Against All Odds: The Top 10 Most Incredible MMA Comebacks

March 29, 2023
From: Spartacus
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A comeback victory in MMA is one of the most exciting and dramatic moments in the sport. It happens when a fighter is losing the fight, sometimes badly, but manages to rally and turn the fight around to secure a win. The tension and uncertainty of a comeback can make for some of the most thrilling moments in the sport, and fans often remember these fights for years to come. A comeback victory in MMA can also be a testament to a fighter’s mental toughness, heart, and determination, making it a source of inspiration for fans and fighters alike.

There have been many memorable comebacks in MMA history, but here are our top 10 picks:

#1 Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen 2 – UFC 148

https://youtube.com/watch?v=VrSgpabxTBI&si=EnSIkaIECMiOmarE

 

In the first fight between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen, Sonnen dominated for four rounds before getting submitted by Silva in the fifth. The rematch at UFC 148 was one of the most anticipated fights in MMA history, as Sonnen had been trash-talking Silva for months and had promised to dominate him again.

In the first round of the rematch, Sonnen took Silva down and controlled him for the entire round, landing punches and elbows from the top position. Sonnen continued to control the fight in the second round, taking Silva down again and landing ground and pound.

However, in the third round, Silva began to turn the tide. He landed some hard shots on Sonnen and defended his takedown attempts. In the second minute of the round, Silva landed a knee to Sonnen’s chest that hurt him badly. Silva then followed up with punches on the ground, causing the referee to step in and stop the fight.

The pivotal moment was Silva’s knee to Sonnen’s chest. It was a perfectly timed strike that hurt Sonnen badly and gave Silva the opening he needed to finish the fight. Silva’s ability to capitalise on that opening and finish the fight showed his incredible skill and fighting instincts.

Despite being dominated for the first two rounds, Silva did not panic and kept his composure. He made the necessary adjustments in the third round and seized the opportunity when it presented itself. This comeback victory cemented Silva’s legacy as one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.

#2 Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard 3 – UFC 136

 

The third fight between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard at UFC 136 was a highly anticipated rematch after their previous two fights resulted in a draw and a split decision win for Maynard, respectively. The fight took place on October 8, 2011, in Houston, Texas.

In the first round, Maynard dropped Edgar multiple times with punches and had him in trouble. Maynard continued to dominate the fight in the second round, landing hard shots and controlling Edgar on the ground. However, Edgar managed to survive and showed his toughness and resilience.

In the third round, Edgar began to turn the tide of the fight. He landed some significant strikes and started to outbox Maynard. In the fourth round, Edgar scored a knockdown with a punch and followed up with a flurry of punches on the ground, forcing the referee to stop the fight and award Edgar the TKO victory.

The pivotal moment was the knockdown in the fourth round. Edgar had been gradually building momentum throughout the fight, and the knockdown gave him the opening he needed to finish the fight. It was a stunning comeback victory and showed Edgar’s heart and fighting spirit.

Edgar’s ability to come back and win was a testament to his resilience and fighting skills. Despite being dominated for the first two rounds, he kept his composure and never gave up. He made the necessary adjustments and seized the opportunity when it presented itself. The victory was a career-defining moment for Edgar and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.

#3 Georges St-Pierre vs. Matt Serra 2 – UFC 83

 

The rematch between Georges St-Pierre and Matt Serra at UFC 83 was one of the most significant comebacks in MMA history. Serra had won their first fight as a massive underdog, knocking out St-Pierre in the first round. The rematch was scheduled to take place in Montreal, Canada, in front of a crowd of 21,390 fans.

In the first round, Serra had some success on the feet and hurt St-Pierre with punches. However, in the second round, St-Pierre began to take control of the fight. He secured a takedown and landed ground and pound, opening up a cut on Serra’s forehead.

In the third round, St-Pierre continued to dominate on the ground, landing punches and elbows from the top position. Midway through the round, St-Pierre locked in an armbar, forcing Serra to tap out and giving St-Pierre the comeback victory.

St-Pierre’s takedown in the second round where he was able to take Serra down and control him on the ground, neutralising Serra’s striking and opening up opportunities for ground and pound was the most important moment of the fight. From that point on, St-Pierre was in control of the fight and never looked back.

After being knocked out by Serra in their first fight, St-Pierre could have easily been rattled and lost his confidence. However, he remained focused and determined, making the necessary adjustments to come out on top. The victory was a defining moment in St-Pierre’s career and set the stage for him to become one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.

#4 Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald 2 – UFC 189

 

The rematch between Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald at UFC 189 was a brutal and thrilling fight that saw Lawler pull off an incredible comeback victory. The fight took place on July 11, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and was for the UFC welterweight championship.

In the first two rounds, MacDonald controlled the pace of the fight with his striking and grappling, battering Lawler with leg kicks and jabs. Lawler was bloodied and bruised, but he refused to give up and kept pressing forward.

In the third round, Lawler started to find his range and landed some heavy shots on MacDonald. However, it wasn’t until the fourth round that the fight turned in Lawler’s favour. He landed a vicious left hook that hurt MacDonald, and he followed up with a flurry of punches that sent MacDonald to the ground. The referee stopped the fight, giving Lawler the TKO victory.

Up until that point, MacDonald had been dominating the fight, but Lawler’s left hook in the fourth round changed everything. The punch hurt MacDonald badly and gave Lawler the opening he needed to finish the fight.

Despite being behind on the scorecards and taking a lot of damage in the early rounds, he never gave up and kept fighting until the end. He showed tremendous heart and toughness, and his comeback victory cemented his status as one of the most exciting fighters in MMA history.

#5 Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes – UFC 189

 

Conor McGregor’s fight against Chad Mendes at UFC 189 was a dramatic comeback victory that cemented his status as a superstar in the sport. The fight took place on July 11, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and was for the interim UFC featherweight championship.

Leading up to the fight, McGregor was originally scheduled to fight champion Jose Aldo, but Aldo pulled out due to injury. Mendes stepped in as a replacement on short notice, and his wrestling pedigree posed a significant challenge to McGregor’s striking-based style.

In the first round, Mendes was able to take McGregor down and control him on the ground, landing punches and elbows from the top position. The second round saw a similar pattern, with Mendes taking McGregor down early and controlling him on the ground. However, McGregor started to find his range with his striking as the round progressed, landing some heavy shots on Mendes.

In the third round, McGregor came out aggressively, landing a series of punches that hurt Mendes. He followed up with a left hand that sent Mendes to the canvas, and he finished the fight with ground and pound, earning the TKO victory.

McGregor’s left hand dropped Mendes in the third round, up until that point, Mendes had been controlling the fight with his wrestling, but McGregor’s striking proved to be too much for him in the end.

McGregor showed tremendous heart and determination, refusing to be discouraged by Mendes’ wrestling in the early rounds. Instead, he stayed patient and waited for his opportunity to strike, ultimately finishing the fight in spectacular fashion. The victory set the stage for McGregor’s rise to superstardom in the sport and remains one of the most memorable comebacks in MMA history.

#6 Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – PRIDE 25

 

Fedor Emelianenko’s fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at PRIDE 25 was a legendary battle between two of the greatest heavyweights in MMA history. The fight took place on March 16, 2003, in Yokohama, Japan, and was for the PRIDE heavyweight championship.

In the early rounds, Nogueira was able to take Emelianenko down and control him on the ground, using his grappling skills to neutralise Emelianenko’s striking. However, Emelianenko refused to be discouraged and kept fighting, looking for opportunities to strike.

In the third round, Emelianenko landed a hard punch that stunned Nogueira, and he followed up with a flurry of strikes that sent Nogueira to the ground. Emelianenko pounced on Nogueira and landed a series of punches from the top position, earning the TKO victory.

Emelianenko’s punch in the third round stunned Nogueira. Up until that point, Nogueira had been controlling the fight with his grappling, but Emelianenko’s striking proved to be too much for him in the end.

Despite being dominated in the early rounds, Emelianenko never gave up and kept fighting until he found his opening. He showed tremendous heart and toughness, and his comeback victory over Nogueira solidified his status as one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.

#7 Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg 2 – UFC 52

 

Matt Hughes’ fight against Frank Trigg at UFC 52 was a dramatic comeback victory that showcased his toughness and resilience as a fighter. The fight took place on April 16, 2005, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and was a rematch from their first fight at UFC 45, which Hughes won by submission.

In the first round, Trigg took Hughes down and landed some heavy shots from the top position, eventually taking Hughes’ back and locking in a rear-naked choke. Hughes was in deep trouble and looked close to being finished, but he was able to fight off the choke and escape the position.

In the second round, Hughes came out aggressively, landing a series of strikes that hurt Trigg. He then took Trigg down and mounted him, landing a series of strikes and finishing the fight with a rear-naked choke of his own, earning the submission victory.

Hughes’ escaped from Trigg’s rear-naked choke in the first round. If Hughes had been submitted, the fight would have been over, but he showed tremendous heart and toughness in fighting off the choke and escaping the position. This gave him the opportunity to come back and win the fight in the second round.

Hughes showed tremendous heart and toughness in fighting off Trigg’s submission attempts and then came back to dominate him in the second round. Hughes’ victory over Trigg at UFC 52 is remembered as one of the greatest comebacks in MMA history and solidified his status as one of the greatest welterweight fighters of all time.

#8 Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua – UFC 139

 

Dan Henderson’s fight against Mauricio Rua at UFC 139 was a legendary battle between two of the greatest fighters in MMA history. The fight took place on November 19, 2011, in San Jose, California, and was a five-round war that tested the resilience and toughness of both fighters.

In the early rounds, Henderson was able to use his striking and wrestling to control Rua, landing hard shots and taking Rua down to the mat. However, Rua refused to be discouraged and kept fighting, looking for opportunities to strike.

In the third round, Rua began to turn the tide of the fight, landing a series of strikes that hurt Henderson and nearly finishing him with a knee to the face. Henderson was able to survive the round, but he was clearly hurt and in trouble.

In the fourth round, Henderson came out aggressively, landing a hard right hand that dropped Rua to the mat. He followed up with a flurry of strikes from the top position, nearly finishing the fight with ground-and-pound. Rua survived the round, but he was clearly hurt and exhausted.

In the fifth and final round, Henderson continued to dominate Rua, landing hard strikes and controlling the pace of the fight. He was able to secure the unanimous decision victory, earning one of the greatest comebacks in MMA history.

The most important moment of the fight was when Henderson’s right hand in the fourth round dropped Rua to the mat. Up until that point, Rua had been controlling the fight, but Henderson’s striking proved to be too much for him in the end.

#9 Renan Barao vs. TJ Dillashaw – UFC 173

 

Renan Barao, who was the bantamweight champion at the time, faced off against TJ Dillashaw at UFC 173 on May 24, 2014. Barao was riding a 32-fight unbeaten streak going into the fight, and was widely considered to be one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

In the early rounds of the fight, Barao seemed to be in control, landing hard strikes and taking Dillashaw down to the mat. However, in the second round, Dillashaw began to find his range and started landing strikes of his own. In the third round, Dillashaw rocked Barao with a head kick and finished him off with a series of strikes on the ground, earning the TKO victory and becoming the new bantamweight champion.

Dillashaw’s head kick in the third round was an important moment in the fight. Up until that point, Barao had been controlling the fight, but Dillashaw’s striking proved to be too much for him in the end.

After being dominated in the early rounds, Dillashaw was able to find his rhythm and turn the fight around with his striking. He showed tremendous heart and toughness, and his upset victory over Barao is considered to be one of the greatest upsets in MMA history. Dillashaw went on to defend his title twice before relinquishing it due to a positive drug test.

#10 Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Zhang Weili – UFC 248

 

Joanna Jedrzejczyk faced off against Zhang Weili at UFC 248 on March 7, 2020, in a highly anticipated strawweight championship fight. The build-up to the fight was intense, with both fighters trading insults and trash talk in the lead-up to the event.

The fight was a back-and-forth battle, with both fighters showcasing their striking skills and toughness. Jedrzejczyk started strong, using her reach and footwork to keep Zhang at bay and landing significant strikes. However, as the fight progressed, Zhang started to find her rhythm and landed some powerful shots of her own, causing significant damage to Jedrzejczyk’s face.

The pivotal moment of the fight came in the third round when Zhang landed a huge right hand that caused a massive hematoma on Jedrzejczyk’s forehead. Despite the swelling, Jedrzejczyk continued to fight on, showing incredible toughness and heart.

In the end, the fight went the distance, with both fighters displaying incredible skill and determination. Zhang was ultimately awarded the split decision victory, but Jedrzejczyk’s performance in the fight was widely praised, with many considering it to be one of the greatest fights in women’s MMA history.

Jedrzejczyk’s resilience and ability to come back and fight through the massive hematoma on her forehead were remarkable. She showed incredible heart and toughness, refusing to give up despite the visible damage to her face. Her performance in the fight was a testament to her skill and determination as a fighter. Despite the loss, Jedrzejczyk proved that she is one of the toughest and most skilled fighters in the sport.

Conclusion

The history of MMA is filled with remarkable comeback stories that showcase the incredible skill, heart, and resilience of the sport’s top athletes. These fights serve as a testament to the grit and determination of MMA fighters, who refuse to give up even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Whether it’s overcoming a significant injury or mounting a comeback in the later rounds of a fight, these fighters have shown that anything is possible in the world of MMA.

As the sport continues to evolve and new stars emerge, we can only hope that we’ll see even more remarkable comebacks in the years to come. One thing is certain, however: the fighters who have made this list will always be remembered for their incredible feats of athleticism, courage, and determination in the face of adversity.

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