One of the great things about MMA is that, as the sport evolves, it becomes more and more exciting. Moves become more advanced, and the athleticism of the fighters grows immensely year by year. As a result, we have no shortage of exciting moments over the course of the year, and 2010 has been no exception.
It’s difficult to pinpoint 10 such moments, but I tried my best to narrow it down. With that, I present to you—in no particular order—the Top 10 Most Exciting Moments in MMA of 2010.
CAIN VELASQUEZ VS. BROCK LESNAR
Lesnar took his second beating in as many fights, but this one resulted in his second career loss. Former ASU wrestler Velasquez, out-punched, out-wrestled, and out-worked his much larger counterpart to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship in convincing fashion. Not a butt was in its seat from start to finish.
FABRICIO VERDUM VS. FEDOR EMELIANENKO
Maybe “exciting” isn’t as appropriate as “shocking.” The Fedor loss was the most shocking defeat the sport has seen since perhaps the first time Royce Gracie lost. It was the unthinkable, the unimaginable, and quite frankly, the most silencing moment that the sport has seen in thousands of fights. Lesson to everyone who ever decides to join this line of work: eventually everyone loses.
RANDY COUTURE VS. JAMES TONEY
Billed as boxing versus MMA, the sport could have taken a huge hit in morale had “The Natural” not defeated the ever-chatty Toney, who did his best to get under everyone’s skin and actually had some people believing in him. Instead, Couture did what he does best—executed the perfect gameplan, had a little fun, and did it all with a smile on his face. Once again, Couture did his best to move the sport forward. Game, set, match.
BROCK LESNAR VS. SHANE CARWIN
This was the first time anybody had seen the seemingly invincible and ominous Lesnar totally vulnerable and hurt. He weathered quite the storm, to say the least, and stepped up from what appeared to be the ashes of defeat, submitting an exhausted Carwin to retain his title. Wow!
ANDERSON SILVA VS. CHAEL SONNEN
For the first four and a half rounds, it appeared the table was set for the world to be shocked. Little did we know that the true shocker would come in the final 30 seconds of action when Silva caught Sonnen in a triangle choke to retain his title in stunning fashion.
FRANKIE EDGAR VS. BJ PENN I
This was one of the biggest upsets the sport has seen in recent memory. Edgar, in both of their battles, showed better wrestling. In taking Penn down, we witnessed a complete rarity. All the while, the world was waiting for Penn to turn it on. However, Edgar imposed his will and broke the legendary Penn.
This was MMA’s most exciting overall card of the year. Jose Aldo vs. Urijah Faber was the clear passing of the torch from the biggest name the WEC has ever produced to the name that will now take it into the UFC. The hype was the most electrifying buildup to a fight the promotion has ever enjoyed. On that same card came perhaps the Fight of The Year when Leonard Garcia and the Chan Sung Jung, aka “The Korean Zombie,” stood and banged, banged, banged away to the roar of a frenzied crowd. Ben Henderson bested Donald Cerrone, and Manny Gamburyan shocked onlookers with a devastating TKO of the always tough Mike Brown. This was the most entertaining fight card of the year, narrowly besting UFC 116.
CHRIS LEBEN VS. YOSHIHIRO AKIYAMA
Leben took the fight on short notice and just a couple weeks after his prior fight. He was merely supposed to be a sacrificial lamb. But a funny thing happened on the way to the arena. Somebody forgot to give Leben the memo. He took everything the heavily favored “Sexyama” had waiting for him and gave us all a true glimpse into what it’s like to have the heart of a lion. Leben also happened to end the fight with the last possible way anyone would have predicted—triangle choke.
MAURICIO RUA VS. LYOTO MACHIDA
After losing a controversial decision to “The Dragon” in their previous bout, Rua didn’t leave this one up to the judges. He came out firing, and for the first time, we saw Machida flat on his back.
Every one of his fights is exciting.
The fight didn’t live up to the hype, but the excitement generated by Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans’ total disdain for each other was nothing short of dynamic.