Mixed martial arts is the fastest-growing sport in the world, and it’s had its share of controversial moments. Some controversies were forced, while others were simply unavoidable ego clashes. This article will take a look at some of the most controversial fights in MMA history.
Ranking The Most Controversial Bouts In Mixed Martial Arts History
Let us jump right into our list of the most controversial fights in MMA history:
1) Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
The theatrics were at an all-time high heading into what turned out to be one of the biggest fights in mixed martial arts history. Being the two best fighters in the UFC’s lightweight division put these two on a collision course.
The drama started with Khabib’s team cornering Conor’s teammate Artem Lobov at a hotel, slapping him around. That led to McGregor filling up a private jet with his best buddies and heading to New York to confront Khabib. That gave us the infamous bus fiasco that ended with McGregor throwing metal dollies at a UFC bus, injuring several fighters.
Just when it looked like the tension between these two couldn’t get any higher, McGregor took things to the next level during a press conference, making controversial comments about Khabib being a devout Muslim.
The UFC 229 title fight featuring these two exceeded all expectations. Conor put up a decent effort and showed significant improvements in his grappling. However, Khabib took over the fight in the fourth round and submitted Conor with a rear-naked choke. Little did everyone know, there was still more action to come.
Khabib jumped out of the cage, landing a double kick on McGregor teammate Dillion Danis. The craziest brawl in MMA history ensued, with Khabib battling Dillion outside the cage, while two of Khabib’s training partners jumped inside the cage and attacked McGregor. The end of the fight was so crazy that UFC president Dana White refused to wrap the belt around Khabib’s waist in the cage out of fear of inciting the crowd into a riot.
2) Michael Bisping vs. Matt Hamill
These two met while filming the third season of the “Ultimate Fighter” reality show and they never really got along. Bisping quickly established himself as one of the best strikers in the show, while Hamill was clearly the best wrestler. Many expected the two to meet at the finale, but Hamill pulled out of the contest due to fatigue.
Bisping went on to win the series and earn a UFC contract. He finally got a chance to face Hamill at UFC 75 as the hometown favorite, but he couldn’t stop Hamill from dominating him with his wrestling. However, that didn’t matter since the judges ended up giving Bisping an unearned decision that remains the worst robbery in MMA history. This wasn’t a case of the judges not understanding what they saw. The fix was in, as some would say.
3) Jake Shield vs. Dan Henderson
At the time, the fight card these two fought on was a massive moment for mixed martial arts as it was broadcast on a major television network in the U.S. for the first time: CBS. The fight went on without any problems, and Shields added another victory to his record.
However, Shield’s rival Jason Miller came inside the cage during the post-fight interview, looking to talk his way into a fight against Shields. That’s not what happened.
Instead, Jake’s teammate Gilbert Melendez shoved him away, and Nick Diaz (also one of Jake’s training partners) followed up with a punch. What followed was a huge brawl that led to several fighters getting fined. That was the last time Strikeforce fights were television on network television.
4) Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen I And II
Few expected Sonnen to put up much of a fight against Anderson Silva leading up to their UFC 117 encounter. Sonnen talked more trash than all of Silva’s past opponents combined, and he seemed almost delusional about his abilities.
However, Sonnen put on one of the most impressive performances of his career at UFC 117, dominating Silva in a way no one else had. He pressured Silva from the opening bell and took him down at will. Silva was forced to spend most of the rounds on his back as Sonnen pounded away from the top.
Silva ended up pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in MMA history during the fifth round of the fight. He caught Sonnen with a triangle choke with about two minutes left in the fight.
Sonnen wasn’t able to get the job done, but his performance against Silva established him as one of the best middleweights in the world. Then came the positive drug tests that showed Sonnen had abnormally high testosterone levels during his fight.
Sonnen’s excuses for failing his drug test were so good that the UFC made an exception for fighters getting testosterone replacement therapy. They got the Nevada State Athletic Commission to go along.
Sonnen was legally allowed to take testosterone supplements heading into his rematch against Silva, a decision that rubbed many MMA fans the wrong way. The extra boost he got from that didn’t mean much when he faced off against Silva for a second time at UFC 148. Silva was a lot more dominant this time around, putting Sonnen away in the second round.
5) Ben Askren vs. Robbie Lawler
Former Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight champion Ben Askren made his UFC debut against Robbie Lawler in 2019. A former UFC welterweight champion, Robbie came out swinging haymakers, nearly knocking Askren down during the opening moments and viciously slamming him to the ground.
Askren showed a lot of toughness and survived the brutal onslaught, and he turned things around by turning the fight into a grappling contest. He locked up a bulldog choke that looked really tight, forcing referee Herb Dean to check on Robbie to see if he was conscious. Robbie indicated that he was, but Herb Dean must have missed it as he called the fight, bringing the entertaining fight to a controversial end.
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