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5 of the Greatest Moments in MMA Grappling

With Christmas making the martial arts world quiet and covid making it quieter, I thought it might be a good time to recap some of the greatest moments in MMA grappling. These might be exciting on their own, impactful on the division, or they’re a fighter making a statement. Whatever the case, they’re important. If you’ve not seen these fights, be sure to go back and give them a look – they’re more than worth it. 

Daniel Cormier Vs Dan Henderson – Olympian Against Olympian 

Cormier versus Henderson is going to fly under the radar for all but the biggest grappling fans, and the significance of this hinges on their pedigree, but it really was significant. Both were Olympians, both were excellently decorated wrestlers, and both had grappling prestige that most of the world would envy. That’s why when Cormier rag-dolled his opponent from the opening bell it was shockingGreatest moments in MMA grappling

The commentators understood the significance, but I think it was lost on the crowd who seemed underwhelmed. I was not. To be able to dominate an Olympic level wrestler like that was nothing short of brilliant. The whole fight has some fantastic moments, but take a look at round three for some of the real highlights. Cormier has plenty of fantastic moments throughout his career (flipping Gustaffson on his head is one of my all-time favorites) but this round has more than almost any other. Greatest moments in MMA grappling

Anderson Silva Vs Chael Sonnen – When The Legend Almost Died  

This was a little before my time, but find me one MMA fan that doesn’t know about this submission. At the time Anderson was hot – he was champion, he was dominant, he was on an eleven fight winning streak, and he was losing. Badly. There wasn’t anywhere else to run. Chael had the Brazillian beat, the decision was going to go his way, and he was still punching the champ. Landing ground and pound was Chael’s wheelhouse. As Rogan said at the time: “This is desperation time, this is do or die”. 

It looked like the belt was to change hands, and then, with just two minutes to go, Anderson’s legs. They snapped up, they cinched around Chael, and the tide turned in a second. Such a one-sided bout, with such a comeback and with such high stakes. It was epic. MMA grappling often turns fights on their head, and this was no exception. This isn’t just one of the greatest moments in MMA grappling, it’s one of the greatest comebacks.

Stipe Miocic Vs Francis Ngannou – A Game Plan To Halt The Hype Train 

Nnganou was on a tear. He still is, in fairness, but at the time he was undefeated and riding a hype train like no other. Coming off a terrifying knockout of Overeem that catapulted him into title contention, and if you were to ask the casual fan it was a done thing. Perhaps that was why this made it to the list.

And how did it go down? A wrestling game plan from Stipe, executed perfectly and hole exposed in the skillset of ‘The Predator’. I will admit, this one isn’t the most spectacular fight on this list, but the way it was performed and the way it surpassed all expectations makes it one of my greatest moments in MMA grappling. 

Nate Diaz Vs Conor Mcgregor 1 – Out Of Nowhere 

Everybody knows the line ‘I ain’t surprised motherf*ckers’, but the rest of the world was surprised. Nate wasn’t meant to win that fight. Conor was – and is – the biggest star in MMA, the casual fan would have thought him invincible, and the hardcore fan might have known that there were some aspects to exploit, but nobody thought that Nate had what it took. How wrong we were.

This was the biggest flip of expectations in recent memory, and one of the greatest moments in MMA grappling. That fight catapulted Nate Diaz into stardom, and it was huge. There was one, however, that beat it to the number one spot. 

Khabib Vs Conor – The Biggest Fight Of All Time 

For me, I don’t think any fight could possibly live up to this one. Everyone was talking about this, everywhere, all the time. The build-up to that fight was like nothing that I’ve ever seen. The result was a combination of the hype of Conor and the brilliant game planning of Khabib, I think this was the biggest fight ever and will be for a long time to come. Greatest moments in MMA grappling.

There’s not much point in me describing such a well-known fight, but I’m certain this one is going to live on for a long time as an instant classic. If you are new to the sport I can’t recommend enough that you go and watch that. It was undoubtedly number one in the greatest moments in MMA grappling for me. Greatest moments in MMA grappling

Featured Image Credits to Getty Images

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