MMA fans are quick to praise five-round wars; those battles where the fighters involved throw everything they’ve got—including the kitchen sink—at one another for 25 hard minutes. Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is one such fight. Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson is another. Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler II is a third. Yet for every one of these tooth and nail collisions, there’s an equally enthralling, though far more abrupt one-round war.
We’re talking about those fights where two fighters engage which such fervor that nothing on earth could keep both standing for more than five minutes, fights where the blows are so severe, and the takedowns so deep, that the possibility of second round seems as likely as a Ronda Rousey vs. Floyd Mayweather bout coming to fruition. These fights, though brief, are no less entertaining than their five-round counterparts—sometimes they’re even better.
They happen everywhere too, not just under the bright lights of the UFC. From PRIDE, to Strikeforce, to community center basements in the smallest American towns, every now and then, fighters collide with such intensity that the only possible result is implosion just moments after the opening bell rings.
Here is a rundown of the ten greatest one-round fights in MMA history.
10 10. Cain Velasquez vs. Brock Lesnar at UFC 121
9 9. Diego Brandão vs. Dennis Bermudez at The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale
8 8. Roland Delorme vs. Nick Denis at UFC on Fox 3
7 7. Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira II at UFC 140
6 6. Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche at UFC 157
5 5. Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II at UFC 52
4 4. Dan Henderson vs. Fedor Emelianenko at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson
3 3. Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takayama at PRIDE 21
2 2. Diaz vs. Daley at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley
1 1. Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry at UFC Live 4
Were it not for the patience referee Dan Miragliotta, this one probably wouldn’t make the list at all. Because of the patience of Miragliotta, however, we ended up with not just one of the best one-round fights ever, but one of the best fights ever—period.
After a short feeling out process, the bombs began to fly. Barry rocked Kongo. Kongo collapsed backward. Barry rocked Kongo again. Kongo tumbled around the octagon like a drunk at 4am. It looked like it was all over for the Frenchman until he landed a veritable Falcon Punch that completely removed Barry’s batteries. It was a comeback KO for the ages, just 2:39 into the fight. Today, both men have been cut from the UFC, yet they can take solace knowing that together, they bludgeoned their way into the MMA history books with the best one-rounder ever.
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