Okay, enough with the griping about "bad matches". Let's talk about the best.
An MMA match can be considered "good" or "bad" for a lot of reasons. Kid Nate made me think of the irony that Griffin-Bonnar is considered one of the "best" MMA matches ever - from an entertainment and significance standpoint - and also one of the "worst" - from a standpoint of technique, having a clear finish, and so on. So just for fun, I wanted to name my idea "best" MMA matches... in 4 different categories!
Most enjoyable to watch: Randy Couture def. Tito Ortiz (UFC 44)
I hate Tito Ortiz. I can't stand him. I never got his "thing", I always thought he was fairly boring and one dimensional, and I could never grasp why he always ran his mouth so much. Maybe it's because I was the kid who got bullied when he was young, and Tito struck me as a typical bully: brash, loud, simple, and absolutely no threat to someone big enough to respond to the demand for lunch money by saying "make me". However you slice it, at the time of this fight Tito was at a high. People were raving about his striking (it was and is average at best), his cardio (overrated in hindsight), and so on. Randy was supposed to be roadkill for Tito after going 1-2 in his previous 3 fights, losing the HW strap to Barnett, losing in the 5th round to Rodriguez, and despite shocking the world against Liddel, his age became THE storyline. Everyone knows the story from there: Couture becomes the first person to take Tito down, and does it about 8 times in the fight. He nearly subbed Tito twice, outstruck him standing, and capped the fight off by spanking him in the closing seconds... literally. Tito's yelling and swearing in frustration was music to my ears. For me, this fight was the most enjoyable because it was great to see the bully get bullied.
Most fun technical matchup: Anderson Silva def. Rich Franklin (UFC 77)
I was tempted to go with Maia/Macdonald here because I'm a sucker for a great ground war. But really, Macdonald's escapes were very impressive, but he showed not just poor wrestling but terrible decision making to REPEATEDLY go to the ground with the best submission artist in MMA today. On the other hand, Franklin did just about everything right against Silva in their rematch... and still got smashed. Remember when he started throwing combos at Silva, and the Spider dodged every shot like he was Neo? Or how about the way that Silva threw strikes with his fists, elbows, feet and knees... from the clinch? Franklin is a good striker and his gameness in this fight is really overlooked. But Anderson put on an otherworldly striking clinic that left me with the impression that the baddest man on the planet was also the middleweight champion of the UFC.
Most satisfying finish: Georges St. Pierre def. Matt Hughes (UFC 79)
Things you should know: 1) I'm a huge GSP mark; 2) I can't stand Matt Hughes (though I recognize his skills, dominance and legacy as being among the all-time best). That being said, this fight is cemented in my mind for one sentence: "TAP TAP TAP!!!" That's all that needs to be said.
Best "Did I honestly just see that?" moment: Fedor def. Mirko CroCop (PRIDE Final Conflict 2005)
You all remember this one, right? Fedor pushes forward; CroCop backs him up with a couple of stiff strikes. Suddenly there's that gap; you know, when there just enough room between the two fighters that it's the perfect distance for Mirko's killer kicks. In the blink of an eye, he unloads a head kick and hits Fedor flush. Boom... I think it took me about 20 seconds to comprehend that what my brain expected to follow - Fedor crumpling to the canvas - not only didn't happen, but that Fedor didn't even blink. The look of... confusion? ... fear? ...whatever it was on Mirko's face was classic, and Fedor's legacy as being "part machine" was cemented forever.
Your turn: your "best" fight (for whatever reason, in whatever category), and why!