22. Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II (UFC 52)
Result: Hughes wins via Submission (rear-naked choke) in 4:05 of Round 1
It seems appropriate to start off with what UFC’s Dana White calls “one of his favorite fights of all time.” The Welterweight Championship fight that was loaded with bad blood, it was a fight that put on a show. With an aggressive face off at weigh in’s to kick it off, the fierce rematch was full of up’s and downs.
A groin shot by Trigg’s that went unnoticed by the referee (which Trigg knowingly took advantage of), a deep rear naked choke by Trigg that Hughes managed to escape, and a take down from Hughes that took Trigg all the way across the octagon. It’s no wonder Dana has such a strong opinion on this bout. With a strong ground and pound full of nasty elbows leading to a rear naked choke from Hughes, the Welterweight belt was secured.
21. Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua (UFC 104)
Result: Machida wins via unanimous decision
The UFC and the world of mixed martial arts in general has gone through many transitions as the game has continuously evolved. Muay Thai, Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu have all had times to shine within the UFC. Karate, however, seemed like a martial art that would never propel a fighter to an elite level of MMA. ‘The Dragon’s’ championship run was proof that this wasn’t the case.
It was a highly active fight from both combatants, close enough that the decision victory for Lyoto was considered controversial. Still, it proved that traditional martial arts still had value, which is worth a watch in and of itself.