Some of sports’ greatest moments belong to the underdog.
That statement stands true, especially in the UFC, where fighters can be counted out by oddsmakers before the fight has begun. But, over the years, we’ve seen some incredible performances by underdogs on the UFC’s biggest stages that resulted in upsets of some of the sport’s most legendary athletes.
These are the fighters that did shock the world.
Matt Serra defeats Georges St-Pierre
UFC 69 – April 7, 2007
Matt Serra winning The Ultimate Fighter was must-see television. Little did we know that Serra had something even more entertaining in store for fans at UFC 69 when he faced welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
Serra pulled off one of the craziest upsets to ever happen in UFC history, he knocked out the Canadian superstar in the first round. The Toyota Center in Houston went wild as they tried to wrap their minds around what had just taken place in front of them.
It’s a moment that will live on every UFC highlight reel for the rest of time and reminded us that any man or woman can win on any day.
Chris Weidman defeats Anderson Silva
UFC 162 – July 6, 2013
Entering UFC 162, Anderson Silva had defended the UFC middleweight title ten consecutive times. He had never been defeated in the UFC and put on a show on his way to victory.
The desire to be an entertainer may have been Silva’s ultimate downfall, as he would finally fall to undefeated contender Chris Weidman. In the second round, Silva appeared to be provoking Weidman when the “All American” connected with a shot that sent Silva instantly to the canvas.
And just like that, Weidman had done the unthinkable. There weren’t many that gave him a chance to beat Silva and he pulled it off in an unforgettable way.
Rose Namajunas defeats Joanna Jedrzejczyk
UFC 217 – November 4, 2017
Entering with just a 7-3 record, strawweight Rose Namajunas found herself standing across from the undefeated “Boogeywoman” Joanna Jedrzejczyk at the world-famous Madison Square Garden.
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It was a massive stage that Namajunas welcomed with open arms. Early in the first round she ended Jedrzejczyk’s title reign with a stunning knockout. It was one of those moments where every person was out of their seat and picking their jaw off the floor.
That night was just a preview of the champion and fighter that Namajunas would go on to be.
Holly Holm defeats Ronda Rousey
UFC 193 – November 14, 2015
At the time of UFC 193, there was no more popular athlete on the UFC roster than Ronda Rousey. The bantamweight champion had completely taken the mixed martial arts world by storm, and she blazed through the competition, finishing fights with armbars in the blink of an eye.
Then came “The Preacher’s Daughter.” In front of a record-breaking crowd over 56,000+, Holly Holm shocked the world. Holm connected with a series of strikes and a massive head kick that put Rousey on skates. Holm followed up and battered Rousey until the referee waved off the fight and officially signaled the end of Rousey’s astounding championship run.
To this day, it is one of the most shocking moments in UFC history.
Michael Bisping defeats Luke Rockhold
UFC 199 – June 4, 2016
It took Michael Bisping almost ten years to become champion, but when he did, it was something out of a movie.
“The Count” worked his way through the UFC middleweight rankings for years, finding himself just on the outside of title contention on multiple occasions. In 2016, he finally got his chance to compete for the belt when he took on Luke Rockhold on short notice after an injury to Chris Weidman.
Rockhold already held a dominant submission win over Bisping entering UFC 199, but Bisping would even the score in spectacular fashion. Bisping knocked Rockhold out in the first round and finally secured UFC gold. It was truly the performance of a lifetime for one of the UFC’s most beloved fighters.
Julianna Peña defeats Amanda Nunes
UFC 269 – December 11, 2021
In the lead up to UFC 269, Julianna Peña was unwavering in her confidence, and she knew exactly what she had to do in order to lift the bantamweight title off Amanda Nunes’ shoulder.
Did people believe her? That didn’t matter. Peña stepped into the Octagon at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas believing in her abilities, and she was able to execute her gameplan.
Peña allowed Nunes to tire herself out and then she turned the bout into a slugfest. That’s when she started clipping Nunes, took the fight to the canvas, and then submitted the fighter everyone had labeled “The G.O.A.T.” It was incredible.
Peña rose to the occasion and etched her name in the UFC history books as the fifth UFC bantamweight champ.