Top Five Fights of 2015
A run down of the best five fights of 2015, ranging from the wild to the technical.
Jeremy Stephens v Dennis Bermudez
A barn burner from start to finish. Fighters throw with reckless abandon. A ridiculous flying knee K.O.
John Lineker v Francisco Rivera
Lineker had a history of not being able to make weight (he failed to make it FOUR TIMES!) and after failing to do it again Dana White forced him to move up a division. Many people thought that with his size and strength advantage gone he would no longer be able to drop opponents the way he had been at flyweight.
His first fight at bantamweight proved those people wrong and reminded everyone why he is named hands of stone. Dude is tiny yet hits like a truck. For some reason Rivera decided it would be a good idea to stand right in front of Lineker and throw down with him. And it was a good idea as far as the fans are concerned because holy hell this fight is 2 minutes of insanity. Both men land huge.
No. 5 – Brian Ortega v Thiago Tavares UFC Fight Night
Undefeated prospect Brian Ortega seemed to have bitten off more than he could chew when he called out respected vet Thiago Tavares. This fight went everywhere and had everything. Impressive take downs, slick submission attempts, ground and pound from both the top and bottom, plenty of claret for the just bleed crowd, flying punches, and multiple knockdowns. Both men showed their grit and will, and both men put on a clear Fight of the Year candidate.
No. 4 – Andrei Arlovski vs Travis Browne UFC 187
Arlovski has been around for a long time. He was a UFC champ back in 2005. He was a popular fighter, involved in one of the better heavyweight trilogies against Tim Sylvia. But then time moved on and Arlovski seemed done. He got knocked out whilst in mid air against Fedor Emelianenko in 2009 and then lost three more straight. But Arlovski refused to go quietly into the night and somehow turned it all around. He hasn’t lost a fight in over two years. The most entertaining fight in that run is undoubtedly this bar room brawl between himself and Travis Browne. This isn’t a technical fight, it’s two lumbering giants with dynamite for fists just swinging at each other. One seems dead, then the other does, then back it goes. One of the greatest single round fights ever for sure.
No. 3 – Daniel Cormier vs Alexander Gustafsson UFC 192
Hey, UFC matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby, I’ve got some advice for you: If you’ve got a new light heavyweight champ, give them Alexander Gustafsson. The man knows how to put on exciting title fights and how to test champions. He pushes them to their limit. He did it with Jon Jones in what is still arguably the best light heavyweight fight ever, and it does it here again against DC.
At first things didn’t look too promising, DC pulls off a really impressive takedown, tossing Alex (the much taller man) above his head like he’s nothing and then dumps him down with force. And for much of the first round that is where the fight stays, on the ground. It’s looking like DC’s wrestling will be too much for Alex to handle. But in the second round Alex starts landing punches and getting out of the way of takedown attempts. In fact, surprising everyone, Alex takes DC down TWICE. From there on out the fight is on. DC gets in close and works wonders in the clinch. Alex lands jabs at range and scores a knockdown with a stinging knee. Both men put on a show that was close enough to result in a split decision.
My one complaint, is that as a Gustafsson fan, the fight can be a little bit frustrating at times. Why does Alex keep turning his back completely to run away from DC’s onslaught rather than cutting angles like he should do. Why does he keep looking away from DC and just staring at his corner for a number of seconds. It’s strange behavior from the usually on point fighter. But regardless, an extremely entertaining fight that boosted the stock of both men.
No. 2 – Justin Gaethje v Luis Palomino WSOF 19
Not all great fights occur in the UFC and this year one of the best took place at the World Series of Fighting 19 between one of my favourite lightweights Justin Gaethje (who really should be in the UFC… and then matched up with Eddie Alverez) and Luis Palomino.
When I put this list together in my mind this was actually coming in at number 4, behind the Cormier fight and behind the Arlovski fight. Then I watched it again. God damn, that is a pace those guys put on. There was no way it could’ve gone five rounds at that breakneck speed. And speaking of breakneck, that takedown Gaethje pulls off by essentially slamming Palomino from a standing rear naked choke is unbelievable. All you want from a fighter is that they put their everything into a performance, and that cannot be denied when it comes to these two competitors.
No. 1 – Robbie Lawler v Rory MacDonald 2 UFC 189
Dana White didn’t just call this his fight of the year, he called it his fight of the ever. I won’t go that far, but I also see where he is coming from. It’s such a clear instant classic. The word War gets tossed around a lot in this game, but for this fight there is no better way of describing it. Lawler and MacDonald met in the centre of the octagon, went to war, and didn’t blink until they were both bloodied, bruised, and battered.
My favourite MMA moment ever has always been BJ Penn against Sean Sherk when BJ calls the fight over (BJ don’t need no refs!) and then licks the blood off his gloves. Lawler v MacDonald 2 has a moment that tops that. At the end of round four the bell goes and Referee Big John McCarthy ushers both men back to their corners. Neither budges an inch. They lock eyes and glare at each other. Lawler’s lip split to the point it looks like he’s got a second mouth on the side of his face. MacDonald’s nose completely shattered. I don’t know what either was thinking, but it looks like a mix of total respect and an absolute refusal to back down. It gives me chills just thinking about it.
They threw everything at each other. Robbie was rocked. Rory was rocked. Both were exhausted. Both of their lungs were filling up with their own blood. Both showed an unbreakable heart and an endless amount of guts.
Of all the fights on this list, this will be the one we talk about in ten, twenty, thirty years time. A masterpiece.
So that’s it, the best five fights of the year.
And speaking of Robbie Lawler, guess what’s up next:
The Ruthless one verses the Natural Born Killer. Two of the nastiest finishers the welterweight division has ever seen. If you aren’t pumped for this, then you don’t know shit, Jack. Bring it on!