There’s nothing like a good upset to shake things up in the world of mixed martial arts, and the UFC had its share of interesting ones in the first half of 2010. And though the winners on the list below were underdogs going into these defining bouts, it’s safe to say that they won’t be sneaking up on anybody else anytime soon.
5 – Sonnen Decisions Marquardt
Everyone assumed that Chael Sonnen was going to be a stiff test for Nate Marquardt at UFC 109 in February, but few believed that the outspoken Oregonian was going to stop the streak that saw Marquardt knock out Martin Kampmann, Wilson Gouveia, and Demian Maia in consecutive bouts. But with an aggressive ground attack and an inhuman pain tolerance, Sonnen kept pushing and pushing for 15 minutes until the judges awarded him a well-earned unanimous decision win that also put him the number one middleweight contender’s spot.
4 – Russow KO’s Duffee
After a seven second KO of Tim Hague that set a UFC record for fastest knockout, Todd Duffee was going to be a favorite over a lot of people, including his second Octagon foe, Mike Russow. And for much of their bout at UFC 114 in May, things went according to plan for Duffee, who hit Russow with everything but the ring stool while building up an insurmountable lead. Well, it was insurmountable until Russow cracked Duffee with a right hand that ended the bout at 2:35 of the final round, capping off one of the more spectacular comebacks in recent history.
3 – Dunham Stuns Griffin
Soft-spoken Evan Dunham is probably going to be seen as the underdog a lot over the course of his career, but following three UFC wins over Per Eklund, Marcus Aurelio, and Efrain Escudero, the Oregon native was starting to gain positive notices from the fight world. Still, stepping up to face perennial contender and former training partner Tyson Griffin was expected to be too much too soon for the unbeaten Dunham. Well, once the bell rang, it was Dunham in control, as he pounded out a three round split decision that was not as close as that verdict would have you believe.
2 – Hathaway becomes Sanchez’ Nightmare
England’s John Hathaway was solid in his UFC victories against Tom Egan, Rick Story, and Paul Taylor, but few thought the 22-year old had the experience to deal with veteran Diego Sanchez, whose previous three fights saw him in against BJ Penn, Clay Guida, and Joe Stevenson. Hathaway was a revelation though, as he welcomed Sanchez back to the welterweight division with a master class that left no doubt who the winner was after three rounds. It was ‘The Hitman’
1 – Edgar Shocks Penn
No surprise when it comes to the fight at the top of the list here, but it was a surprise at Abu Dhabi in April, when scrappy New Jersey native Frankie Edgar put on a career-defining performance by defeating BJ Penn for the UFC lightweight title. And while the fight was competitive and close, there was little doubt that Edgar’s crisp striking and effective movement, as well as a couple points-scoring takedowns, solidified the new champ’s unanimous decision win. Penn does get his shot at redemption in August though.
Honorable Mention - Beltran-Gracie, Dunham-Escudero, Dollaway-Reljic, Dos Anjos-Etim,
Doerksen-Lawlor, Leben-Akiyama, Leben-Simpson