The Highly Unofficial Half-Year awards season continues with the biggest upsets of 2014 thus far...
With so many top-level fighters put together in evenly matched bouts, you would think that major upsets would be a thing of the past. But there are always those few underdogs that catch lightning in a bottle and send the favorites scrambling for answers, and here are five of the biggest underdog winners we've seen so far in 2014.
5 – Thiago Santos-Ronny Markes
After losing his UFC debut in 41 seconds to Cezar Ferreira, Thiago Santos’ UFC job security wasn’t looking too hot as he approached his March bout with Ronny Markes. Sure, Markes had lost his previous bout to Yoel Romero, but he was a swarming wrestler, a huge 185-pounder, and one who didn’t even make weight, making him an even more imposing figure. Yet Santos was on top of his game, taking just 53 seconds to get in the UFC win column and produce a knockout win that he won’t likely ever forget.
4 – Zak Cummings-Yan Cabral
There are groundfighters and then there are guys like Yan Cabral, jiu-jitsu wizards who need just one mistake to make you tap. So when the unbeaten Cabral took on Zak Cummings in Cincinnati in May, it was expected that over the course of 15 minutes, the underrated Cummings would be competitive, but that he wouldn’t be able to avoid that fight-ending mistake. Well, that’s why they fight the fights, and Cummings was focused and on point from start to finish against his crafty foe, pounding out a well-deserved unanimous decision win.
3 – Johnny Eduardo-Eddie Wineland
After two knockout losses in his last three fights to Renan Barao and Johnny Eduardo, you probably won’t expect Eddie Wineland to send any Christmas cards to members of Brazil’s Nova Uniao team. Yet while most expected Barao to win his title fight with Wineland last September, seeing the former WEC bantamweight champ lose to Eduardo (who had been on the shelf since 2012) was a shocker. The fact that it happened by way of knockout made it even more stunning to fight fans who expected to see Wineland fight his way back into the title picture.
2 – Alex Caceres-Sergio Pettis
The hype machine was strapped to Sergio Pettis’ back the first time he put on gloves, and to his credit, the brother of UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis took it all in stride and delivered the kind of performances that earned him the nickname “The Phenom.” He didn’t miss a beat in his Octagon debut last November, defeating Will Campuzano, and he was on his way to another win against Alex Caceres when “Bruce Leeroy” roared back in the final round and finished the Fight of the Night scrap with a rear naked choke that came with just 21 seconds left.
1 – TJ Dillashaw-Renan Barao
Many called TJ Dillashaw’s May win over Renan Barao for the UFC bantamweight title the greatest upset in UFC history. I wouldn’t go that far, still holding Matt Serra’s win over Georges St-Pierre in that top spot, but Dillashaw-Barao certainly belongs in the top five, especially when you look at Barao’s dominance at 135 pounds and his 35-fight unbeaten streak. But on this night in Las Vegas, it was all Dillashaw, as the Californian put on a master class before finishing the bout in the fifth round. Without question, it was the biggest upset of 2014 thus far, but if Dillashaw repeats the feat in their August rematch, that one won’t be categorized with the first fight in the slightest.
HONORABLE MENTION – Beneil Dariush-Charlie Brenneman, Alan Patrick-John Makdessi, Mark Eddiva-Jumabieke Tuerxun, Vaughan Lee-Nam Phan, Chad Laprise-Olivier Aubin-Mercier, KJ Noons-Sam Stout, Mitch Clarke-Al Iaquinta, Vinc Pichel-Anthony Njokuani, Anthony Johnson-Phil Davis, Rob Font-George Roop