Rising up from your lowest point is the most gratifying experience that anybody can experience in their lifetime, athletics or not. There is just a surge of exhilaration which comes from tapping into a reserve of strength that you didn't think could even exist in your body that provides you with the ultimate emotional high. Whether it's acing that exam which you thought you were going to fail or tapping that black belt in the gym after he was whipping you for the whole sparring session, coming back from the brink of defeat is incredible.
In the UFC alone, we have seen some incredible comebacks that turned the tide of a fight completely in the opposite direction from where it was heading. Countless times fighters have been smashed to bits, beaten from pillar to post only to pull a knockout strike or a submission out of nowhere. While there are dozens of those, only 10 can be considered the best.
When speaking of the best comebacks, a few factors need to be discussed. The first one being just how bad of a position you were in before the fighter pulled out the comeback. The worse of a condition a fighter is in before coming back, the more impressive the comeback is, it's that simple. Another reason the list is ranked this way is because of the level of competition in which it occurred. Championship fights entice spectators more than a Fight Pass card opener, so they will be ranked accordingly. Then there's the X factor: drama. If you can envision a comeback in the UFC out of a Rocky movie, chances are you will find it on the list.
10 Mike Russow vs. Todd Duffee, UFC 114
9 Scott Smith vs. Pete Sell, Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale
8 Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva, UFC 156
For every incredible moment of Alistair Overeem's career, he always has a completely bone headed move that will balance out the ongoing stage drama that is The Demolition Man. At UFC 156, Overeem made his return after failing a drug test prior to his scheduled UFC 146 title fight with Junior Dos Santos.
7 Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard, UFC 125
Some may not see this as a true comeback, but I laugh at that idea and instead pay respect to the heart and soul of Frankie Edgar. On New Year's Day 2011, Frankie Edgar defended his title against the only man to ever defeat him, Gray Maynard. The expectations for the fight were low due to how likely it was to be a wrestling match but boy were the pundits off.
6 Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg, UFC 52
Dana White has seen thousands of fights, but in 2009 he stated that this was his favourite fight ever and I could understand why. In a rematch of their first encounter, Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg were set to finally settle their beef at UFC 52 for Hughes's Welterweight Championship. The rivalry was so intense that during the fight Trigg kneed Hughes in the family jewels and continued to lay the smackdown on Hughes.
5 Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin, UFC 116
It says something when a nut shot is better than getting punched in the face. If Shane Carwin is doing the punching, Trigg can knee my testicles all day and I won't complain because Carwin has frightening power. He knocked out Frank Mir with punches that literally had one inch to travel and with force that made Bruce Lee jealous. Before this matchup, Brock Lesnar seemed damn near unstoppable as nobody had hurt him and his only loss came from a flash submission.
4 Travis Browne vs. Alistair Overeem, UFC Fight Night 26
As I stated earlier, Alistair Overeem has had quite an exciting career that is filled with either him or his opponent getting blasted into a different dimension via fist and foot express. After blowing his shot at a UFC title in his previous fight versus Bigfoot Silva, there was no way he was going to make another mental mistake in his next fight, right? WRONG!
3 Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry, UFC on Versus 4
The Versus channel didn't hold too many UFC events, but the ones they did hold were quite good, the best one being this modern day classic. Both kickboxers before entering Mixed Martial Arts, a heavyweight contest between Cheick Kongo and Pat Barry seemed to have everything a promoter could want in a main event. But there was no promoter on earth who could have predicted what they were about to see.
2 Frank Mir vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, UFC 140
I've talked about this fight ad nauseum in a previous article of mine so forgive me for drooling over this fight again, but it is truly that good. Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira are the two of the best grapplers in the history of the heavyweight division so it was fair to expect a grappling heavy affair. Nogueira had a staph infection in their first fight and was set to have a much better performance than his first fight with Mir.
1 Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen, UFC 117
In my top 10 submission victories article, I placed this at number two and the Mir kimura at number one so you may be asking about the switch. I see this story as a different type than the Mir/Nogueira one. While both were come from behind submission victories, Mir had to recover quickly from two strikes and escape a bad position in one round. Silva though, had to endure over four rounds of offence from Chael Sonnen which would screw with anybody's psyche. Everything Anderson tried, Sonnen had an answer for. He dropped Silva with a punch in the first and only slipped when Silva nailed an elbow in the fourth (which Sonnen recovered from).
In the fifth round, there was absolutely no reason to think Silva could counter Sonnen now when he couldn't do it at full capacity in the first. Lucky for the Spider, the Oregon gangster was slowing down just a bit. He was leaving his arms down in the champion's guard. In a last ditch effort, Silva threw up his legs for a triangle choke and squeezed like his life depended on it. Sonnen's attempts to free himself from the Spider's web, while inspired, ultimately led to nothing but defeat. Anderson Silva defeated the man who almost stole his legacy, title and reputation and who was loaded to his scalp with testosterone. All of this, done with bruised ribs. It's impossible to see how anybody can pull off quite a comeback like this one.
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