With so many variables at play during a mixed martial arts competition, it’s probably no surprise that things sometimes go awry.
Gray Maynard Vs. Rob Emerson: The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale
Though it seems like an eternity ago now with how fast the sport of MMA moves, there was a time in the late 2000s where Gray Maynard was viewed as one of the most exciting prospects to have ever graced the UFC’s 155lbs weight class.
Despite having fought only twice professionally, Maynard was selected to appear on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter, alongside the likes of Nate Diaz, Joe Lauzon, and Cole Miller. Maynard would ultimately be defeated by Diaz in the competition’s semi-finals but was invited to make his UFC debut on the finale card.
Facing off against fellow TUF alumni Rob Emerson, less than a minute into the second round Maynard used his wrestling advantage to shoot in at the legs of his opponent and hoist him into the air.
Unfortunately for Maynard, the slamming technique he followed up with wasn’t exactly ideal. Whilst driving Emerson back to the mat, Maynard inadvertently slammed his own head into the canvas, instantly rendering both men unable to continue.
To make things even stranger, Maynard proceeded to protest to UFC commentator Joe Rogan that he wasn’t actually unconscious and was instead just tired.
Matt Hughes Vs. Carlos Newton: UFC 34
Former UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes is best remembered for his devastating run atop the 170lbs weight class during the early to mid-2000s, defeating the likes of Georges St-Pierre, Frank Trigg, and Royce Gracie inside the Octagon.
However, despite his unprecedented successes inside the welterweight division, Hughes’ reign as UFC champion began through much more inauspicious circumstances.
After earning a title shot against Canadian grappler Carlos Newton, Hughes set about implementing the suffocating wrestling approach that brought him so much success throughout his career. However, in the second round, the savvy veteran Newton managed to lock Hughes in a tight triangle choke.
Hughes lifted Newton skyward and held his opponent against the cage whilst the champion’s choke became ever tighter.
Then, Hughes slammed Newton to the mat, immediately rendering the champion unconscious and forcing the referee to stop the fight. However, on closer inspection, it became clear that Hughes had himself passed out, and his “slam” was just his body falling to the floor. Nevertheless, the referee did not realise this, and Hughes was awarded the victory.
Shane Burgos Vs. Edson Barboza: UFC 262
One of the most exciting parts of mixed martial arts and all striking based combat sports is the knockout, a strike resulting in an impact so great that the recipient can no longer continue.
The devastating kinetic nature of most knockout blows seen in combat sports generally makes it immediately obvious that the fighter on the receiving end of the strike can no longer continue.
However, possibly even more damaging from a medical point of view is the delayed response knockout, like the one in the fight between featherweight contenders Shane Burgos and Edson Barboza at UFC 262.
After a back and forth contest with both men enjoying moments of success, Barboza landed a right hand in the third round that appeared to be pretty routine for Burgos, particularly compared to some of the shots he had absorbed throughout the fight to that point.
This strike was different, however, and after a short pause Burgos retreated backwards and the true extent of the damage began to become clear.
Barboza swarmed on his opponent for the victory, but the strange nature of the finish left fans both in the audience and watching around the world worried for Burgos.
Rousimar Palhares Vs. Nate Marquardt: UFC Fight Night 22
One of the most important rules in all combat sports is the fighters obligation to protect themselves at all times, and although this may seem self-evident in a sport where one of the primary routes of victory is to deal out concussive damage, it has gone unfollowed more often than you might imagine.
Rousimar Palhares is known to MMA fans for three things: possessing some of the best leg locks in the history of the sport; regularly displaying some of the worst sportsmanship in MMA, and having some pretty terrible fight IQ.
So, when the Brazilian fought perennial contender Nate Marquardt at UFC Fight Night 22 back in 2010, he took the opportunity to demonstrate all three simultaneously.
After Marquardt managed to slip out of a leglock attempt, Palhares presumably forgot he was currently involved in a fight and began signalling to the referee that he believed that Marquardt was greasing his legs.
Marquardt saw his opportunity and dropped a heavy hammerfist on his distracted opponent, forcing the referee to stop the fight just moments later.
Royce Gracie Vs. Art Jimmerson: UFC 1
Now, it probably should be noted that using any examples from the early days of the UFC is something akin to a cheat code for this list, simply because back then the UFC itself was bizarre so it wasn’t surprising that the fights followed suit.
A matchup served as one of the first notable examples of the age-old striker vs. grappler phenomenon, Royce Gracie entered the Octagon for the first time wearing a gi that allowed him more friction on the ground to maintain position and offered a multitude of choking options.
Unfortunately, his opponent Art Jimmerson’s choice of attire was not quite as utilitarian. Entering the cage wearing a boxing glove taped to his jabbing hand, professional boxer Jimmerson later explained that he did not want to damage his hand and potentially jeopardise his future pugilistic pursuits.
Already at a seismic grappling disadvantage, the glove did Jimmerson no favours against Gracie. Realising the defeat was inevitable, Jimmerson did not wait for a submission hold to be applied and instead tapped to being mounted less than three minutes into the contest.