The Biggest Upsets in MMA History (2023)

In the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), upsets are bound to happen. Fighters who are considered underdogs can sometimes defy the odds and emerge victorious against more established and highly favored opponents. These upsets not only shock the fans but also leave a lasting impact on the sport. In this article, we will explore some of the biggest upsets in MMA history that have left a lasting impression on fans and fighters alike.

Anderson Silva vs Chris Weidman

It’s hard to forget the shocking upset when Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva. At the time, Silva was considered one of the greatest fighters in MMA history, with an impressive winning streak and unmatched confidence. Weidman, on the other hand, had only nine fights under his belt. Despite being the underdog, Weidman managed to knock out Silva and end his reign as the middleweight champion. This upset will forever be etched in the minds of MMA fans. 8. Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal

Kamaru Usman’s victory over Jorge Masvidal was a significant upset in the welterweight division. Masvidal had gained popularity with his impressive knockout victories and was riding high on a wave of momentum. Usman, on the other hand, was the reigning champion but was not as well-known to the casual fans. However, Usman dominated the fight and secured a unanimous decision victory, proving that he was the superior fighter. This upset showcased Usman’s skills and solidified his position as one of the top welterweights in the world.

Fedor Emelianenko vs Fabricio Werdum

Fedor Emelianenko was considered unbeatable during his prime. He had a long undefeated streak and was widely regarded as the best heavyweight fighter in the world. Fabricio Werdum, on the other hand, had experienced mixed success in the UFC and was not considered a serious threat to Emelianenko. However, Werdum shocked the world when he submitted Emelianenko in the first round of their fight. This upset marked the end of Emelianenko’s dominant reign and showcased Werdum’s grappling skills.

Holly Holm vs Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey was the face of women’s MMA and had dominated her opponents with her judo skills and aggressive fighting style. Holly Holm, a former professional boxer, was seen as a significant underdog going into the fight. However, Holm showcased her superior striking skills and knocked out Rousey in the second round, ending her undefeated streak and capturing the bantamweight title. This upset shocked the MMA world and solidified Holm’s place as a top contender in the division.


Upsets are an integral part of MMA and can happen at any time. These shocking victories not only change the course of fighters’ careers but also leave a lasting impact on the sport. From the unexpected defeat of Anderson Silva to Chris Weidman, to the stunning submission of Fedor Emelianenko by Fabricio Werdum, these upsets have forever changed the landscape of MMA. They serve as a reminder that anything can happen inside the cage, and that no fighter is invincible. As fans, we continue to be captivated by the unpredictability of the sport and eagerly await the next shocking upset.

wow what a year we’ve had in the sport
of mixed martial arts not one major
upset but several within the last year
span and considering it’s been about six
years already since we’ve made a video
discussing this topic it makes all the
sense in the world to revisit this idea
and see how these huge upsets over more
than half a decade have affected the
rankings and see how they rank among
those greatest upsets in the sports
entire history so let’s go ahead and get
right into it I’m Jason from MMA on
point a massive thank you to our biggest
supporters with our Hall of Famers and
these are the biggest upsets of all time
starting with number 15 yes it’s going
to be a long list Gonzaga vs Mirko
crocop as the this is the only non-title
fight to be on this list I think it does
naturally make sense to rank below the
rest but don’t let that make you think
this wasn’t an earth-shattering moment
at the time to put it into context Mirko
had just won the 2006 open weight Grand
Prix back then Pride had by far the best
heavyweight division even when compared
against the UFC and especially
considering Fedor the only man ranked
higher than him at that time was opting
out of signing with UFC this very much
felt like Mirko was a shoe-in for the
title enter Gabriel Gonzaga then pretty
much entirely unknown at seven and one
needless to say he was a heavy heavy
Underdog just wasn’t given a chance and
of course that’s when the iconic head
kick landed which was just about the
craziest possible scenario considering
that was mirko’s own signature move and
the rest was history number 14 Burrell
vs delisha what happens when you take a
fighter on a 32 fight unbeaten streak
including three title defenses between
gaining the interim and Undisputed UFC
bantamweight titles and match him
against someone like that of a 10-2
Ultimate Fighter loser you are one
pathetic loser on a one-fight win streak
well as you guessed brow wins number 13
oh yeah never mind uh of course we all
know what this video is about so the
incredibly stacked odds somehow means
would become the winner and one of the
greatest bantamweights of all time
meanwhile peral’s career would quickly
plunge into absolute derailment with an
endless pit of losses this was such a
crazy thing to happen at the time and
absolutely deserves to be talked about
among the most insane upsets number 13
Rose namiunus versus Esparza II part of
me really wants to rank this a lot
higher I’m not sure how but the closing
odds on this fight were only about as
high as around
-240 four rows to retain her title in
that second Esparza fight and I guess
many were waiting the fact that she did
lose the Carla in the first fight but
there were literally eight years in
between the two fights and although you
can’t argue against Carla earning the
title shot it was also due conveniently
to a cleared Lane that Rose in some of
the other division had paves for her so
for one rose had already beaten Zhang
twice Joanna twice who had just become
retired and the last woman to be Carla
Tatiana Suarez was again on one of her
long injury hiatuses or even ondrash
he’d moved up in weight class to Carla’s
credit though she had beaten yanjanan
and Marina Rodriguez in that span so
still it was pretty hard to argue
against her deserving that shot but for
many of the reasons I’ve already stated
most thought that this would be an easy
Revenge fight for Rose but instead it
became Infamous for one of the worst
game plans characterized by pretty much
Rose just desperately trying not to lose
instead of fighting to win and this
meant extreme timidity all throughout
the fight with almost no offense leaving
the judge’s zero choice but to give
asparza the huge upset win and then to
add on the fact that Carla immediately
got dismantled by Zhang Wei Lee it felt
as if this was what Rose was supposed to
do in their fight I should also mention
that the old version of this video we
had Rose versus Joanna won but I think
by far the bigger win is Carlos barza
becoming champion in 2022 it’s just
insane number 12 sehudo vs DJ to this is
another rematch that definitely needs to
be ranked among the craziest moments in
our Sport and at the time that this
happens Demetrius Johnson was
legitimately sitting on top of the
mountain for greatest of all time with
records that will perhaps never be
broken or at the very least for a very
very long time like his 11 consecutive
title defenses looking at the current
UFC roster it’s hard to see that
happening for anyone as it’s either too
early or too competitive in their
respective divisions and in the case of
volkanovsky he’s splitting divisions as
of late so it’s not consecutive it’s
going to be broken up so factor that on
top of the fact that well DJ had already
demolished shihudo in one of his
absolute best highlight reel moments so
hudu just didn’t appear to belong in
there with him at all so by the time of
their second fight we are talking about
a minus 600 favorite for Johnson to
retain and who could blame the
oddsmakers considering with what we had
already seen sure enough suhuda would
put together one of his best career
performances and eke out a super close
decision considering there wasn’t some
incredible KO or something of that
nature to cement the shock Factor here
and the close nature of the fight itself
people still debate dj1 to this day it
still feels like a very strong place to
have him on the list number 11 Marie
Smith versus Mark Coleman if time has
taught us anything in this crazy sport
it’s that we’ve learned absolutely
nothing from the Sport’s first truly
Monumental upset Mark Coleman at the
time was being compared with Mike Tyson
by many of the early MMA fans and had
just become the Sport’s first
heavyweight champion Again by Smashing
everyone in this time Dan Severn who is
pretty much seen as the only worthy
wrestling competitor outside of Mark
Kerr who even them was still just making
his name known then comes a man who’d
pretty much lost to every fighter in
pancreas who knew what a submission was
so a hulking wrestler didn’t sound very
promising either and Marie Smith had a
literal losing record of six and seven
but what he had in his back pocket was a
very smart matador-like approach
essentially just let this big son of a
[ __ ] roid raged the [ __ ] out of his own
gas tank and then pick him apart on the
feet it’s remarkable Smith didn’t manage
to get a finish with Coleman in the
state that he was in but it worked out
to Perfection with that game plan on the
night in 1997 when Marie Smith turned
the world upside down number 10 Sean
Strickland vs Israel adesanya you might
have expected to see this fight higher
up on the list as it was clearly a big
inspiration for revisiting this topic
but the truth is Israel dasani’s record
and dominance won’t quite measure up to
some of the legacies ahead in order for
us to have a ranking higher and I think
the biggest Factor we have to mention is
that Izzy has already lost a couple of
times and while you would expect that
since Pereira sparked out Strickland
that it would automatically mean
Strickland definitely lose it to the man
who killed Pereira well that’s just MMA
math for you isn’t it and the truth is
guys Israel has now lost once every year
for the last three years the latter
parts of his Reign just don’t stack up
against the other massive greats on this
video that were about to mention but by
all means let’s not take away from the
moment this was absolutely a massive
upset that deserves all the respect in
the world sent Strickland’s way I’m just
trying not to get all hyperballistic
about it where it should rank reasons he
bias all that you know and even if you
want to argue this was just an off night
for Izzy it was still about a minus 600
forecast for him it’s the most recent
reminder that you can never call a fight
prediction to ever be 100 certain and
that’s one of my absolute favorite
things about this sport it’s incredible
to see the underdog Shock the World time
and again and just as awesome as it is
to see greatness flourish number nine BJ
Penn versus Matt Hughes it cannot be
understated how Wild this was and
because it was still in the later part
of the Dark Ages era of the UFC when no
one was really watching anymore and just
before the Revival that doesn’t seem to
be as appreciated as it should be BJ
Penn was already called The Prodigy but
not due to his MMA career he was
struggling it was his BJJ championships
that got him that nickname for one he
failed to capture the lightweight title
on two separate occasions by this point
once through a decision loss and the
other through a draw compare that with
Matt Hughes the bigger man a weight
class up which already makes this
transition hard enough for BJ but Matt
Hughes was legitimately the greatest
champion the sport had seen to this
point five title defenses I mean these
kind of Records had never been achieved
fader was new as a champion back then
for instance in Pride Tito’s Reign was
also five defenses but he’d already lost
by then and otherwise three title
defenses was the closest record outside
of this so it’s not unfair at all that
Matt Hughes was viewed as the best
fighter on the planet when this happened
but of course BJ dominated Matt Hughes
clearly did not see himself having any
chance of losing first by being hurt on
the feet and then being dominated in his
own specialty on the ground with
grappling that’s BJJ versus wrestling
for you it was just unreal to watch back
in 2004 and we’ve never seen an upset
quite like it again number eight
Anderson Silva vs Chris Weidman looking
back at my placement originally for this
one I think I may have ranked this a bit
too high while Anderson Silva’s record
speaks for itself and the many
accomplishments that will take a very
long time to ever be matched let alone
broken especially now even further being
cemented by recent developments with
Izzy’s Reign again coming to an end it
just shows you how once in a lifetime
Silvis run actually was but when you
really look back then Weidman was the
right matchup in every category on paper
a wrestler that likes a chill sun and
who could not only control him as we saw
but had these stand up to back it up and
that second Factor was what ended the
Legends goat level Title reign in an
incredible fashion and another point on
that level is many fighters actually
picked Weidman going into that fight for
those very reasons that they saw in
weidman’s skill set not necessarily
everyone picked him though but many
people gave him a realistic shot of
winning but make no mistake that changes
nothing about how shocking and
unbelievable this was which alone is
enough to Warrant the a spot on the list
paired with the fact that Anderson had
shown no signs of slowing down and his
confidence was definitely there too
which cost him the fight in a lot of
ways still though Weidman had only nine
fights the guy didn’t even have 10
fights yet it’s crazy just unreal what
he was able to do and it’s a night in
this sport none of us will ever be able
to forget number 7 Usman vs Edwards II
again we see another rematch this time
one that appeared to be going perfectly
until the very end and I think I’d be
remiss not to remind you that Usman was
on the verge of some seriously
impressive records that this fight
snapped and pretty much made impossible
going forward even if Usman was able to
win immediately with the rematch there’s
just not enough time to build it back up
to where it was Usman was literally
about to break the longest winning
streak in UFC history had he won he’d
tie Anderson Silva with 16 wins this one
would have passed Matt hughes’s record
of five title defenses which would have
put him just two behind GSP not to
mention unlike Silva vs Weidman by
comparison Usman had already soundly
beaten Edwards which made him a sizeable
enough Underdog and crucially this fight
was going in the same direction as the
first fight by the fifth round and it’s
definitely notable that the odds for
this fight weren’t nearly as big as it
had Usman closing around 400 which is
still a big favorite but the big thing
here is when you look at the live round
odds oh my God Usman was a minus 5 000
favorite to retain which translates to a
98.04 percent chance of Victory wow this
sport is just wildly unpredictable that
even in the most certain of cases you
are still going to be proven wrong
headshot dead am I right number six
Fedor vs Big nog it’s easy to forget now
but when Fedor beat no Guerra the first
time he was pretty much a nobody in the
sports at least as far as the average
fan was concerned back then his Stoke
nature and cold demeanor didn’t mean as
much as it does today because he was a
blank slate back then we didn’t know him
and at that point he was in Fairly
regular fights he looked great in his
wins mind you but not yet known as The
Unbelievable World beater he’d become in
the Future No Doubt the world would soon
find out though and by then big nog had
literally beaten everyone Pride had
thrown at him it was to the point that
leaving the promotion was where all the
interesting new fights were I mean they
even gave him a 400 pound man in Bob
Sapp which just kind of felt unfair and
he still won it in this run included
Mark Coleman who was just coming off his
incredible Pride 2000 Grand Prix title
capture which was an upset of Coleman’s
own and this was all the better for big
nog’s record he even beat over room’s
big brother in Rings Twice back in the
day so when Fedor came along although he
also did well in rings he was snubbed
because of that famous loss due to a cut
that should have definitely been a no
contest and by 2003 there’s just not
much the world knew about him the Heath
Herring win just prior would prove to be
an omen but but no one even really knew
about [ __ ] back then so when he jumped
into big nog’s guard in dominated him in
his best most dangerous area well to put
in Tommy’s terms I would say we were all
straight up flabbergasted and Fedor
would then go on to become what many
would still consider the goat to this
day and certainly more would say so at
heavyweight number five chefchenko
versus Grosso as you’ve seen to this
point we’ve looked at a few Fighters
that are already considered goat level
and getting into the top five it really
has to be a spectacular upset to get in
here this is one of the freshest ones on
the list but no less deserving because
even though it’s so recent I think it’s
pretty easy to forget quickly in the
world of quote you’re only as good as
your last fight unquote how unexpected
this was coming into this title fight
chefchenko was pretty much the only
women’s flyweight Division champion sure
there was Montano but she won a
replacement fight for the belt and she
wasn’t even able to defend it and got
stripped over a title for missing white
so there really wasn’t much outside of
Valentina to speak of since the wig
class began by this time we were talking
seven title defenses she was tied at
number five for all time most defenses
with Aldo and that was only two wins
away from matching GSP many people
thought she won either the second or
even first Nunes fight who is
unanimously considered the women’s goat
she did have some trouble against Silas
Santos that should be mentioned but as
we’ve seen at Santos in even her most
recent loss she really is just that damn
good and that much of a problem so then
contrast that with Alexa grosso’s record
while she wasn’t a four-fight win streak
since moving up to flyweight which
deserves credit the winds weren’t
anything to make you think she would do
what she did and just before moving up
from straw weight she literally only won
half of her fights in the UFC going
three and three since joining I remember
discussing this with plenty of people
and we were asking ourselves where is
she better anywhere does she do it on
the grounds no doesn’t seem like it the
feet no the clinch no no one gave her a
chance including myself and it was a
hard argument to go against based on
what both had done in their careers
turns out Grasso had the perfect game
plan as her training showed to the point
that even if she devastatingly loses
this rematch like real badly one-sided
you still know she had the perfect game
plan going into the first fight Owen’s
chefchenko is a minus 800 favorite by
the way we’ll just have to see if that’s
the case going into this rematch number
four Holly Holm versus Ronda Rousey so
unlike some on this list with a rear
view on this one it’s not nearly a
shocking considering what we know now
because she lost to a well world
champion boxer and kickboxer of course
she was gonna lose to her I mean it
feels obvious in hindsight but that does
not change the perception of the day and
just how world breaking this moment
truly was I mean a future president and
his first campaign was literally
tweeting about this fight it was all
over the news worldwide it happened in
front of the UFC’s largest attendance
record in Australia and in the build up
many forget but Misha Tate was the one
that was supposed to get the a fight
everyone who is expecting her to get a
third fight when this suddenly got
announced and not to mention homes
career in the UFC was just not
impressive with two barely scraping by
type of performances as you can see I’m
really trying to adjust for the
hindsight Factor on this as much as I
can but Rousey was literally a minus
1500 favorite nearly double that of
Valentina versus Grosso so you pair that
with the fact that even if you didn’t
watch MMA back in 2015 you almost
certainly still heard about this one
which means that even with the ability
to go back and look at home or any solid
Striker that really shouldn’t have been
nearly upset by Styles it was just far
too big a cultural moment around the
world and a shock to rank any lower than
this number three Fedor vs verdum so
I’ve already talked about Fedor a good
bit but most of what I’ve talked about
is before the rain or just as it began
of course after he took that title away
from Big knock he dominated him again in
the rematch the real one anyway and
until the pride door shut he was by far
the best heavy you wait and not just
heavyweight but also fighter more
generally on the planet Beyond this
point though it’s fair to say not
signing with the UFC definitely meant he
was taking lesser competition like that
of hungman Joy or an actual middleweight
in Matt lindland that just didn’t make
any sense to match him up against but on
the other side of that too he still
managed to get wins over Tim Sylvia and
arlovsky which was not long out of their
own title Reigns or at least out of
title contention by the time he beat and
finished them looking back at the Brit
Rogers fight and some of the struggles
he had on the ground there yeah maybe
that was an early red flag but that is
definitely debatable and he got the win
in similar fashion to let’s say the
Vegeta fight it showed again that he
could survive danger and always come out
on top and spectacularly in both of
those cases so by 2010 we’re basically
talking 10 years undefeated in his
entire career without losing once again
rings only called that fight a loss
because they didn’t like blood in their
tournament someone needed to advance his
opponent verdum however had lost in the
UFC and had some lackluster fights there
too and Strike Force he beat Mike Kyle
though doesn’t exactly say he has a shot
at beating the heavyweight greatest of
all time bigfoot was a solid window so
I’ll give him that it was simply
Unthinkable at the time and it was a
true ending of an era it’s incredibly
hard to top as an upset but of course
there’s more number two GSP vs Matt
Sarah this is probably within the MMA
community at least the most famous upset
there has ever been GSP assumed many
consider the greatest of all time no
controversies no checkered past just the
best and even though he hadn’t defended
the Welterweight Title yet by the time
of this fight as he just won it from
Matt Hughes the skill gap between he and
Sarah was very clear to everyone
watching Sarah came in pretty much as a
gimmick to promote the UFC’s Flagship
show and got the title shot not by
beating a number one Contender or anyone
remotely close to the top of the
division and for that reason I throw
this into the out and out fluke category
as evidenced by the dominance in the
rematch put that together with the
courage that not only preceded this
fight and of course what would take
place after in the following years this
was a shock from every angle you can
possibly view it from I mean just look
at that expression on Matt’s face here
now you can definitely look back and say
it was overconfidence or underestimation
on gsp’s part which he’s admitted to and
crucially some inexperience in doing so
you certainly will not be able to
attribute inexperience on this next
entry but first I think it’s important
we acknowledge some honorable mentions
I’ll flash a bunch of these on screen
for you guys just so you can see what
I’m talking about also you’ll notice
that I didn’t really just go with odds I
definitely think there’s a big factor to
that but the oddsmakers are out to get
the biggest buck they don’t always align
with how big the upset is and certainly
I wanted to put it on title fights
because that’s when the most were
watching and it meant the most all that
being said number one Amanda Nunes
versus Juliana Pena why is this number
one you’re asking yourself well I’ve
gone back and forth on this but
particularly in relation to the GSP one
but the more I think about it just
everything about this flu in the face of
conventional wisdom Amanda Nunes beat
literally every other goat contender in
the women’s divisions which includes
chefchenko twice cyborg home Rousey Tate
even gdr twice and she cleared out two
divisions okay really just one but she
did get the belt from [ __ ] cyborg
which is an insane feat and unlike many
of the goat contenders on the Mel side
there’s very much a heated debate about
who takes that hot spot but here there
is no debate for the women’s side of
things it’s Amanda Nunes pretty much
unanimously and unlike GSP you can’t
attribute this to her youth or
inexperience she’d already been champ
for five years and was a long time
veteran of the sport and contrasting
that with the rematch Not only was
Pena’s win shown to be the biggest upset
ever I think it’s also safe to call it
the biggest fluke ever the second fight
was nowhere near competitive so for me
that’s how I’ve got it in this list but
the question is for you how would do you
end this one did I get it right or would
you have put GSP versus Sarah at number
one instead how about Strickland versus
Izzy wow what if I it is what I love
about the sport so unpredictable and of
course thanks to my big old floppy boy
and Luke the toolman Taylor for editing
this video and being that little moment
in my life I cherish the most follow him
on I think that’s what
Twitter’s called now and of course I
want to give a special shout out to our
Channel Champions if you guys notice
we’re doing all kinds of special content
for people that sign up including
writers meetings which also is just a
good opportunity to support this channel
if you want to see it Thrive and grow
Beyond where it is now that’s it for me
guys you all have a great day and we’ll
see on the next video

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