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The Top 10 UFC Fights of 2005

Back at the start of 2005, virtually no one? save Dana White and the Fertittas, perhaps? could've predicted just how huge the UFC would become. Further, who would've thought that their only real competition? the Japanese based PRIDE Fighting Championships? would fall as we knew it? Along with this, 2005 was a year of stellar fights in the UFC. And that's what this Top 10 UFC Fights of 2005 list is about.

But first the criteria for making the list. 1. Fight drama and/ or excitement: Did it seem as if both fighters could win at one point or another during the fight? Further, did one (or both) fighters show such skill that their performance alone warranted inclusion?

2. The setting: The bigger the stage, the better. Thus, Ultimate Fighter finale and championship bouts were weighted more heavily than everyday bouts. Further, known fighters were given a hand up as well.

3. Shock value: A huge upset means something in terms of making this list. So does a sudden turn of events or a coming out party.

So, without further ado, let's get to it.

10. Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture II

Event: UFC 52: Couture vs. Liddell 2 on 4/16/05

Result: Liddell wins via KO at 2:06 of round one.

This one made the list because of its meaning to the sport and the somewhat jarring result. After all, these were the two most popular mixed martial artists in America. Further, they were the first Ultimate Fighter reality television show coaches.

In terms of the fight, Randy Couture was perhaps all too willing to strike with "The Iceman" in this one due to the success he'd had doing so in their first encounter. This, of course, proved to be a poor decision as Liddell literally took him apart before nailing him with that one powerful punch that sent him to the canvas. A couple of strikes later and there was a new king in the UFC's Light Heavyweight Division.

The interesting part is that few seem to remember that Liddell's victory was an upset at the time.

9. Randy Couture vs. Mike Van Arsdale

Event: UFC 54: Boiling Point on 8/20/05

Result: Couture wins via Anaconda Choke after 52 seconds in the third round.

How would "The Natural" respond after losing to Chuck Liddell? In the end, you'd have to say well. That said, Van Arsdale gave this one a go, seemingly beating Couture to the punch on numerous occasions and hanging in there on the grappling end for the majority of the fight (this was one of the few times that Couture had stepped into the Octagon with a man that had similar wrestling skills to he). Still, Couture had been setting up the Anaconda Choke (made famous by Nogueira) for the entire match. And not too far into the third round, it eventually came through for him.

A rare submission victory for The Natural.

8. David Loiseau vs. Evan Tanner

Event: UFC Ultimate Fight Night 2 on 10/3/05

Result: Loiseau wins via TKO at 4:15 of round two

Tanner needed this fight. Along with this, for most of the fight he seemed to dictate the pace with solid ground and pound. Further, there were a couple of chances at submissions that fell through.

In other words, it was not looking good for "The Crow".

But then Loiseau turned Tanner over on the ground. Soon after, those absolutely crushing elbows started. And due to those elbows, Tanner blew up big time and the fight had to be stopped.

This was the day that Loiseau proved he had the best elbows in the business.

7. Rich Franklin vs. Evan Tanner

Event: UFC 53: Heavy Hitters on 6/4/05

Result: Franklin wins via doctor stoppage at 3:25 of round four

A lot of people questioned Franklin's toughness before this bout (specifically his ability to take a punch). In sum, between Franklin's absolute destruction of Tanner on his feet (Tanner's face was bloodied and swollen terribly by the time this fight was finally stopped) came a hard right that floored Franklin.

But "Ace" survived. Further, he flourished afterwards.

So this fight? besides being Franklin's coming out party as champion? served UFC fighters notice. Rich Franklin was for real.

6. Karo Parisyan vs. Matt Serra

Event: UFC 53: Heavy Hitters on 6/4/05

Result: Parisyan wins via unanimous decision

In the first, Serra dropped Parisyan with a big punch. However, he didn't finish. And then we all got to witness a display of unbelievable judo, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling from these two..

In other words, everything that has to do with ground fighting.

Submission attempts and escapes were the name of the game on this night. However, in the end, the judges gave this fight to Parisyan (and rightfully so). The question is, if Serra knew how to finish back then like he does now (Georges St. Pierre, anyone?) would that fight have ever made it to the cards?

This one would be a fun rematch.

5. Diego Sanchez vs. Nick Diaz

Event: Ultimate Fighter Finale 2 on 11/5/05

Result: Sanchez wins via unanimous decision

A lot of people thought that Diego Sanchez was overrated before this bout. But when you fight a man with the striking skills, jiu-jitsu, and toughness of a Nick Diaz people know that all the questions will be answered.

In sum, they were. Diego Sanchez proved several things in this bout. First, he was a takedown machine (he repeatedly took Diaz down at will). Second, he was a cardio freak (most already knew this, but for the naysayers. . .). And last, his jiu-jitsu escapes were top flight (he repeatedly broke through submission attempt after submission attempt by Diaz quickly and easily). Though his opponent demonstrated some very solid jiu-jitsu and the toughness to withstand and sometimes deflect Sanchez's ground and pound, in the end the winner was clear.

Even the naysayers had to admit that Diego Sanchez had game.

4. Brad Imes vs. Rashad Evans

Event: Ultimate Fighter Finale 2 on 11/5/05

Result: Evans wins via split decision

Both fighters took a heavy dose of shots. In fact, both at one point or another found themselves on the canvas. In short, this fight was all about back and forth. Thus, the end result seemed fitting.

A split decision victory for Evans. This fight proved once and for all that Rashad Evans had heart (this had been questioned on the show). Actually, he had a lot of it.

3. Joe Stevenson vs. Luke Cummo

Event: Ultimate Fighter Finale 2 on 11/5/05

Result: Stevenson wins via unanimous decision

Most believed that Joe Stevenson would simply take Cummo down and submit him in the first round. Well, the first part of that happened: Stevenson did take the rather odd TUF 2 contestant down. But then something surprising occurred.

Cummo showed that he had learned some pretty strong defensive jiu-jitsu, steering clear of submissions like a man that knew them up and down.

In the second, Cummo landed that one big shot and likely took the round from his opponent because of this.

Though Stevenson took the deciding round and with it the decision, this was one of the best fights of the year and proof once again that the TUF shows were a success.

2. Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg 2

Event: UFC 52: Couture vs. Liddell 2

Result: Hughes wins via rear naked choke at 4:05 of round one

Trigg struck Hughes in the groin. Then the Miletich fighter turned to the referee to complain.

Unfortunately for Hughes, the referee hadn't seen it. Thus, all the complaining did was allow Trigg to nail him with a plethora of punches. Soon after, Trigg has his back.

And then he sunk in the choke deep.

Like Hughes or not, this fight once again showed he had the heart of a champion. Somehow he persevered through turning purple and got out. Soon after, he had Trigg in the air. From there Hughes walked his opponent over to his own corner and slammed him.

Moments later, the tables were turned; Hughes had Trigg's back. Then he sunk in the rear naked choke.

Difference was, Hughes didn't miss. In the end, this was perhaps one of the greatest turnarounds in MMA history (and a highlight reel finish).

1. Stephan Bonnar vs. Forrest Griffin

Event: Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale on 4/9/05

Result: Griffin wins via unanimous decision

If you want to learn the intricacies of kickboxing; in other words, the nuances of the techniques and the game, this is not the fight to watch.

However, if you want to take in the greatest brawl in MMA history? a testament to the heart of two fighters that want a six figure MMA contract bad? then check this one out. Both guys laid it all out on the line and took beatings that few are capable of withstanding.

It should be no surprise that Bonnar- Griffin takes home the 2005 UFC Fight of the Year crown. The crazy part is that most spectators still aren't even sure who deserved the decision.

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