As we reach the tail end of 2018, we are closing the book on another historic year for the UFC®. In a year where the company celebrated its 25th anniversary, we saw a full calendar of exhilarating bouts and some historic title fights.
As we head into UFC 232, where Jon Jones will face Alexander Gustafsson for the light heavyweight belt and Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg will class in a champion versus champion match, it's the perfect time to look back at the fights that defined 2018 as one of the biggest years in UFC history.
This list is a combination of the best fights plus those that had the greatest impact on the promotion as we look towards 2019.
10. Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic, UFC 226
Result: Cormier wins via KO (first round)
Why this fight made the list: While this fight won't go down in the history books for being a two-sided affair, it is the moment that Daniel Cormier became the second-ever UFC fighter to hold two championships at the same time. With a short hook right out of the clinch, Cormier stunned Miocic and finished him off with a flurry of punches on the ground. Later in the year, Cormier became the first double-champion to defend a belt when he beat Derrick Lewis at UFC 230 to retain his heavyweight strap.
9. Demetrious Johnson Vs. Henry Cejudo, UFC 227
Result: Cejudo wins via split decision
Why this fight made the list: Arguably the most important fight in the short history of the men's flyweight division, this is where the reign of inaugural flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson was put to a stop. Johnson had defended the belt a UFC-record 11 times, but was unsuccessful in a rematch with rival Henry Cejudo, who he had beaten in the first meeting, at UFC 227. The former Olympic gold medalist took the longtime champion to his limit, and did just enough to earn a split decision victory to become the second ever UFC flyweight champion.
8. Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk, UFC 223
Result: Namajunas wins via unanimous decision
Why this fight made the list: Several parts of this list have to do with a changing of the guard, and there's no better example of that then 'Thug' Rose Namajunas' women's strawweight title defense against Joanna Jedrzejcyk. After completing an upset knockout of Jedrzejcyk at UFC 217, Namajunas proved to be no fluke with a decisive unanimous decision victory over the former champion in the rematch. While all three judges had Rose winning four rounds, this fight was still action packed and left some clamoring for a third fight, even though Namajunas has two victories over the Polish strawweight.
7. Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega, UFC 231
Result: Holloway wins via TKO (doctor stoppage following fourth round)
Why this fight made the list: Two things were proven on this night: Max Holloway didn't miss a step after not fighting for the majority of 2018, and Brian Ortega has as much heart as a fighter can possess. This matchup of two of the UFC's brightest stars was a slugfest, with Holloway looking sharper than expected after a long layoff. But for all of Holloway's efforts, he couldn't keep Ortega from advancing. However, the epic clash was put to a stop before the fifth round when the doctors called for the fight to be stopped.
6. zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Kyle Bochniak, UFC 223
Result: Magomedsharipov wins via unanimous decision
Why this fight made the list: Is there an award for the greatest last 10 seconds to a fight? If so, we have a winner. This feathweight clash was supposed to provide Zabit Magomedsharipov another stepping stone into stardom, but Kyle Bochniak had other ideas. The two fighters traded with each other round for round, and provided one of the best final rounds we've seen in the UFC all year.
5. Jeremy Stephens vs. Doo Ho Choi, UFC Fight Night 124
Result: Stephens wins via KO (Second round)
Why this fight made the list: This fight was promised to include fireworks and it still exceeded expectations. Two of the most intimidating strikers in the featherweight division went head-to-head in the main event of UFC Fight Night 124, and gave the fans their money's worth. After losing the first round to a hungry Doo Ho Choi, Jeremy Stephens responded with a viscous shot and immediate ground and pound that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
4. Chan Sung Jung vs. Yair Rodriguez, UFC Fight Night 139
Result: Rodriguez wins via KO (fifth round)
Why this fight made the list: Remember when we awarded Zabit and Bochniak the most exciting last 10 seconds? Well this fight maybe had the most insane last five seconds. After a five-round war to main event the UFC's 25th anniversary show in Denver, the Korean Zombie and Yair Rodriguez agreed to just throw down in the last five seconds of this fight. As the Zombie approached Rodgriguez right before the bell, the Mexican featherweight hit Jung with a back elbow that knocked him out immediately with less than a second left.
This is a finish that will be talked about for years to come.
3. Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje, UFC on Fox 29
Result: Poirier wins via TKO (fourth round)
Why this fight made the list: When we reached the halfway point of 2018, it was hard to believe that any other bout would contend with this for Fight of the Year. This lightweight contest pitted two of the divisions biggest contenders against one another in a match up that promised violence. Luckily, the two participants delivered. In a back-and-forth battle, Gaethje and Poirier traded blows and looked to both have each other's number at points in the fight. But in the fourth round, it was Poirier's elite boxing that caught Gaethje and led to a fantastic finale.
2. Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero, UFC 225
Result: Whittaker wins via split decision
Why this fight made the list: This fight is undoubtedly the best title defense of 2018. At UFC 225, middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was asked to defend his title against Yoel Romero in a rematch of the duos fight at UFC 213. Romero is often considered the most frightening fighter in the middleweight division, and this fight put that notion on display. Romero cracked the champion multiple times and was close to getting the stoppage decision, but 'Bobby Knuckles' held on and found the necessary pockets to stay alive. After the fight, it was revealed that Whittaker broke his left hand early in round one, but was still able to outdo Romero on the scorecard.
This fight is all about the heart of a champion.
1. Tony Ferguson vs. Anthony Pettis, UFC 229
Result: Ferguson wins via TKO (corner stoppage following second round)
Why this fight made the list: You'll be hard pressed to find a better 10 minutes in the history of the UFC. In an event overshadowed by the titanic meeting of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, it was Tony Ferguson and Anthony Pettis' fight at UFC 229 that stole the show. This war was put in a spot to name a new top contender to the lightweight belt after Khabib/McGregor, but it ended up becoming so much more. In a blood-soaked affair that featured unorthodox and down-right crazy striking, Ferguson and Pettis battled for ten minutes of pure, mixed martial arts warfare. Ferguson sliced Pettis open near the end of the second round with a sharp elbow that turned the athletic competition into a battle of attrition.
While an anticipated third round awaited, Pettis' broken hand that he sustained during the fight forced his corner to throw in the towel before the final five minutes.
See Jon Jones VS Alexander Gustafsson II at UFC 232!
With one fight card left in 2018, there is still room for another bout to break into our 'best of' list. Maybe it'll be Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson or Cris Cyborg vs. Amanada Nunes! You can be at UFC 232 with an Official Ticket Package from the UFC VIP Experience. Click below to see our different package offerings: