Listen, I know exactly what you're thinking: UFC 95? The free show on Spike TV that everyone said heading into it was one of the weakest lineups in recent UFC history is your choice for the best card of 2009?
Yes, yes it is. And guess what? It wasn't even close.
Allow me to refresh your memory: Remember when you were watching UFC 95 on February 21, and 9 of the 10 fights on the card made the free Spike TV telecast? Remember when only one of those fights went the distance? Remember when six of those fights didn't go past the first round? Remember Paulo Thiago's shocking knockout of Josh Koscheck? Or how about Dan Hardy's emphatic knockout of Rory Markham at 1:09 of the first round? Demian Maia's slick first-round submission of Chael Sonnen? Junior dos Santos 54-second knockout of Stefan Struve?
Starting to make a little more sense, right?
Now think back to every other major fight card from this past year. All them had a few duds here and there or maybe a big main event that didn't live up to the hype. You know it's true.
Perhaps due to the fact that the expectations going into this card were so low, I found myself enjoying UFC 95 more than any other event this year. And I believe if you think back to how much fun you were having watching those nine fights 10 months ago, you'll agree that UFC 95 exceeded all expectations and gave us the most amount of bang for our back this past year. Even if it was free.
These cards were also considered:
2. UFC 107, December 12 -- Kenny Florian dominated Clay Guida, Frank Mir called his shot against Cheick Kongo, and BJ Penn continued to look unbeatable at 155.
3. UFC 100, July 11 -- The most watched pay-per-view event in North American MMA history featured Brock Lesnar's one-sided victory over Frank Mir (as well as his controversial post-fight antics), Georges St-Pierre's valiant performance against Thiago Alves after tearing an adductor muscle in the third round, and Dan Henderson's gruesome knockout of Michael Bisping.
4. Strikeforce: Evolution, December 19 -- Gilbert Melendez defeated Josh Thomson in an epic rematch, Muhammed Lawal and Ronald "Jacare" Souza looked impressive in their Strikeforce debuts, and Scott Smith's come-for-behind victory against Cung Le provided for some great drama.
5. Sengoku No Ran 2009, January 4 -- Satoru Kitaoka pulled off a shocking submission of Takanori Gomi, Jorge Santiago defeated Kazuo Misaki to become the Sengoku middleweight champion, and Muhammed Lawal won his third pro fight.
Honorable Mention: DREAM.10, Affliction: Day of Reckoning.