MMA fans got a taste of just about everything in 2010. Iconic champions Fedor Emelianenko and BJ Penn fell from their thrones. New superstars Anthony Pettis, Dominick Cruz, and Joe Warren emerged from relative anonymity. And, champions Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, and Nick Diaz managed to maintain the status quo. Through it all, MMA continued to surge in popularity, selling out new arenas and giving people all over the world something to cheer about. FIGHT!was there to capture all of the hits.
The Year’s Key Events.
Headlining WEC 46 in Sacramento, Benson Henderson submits fellow Arizonan Jamie Varner with a standing guillotine at 2:41 of round three to unify the WEC Lightweight Titles.
Abu Dhabi-owned Flash Entertainment becomes a partner of Zuffa, LLC, acquiring a 10% share of the UFC’s parent company.
Nick Diaz captures the inaugural Strikeforce Welterweight Championship.The Stockton native stops DREAM Welterweight Champion Marius Zaromskis with punches in round one on the same night former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker successfully debuts in MMA.
UFC 109 sees the first-ever clash between UFC Hall of Famers. Randy Couture’s second round submission win over Mark Coleman closes a Las Vegas show stolen by former teammate Chael Sonnen, whose onslaught of quotable trash talk was backed by a dominating unanimous decision over former UFC 185-pound title challenger Nate Marquardt.
Sydney, Australia, hosts UFC 110, leaving Africa and Antarctica as the only continents untouched by the UFC.
Lightweight pioneer Jens Pulver leaves fans with an emotional goodbye at WEC 47 in Columbus, Ohio, where Dominick Cruz earns the 135-pound belt by beating Brian Bowles.
The UFC airs on Versus with UFC Live from Broomfield, Colorado, featuring Jon Jones breaking Brandon Vera’s face in three places in the main event.
Lavar Johnson scores a technical knockout of Lolohea Mahe with punches in the second round, in his hometown of Fresno, California, 12 months after suffering gunshot wounds to the abdomen and chest.
Anderson Silva breaks the record for most consecutive title defenses (6) with a unanimous decision over Demian Maia at The Concert Arena—a venue built at the Ferrari World theme park exclusively for UFC 112—in Abu Dhabi, UAE, marking the UFC’s first venture into the Middle East.
Strikeforce offers three title fights on primetime CBS. Muhammed Lawal becomes their Light Heavyweight Champion by defeating Gegard Mousasi, while Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields retained the Lightweight and Middleweight Titles against Shinya Aoki and Dan Henderson. A post-fight brawl starring Jason “Mayhem” Miller and the Cesar Gracie fight team overshadows the night’s actual fights.
World Extreme Cagefighting hosts its first pay-per-view from Arco Arenain Sacramento, where 145-pound kingpin Jose Aldo bests hometown hero Urijah Faber for five rounds to retain his belt at WEC 48.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua avenges a controversial decision loss to Lyoto Machida with a first-round, Knockout of the Night performance to seize the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
The UFC Undisputed video game series returns to consoles with its 2010 installment.
Rashad Evans gets his hand raised opposite nemesis Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 114 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas after hyping their animosity as TUF coaches several months before.
Rampage stars in The A-Team alongside Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper, distinguishing himself as the first mixed martial artist to appear in a leading role in a blockbuster flick.
Court McGee overcomes a heroin addiction through fighting, culminating with a $25,000 Submission of the Night win over Kris McCray to take The Ultimate Fighter 11 crown.
After nearly a decade undefeated, Fedor Emelinanenko submits to Fabricio Werdum’s historic trianglearmbar69 seconds into their Strikeforce bout at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
Shinya Aoki restores his pride at the cost of Tatsuya Kawajiri’s ankle, at 1:53 of round one, to defend his DREAM lightweight belt following an uninspiring decision loss to Gilbert Melendez in Strikeforce three months prior.
Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight Champion Sarah Kaufman KOs Roxanne Modaferri via slam en route to No. 4 on ESPN’s “Plays of the Week.”
Inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Brock Lesnar dramatically submits Shane Carwin via arm-triangle choke at UFC 116 to claim the UFC’s undisputed Heavyweight Title after a near-death experience with diverticulitis. Chris Leben taps out Yoshihiro Akiyamavia triangle choke with 20 seconds left in the contest for his second win in two weeks.
Jon Jones headlines the second UFC Live installment and urges San Diego to “Stay classy,” following a series of fight-ending elbows to Vladimir Matyushenko at 1:52 of round one, solidifying his rapidly ascending stardom.
The UFC arrives in the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time, offering Anderson Silva’s miraculous lastminute triangle choke over polarizing and popular challenger Chael Sonnen. The victory moves Silva to an unprecedented undefeated UFC ledger of 11-0, also furthering his record for most consecutive title defenses to 7.
UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture co-stars alongside Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, and a host of other action icons in the summer blockbuster The Expendables.
Mixed martial arts is sanctioned in the Canadian province of Ontario, opening the door for Toronto to host events in 2011.
A rematch for the Sengoku Middleweight Championship finds Jorge Santiago retaining his belt in a bloody and back-and-forth five round affair with Kazuo Misaki.
The UFC hits Boston for the first time.Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion James Toney meets UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture inside the Octagon and submits promptly. Frankie Edgar, still an underdog after defying four-to-one odds versus BJ Penn in their UFC 112 title bout, beats “The Prodigy” again in his first title defense.
Joe Warren overcomes a hellacious beating at the hands of Joe Soto to capture the Bellator 145-pound title belt via knockout.
Pioneering mixed martial arts apparel company TapouT is sold to New York-based Authentic Brands Group. Silver Star is also acquired in the deal.
Chael Sonnen tests positive for steroids after his UFC 117 title fight with Anderson Silva.
Nick Diaz erases his only defeat in the last four years—a controversial cut loss to K.J. Noons—with a unanimous decision to retain his Strikeforce Welterweight Title. Former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh Thomson admits, “
No way did I win that fight 30-27” following a unanimous decision over Gesias Cavalcante, pushing pleas to address on-going scoring issues in MMA.
EA Sports releases its first MMA title. One of the video game’s cover stars, Fedor Emelianenko, reveals he is a member of Russian parliament.
Eddie Alvarez batters Roger Huerta for 10 minutes to remain the Bellator Lightweight Champion and Ben Askren snags the Welterweight Title from Lyman Good in a five-round contest.
Cain Velasquez ends Brock Lesnar’s Heavyweight Title reign at 4:12 of their UFC 121 fight at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Jake Shields defeats Martin Kampmann via split decision, extending his win-streak to 15 fights in six years.
Zuffa, parent company of fight promotions UFC and WEC, announces a merger between the two organizations that closes the WEC and brings their 155, 145, and 135-pound weight classes to the UFC permanently.
BJ Penn goes ahead of Matt Hughes 2-1 in their trilogy with a 21 second knockout of the UFC Hall of Famer at UFC 123 from the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
On the same night Jonathan Brookins wins TUF 12, Strikeforce holds a night of particularly viscous knockouts capped off by Dan Henderson’s destruction of Renato Sobral.
The Orange County California District Attorney’s office convicts Jeffrey David Kirby of one felony count of vehicular manslaughter for the accident that took TapouT founder Charles “Mask” Lewis’ life on March 11, 2009.
In front of a partial Canadian crowd at UFC 124, UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre joins Matt Hughes, Tito Ortiz, and Anderson Silva as the only fighters to reach five consecutive UFC title defenses with a unanimous decision over rival Josh Koscheck. Meanwhile, in the Land of the Rising Sun, Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem becomes the first mixed martial artist to capture the K-1 World Grand Prix Championship.
World Extreme Cagefighting’s puts on its last card before being absorbed by the UFC. Anthony Pettis lands the “Showtime Superkick”—a flying, roundhouse kick launched off the cage panel—onto Benson Henderson’s face, earning him the WEC Lightweight Championship and a UFC title shot. Dominick Cruz shuts out Scott Jorgensen to retain his WEC strap and stake his claim in the record books as the first ever UFC 135-pound champion.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell officially retires from MMA and is named the new executive VP of business development for the UFC.