Let me take you back to March of 2010.
I was a 19 year old college freshman. I liked skipping class, playing Modern Warfare 2, and eating Pizza Rolls. I was a neckbeard without the ability to grow any facial hair.
I had no problem making friends in college. The most important friend I made in college was Jimmy P. He’s the only one who remains a friend to this day. Jimmy changed my life when he introduced me to MMA.
I thought the UFC was in offshoot of WWE. I thought it was fake as hell. I had never really watched it. I had just assumed. I gotta give Jimmy props. Most guys would have dismissed me as fast as I dismissed MMA. Jimmy stuck with me. He said, “No. We’re watching The Ultimate Fighter.”
He had the first season on DVD. We binged it all over the next several hours. The season finale fight between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin has been called the most important fight in UFC history. For 3 rounds, these two grown men threw technique and strategy to the wind and beat the unholy fuck out of one another. It was unreal and I was in love.
March 27th, 2010. UFC 111. GSP defending his welterweight title against Dan Hardy. Me, Jimmy, and another friend named Rich went across the border to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to watch the fight at a small bar. GSP dominated the fight, but Dan Hardy battled through some deep submissions that would’ve made most people tap out. Immediately after the fight, Dan Hardy became my favorite fighter. He was massively outmatched by GSP, but the resilience he showed was inspiring. I wanted to know everything there was to know about this sport.
I started watching old fights, taking mental notes. “This works here. This doesn’t work here. This guy’s stand-up is deadly. This guy is a snake on the ground.”
So, in summation, the real reason I love this sport is because it’s the most primal form of competition perfected. To be successful in the sport, you have to be so well rounded everywhere. You could have the ability to punch through a concrete wall, but if you haven’t practiced anything on the ground your ass is probably going to get choked out. If you’re really good on the ground, but your stand-up is soft, there’s a good chance you’re going to be KO’d.
I’m going to end this post with 5 essential fights for a person who’s looking to get into the sport. These were the fights that solidified my fandom:
UFC 111: GSP vs Dan Hardy
The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale: Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonnar
UFC on Versus 4: Cheik Kongo vs Pat Barry. These guys put on a show in this one. Back and forth fight.
UFC 206: Cub Swanson vs Doo Ho Choi. Choi is the up and coming killer. Swanson is the grizzled veteran of the sport. I was out of my seat for this one.
UFC 101: Forrest Griffin vs Anderson Silva. Anderson Silva put on an absolute standup clinic on Griffin.