The 2015 UFC calendar year delivered 44 entertaining, action-packed fight cards, and with the 12 months of scraps now in our rear view, I’m going to take a moment to reflect on my top 10 favorites of the year. These are all my opinion, so feel free to voice your own in the comments below. Here are my top 10 fights which occured inside the UFC’s Octagon in 2015: 10) Jon delos Reyes vs Roldan Sangcha-An (UFC Fight Night 66, May 16) These flyweights went to war for a round and a half, each having their moments, but it was ultimately delos Reyes getting the upper-hand by submitting Sangcha-An via rear naked choke. This was a preliminary card bout that stole the show; fireworks from start to finish. 9) Luke Rockhold vs Chris Weidman (UFC 194, Dec. 12) I think this is a middleweight title fight that will stand out and be long talked about for years to come, mostly because of the error Weidman made in the third round, which resulted in Rockhold getting his back, taking him down and landing in superior position, from where he delivered ferocious strikes. Both fighters had their moments in this fight and many fans are asking for an immediate rematch, especially since there is no clear number one contender for the title at the moment. Whether that happens or not, a rematch sometime down the line is a fight that would definitely peak interest, and not too many people will count the former Champion out of reclaiming his gold, though Rockhold would certainly be favored at the sportsbooks this time around. This was a great fight and I think it will be one of the most remembered UFC middleweight title fights in the promotions history. 8) Matt Brown vs Tim Means (UFC 189, July 11) This entertaining welterweight contest saw both fighters have their moments, with Means hurting Brown eaarly and Brown coming back to catch Means with a guillotine choke for the tap with seconds remaining in the opening round. It was a very exciting fight from start to finish and both 170-pounders certainly won more fans that evening. 7) Jeremy Stephens vs Dennis Bermudez (UFC 189, July 11) These featherweights went to war in an incredible, back and forth scrap that saw both fighters have their moments. Stephens and Bermudez both ended the fight on a couple of occasions, but it was Stephens who ultimately landed the fight-ending blow. After being down two (very close) rounds, Stephens landed a pitch-perfect flying knee that put Bermudez down, and he followed up with a few punches to seal the deal. Covered in his own blood, he stood tall inside the Octagon with his hands raised. Stephens vs Bermudez was a very fun fight from beginning to end; a true barn-burner in which both 145-pounders delivered. 6) John Lineker vs Francisco Rivera (UFC 191, Sept. 5) This was a very entertaining two minutes of rock ’em, sock ’em action. Lineker and Rivera stood toe to toe and traded shots, with Lineker dropping Rivera a couple of times. They both landed some good shots, but it was Lineker’s superior chin that really made the difference. When a punch dropped Rivera to his knees, he shot for a takedown, and Lineker capitalized with a guillotine choke to earn the tap for his first victory in the UFC’s bantamweight division. 5) Tony Ferguson vs Edson Barboza (TUF 22 Finale, Dec. 11) Ferguson and Barboza had a back and forth war that culminated with “El Cucuy” catching Barboza with his signature D’Arce choke and earning to tap for his sevent straight victory inside the Octagon. Both lightweights put on solid performances, but it was Ferguson who came out on top, being the better man that night. This was the type of fight that would have fight fans excited in the future if a rematch was announced. I was watching this fight from the Lagasse Stadium at the Palazzo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and when Ferguson got the tap from Barboza, the whole place erupted. This lightweight scrap was a true barn-burner and it really delivered, living up to and even surpassing expectations. 4) Brian Ortega vs Thiago Tavares (UFC Fight Night 68, June 8) What a fun, bloody battle this was in the UFC’s featherweight division. Ortega took on the stiffest test in his profesessional mixed martial arts career in the form of Tavares, and despite bloodying the veteran Brazilian up and doing some serious damage, he was down two rounds heading into the third and final round of action. With less than a minute remaining, he found himself in mount position on the mat and rained down some vicious ground and pound and put Tavares out and forced the referee to intervene and call the action. Ortega got the incredible come from behind win and remained undefeated as a pro. This scrap was pure fireworks and certainly one of the more memorable fights of the year for me. It was new school vs old school and new school managed to come out on top. Ortega vs Tavares was a true war and a real treat for fight fans. 3) Thomas de Almeida vs Brad Pickett (UFC 189, July 11) This was a highly entertaining war in the UFC’s bantamweight division. The undefeated Brazilian prospect was a massive favorite heading into the contest and was nearly knocked out by the Brit in the first round of action. Both fighters had their moments in the opening stanza, with Pickett getting the better of Almeida and winning the round. After a failed flying knee attempt by Pickett at the start of the second round, Almeida answered with a flying knee of his own, sending Pickett flying to the canvas in unconsciousness. It was a come from behind win for the Brazilian and the biggest of his professional mixed martial arts career. This bantamweight scrap was pure fireworks and had everybody on their feet from the moment Pickett initially hurt the Brazilian. 2) Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald II (UFC 189, July 11) This was arguably the greatest welterweight title fight in UFC history. Not too much happened in the opening round, but the action started to really pick up in the second, and we started to see a real show. The fireworks continued into the third and fourth rounds, and both welterweight warriors were a bloody mess headed to their corners for the fifth round, where MacDonald was up 3-1 on most scorecards and many agreed that the defending Champion Lawler needed a finish in order to successfully defend his title. The action continued into the fifth and final round, where a punch completely shattered MacDonald’s already broken nose, forcing him to fall to the canvas and wave his white flag in defeat. A couple of more punches from Lawler, and the referee called the action. Lawler made his first successful UFC welterweight title defense in one of the greatest fights in UFC history; a real instant-classic. 1) Andrei Arlovski vs Travis Browne (UFC 187, May 23) So many exciting fights mentioned above, and from all the great fights this year, this battle of big men was the one I was most entertained by. It made me jump to my feet (when Arlovski initially hurt Browne), as did everybody else in the room I was watching the fight with, and we all stood until the end, where Arlovski finally knocked Browne out. The fact that it was a heavyweight fight gives it a special meaning and I think this one definitely qualifies as one of the best fights in the history of the UFC’s heavyweight division. The action only lasted a round, but man, what a round! Personally, for me, this was the most memorable fight of the year, so it gets the number one spot on my list.
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