Contrary to popular belief, there is no Year Zero. Decades run from XXX1 to XX10. So while other MMA sites erroneously ran decade retrospectives last year, Bloody Elbow stayed the course of truth and fact. We polled the staff for their picks in a variety of topics covering the first decade of the third millennium A.D. Here's what they had to say.
Kid Nate: Bonnar vs Griffin definitely had the biggest impact on the business of MMA in the States, but Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mirko Filopovic, aka Cro Cop, at Pride Final Conflict 2005 was the closest MMA came to an Ali vs. Frazier in this decade. Two fearsome heavyweights at the peak of their powers colliding in a heavyweight title fight that exceeded expectations.
Brent Brookhouse: Since this isn't "favorite fight" I'm going to go an unpopular direction. In my mind there's no fight that had the combination of excitement and importance as Stephan Bonnar vs. Forrest Griffin at the finale of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. The fight pushed the UFC in a huge way and while it's now very trendy to throw hate at the "bad kickboxing" nature of the fight, it remains a great fight in my eyes. It's a combination no other fight before or since has really had.
Mike Fagan: Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin at UFC 86 had everything that I want from a fight. Two popular, charismatic fighters. A title belt on the line. A confident champion. A scrappy underdog. A long buildup. Five rounds. Knockdowns. Near submissions. Almost slams. Injuries. Adversity overcome. A competitive fight and a judging controversy.
Anton Tabuena: I'm with Brent here. It may not be the best fight in terms of skill and technical prowess, but none of the other fights have this much meaning and importance. I don't think we would be sitting here talking about how great the sport is if Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin didn't steal the attention of millions of fans that night.
Scott Haber: How often do you see a stoppage in the 5th round of a fight? How often do you see it happen again when those two fighters rematch? I could have easily gone the with Bonnar-Griffin here, but I didn't want to just repeat what everyone else said, so my vote's going to Jorge Santiago vs. Kazuo Misaki 2 at Sengoku 14. This fight truly had it all: close submission attempts and knockout blows from both men, nonstop action, sketchy Japanese officiating, and dramatic turn of events in the 5th round leading to Misaki's corner throwing in the towel. It had none of the long-term impact that Griffin-Bonnar had, but since we're not attaching strict definitions to these categories, I'm picking it simply because I enjoyed watching it more than Griffin-Bonnar.
Jonathan Snowden: The most amazing finish in the history of MMA: Matt Hughes versus Carlos Newton at UFC 34. It was more than just another great fight on an amazing night full of great fights. At UFC 33, the promotion was reintroduced to the world. The world was not impressed. If only this had been their first show back on cable television! Things looked bad for Hughes when Newton locked in a triangle. The tables quickly turned when Hughes picked him up in the air and power-bombed him with authority. Both were out, but Newton couldn't recover his wits. The look on Matt's face when teammate Jeremy Horn tells him he'd won UFC Gold is priceless. A spectacular fight.
Chris Barton: I can think of one fight that I feel is at least as important as Bonnar vs Griffin. A fight that was significant, yet also showed amazing top level skills and a razor thin decision. This fight literally had everything. It's one of the most watched fights in MMA history and rewarded the most prestigious title in the sport. The first ever PRIDE/UFC unified belt. That last bit alone makes Dan Henderson vs. Quinton Jackson the fight of the decade.