The 411 MMA Top 10 7.14.14: Top 10 TUF Coaches’ Fights
Posted by Alex Rella on 07.14.2014
From Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate II to Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture II, BJ Penn vs. Jens Pulver and more, 411's Alex Rella counts down the top 10 TUF coach fights of all-time!
Ten Best TUF Coaches' Fights
What's up everybody, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. Another season of The Ultimate Fighter just ended, so this week we will be looking at the ten best fights between coaches on the show. Of course the most recent one between Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn will not be making the cut, but many of the other matchups have been great. The selection process should be pretty straight forward as it had to be a fight between two fighters that coached against each other on the show, no replacement fighters (Liddell vs Franklin). And of course it had to be the fight that came after their coaching appearance. The rankings were done mainly on fight quality, then the significance of the fight, and some of my personal opinion.
• Patrick Cote vs Kyle Noke- Cote won via unanimous decision
• Fabricio Werdum vs Big Nog- Werdum won via second round armbar.
10: Rashad Evans vs Quinton Jackson UFC 114
What was great about this fight was that these two fighters genuinely hated each other with a passion. To build up to this fight they coached the tenth season of TUF against each other. Team Evans completely dominated the heavyweight season as only one member of Team Rampage made it past the first round of fights. The showdown was supposed to happen in 2009, but it would get pushed back as Rampage left to be a movie star and he "retired" from fighting. Jackson eventually returned at UFC 114 in what was supposed to be a number one contender fight and he looked rusty after not fighting for fourteen months. Evans capitalized when he came out and exploded on Rampage almost immediately. Evans dominated the first two rounds as he took Jackson down and outstruck him standing up. Jackson came back a bit in the third round when he knocked him down with a right, but he couldn't capitalize on it and Evans came back to score another take down as the fight ended. Evans won by unanimous decision and was supposed to get a title shot against Shogun Rua afterwards, but both guys got injured and the fight never happened.
9: GSP vs Josh Koschek UFC 124
The two originally met at UFC 74, but their title fight at UFC 124 was much better. Koscheck defeated Paul Daley at UFC 113 to earn his title shot and a coaching spot opposite GSP on TUF 12. GSP had two of his fighters competing in the finale (Jonathan Brookins defeated Michael Johnson). They met in Canada and GSP won by unanimous decision after jabbing Koscheck's face in. They were pretty evenly matched when it came to wrestling in the first two rounds, but Koscheck's face was a complete mess in the later rounds and GSP dominated him on the ground as well. By the end of the fight, Koscheck's right eye was completely swollen shut and suffered a broken orbital bone. Afterwards, Koscheck would be unable to fly due to air pockets that formed round his eye and had to drive down to Boston for surgery.
8: Ross Pearson vs George Sotiropoulos UFC on FX 6
The only fight on this list that doesn't have any star power, but the two met after coaching TUF: The Smashes. This was a hate filled season that had an interesting and kinda funny incident. This wasn't caught on camera but, Sotiropoulos punched a member of Pearson's training staff because of something that was said on twitter. The guy he punched was boxing coach Erin Beach, who fought back and knocked Sotiropoulos unconscious. This was Pearson's return to lightweight after a brief run at featherweight and Sotiropoulos' first fight since July 2011. The first round was close, but Pearson's boxing was too good in the second and third round. Pearson won by TKO in the third and I still think the guy has some serious potential at lightweight.
7: BJ Penn vs Jens Pulver TUF 5 Finale
The rematch that took five years to take place as Pulver handed Penn his first career loss at UFC 35 for the UFC lightweight title. Penn had just unsuccessfully challenged Matt Hughes for the welterweight title and this was his first fight at lightweight in four years. Pulver left the UFC after their first fight and didn't have the same success in other promotions. Pulver was just coming back over from Pride where he was only 2-2. Both guys coached TUF season 5 leading up to the fight. This was a pretty stacked season with Nate Diaz, Gray Maynard, Joe Lauzon, Matt Wiman, and Manny Gamburyan. Two members of team Pulver competed in the finals, but Pulver didn't fare as well. Penn was just too good for him at this point. Penn knocked him down with a quick flurry in the first and almost put him away at two different points, but Pulver was able to escape. Penn picked up right where he left off in second round and put Pulver away with a rear naked choke as he started the best run of his career at 155 lbs.
6: Matt Hughes vs Matt Serra UFC 98
Matt Hughes had a lot of personal grudge fights. This feud started when Serra was a competitor on TUF 4. Hughes' easy defeat of Gracie came up quite a bit on that season and Serra took insult to it. Hughes has been known for ribbing other fighters and it was seen with GSP and Serra on this season. They then coached the sixth season opposite each other and were supposed to fight at UFC 79, but Serra's back problems delayed the fight. The fight finally came about a year and a half later and it was so close. In the first round, Hughes was hit with an inadvertent headbutt and Serra took advantage bringing down some huge blows to Hughes, though Hughes was able to comeback with his ground game at the end of the first round. Hughes was able to control Serra on the ground for the second round, but didn't get much damage in. The third round was incredibly tough to call as Hughes had success on the ground, but Serra came back late with a takedown of his own which were followed up by some big shots. Hughes won by unanimous decision (29-28 x3) and it seemed like the two had ended their feud, but they still occasionally throw insults at each other even though they're both retired.
5: Dan Henderson vs Michael Bisping UFC 100
Dan Henderson defeated Rich Franklin at UFC 93 to earn a coaching spot against Michael Bisping in the ninth season of TUF and what was supposed to be a number one contender fight at UFC 100. Team Bisping/UK won both the welterweight and lightweight brackets with Ross Pearson and James Wilks. The fight was spent entirely standing up and it was a good one. Bisping was 3-0 at middleweight at this point, but he still couldn't stop himself from circling to his left. The commentators saw it coming and even his corner knew what would happen if he didn't stop it as they emphatically yelled at him after the first round. But the H-bomb connected and it was brutal. Hendo also connected with one more shot while Bisping was on the ground before the ref could stop it. This was the Knockout of the Night and of the Year in 2009.
4: Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tate UFC 168
Rowdy Ronda Rousey was originally supposed to coach/fight against Cat Zingano in the eighteenth season of TUF, but a knee injury to Zingano sent the UFC scrambling for a replacement and Miesha Tate got the nod. Ideally fighters coming off losses shouldn't get title shots, but the feud was already there and who knows how many other fighters turned it down. The season was one of the best in years as the addition of female fighters on the show and the two coaches' legitimate hate for each other made things really fun to watch. The actual fight between the judges was great too. Tate was able to push Rousey more than anyone ever has as she took the fight into the third round, but it ended with an armbar nonetheless. It was the Fight of the Night and Rousey won Submission of the Night.
3: Frank Mir vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira UFC 92
UFC 92 drew one million pay per view buys as it was one of the most stacked cards the UFC has ever put on. These two former champions battled in the co-main event for the interim heavyweight title. The UFC set up the interim title while Randy Couture was sitting out with his contract dispute nonsense around 2008. Big Nog defeated Tim Sylvia in the main event at UFC 81, so then the UFC set up a mini tournament once Couture returned. Both fighters coached TUF season 8 to add onto the build of the fight. This season had lightweights and light heavyweights competing for spots in the UFC. Team Nogueira won both tournaments and many of the light heavyweights from that season are still in the UFC today. Anyway, by this point Brock Lesnar had defeated Couture and would take on the winner of this fight to unify the titles. Mir just dominated this fight with his boxing. A lot of people said the first round was 10-8 which I think is a little too much, but Mir did knock him down twice in the round. Nogueira looked better in the second round working in some leg kicks and jabs, but Mir dropped him with a left hook and finished him on the ground with a flurry of punches. Mir won his second UFC title and became the first person to finish Big Nog.
2: Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture UFC 52
These two originally met for the interim light heavyweight title back at UFC 43 when Tito Ortiz was ducking Chuck Liddell. It was Randy Couture's first fight at light heavyweight and he shocked everyone when he outstruck Liddell for three rounds and eventually won by KO. During the next two years, Couture became the undisputed champ as he defeated Ortiz and Vitor Belfort while Liddell was sent over to Pride. Liddell scored two victories over Ortiz and Vernon White upon his return to the UFC to earn his rematch with Couture. The two were chosen as the coaches on the first season of TUF and the show was the perfect way to build to their epic rematch. This was the first PPV after the season and it did a then record 280,000 PPV buys. They started circling with some jabs and you could see that Liddell was looking for the huge counter punch. There was an eye poke while they were in the clinch, but Couture came out firing once he was given a minute to collect himself. That was when he walked into a huge right hand and he was knocked out cold. Some people were disappointed it wasn't a long battle, but it was one of the best knockouts ever following the incredibly successful first season.
1: Forrest Griffin vs Quinton Jackson
Forrest Griffin earned a title shot against Rampage Jackson after upsetting Shogun at UFC 76. Both fighters coached TUF 7 against each other leading up to this one as well. Rampage was undefeated in the UFC at this point including a title win against Liddell and one title defense against Dan Henderson. Griffin was in danger early in the first round when he got dropped with an uppercut. Griffin was able to escape and comeback in the second round. Griffin hit a leg kick that hurt Rampage for the rest of the fight. Griffin was then able to take him down and dominate the rest of the round. The rest of the fight had some great back and forth striking. Rampage almost power bombed Griffin in the fourth round when Griffin had him in a triangle choke, but Griffin smartly let go of the hold to avoid the damage. Griffin won the title via unanimous decision, the fight also won Fight of the Night honors and Fight of the Year by Wrestling Observer. This was such a huge fight too because it highlighted how far the UFC had come in a way. Griffin was in that historic TUF fight and would gradually grow for years as a fighter and finally reach the top on this night.
• So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fight out that you thought should be in the top 10.
• As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.