We all love a good underdog story, and mixed martial arts has had its fair share of underdogs that shocked the world. With so many ways to end an MMA contest, like submission, punches, kicks, elbows, knees, and slams, every underdog in the sport has way more than a puncher’s chance.
The Seven Greatest Underdogs In The History Of Mixed Martial Arts
Time to go over some of the most impressive underdogs in MMA history:
1) Michael Bisping
Bisping didn’t seem to have much of a chance heading into his rematch against Luke Rockhold. The first encounter didn’t go too well for Bisping, as he got tapped out in the second round.
Bisping bounced back from the setback by winning his next three fights, putting himself in the perfect position to step in when Chris Weidman pulled out of his title fight against Rockhold.
Bisping stepped in to face Rockhold with 17 days’ notice, and many people thought the +575 underdog didn’t have much of a chance. Bisping shocked them all, knocking out Rockhold during the first round and claiming the UFC middleweight belt.
2) Josh Burkman
Burkman entered his bout with Jon Fitch at WSOF 3 as a +260 underdog. The UFC had just released Fitch, but he was still regarded as arguably the second-best welterweight in the world at that point, second only to Georges St. Pierre.
Burkman was not intimidated by Fitch’s accomplishments in the UFC, and he only needed 41 seconds to bring their match to an end, putting Fitch to sleep with a guillotine choke, ruining his WSOF debut.
3) Adriano Moraes
Demetrious Johnson, the longest-reigning champion in flyweight history, instantly became the biggest name on the ONE Championship roster when he was part of a trade deal that sent him to ONE Championship, while the Ultimate Fighting Championship acquired Ben Askren.
Johnson got off to an excellent start in his new home, racking up three wins in the Flyweight Grand Prix. That earned him a title shot against Moraes.
Despite Moraes being the reigning champion, he was a +500 underdog heading into his fight against DJ. He didn’t fight like an underdog, though, keeping things competitive from the opening bell. Just when it looked like DJ was starting to take over the fight, Moraes floored DJ with a massive right hand and followed up with a knee that brought the contest to an end. That made Moraes the first man to ever finish Johnson inside the cage – a feat big names like Henry Cejudo, Dominick Cruz, and Joseph Benavidez couldn’t accomplish.
4) Matt Serra
Serra was a massive underdog when he fought Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight title at UFC 69. He didn’t even earn his title shot the conventional way; he got the opportunity by winning the Ultimate Fighter 4 Welterweight Tournament.
GSP had already established himself at that point, defeating Matt Hughes during their rematch to claim the welterweight strap.
Serra had a look in his eye like he knew something others didn’t know heading into the fight. No one gave him much of a chance, given how dominant GSP was during his rematch against Hughes.
Serra needed less than two minutes to put GSP away at UFC 69, hurting him with a massive hook and bombarding him with punches to force the stoppage. Serra accomplished something no one could ever take away from him that night: he became a UFC champion and defeated GSP, who went on to become one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever.
5) Nate Diaz
UFC lightweight Nate Diaz has been a fan favorite since his days on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series. The Stockton native enjoys entertaining fight fans with his high-volume boxing and versatile submission game.
Conor McGregor was the biggest name in mixed martial arts at the time, and he was set to face Rafael dos Anjos in his next outing. Dos Anjos was forced to pull out of the match due to an injury, leaving the opportunity to fight McGregor open for Diaz.
Most people didn’t think Nate had much of a chance going into the contest. Conor was riding a 15-fight win streak, and he was coming off his epic knockout victory against Jose Aldo.
Diaz only had a total of 11 days to prepare for the fight, yet he ended up pulling off one of the biggest upsets in MMA history at UFC 196. Diaz was game from the opening bell, and he got stronger as the fight progressed. During the second round, Diaz caught Conor with a jab-cross combo, forcing Conor to go for an ill-advised takedown. Diaz smirked at him and mockingly asked, “so you’re a wrestler now,” before tapping him out moments later.
6) Julianna Pena
Nunes had done it all heading into her showdown against Pena, winning belts in two divisions and sporting a 12-fight win streak.
Pena was not impressed. The +500 underdog went fight after Nunes at UFC 269, tiring her with frequent barrages of strikes before submitting her in the second round to become the new women’s bantamweight champion.
7) Holly Holm
Holm was a +1200 underdog when she took on Ronda Rousey at UFC 193. Holm was a former boxing champion with limited grappling experience, but she had put together a 10-0 professional MMA record, earning a title shot. Rousey had won her previous 12 fights, most by first-round armbar submissions.
Rousey was expected to make quick out of Holm, but that’s not how the fight went. Holm quickly established herself as the superior striker, making Rousey miss her strikes wildly while successfully defending all takedown attempts.
Rousey’s technique got increasingly wilder as the fight went on, which opened her up to a left roundhouse kick that sent her to the canvas. Holm followed up with some ground-n-pound, forcing the referee to stop the contest, securing the UFC’s women’s bantamweight title.
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