Everybody loves an underdog story, especially when it’s for a world title. The UFC has seen its fair share of big upsets where the underdogs surprised not only the champion but the MMA world. Here are the most shocking fights when champions were dethroned by unlikely contenders:
Matt Serra vs. GSP
Georges St. Pierre had skyrocketed to the welterweight throne, coming off a win against Matt hughes. Matt Serra, on the other hand, earned his title shot with a split-decision win at the TUF 4 finale. Matt came in at a 11 to 1 chance to win, then at 3:25 mins of the first round, he landed an overhand right that floored GSP. Matt Serra went on the new welterweight champ while Canadian fans went home crying.
Chris Wiedman vs. Anderson Silva
When Chris Weidman came in at a 2 to 1 underdog against Anderson Silva, who at the time was considered the pound for pound best MMA fighter, nobody (even the pundits) could have ever imagined that he would break Silva’s seven-year, 17-fight undefeated streak with a clean left hook.
Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez
With this one, there was an air of uncertainty. JDS was coming off a strong, unbroken win streak and Cain had just smashed through the monster Brock Lesnar. But even before we could see how the fighters would test each other, JDS landed an overhand right at 64 seconds into the first round to put the champion out.
Conor Mcgregor vs. Jose Aldo
The clandestine Irish contender predicted his KO of the undisputed Featherweight king Jose Aldo. He single-handedly, literally, ended the champion’s 10-year reign. It only took him 13 seconds into the fight.
Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey
This fight and its outcome arguably boosted people’s appreciation for technical striking. Holly Holm was a heavy 9 to 1 underdog but proved the pundits wrong with a perfect game plan. Holm systematically broke Rousey down with counter strikes before shocking the world with a head kick that KO’d the champion. I cried.
T.J. Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao
Coming in as a 7 to 1 underdog, T.J Dillashaw shocked MMA fans, including an audibly surprised Joe Rogan, when his high-paced unorthodox striking eventually found an opening to drop the decade-long undefeated Renan Barao.
B.J. Penn vs. Matt Hughes
B.J. Penn moved up to welterweight to challenge the then five-time defending champion Matt Hughes. In what seemed like a sure win for the much bigger, heavily favorited Hughes, the fight ended spectacularly for Penn. He who took Hughes’ back to sink in a rear naked choke with only 23 seconds left in the first round. The fight is highly regarded as one of the greatest submission wins in MMA history.
Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia
Who would have ever thought that a 43-year old, coming out of retirement, ex-champion could dethrone a literal giant. Couture out-struck the 6-foot-8 Tim Sylvia, then out-wrestle and out-paced him to become a 3-time heavyweight champion.
Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn
At the time, the Jersey kid was relatively unheard-of. Edgar peppered B.J. with quick strikes and constant movement, flustering the ex-champ to take the belt from The Prodigy. Edgar went on to defend his belt three more times before losing it to Benson Henderson.