Sunday, December 4, 2022

The Top 7 UFC APEX Events

Let’s take a look back at the top 7 best UFC APEX events over the last few years.

The UFC faced some backlash after rolling out the red carpet for Mark Zuckerberg at UFC Fight Night: Dern vs. Rodriguez. #MMATwitter in particular was up in arms.

To make our list of best UFC APEX cards, we’re simply looking at the all-round performances. Name value, big moments, finishes, and overall fight quality is all taken into account. Everything you want from an MMA card, just shrunk down to a 25-foot octagon.

7. UFC Fight Night: Santos vs. Hill

Serving as the TUF 30 finale (please… let it die, Dana), this became only the second card in the modern era to have 100% finish rate. Stephanie Egger caused controversy when she denied tapping to Mayra Bueno Silva. Last year’s TUF winner, Bryan Battle, finished Takashi Sato with a highlight reel head kick. Terrance McKinney proved yet again that he is the truth.

The two TUF finale bouts were beautifully violent. Juliana Miller won the tournament via TKO via hell-bows, and Mohammad Usman joined his brother as TUF champion with a cracking check hook over Zac Pauga who had been piecing him up to that point. Geoff Neal proved he had “Hands of Steel” by cracking Vicente Luque‘s rock hard chin halfway through R3 in the co-main event.

Finally, Jamahal Hill simply outpaced, outlasted, and outclassed Thiago Santos in a FOTN performance. In doing so, he became the first to finish LHW Santos and secured his place just outside the top 5.

6. UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs. Procházka

This card makes our list of best APEX events for being full of breakout moments for some of our most beloved athletes today. With only three finishes (one being a DQ) on the card, it was a slow build filled with controversy. Two prelims went to a split decision, and the featured prelim ended when Randa Markos was DQ’d with an illegal upkick against Luana Pinheiro.

However, the main card went much smoother. Merab Dvalishvili put on a masterclass against Cody Stamann, and we heard Sean Strickland talk all his trash against Krzysztof Jotko. Ion Cuțelaba went to war with Justin Jacoby, which ended in an even more egregious split decision.

Giga Chikadze had his breakout moment in co-main event TKO over Cub Swanson. However, it was the main event that solidified the event’s place on our list. Jiří Procházka earned himself a title shot and the love of fans around the world as he faced former 2x title challenger Dominick Reyes. Ending with 30 seconds left in R2, the entire fight was just pure chaos.

5. UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Rodríguez

The long-awaited bout between Max Holloway and TUF: Latin America winner Yair Rodríguez went down in November 2021. Taking place in front of a small crowd, it was an incredible performance by both main event fighters. Holloway displayed much improved wrestling, and his usual crisp striking.

Rodríguez, who had been serving a two-year suspension, looked like he had barely missed a day. The pair even rode in an ambulance to the hospital together. However, the rest of the card wasn’t short of entertainment either.

With only two bouts going the distance, one being the main event, it’s difficult to pick any highlights. Korean Zombie light-heavyweight protegee, Da Un Jung, proved to be a problem in the division with a dominant performance over Kennedy Nzechukwu.

Andrea Lee lived up to her nickname, looking like a Russian KGB assassin against Cynthia Calvillo. Joel Álvarez and Thiago Moisés put on a three-minute banger that left the Octagon covered in blood, and Song Yadong marked himself as a true contender as he dispatched Julio Arce with relative ease.

4. UFC 260: Miocic vs. Ngannou 2

Whoever was in charge of sound production was on point at UFC 260. Marc-André Barriault had Canada on the edge of their seats with a buzzer beater defeat over Abu Azaitar to open the card, and Omar Morales displayed a clinic against Shane Young immediately after. However, the main card was where the APEX shone.

Jamie Mullarkey sent Khama Worthy to sleep in under a minute to pick up his first UFC win, as the punch echoed around the APEX. Sean O’Malley put on a clinic against Thomas Almeida, before bouncing his head off the canvas. Vicente Luque retired Tyron Woodley in under four minutes in the co-main event.

However, the main event between Francis Ngannou and reigning champion, Stipe Miocic is what remains etched into our minds. Plucky Stipe found out the hard way that in the three years since their last bout, Francis had been studying. A failed takedown in R1 saw the round end with Stipe disheveled and more willing to engage on the feet. And he did… for 50 seconds. After landing a flush hook on Francis, Stipe blitzed and woke up several minutes later.

3. UFC 252: Miocic vs. Cormier 3

Kicking off our top 3 best APEX events, the UFC blessed us with a true trilogy match between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier. Having gone 1-1 in their previous two bouts, with a finish a-piece, it was poetic that we would get 25 minutes of these two titans of the sport duking it out in relative silence.

As if that wasn’t enough, there were two other HW bouts on the card, and they delivered, as Jairzinho Rozenstruik put a beating on Junior Dos Santos, while Chris Daukaus took out Parker Porter. Add in the controversial Marlon Vera vs. Sean O’Malley bout, and a highlight-reel worthy UFC debut for Daniel Pineda, and you have yourself a classic APEX card.

2. UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Hooker

One of the final cards from that initial batch of APEX cards, when the world was entirely upside down barely three months into the pandemic. Many argue that this card saved the UFC by making so many fall in love with the silent APEX atmosphere. Following several lackluster events, including UFC 250, Woodley vs. Burns, and Eye vs. Calvillo, there was something in the water that night at the APEX.

Kay Hansen’s UFC debut armbar victory over Jinh Yu Frey earned her a POTN bonus and was followed by four consecutive finishes. Julian Erosa broke onto the big time as he choked Sean Woodson almost to sleep with a D’Arce choke to open the main card.

However, it was the main and co-main events that won the APEX over in our hearts. Mike Perry and Dana White Looking for a Fight alum, Mickey Gall beat the breaks off one another, as viewers fell in love with Michael Bisping’s commentary.

While the main event between Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker would be snubbed for Fight of the Year honors, it lives on in our hearts. As leather flew and shins collided, every impact was felt through our screens. And of course, how could we forget this incredible moment from “The Count”?

1. UFC 259: Błachowicz vs. Adesanya

UFC Poster
UFC 259 Poster

The penultimate PPV held in the APEX, Błachowicz vs. Adesanya was a true classic, and hard to deny as the best APEX event. The most recent men’s double-champ challenge for Adesanya, who was putting his undefeated MMA record on the line.

Meanwhile, Amanda Nunes completed her second consecutive 145lb defense as she demolished Megan Anderson in just seven minutes total. The card also saw the first ever title change from a disqualification, as Petr Yan blasted Aljamain Sterling with an illegal knee after taking control of the fight.

Many would argue the card would prove to be more controversial than entertaining, but isn’t it all the same to us MMA fans? We love it, we eat it up.

Aljamain Sterling’s leaked ‘celebrations’ with the belt later only added to the hate he received. However, this only added to the entertainment value of the card, which also saw Islam Makhachev defeat Drew Dober, and Dominick Cruz‘s return to the win column.

Do you agree with our list? Did we miss any bangers? Let us know below!