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: Randy Couture vs Tim Sylvia at UFC 68. Couture had already been driven to retirement by Chuck Liddell. For him to return and move up a division and then lay out the 6'8" Sylvia with the first punch of the fight was just unbelievable and remains the most exciting moment I can recall. Everyone in the arena and everyone watching on PPV shared in Couture's unexpected triumph. It was a thing of beauty.
Brent Brookhouse: I was just a fan in 2003. I wasn't a member of the "media" or anything of the sort. Just a fan who enjoyed no fighter on the planet as much as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. If that wasn't enough to make me emotionally invested in his fight with Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic at PRIDE Final Conflict 2003, the fact that I hated Mirko had me almost nauseous before the opening bell. Then Cro Cop put a beating on Nogueira for the first round, keeping the fight standing and landing thudding kicks and punches. While Nogueira's chin is faded now, this fight should serve as a very good reminder of what it once was. Nog was badly wobbled by a shot at the end of the first but came out in the second determined to find the win. Nog finally got the fight to the ground and locked in an armbar that forced the tap. It had me on my feet screaming at the TV and had some at ringside in tears. It was the perfect moment in the perfect sport and I sincerely hope that I can feel that way during an event again some day.
Mike Fagan: I'd go back to Quinton Jackson knockout out Chuck Liddell at UFC 71. I take immense pleasure in the misery of others (have you picked up on this, reader?), and being surrounded by an army of depressed Liddell-ites made my night. I also placed one of my first MMA bets on Jackson, and it's one of the handful of times in my gambling career that I knew I had a winning ticket in my hand before the fight had even started.
Anton Tabuena: This is a really tough choice with all the great stuff that has happened in the past 10 years... It only happened recently so some might say this is a cop-out, but I would have to say the moment of the decade would be Anthony Pettis' now famous "Showtime Kick" at WEC 53. Why? For the simple fact that it's the only highlight in the past decade that makes me go "HOLY SH*T!" every. single. time.
Scott Haber: This is the hardest one to narrow down for me, because I can think of dozens of moments off the top of my head that could qualify for this category, but I'm going to side with the Vegas Batman here. Randy Couture dropping Tim Sylvia in the opening seconds of their fight at UFC 68 was the moment of the decade for me. I've never been one to yell or scream at the TV while watching even the most exciting fights, but I definitely jumped up and yelled something when that happened. Very few gave Captain America a chance in this one, and no expected him to land anything on the feet in this fight. Regardless of the fact that most of the rest of the fight was spent with Couture on Sylvia's back, like a barnacle on a whale, that one overhand right reverberated throughout the MMA community and showed that some of these "old guys" from another era, still had something left.
Jonathan Snowden: There was such joy in the room after Rogerio Nogueira dispatched Luiz Cane at UFC 106. His father had made the trip to the United States for the first time and no one could erase the smile on the old man's face. Anderson Silva and his brother Rodrigo were equally ecstatic. I don't know why, but that simple happiness and obvious love between these great warriors was something I am glad I got to be a part of, if only from the outside looking in.
Chris Barton: "Not bad for an old man." That line. That moment. In a decade of so many surreal moments that one is the one that sticks with me. It was a perfect end to such an amazing feat to see. Randy Couture landing the punch that took down Tim Sylvia and dominating him from that point on. I was so amped after that fight and that line I left the bar and went right to the gym.