One of the many reasons UFC and MMA have etched themselves into the mainstream consciousness is the sheer unpredictability of the sport.

From surprise knockouts to amazing comeback wins, UFC fans have never been short of moments to get them out of their seats.

If anything, there’s simply too many to put into a list, so here are just a few of the most surprising moments in recent UFC history.

Diaz taps out McGregor

For a brief period of time, Conor McGregor had created an air of invincibility and few people thought he would lose inside the octagon anytime soon. The Irishman had brushed aside every challenge the UFC had thrown at him, including dispatching long-time featherweight champion Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds.

The Notorious was set for a champion vs champion match-up with Rafael dos Anjos in March 2016 but the Brazilian was forced to pull out, before a series of competitors refused the bout due to a lack of preparation time.

Not Nate Diaz, though. The former Ultimate Fighter winner accepted the fight on just 11 days’ notice but was widely anticipated to be the next victim of McGregor’s left hand.

The Stockton native took just over a round-and-a-half to shock the world, forcing McGregor to tap out to a rear-naked choke

Bisping beats Rockhold to win the middleweight belt

Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold had been expected to face Chris Weidman at UFC 199 in California in June 2016 before the former champion was forced to pull out with a neck injury. Rockhold was then set to face Ronaldo Souza before he too was forced out through injury, leaving the stage set for one Michael Bisping.

Bisping had lost to Rockhold via second round submission back in 2014 and was widely expected to suffer a similar fate in the second bout.

However, on just 17 days’ notice, Bisping knocked out the champion in the first round to become Britain’s first UFC champion and remind fans everywhere that once the cage door closes, anything can happen.

Holm ends Rousey’s run

Like McGregor, Ronda Rousey’s superb UFC run looked unstoppable as she headed into the UFC 193 main event against Holly Holm in November 2015. Rousey had simply dismantled all of her ten UFC opponents up to that point, with her patented armbar bringing about stoppages in seven of those bouts.

In Holm, however, she was facing a much more accomplished all-round fighter capable of working well both on the feet and on the ground. She boxed supremely well on the night, not allowing the UFC’s first female champion to get within range or force a takedown.

After winning the opening round and continuing to dominate in the second, Holm caught Rousey with a head kick before finishing the fight with punches, to become just the second bantamweight champion in UFC history.

Weidman punishes Silva

Ahead of UFC 162 in July 2013, Anderson Silva had held the middleweight championship for over seven years and amassed the longest title reign in UFC history. He entered the bout with Weidman as heavy favourite, with Weidman having been in just nine MMA fights at that point.

Although the vastly experienced Silva was likely attempting to roll with Weidman’s punches and draw him into a mistake, he was also mocking his opponent and clearly showboating during the second round.

Weidman would punish the champion, dropping him with a flush left hand before finishing the fight with punches and leaving Silva clutching onto the referee’s leg in sheer hopelessness.

Although Weidman would go on to defend his title against Silva later that year, the sheer shock of the moment has remained with UFC fans for years.

Serra beats GSP

By the time his bout with Georges St-Pierre came around at UFC 69 in April 2007, Matt Serra had already become a journeyman fighter in the UFC with a modest 9-4 record. He was meant to be a gatekeeper as GSP awaited rematches with bigger names such as B.J. Penn and Matt Hughes.

Things rarely go to plan in the octagon, however, and after catching GSP with a right overhand, left hook combination, Serra saw his opening and went for it. He would overwhelm the champion with hard strikes before finishing him with a few hammer fists to claim the most unlikely title win in UFC history. 

Masvidal finishes Askren in six seconds

Although the result may not have been entirely surprising given Jorge Masvidal’s vast experience and ability, the way in which this UFC 239 undercard fight unfolded in July 2019 was completely unforeseen.

Ben Askren, a highly-decorated wrestler, had somehow survived a Robbie Lawler onslaught to win his UFC debut, but another slow start put the brakes on any hopes he had of inserting himself into the welterweight title picture.

‘Gamebred’ came flying out of the traps and caught Askren with a brutal flying knee which knocked him out cold. The fight lasted just six seconds and left the MMA world in a state of disbelief.

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