It will need another exceptionally great year in the UFC to match the hype and delivery of the UFC PPVs (Pay-Per-Views) of 2021. For this decade of 2020s at least, the opening year will sure be a revolutionary time for the elevation of not just the promotion of the UFC but the entire sport of mixed martial arts as well.
We are now going to rank the top 10 most epic UFC PPVs of this year where we know the ranking for the top three or even top five is going to be more debatable than for any other year. We’re now going to have a nostalgic flashback off memorable moments where we screamed our hearts out for those we rooted for, cried for those that became champions out of the notion of to never ever give up, and eventually, had a part of our hearts left into these events as a sign that years from now, we will look back at them proudly thinking we were witnessing the history in the making as it happened.
UFC PPV #10 UFC 262: OLIVEIRA VS CHANDLER
Chronologically the second inspiring story of this year from the shelves of the UFC roster was written by Charles Oliveira when he finally became the UFC Lightweight Champion at UFC 262 after more than a decade of fighting and finishing the top-ranked opponents while undergoing so many rough losses on the other end. Oliveira won the main event in a rather surprising fashion when he knocked out Michael Chandler in the second round after losing the first round. This starts our list as #10 UFC PPV.
On the other hand, we also saw Tony Ferguson falling from a two to three-fight skid. “El Cucuy” Ferguson was at one point of time on a legendary 12-fight winning streak where he was respected in the lightweight division and it was thought that there’s no stopping for him without grabbing the UFC Lightweight Championship. It seemed like we are transitioning from one era to another as we see the lightweight division grow from the absolutely dominating performance by Beneil Dariush over Ferguson.
UFC PPV #9 UFC 259: ADESANYA VS BLACHOWICZ
Except for the main event, every fight on UFC 259 was seriously underrated until this UFC PPV passed away with time. The main event though, had Jan Blachowicz deemed underrated as a fighter, not until the fight finally happened and the then UFC light-heavyweight champion Blachowicz just outclassed the middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in a complete mixed-martial-arts contest and handed the latter the first loss of his MMA career, pulling an upset off the betting favourite and showcasing the benchmark of his capabilities as an evolved fighter and a champion of a division.
The unwanted drama though happened right at the UFC bantamweight championship fight, where the current undisputed bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling was illegally knocked down by the then undisputed and now interim champion Petr Yan and it was the first time in UFC title fight that a title was handed to someone who was knocked down due to disqualification. This made Sterling a controversial UFC champion with no fault of his own and therefore had him fighting the critics throughout 2021.
UFC PPV #8 UFC 260: MIOCIC VS NGANNOU 2
While Oliveira’s championship victory at UFC 262 was the second in line inspiring story, Francis Ngannou‘s win for the UFC heavyweight championship in March’s UFC PPV is the first dose of motivation to never give up. Ngannou overcame the adversity not only by defeating the then heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic in a rematch, which didn’t go the former’s way in the first fight, but he overcame adversity from outside the cage as well.
From working in the sand mines of the country of Cameroon of the African Continent to being legally in trouble in France for crossing the borders illegally during his mission to get a better life for his family, to now becoming the “baddest man on the planet” while training in the topmost facility for MMA fighters in the US that goes by the name of Xtreme Couture.
In the rest of the card, UFC Welterweight Vicente Luque becomes the first person in MMA to submit the former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and bantamweight Sean O’Malley puts on a spectacular show with the first of his three knockout wins in 2021.
UFC PPV #7 UFC 267: TEIXEIRA VS BLACHOWICZ
The main event of UFC 267 gives you another reason to get inspired to achieve something big in your own life, this time, by overcoming the age barrier. Glover Teixeira became the oldest first-time champion in UFC history by defeating the former champion and heavy favourite Jan Blachowicz, and grabbing the UFC light-heavyweight gold at a shocking 42 years old!
Teixeira proved that no matter the number of years you put if you believe in your dreams, one day, they will turn to reality. For putting 20 years into a sport that can deteriorate your health bar rapidly, Teixeira put on a stunning 2 decades into this sport to reach his dream.
Meanwhile, in the co-main event, we receive one of the best bantamweight fights in UFC history as we saw a striking masterclass between Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen for the UFC interim-bantamweight championship, eventually won by Yan. Islam Makhachev, a protege of retired, undefeated MMA fighter and former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, breaks into the top 5 rankings and secure the #4 position by submitting the immensely durable Dan Hooker within the first round!
UFC PPV #6 UFC 266: VOLKANOVSKI VS ORTEGA
In what was considered to not go to the distance, the main event, the UFC featherweight title fight between the champion Alex Volkanovski and the challenger Brian Ortega turned out to be a five-round war, one of the greatest fights in the featherweight history and one of the greatest title fights in the UFC history. Ortega threw his best submissions over Volkanovski not once, not twice but thrice and Volkanovski escaped all of them, only to outclass Ortega on the feet and make his second title defence.
This UFC PPV also marked the return of the MMA legend and future Hall of Famer Nick Diaz, younger brother of today’s megastar in the UFC, Nate Diaz. The Diaz fans were waiting for his comeback for more than 5 years. Although Diaz lost the fight then, he earned the respect of the fans and pros around the world for he didn’t forget the fight game and looked as good in boxing as he always was. Diaz fought a rematch with the former UFC welterweight champion and a legend himself in Robbie Lawler.
UFC PPV #5 UFC 264: MCGREGOR VS POIRIER 3
The hostility between the two best-lightweights in the world after the champion was unmatched like any other rivalry in 2021. This is the closing of the story of good and bad times between former interim-champion Dustin Poirier and UFC megastar Conor McGregor. The fight had so much content generated in trash-talking and story building that it became one of the most sold PPVs in UFC history. The rivalry was scored 1-1, with both the fighters having a victory over each other going into the trilogy.
The fight however ended in the most bizarre way possible. That night, McGregor became the second fighter in 2021 and the third fighter in UFC history to end up breaking his shin bone in the middle of a fight. The fight results, therefore, favoured Dustin Poirier as the winner due to doctor stoppage after the end of round one. This unique ending to the trilogy has opened up the possibility to talk about the fourth fight between the two, something that has never been done in the UFC before.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the card, welterweight Gilbert Burns pulls off an upset by defeating Stephen Thompson who was seen to be on a rise, and Sean O’Malley gets second of his 3 KO wins of 2021.
UFC PPV #4 UFC 261: USMAN VS MASVIDAL 2
After more than a year of laying down UFC events without the crowd due to the unfortunate pandemic of Covid-19, UFC 261 became the first UFC PPV to have crowds at 100% capacity. The loud and exciting fans of Jacksonville, Florida were excited to blow off the roofs with their shocking reactions and man did the fighters gave them some moments they would be cheering on forever from the day of this UFC PPV.
Reigning defending UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman, becomes the first person in MMA, to knock out Jorge Masvidal in the latter’s career of mixed-martial-arts spanning almost 2 decades. The knockout in itself, a straight right hand hit right on the chin, is one that will be remembered for the ages. This was the champion’s fourth title defence as well!
In the co-main event, another memorable knockout victory came out to be registered in the history of women’s MMA as Rose Namajunas becomes the first female UFC athlete to reclaim a UFC title after losing it once, in this case, the strawweight championship. The knockout broke her opponent Zhang Weili‘s near-invincible 21-fight win streak! Women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko proves yet again in her another title defence why she is one of the greatest female mixed-martial artists!
On a sad and shocking note, we saw Chris Weidman snapping his own shin bone in half within seconds of the first round by throwing a calf kick whereas his opponent Uriah Hall becomes the first fighter possibly in MMA history to win a fight without landing a single strike from his side. Most shockingly, this leg break happened to someone, who was responsible for making his opponent snap his leg 8 years ago.
UFC PPV #3 UFC 257: MCGREGOR VS POIRIER 2
The fight that topped the pay-per-view buys this year was none other than the UFC PPV that opened 2021 with a bang, the unforeseen rematch between veteran featherweights, and now lightweights, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. This fight was built based on McGregor’s interest to fight a southpaw so that he can have an idea for his then superfight with boxing great Manny Pacquiao which never happened and Poirier immediately agreed for McGregor was someone that knocked Poirier out back when they were featherweights.
Poirier not only outboxed McGregor but to the world’s surprise, became the first MMA fighter to knock McGregor out in an MMA contest. Poirier and McGregor ended up being 1-1 with both having a victory over each other. Going into the fight, the fighters, especially McGregor, were super respectful to each other throughout the fight week which had the fans wondering as to why McGregor hid his trash talk for this fight. Regardless, the bad blood was finally produced between both the fighters by the time the third fight took place.
For the rest of the card, Michael Chandler, former Bellator MMA champion makes his much-awaited UFC debut and by far the most spectacular debut seen in UFC history. Chandler gets his first fight against the then #5 ranked lightweight Dan Hooker, who he knocks out in the very first round! Since then, Chandler has given us some back-to-back amazing moments in his 3 UFC fights so far.
UFC PPV #2 UFC 269: OLIVEIRA VS POIRIER
The day of UFC 269 will always be remembered as the most historic day of the underdogs in this history of UFC PPVs. Starting from the lesser surprising upset, City Kickboxing protege and New Zealand’s starfighter Kai Kara France ruins former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt‘s debut at flyweight as he knocks out the latter inside round one.
In a more surprising upset, Charles Oliveira, the UFC lightweight champion who was also the betting underdog against his opponent and the challenger Dustin Poirier, subtly told the world that his days as the champion are not over and that too in a surprising way. Oliveira made his first title defence successful when he submitted Poirier in round three, leaving the latter 0-2 in undisputed title fights. Oliveira not only finished Poirier in the same way as Khabib Nurmagomedov did to the latter in his first title fight, but did so a minute before Khabib.
In possibly the top 5 of the greatest upsets of all time, Julianna Pena, who just came off winning one fight after losing her then second last fight, challenged Amanda Nunes, the greatest women mixed-martial artist of all times, for one of the latter’s 2 UFC titles. The bantamweight championship, to the world’s shock, was won by Pena after she submitted Nunes in the second round via rare-naked choke, leaving Nunes just as the featherweight champion now.
UFC PPV #1 UFC 268: USMAN VS COVINGTON 2
In the mecca of sporting events known as MSG or the Madison Square Garden, where people like Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Hulk Hogan, Bruno Sammartino and many more legends from all walks of different sports came to showcase their talent for a particular field and submit themselves as legends forever, UFC 268 was happening and UFC 268 became our #1 UFC PPV.
In the prelims we saw the debut of UFC middleweight Alex Pereira, the kickboxing legend won the fight via second-round knockout and the people started reminiscing the time he knocked out the current UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in both the men’s respective kickboxing careers, many people anticipate if that will take place yet again.
In the opening of the main card, Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje put on a show to give us one of the greatest fights ever in the entirety of UFC history. This fight was years into the making when both Chandler and Gaethje were world champions in their respective MMA promotions before the UFC and thus couldn’t have happened anywhere but the UFC, anywhere but the MSG. Chandler and Gaethje that night showed what it’s like to fight with a heart!
In the following fights, Shane Burgos and Billy Quarantillo gave us an amazing featherweight classic to be remembered for ages. Marlon Vera knocks out Frankie Edgar with a spectacular front kick. And in the co-main event, Zhang Weili and Rose Namamjunas showed the world why women cage fights can be as exciting as their male counterparts as the fight goes to distance and Namajunas makes the first successful title defence in her second title reign, a definite female fight of the year 2021.
In the main event, currently the most active rivalry and one that will be spoken about forever in UFC history, reigning defending UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman makes his fifth title defence overall and makes his second title defence against his last opponent, possibly the hardest opponent, in Colby Covington. If not more than the first fight, the second fight was equally thrilling and once again proved why Covington and Usman are separately elevated competition from the rest of the welterweight division.