Welcome back to The Crossfire.
After all, it wasn’t that long ago when Arizona republican Senator John McCain equated the sport to human cockfighting.
Looking back, he may have had a point. There were no weight classes and barely any rules in the beginning.
The fact that McCain approves of the UFC today is evident of how far the UFC and mixed martial arts has evolved.
Crossfire Expert Kenai Andrews takes a look back at some of his all-time favourite moments over the years.
MMA CROSSFIRE EXPERT KENAI ANDREW’S ALL-TIME TOP 20 UFC MOMENTS
1. 2011 – MMA IS LEGALIZED IN ONTARIO
It’s amazing to me to think back to when all we could do was watch the UFC on TV or attend Gerald Chopik’s MMA Expo conventions in Ontario. But the efforts of the MMA combat sports community and then premier Dalton McGuinty’s daughter were to great to overcome. This directly led to…
2. 2011 – UFC 129
I was front row when Dana White announced for the first time the UFC was coming to Toronto. The attendance record setting UFC 129 right here in the SkyDome (I don’t call it the Rogers Centre). From fans of all ages and walks of life finally able to mingle with the fighters and personalities at the Fan Expo, to being cageside.
When the Mark Hominick video montage hit the Jumbotron – with the huge Canadian Flag waving – along with Diddy’s “I’m coming Home” produced a memorable moment of pride and gratefulness of the struggle to bring MMA to the province.
3. 2010 – BROCK LESNAR DEFENDS THE UFC BELT DEFEATING SHANE CARWIN AT UFC 118
As a big professional wrestling fan, Brock was getting the business from “real” fans who disliked his WWE past. A professional wrestler couldn’t cut it in MMA because it’s real. But what did we see with Brock? He made an impact right from his first fight at UFC 100, a submission loss to former champ Frank Mir. He quickly learned on the job, bullying his way to the title in quick fashion, defeating Randy Couture, then defending against Mir and Shane Carwin. Health issues derailed a long premising career, but the damage was done. “Real” fans no longer disrespect his accomplishments.
4. 2000s – CHUCK LIDDELL – TITO ORTIZ RIVALRY
Enough about their fights. Listen to the commentary of Mike Goldberg, Joe Rogan and Randy Couture riding shotgun. Listen to the crowd going crazy when Chuck goes in for the kill. Gawk at Ortiz and his ramp entrance and the American/Mexico hybrid flag. From about every standpoint, Liddell – Ortiz was electrifying.
5. 2013 – UFC CREATES THE WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT DIVISION
Invicta FC, Bellator and Strikeforce showed us that only can women compete, they are just exciting — and marketable – as the men. It took the Olympic Judo bronze medalist Ronda Rousey to finally convince Dana White to give the women a chance and we haven’t looked back since. Now, Season 18 of TUF features coaches Rousey and Miesha Tate and Invicta FC continues to grow and develop the next wave of female fighters.
6. 2011 – LYOTO MACHIDA EXECUTES THE CRANE KICK ON RANDY COUTURE
It was just shocking. 55,000 plus people shocked at the same time when Machida channeled Daniel Larousau and nailed Couture. I can still see his tooth flying out and landing near the end of the cage. And then the class shown by Couture, acknowledging both his defeat and Machida’s finish. He was in good spirits as we walked back, mingling with fans along the way. At the open gym workouts, Couture shocked me by simply walking up and asking how I was doing. I didn’t think think he was that personable. But I learned after seeing him make his exit, that was part what made him Captain America.
7. GEORGES ST-PIERRE AND JOSH KOSCHECK RIVALRY
They had one of the more memorable TUF rivalries and their UFC 124 fight delivered. We saw GSP in probably his last performance to date where he was just pissed off. He wanted to teach Koscheck a lesson and he did. Peppering that left jab made Kos look like Olive Oyl’s #1 sailor afterwards.
8. ANDERSON SILVA KNOCKS OUT VITOR BELFORT AT UFC 126
Ridiculous. I keep hearing Joe Rogan’s orgasmic, “A front kick to the face!” Silva has many great moments for me, but that KO of Belfort at UFC 126 probably encompassed all of them into one there.
9. FRANKIE EDGAR GRAY MAYNARD RIVALRY
I and many others are still wondering how Frankie was able to survive that crime scene beatdown to earn the draw and arguably win! This rivalry confirmed to me that Edgar is indeed the Allen Iverson of MMA.
9. ULTIMATE FIGHTER FINALE FORREST GRIFFIN VS STEPHAN BONNAR
The fight that launched a thousand MMA careers and lifelong UFC fans.
10. CHRIS WEIDMAN KNOCKS OUT ANDERSON SILVA AT UFC 162
A more surreal moment would be a better description. There probably wasn’t a person left dumbfounded at this sequence of events with the possible exception of Chris Weidman himself.
11. GSP PUTS ON A SHOW AT THE UFC 129 OPEN GYM WORKOUTS
He’s known for his open gym theatrics and he was no different at UFC 129.
12. ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON STANDS UP TO JON JONES AT UFC 165
I wasn’t well on fight night, but thank goodness I toughed it out because the everybody on the card and the media did. Jones looked at his own blood like Ivan Drago did in Rocky IV. Watching someone stand up and almost overcome the unbeatable Jones was exhilarating.
13. LIZ CARMOUCHE ALMOST UPSETS RONDA ROUSEY AT UFC 157
The matchup and first women’s fight in UFC history was what it needed to be: Exciting and technical. The former marine pushed the champion.
14. UFC OPEN GYM WORKOUTS
It’s a chance to see the fighters unplugged and in their comfort zone.
Fighters like GSP, Jon Jones and Michael Bisping like to provide edutainment. Others, are more serious and yet their regimen alone is fascinating to watch e.g. The Nogueira brothers. The crowd gets up close and personal and it’s interesting to see their responses.
15. VITOR BELFORT ARMBARS JON JONES AT UFC 152
It was the longest 10 seconds I probably ever witnessed at a UFC live event. Belfort was written off and all he did was sneak in the arm bar, catching Jones all of the Air Canada Centre by surprise. I do believe this bout although a loss, contributed to the Vitor Belfort we are seeing right now.
16. UFC FAN EXPO
It’s hard to pick just one moment from the Expos, but listening to Herb Dean drop the knowledge at a seminar came to mind when putting this together.
Not bad Dominic, not bad at all.
17. ROYCE GRACIE DEFEATS DAN SEVERN TO WIN THE UFC 4 TOURNAMENT
Royce was a 6-1 175 pound toothpick taking on the beast in Dan Severn. After Severn pounding on him for a good 14 minutes, Gracie catches him in an armbar, making Severn tap out. This little guy with choirboy looks was making guys twice his size tap out. One of those moments etched into my brain.
18. CHUCK LIDDELL ANNOUNCES HIS RETIREMENT AT THE UFC 125 PRESS CONFERENCE
It was a sad moment thinking about the end to one of the most dynamic eras in the UFC. The Iceman struggling for words, Gray Maynard, Frankie Edgar clapping to break the awkward silence, but it was time.
19. GEORGES ST-PIERRE KNOCKS OUT MATT HUGHES TO WIN THE UFC WELTERWEIGHT TITLE
GSP wasn’t the first Canadian to win the UFC title. That distinction belongs to Carlos Newton, but St-Pierre’s win at UFC 65 put Canada on the map.
20. UFC 117: SILVA VS SONNEN I
Enjoy the fights.