The best thing about MMA (mixed martial arts) is that with each passing year, the combat sport is growing around the world. It was back in 2012 that Sony Six tied up with UFC to bring MMA action to Indian households. Since then, there's been no looking back.
The year 2015 has been stunning in the calendar of UFC, and it was heartening to see Indian viewers slowly embracing the combat sport and getting on with oodles of discussions in the social media during PPVs (Pay-per-views).
There have been a number of events in the UFC this year, right from UFC 182 to UFC 194, as well as the plenty of "UFC on Fox" events.
The year simply belonged to two decorated fighters of the octagon — Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey. It was therefore no surprise to see the duo feature on the cover of the EA Sports UFC 2 video game. From the enthralling displays of crowd-puller McGregor to the too-good-to-be-true showings by Rousey, at the end of the day, the person who will be all smiles is none other than UFC President Dana White.
After all, business has been at the best this year.
It is hard to pick the best fights of the year, so we will take up the best UFC events from 2015. Here is the Top 5:
UFC 182: Jones vs Cormier
At number 5 on the list, we have the first UFC PPV of the year — on 3 January 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The main event featured a Light Heavyweight championship bout between Jon Jones (C) and Daniel Cormier. The importance of this fight was immense. Jones, regarded as one of the greatest fighters in UFC, successfully defended his title after the fight reached the distance of five rounds.
Jones won by a unanimous decision, although some fans said it was a controversial win for the champion. A huge controversy followed some months later for Jones. The 28-year-old was stripped of the title and suspended indefinitely by the UFC in April after a hit-and-run case in New Mexico.
Cormier became champion after defeating Anthony Johnson in the main event of UFC 187 via submission, and he enters 2016 as the UFC Light Heavyweight champion of the world. There is good news for Jones' fans however. The pound-for-pound king, who was reinstated by the UFC in October, could be set for a title shot with Cormier next year. Possibly, UFC 200!
UFC 190: Rousey vs Correia
The legacy of Ronda Rousey — not only one of the greatest female fighter to set foot in the UFC, but also one of the greatest fighters both genders combined — was rising, and 2015 has been her year. The 28-year-old American won the UFC Bantamweight title back in 2013, and was going into her fifth title defence against Bethe Correia.
Rousey came, Rousey fought, Rousey conquered. The fight was over in 34 seconds in the first round as Correia was KOed (knocked out) by the champion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Rousey also outclassed Cat Zingano in her earlier championship bout of the calendar year in UFC 182. The "armbar queen" got the challenger to submit in just 14 seconds of the first round with a straight armbar. The end of the year, however, got a little too painful for Ronda Rousey. We'll just come to that.
UFC 189: Mendes vs McGregor
Las Vegas has been a lucky hunting ground for Irishman Conor McGregor, and the oodles of success he got this year is a testament to that. UFC Featherweight champion Jose Aldo was slated to face McGregor in the main event, but an emergency injury forced the champion to pull out. Therefore, Chad Mendes got the opportunity to fight against the Irishman for the interim title.
The build-up to the fight was massive. Audience record for a weigh-in was shattered as close to 11,500 spectators made their way to the MGM Grand Garden Arena. And McGregor was the name on everyone's lips.
On fight night, the Irishman rained elbows and fists on Mendes to win via TKO (technical knockout) in the second round, to become the new UFC interim Flyweight Champion. A superstar was also born that night.
UFC 194: Aldo vs McGregor
At number 2 in our list, we have the final UFC PPV of the calendar year. Las Vegas remained the venue as the UFC Featherweight champion of the world Jose Aldo took on interim title holder Conor McGregor for the undisputed UFC Featherweight championship.
The fights was many months in the making; thus it was the most-anticipated fight of the calendar year. Aldo was the reigning pound-for-pound king in the UFC, and McGregor was a legend in the making. The fight was expected to go the distance, but we witnessed a shock in the end.
"Precision beats power, and timing beats speed," McGregor took the mic and said to the high-capacity crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The Irishman knocked the Brazilian out in 13 seconds of the first round to record the fastest ever victory in the UFC title history.
UFC 193: Rousey vs Holm
The UFC 193 headliner between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm makes it to number one in our list, as the combat sports world were left in shock after the result. The Melbourne Stadium in Australia hosted the mega clash for the UFC Bantamweight championship, and Rousey was once again billed as the favourite by everyone.
Former decorated pro-boxer Holly Holm had other plans, however, and did what she wanted once she stepped inside the octagon.
History was written as the 34-year-old defeated Rousey in the second round of the fight via a KO (knock-out). It has gone down as one of the greatest upsets in fight history. Holm toyed with Rousey throughout the fight, but she decided to seal the deal in the second round itself. Holm landed a high shin kick venomously on Rousey's neck, and it was all over then.
The talk of the town is a rematch, and if all goes well, we might be possibly seeing the two battling it out once again in UFC 200!