of them.

In other words, MMA  is the only sport in which you put your pride, bravery, ego, and eventually your life in to jeopardize, and even if you have been an impeccable fighter, you are not immune from these upsets: a moment of madness is enough to change the turn of your life in the worst-case scenario. You would see some of these MMA giants at Sportmob's 

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Biggest upsets in MMA history

Read on to know some of the biggest upsets in MMA history and the reasons why they are so specially unique.

Luke Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping II (UFC 199)

Michael Bisping confronted Luke Rockhold for the middleweight title in their rematch at UFC 199, which proved to be one of the biggest upsets in MMA history.

Back then, Rockhold had conceded just two fights in his career, being defeated only by Vitor Belfort through a freak spinning heel kick, winning his last previous fights, coming off a glorious triumph over Chris Weidman for gaining middleweight championship.

On the other side, Bisping who had been already defeated in their first match through the second-round submission ,was considered to be a  huge underdog, especially when he had taken the fight just on 17 days' notice and with the age of 37 years old, he was not at the prime heyday of his career.

While nobody assumed The Count to have the slightest chance of victory, an incredible left hook from his side in the first round was enough to earn him a knockout victory over his opponent, anchoring his name to one of The 10 Greatest Upsets in MMA history

It was actually his mythical high spirit and determination, that not only led him to gain the title, leaving an indelible memory on the fans's minds, but also he even went on to win three fights in a row after his previous loss to make him appear like a genuine title contender, taking the redemption of his defeat in the most decent way.

After all, as one of the biggest UFC fighters of all time, he has taken a spot on our list of the 

Best MMA fighters in each weight class ever


Jan Blachowicz vs Israel Adesanya (UFC 259)

One of the

biggest upsets in MMA history

that occurred in 2021 was the light-heavyweight title fight at UFC 259 in which Israel Adesanya, the UFC middleweight champion, took the challenge of becoming the fifth fighter in UFC history to hold two titles simultaneously.

Adesanya who has been a former champion kickboxer, had been unbeaten with a career record of (20-0) by earning triumph in his first nine fights in the UFC back then. The 32-year-old Nigeria-born New Zealand resident had come off a second-round TKO over Paulo Costa at UFC 253, while 15 out of his 20 wins were through knockouts.

On the other hand, 38-year-old Blachowicz had a pretty illustrious late-career heyday as he had won nine of 10 fights overall, winning five bouts in a row with a career record of five (27-8). while he has been a pro since 2007, he could claim the UFC light heavyweight title by smashing Dominick Reyes through a second-round TKO at UFC 253 before this fight.

Even if Blachowicz had been an underdog, he had a great size advantage, as Adesanya who tended to fight in the 185-pound category, didn't gain significant weight since weigh-ins, and therefore Blachowicz was about 20 pounds heavier than him.

Although Adesanya was busier throughout the fight, it was in the fourth and fifth-round that Blachowicz's incredibly strong grappling game and expertise in grabbing the mount position saw him defend his UFC light heavyweight title against the reigning middleweight king Israel Adesanya.

Thereby, so much great to the fans surprise, one of The Biggest MMA Upsets of All Time took place when The Polish star won the fight via unanimous decision (49–46, 49–45, 49–45), while two out of three UFC judges granted him a 10-8 for the fifth round even if it was not that much desirable for UFC president Dana White.

As a result, the light-heavyweight champion successfully defended his title for the first time, handing Adesanya his first pro defeat and proving his every endeavor to join Nunes, Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, and Henry Cejudo as the UFCs only simultaneous two-belt champions futile.

Julianna Peña vs Amanda Nunes (UFC 269)

Julianna Pena coped with Amanda Nunes in the UFC women’s bantamweight championship in the co-main event of UFC 269, and although the fight was of little prominence for many fans, several weeks before the start of the fight, Julianna Pena told everyone within earshot that she was set to become the UFC women’s bantamweight champion and would beat Nunes in her first title fight as she indicated “Don’t ever doubt me again

”While Nunes called Peña delusional for this belief, Peña eventually succeeded to get the title shot in the second round of a shocker at T-Mobile Arena in the light of her boisterous trash talk. Do you see how trash talking works miracles in a sport as tough as MMA, you can find some other instances of this kind on Sportmobs

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This is while the 32-year-old Pena had only a one-fight winning streak and was 2-2 in her last four when she was heading into the fight against Nunes. On the other side of the coin, The Lioness was riding a 12-fight win streak and has been widely revered as one of the

Top 10 Female UFC Fighters of 2021


Despite this, the Venezuelan Vixen submitted Nunes in the second round, while her victory went down not only as of the most shocking result of 2021 but also it was etched in history books as one of

The Biggest MMA Upsets of All Time


Even if, Nunes was certainly deemed to be on brink of another decisive victory after early in the first round when oddsmakers had Peña as a +525 underdog to beat the GOAT of the division, Julianna Peña submitted Nunes in the second round so as to prove all of them wrong.

Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor (UFC 19)

As one of

The Highest Paid UFC Fighters of All Time

, Conor McGregor was that much-hyped up at his prime, that when Nate Diaz called out the Irishman in 2015 in trash talk, he was disparaged by many in that he would never get this fight, let alone grab victory over the unstoppable McGregor.

Be that as it may, in a lucky twist of events, Diaz was arranged to confront The Notorious in the main event of UFC 169 by Dana White following that then UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos was pulled out of the matchup against McGregor due to his injury of a broken foot.

At that time, McGregor had come off a 13-second knockout triumph over Jose Aldo in his effort to become featherweight champion, while he had one of the most dominant rises ever observed in the UFC.

Yet even if he was the champion at 145 pounds, he took the challenge of making a bold jump up in the weight category, competing for the Lightweight championship at 155 pounds; still, nobody expected him to concede the title fight of UFC 196.

Over and above that, Diaz had a long history of inconsistent performances throughout his career and he was on vacation when he received the call to cope with McGregor on only 11 days’ notice.

Despite all of these, much to the surprise of almost everybody, in one of the

Best UFC Fights of All Time

, Diaz did outstrike his opponent for the whole first round and went on to submit him in the second round with a rear-naked choke in a battle that has been included among

 The 10 Greatest Upsets in MMA History


Matt Serra vs. Georges St-Pierre I (UFC 69)

Any list of the biggest upsets in MMA history would be incomplete without GSPs first match with Matt Serra as it is quite excruciatingly unforgettable to see a true GOAT of the sport, The Rush, who is widely regarded as one of the

biggest UFC fighters of all time

and is one of the

Most influential fighters in MMA history

, has been the receiving end of the most upsetting moments in his rich legacy.

With a career record of 13-1, the welterweight champion, GSP was heading in UFC 69 after that he had taken his revenge from his sole defeat to Matt Hughes, with a mind-blowing knockout that was etched as one of the

Top 10 Head Kick Knockouts in MMA History


While The Rush was a -1100 favorite, this match was considered to be only a formality on the path to GSP’s rising stardom in the welterweight category of the UFC especially when with a career record of  5-4, Matt Serra was not that much a credited fighter to get the opportunity of coping with GSP.

That is to say, Serra actually, grabbed the title shot just in the light of his winning season four of The Ultimate Fighter. Having said that, quite unbelievably he managed to smash the legendary Canadian just in the first round with an onslaught of punches in what has gone down as arguably one of The Biggest Upsets of All Time, so as to be inducted to the UFC hall of fame in 2018 Serra primarily for this accidental triumph.

Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman (UFC 162)

Anderson Silva confronted Chris Weidman at UFC 162 at the time that he had not conceded any fight for a long period of more than seven years in that he was on a 17-fight win streak, defending his middleweight title ten times, so as to etch his name to the

Best UFC Records of All Time


More importantly, he tended to grab almost all of those triumphs with quite an ease while as soon as he started to taunt his opponents in the mid-fight and tried to drop his hand, nobody could even dare to try punching toward him.

This is while, when Chris Weidman was heading into his first fight against Anderson Silva, he had only gained triumph in 5 UFC fights, and with a career record of 9-0, he was assumed to be a big underdog.

While the first round was an impressive back and forth fight, in the second round when The Spider failed to shake his younger opponent and started exercising his signature taunting and showboating to the crowd, Weidman managed to close the distance and grabbed a knockout victory over the true Goat with an onslaught of punches in what was went down as one of The Biggest MMA Upsets of All Time.

Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia (UFC 68)

At UFC 68 Couture came out of retirement to cope with Sylvia, while there were stark contrasts between the two sides, in as much as Couture was 43, Sylvia was 30. Sylvia had stood at 6’8″, which was six inches taller than Couture, even Sylvia outweighed him by more than forty pounds, and his reach was a foot longer than Couture’s.

Back then Tim Sylvia was highly revered as one of the Biggest UFC fighters of all time who fought at the heavyweight category. He had grabbed the UFC title by defeating Andre Arlovski at UFC 59, going on to make two title defenses preceding his fight against Randy Couture at UFC 68.

Whereas Couture had come off a KO defeat against Chuck Liddell, many fans assumed that it was better for him not to continue his MMA career, let alone take the challenge of confronting a younger and stronger fighter like Sylvia, thereby he was a big underdog in this fight.

Be that as it may, he proved all of the doubters wrong as he got underneath Sylvia to launch an insane punch to the jaw of the giant, leaving him utterly perplexed. In the light of incredible wrestling skills, he could establish dominance throughout the fifth round hard-fought battle, never letting his foot off the pedal, so as to earn triumph via unanimous decision.

As a result, in a fight that is widely known as one of the

biggest upsets in MMA history

, Randy Couture could make his finest performance ever, in the closing stages of his UFC career.

Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm (UFC 193)

Despite UFC reluctance to allow women to compete in the promotion due to the dearth of marketable female fighters to make up a successful female weight category, Ronda Rousey could change the mind of the UFC president Dana White and turned out to be a beauty monster who can topple down almost any fighter quite easily in less than a minute.

Therefore when she was heading into the fight against Holly Holm, she had had a glorious career record of 12-0 and had finished every one of her last four opponents just inside the first round.

It is self-evident that Holly Holm was a huge underdog in this fight even if she had some momentum of her own with a career record of 9-0, and had grabbed only one split decision and one unanimous decision victory in her first two UFC fights.

Thereby while she was expected to be an easy victim for the biggest star women's MMA had ever withstood, the woman’s bantamweight title fight began, in that Holm could frustrate her opponent with her excellent defense as she used great footwork to avoid Rousey's clinch in the first round.

After that a minute in the second round was elapsed, Holm pulled one of the biggest upsets in MMA history as she landed a spectacular devastating head kick in one of

The Best Women's Fights in UFC History


Royce Gracie Winning UFC 1

Royce Gracie who is also included in our list of

The best submission grapplers in MMA history

is one of the most influential figures in MMA too, in as much as he promoted Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (also known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu) and revolutionized the sport of MMA with the mindblowing results he achieved in the light of his grappling and ground fighting.

After all, as one of The Greatest MMA Fighters of All Time, he showed the world of Mixed Martial Arts how effective would be to employ ground and pound skills in coping with much bigger rivals.

Therefore when he grabbed triumph in the first official UFC fight at UFC 1, he pulled out of The 10 Greatest Upsets in MMA History.

Much to many people's consternation, he could topple down three fighters at that fight, most notably UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock to grab the title, quite amazingly in a total of less than five minutes of fight time so as to be the first-ever champion of the UFC.

In doing so, he could beat Ken Shamrock controversially in the semi-finals when he got his opponent in a rear choke and managed to submit him in the light of his excellent Gracie Jiu-Jitsu skills. You can find the full account of UFC 1 at Sportmobs

Best UFC Events of All Time


Fedor Emelianenko vs. Fabricio Werdum (Strikeforce / M-1)

Fedor Emelianenko who has grabbed the spot number one almost in any list of

The best fighters to never fight in the UFC

, was astonishingly unbeaten for around 10 years, enjoying a God status in Japan while he had only competed in elite-level battles and he still could establish absolute dominance at the prime heyday of his career.

Being considered as one of

The Greatest MMA Fighters of All Time

, the promotions like Strikeforce were looking forward to to be benefitted from his incredible marks on US soil and therefore The Last Emperor took advantage of this chance to finish Brett Rogers by a KO just in his Strikeforce debut.

With 27 fight winning streak, it was in his next fight that he coped with Fabricio Werdum. Even if Werdum was the former World jiu-jitsu champion and an immense upcoming MMA talent who had expertise in submission skill, he was assumed to be a huge underdog.

However one of the

biggest upsets in MMA history

took place when Werdum could catch Fedor into the armbar. Although Fedor did escape for a moment, Werdum reset the submission and went on to lock up the vicious triangle choke, forcing Emelianenko tap out just a minute into the bout.

The stentorian voice of Strikeforce commentators screaming “Fedor, losing for the first time!” is never to be forgetted by MMA die hard fans, reminding them the biggest upset in MMA history.


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source: SportMob

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