UFC 297 is just around the corner to kick off the first main event of 2024. The UFC will be returning to Canada for the first time since June last year and returning to Toronto for the first time since 2018. Over the years, Canada has witnessed 32 UFC events, commencing with the debut in Montreal with UFC 83 in April 2008. These thrilling events have been hosted nationwide in diverse cities, including Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Moncton, Ottawa, Quebec City, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. Throughout these events, we have had the pleasure to witness some incredible fights and moments that have been etched into UFC history. Here are 8 of the greatest fights that have taken place on Canadian soil.
At the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario, fans witnessed what is often touted as one of the greatest ever, and for good reason. Going into his fifth Lightheavyweight title defense, a heavy betting favorite in champion Jon Jones was pushed to his absolute limit against the Swedish contender in front of 15,504 fans in Toronto.
This fight was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, and rightly so. This fight saw Jon Jones challenged in a way that fans had never seen before. Gustafsson surprised many in the early rounds, where not only did he win rounds against Jones but became the first fighter ever successfully to take him down. As the fight went into the championship rounds, Jones was able to reclaim some momentum and be more active than his opponent, winning a unanimous decision (48–47, 48–47, 49–46). This fight is not only one of the best fights in Canada but also one of the best fights to ever occur in an octagon.
Another UFC Hall of Fame fight transpired in the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario, during UFC 206 between Featherweights Swanson and Choi. The 2016 'Fight of the Year' was a highly acclaimed back-and-forth bout in which Swanson came out on top on the judges scorecards (30–27, 30–27, 29–28).
Despite the loss, Choi's performance elevated his standing in the public eye and within the featherweight division. This was an electrifying fight from the opening bell; the back-and-forth battle saw both fighters landing considerable significant strikes for a three-round fight. Swanson landed 111 of 210, while Choi landed 77 of 160.
The rematch between Georges St-Pierre and Matt Serra at UFC 83 occurred on April 19, 2008, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In front of 55,274 fans, this was the largest crowd in UFC history at the time, and it still sits in third place 15 years later. After fighting in front of his home Canadian crowd, Georges St-Pierre sought redemption after his previous loss to Serra at UFC 69, where he lost his welterweight title in a major upset.
St-Pierre dominated the fight from the outset, taking Serra down early and maintaining top control. St-Pierre's performance was relentless, and by the second round, he had overwhelmed Serra with his wrestling and top game. The fight ended in the second round when St-Pierre unleashed a series of knees to Serra's body while Serra was on the ground, leading to the referee, Yves Lavigne, stopping the fight at 4:45 of the round. The event was notable not only for St-Pierre's victory but also for being the UFC's first event in Canada, drawing a record crowd at the time and contributing to the growing popularity of MMA in the country.
Another memorable UFC moment came in Toronto at UFC 140, in the Air Canada Center, where Jon Jones successfully defended his light heavyweight title against Lyoto Machida. The first round was competitive, with Machida finding success in striking and momentarily putting Jones in difficulty. However, Jones adjusted his strategy in the second round, managing to take Machida down. The fight concluded at 4:26 of the second round when Jones secured a standing guillotine choke, rendering Machida unconscious.
This victory marked Jones' second title defense and established his dominance in the light heavyweight division. Not only was the win a notable scalp for Jones, who had overcome the most in-cage adversity he had faced up to that point in his career, but it also left us with an iconic walk-off victory as Machida's lifeless body slumped to the ground.
Lyoto Machida makes his way onto the list for his quintessential jumping frontkick knockout of Randy Couture during UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. After losing his first-ever MMA fight and UFC Light Heavyweight title to Mauricio Rua in Montreal in 2010, Machida would lose a second fight in a row in a split decision loss to Quinton Jackson later that year.
Machida returned to Canada and set the crowd alight with his knockout of Couture, knocking out his opponents teeth sending Couture to the canvas. This knockout is considered one of the most spectacular in mixed martial arts history in what would later be Couture's last fight. With this memorable moment, he booked himself a title shot against Jon Jones but would fall short in his attempt to recapture gold.
Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit faced off at UFC 154 on November 17, 2012. The fight took place at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. St-Pierre won the fight by unanimous decision, with the judges scoring it 49–46, 50–45, and 50–45 in his favor.
St-Pierre's wrestling was crucial to his victory, as he kept Condit grounded for large portions of the fight. However, Condit managed to drop St-Pierre with a head kick early in the third round, but St-Pierre quickly recovered and even took over the round to the point that two judges gave him the round. This fight marked St-Pierre's triumphant return after a 19-month layoff due to a knee injury.
Jose Aldo faced Mark Hominick at UFC 129 on April 30, 2011, at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. This was Aldo's first UFC title defense and Hominick's first major title shot. Aldo, the reigning UFC featherweight champion, won the fight by unanimous decision, with the judges scoring it 50-43, 48-46, and 49-46 in his favor.
Aldo dominated the early rounds, landing repeated combinations and taking Hominick down to work his ground and pound. In the fourth round, Aldo dropped Hominick with a right hand, and Hominick developed a massive hematoma over his forehead. Despite this, Hominick put up a great fight, especially in the fifth round, where he took Aldo to the mat and began landing punches. This fight was a significant test for Aldo, marking him as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters. Hominick's performance, despite the loss, earned him a lot of respect and kept him in the upper echelon of featherweights.
This fight occurred at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Holloway was defending his championship against the then-undefeated Brian Ortega. After a competitive early start to the fight, Holloway's classic volume started to pay dividends as the fight progressed. Holloway was particularly dominant in the fourth round, landing an astounding 134 significant strikes.
Ortega was soon after determined not fit to continue by the ringside doctors after the fourth round. This not only solidified Holloway's dominance in the Featherweight division with his 13th straight victory but also proved once again that there was a clear gap in ability between Holloway and the other contenders in the division.
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