Since the Ultimate Fighting Championship held its first event in 1993, the UFC has featured a total of 178 title fights, which includes interim title fights and ‘superfight’ title fights, as of UFC 182. While the title fights have ranged from being exciting and back and forth affairs (Edgar vs. Maynard) to insulting messes (Silva vs. Maia), there have been times when the fights have not even gotten out of the first round. Whether it is from a flash knockout or a fighter runs into a submission, these matches have made people excited for seeing such a shocking ending while at times also feeling jipped for having to pay a few hundred dollars to see such a short fight.
This list is designed to look at the shortest of these fights. There really is no other prerequisite for ranking other than match length, although the matches themselves are going to be discussed and how such a short fight happened. There does not seem to be a rhyme or reason for when a short fight happens. It just does. A breakdown of the total title fights in the UFC shows that the Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight divisions have had the most title fights with 36 each, followed by Welterweight with 32, while the newer divisions of Flyweight, Women’s Bantamweight and Strawweight, have the fewest with six, four, and one, respectively.
The division with the most title fights in the ranking is Light Heavyweight with seven, followed by Heavyweight with six. The Welterweight, Lightweight, Featherweight, Bantamweight, and Women’s Strawweight divisions did not have any fights make the list, though that is due to many of those fights going to a decision, especially in the Lightweight division which had only seven title fights not go the distance and the Women’s Strawweight division has had only one title fight so far.
Here is the breakdown of title fights below:
Heavyweight – 36 (26 finishes)
Lightheavyweight – 36 (26 finishes)
Middleweight – 21 (16 finishes)
Welterweight – 32 (18 finishes)
Lightweight – 20 (7 finishes)
Featherweight – 7 (2 finishes)
Bantamweight – 10 (5 finishes)
Flyweight – 6 (3 finishes)
Women’s Bantamweight – 4 (4 finishes)
Women’s Strawweight – 1 (0 finishes)
Superfight – 5 (2 finishes)
20. Mark Coleman vs. Dan Severn – UFC 12 (2:57)
At UFC 12 it was decided that the Superfight Championship would be combined with the UFC Tournament Championship in order to determine the UFC’s first Heavyweight Champion, leading to Superfight Champion Dan Severn facing off against Mark Coleman. Many expected a long fight between the two wrestlers, but what they did not expect was Coleman controlling Severn and quickly catching him in a neck crank. Severn would tap out just shy of three minutes into the match and Coleman would become the UFC’s first Heavyweight champion.
19. Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski – UFC 59 (2:43)
In a rematch of their UFC 51 bout for the Heavyweight Championship, Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia once again met inside the Octagon with Heavyweight gold on the line. This time though it would be Sylvia coming out on top as he would beat Arlovski 17 seconds shy of three minutes by TKO due to punches. The win would give Sylvia his second title reign and the two would meet once more at UFC 61 in a lackluster rubber match in which Sylvia would get the unanimous decision victory over his longtime rival.
18. Rich Franklin vs. Nate Quarry – UFC 56 (2:34)
Former Ultimate Fighter cast member Nate “the Rock” Quarry would make UFC history for being the first person from the show to fight for a title in the UFC. Unfortunately he was meeting Middleweight Champion Rich “Ace” Franklin. Franklin would completely dominate the fight until hitting Quarry with a punch to the jaw that sent him crashing to the canvas at 2:34. While Quarry may have been unsuccessful in his attempt at capturing UFC gold, future Ultimate Fighter cast members such Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans would fare better years later, each winning the Light Heavyweight Championship, and set a trend of cast members fighting for or even winning the big gold belt.
17. Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn – UFC 6 (2:14)
At UFC 6, Ken Shamrock was set to defend his Superfight Championship against Dan “the Beast” Severn. It was an interesting matchup as both men had similar skillsets, using wrestling and submissions to best their opponents, so fans were interested to see who would come out on top. Ultimately, Shamrock would bombard Severn and pick up the victory at just over two minutes and this would lead to the horribly infamous rematch at UFC 9 which has been dubiously titled “The Detroit Dance” which some have called one of the worst MMA fights of all time.
16. Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez – UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Benavidez 2 (2:08)
After their first fight to determine the first Flyweight Champion in the UFC, expectations were high for the rematch between Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. After looking at the records for both men it would have been easy to assume that the fight would go one of two ways, with either Johnson outpointing Benavidez for another decision victory or Benavidez swarming Johnson and earning a TKO victory. Yet neither happened as Johnson caught Benavidez with a strike and finished him in just 2:08 by knockout, to the shock of everyone.
15. Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture – UFC 52 (2:06)
As coaches’ fight for the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter and a rematch of their first fight at UFC 43 for the Interim Light Heavyweight Championship, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture were set against each other for the title once more. This time would be different though, as Liddell would find his range and timing early, leveling Couture and getting the knockout victory at 2:06. They would meet once more at UFC 57 in a rubber match, where Liddell would win again by knockout, this time in the second round.
14. Rampage Jackson vs. Chuck Liddell – UFC 71 (1:53)
At UFC 71 Chuck Liddell would have a chance to avenge the TKO loss he suffered against Rampage Jackson at Pride Final Conflict 2003, this time with Liddell’s Light Heavyweight Title on the line. Both men would be respectful of each other’s power as they circled each other at the start of the fight, seemingly waiting for an opportunity to strike. Then about 90 seconds into the first round Jackson would land a right hook to Liddell’s jaw, sending him to the canvas. After a couple more shots to the grounded Liddell, the match was stopped and Jackson was the new champion.
13. Tito Ortiz vs. Yuki Kondo – UFC 29 (1:51)
After beating Wanderlei Silva for the vacant Light Heavyweight Championship, then called Middleweight Championship, Tito Ortiz was set to make his first defense against Yuki Kondo at UFC 29. Kondo had earned the shot after his debut fight where he beat Alexandre Dantas by TKO and at the time had a record of 29-8-3 so it was an interesting matchup between ground and pound fighter Ortiz and an established veteran in Kondo. As the fight began Kondo would rock Ortiz with a flying knee but would get caught by Ortiz as he attempted to finish the fight and Ortiz would end up getting the win via cobra choke less than two minutes into the first round.
12. Chuck Liddell vs. Renato Sobral – UFC 62 (1:35)
At UFC 62 Chuck Liddell was scheduled to make his third title defense against Renato “Babalu” Sobral in a rematch of their first fight at UFC 40 which Liddell won by TKO. Coming into the fight, Sobral was riding a 10-fight win streak which included wins over Jeremy Horn and future champion Shogun Rua. Sobral would start the fight fast with punches, causing Liddell to backpedal while throwing punches of his own. Liddell would eventually hit an uppercut to Sobral’s chin that sent him to the canvas and giving Liddell the win.
11. Cain Velasquez vs. Bigfoot Silva – UFC 160 (1:21)
After beating Junior Dos Santos in a Heavyweight Title rematch at UFC 155, Cain Velasquez would defend his belt in another rematch, this time against Bigfoot Silva whom he had beaten in a bloody affair at UFC 146. The rematch would go the same way as their first fight had with Cain swarming Silva and overpowering him with punches. The match would be ended at 1:21 by TKO and Cain would prove that his first win against Silva and his win against Dos Santos were not flukes and that he did have the striking power to put down anyone in this way.
10. Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann – UFC 170 (1:06)
At UFC 170, Ronda Rousey was set to defend her Women’s Bantamweight Championship for the third time against undefeated Olympian Sara McMann, who many felt was the best person to unseat the queen of women’s mixed martial arts. Unfortunately Rousey would knock McMann down and out with knees to the body, with the ref ending the fight after 66 seconds. This would be the first time that Rousey would win a mixed martial arts fight by anything other than an her signature armbar submission.
9. Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez – UFC on Fox 1 (1:04)
In the UFC’s historic debut on FOX TV, the main event of the card and only match shown on the telecast was the Heavyweight Title fight between champion Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. The two would circle each other, wary of each other’s striking power. The two would eventually start throwing leg kicks and punches but Dos Santos would catch Velasquez with an overhand right and knock him down before following it up with a few more punches to finish the fight and become the new Heavyweight Champion. The match would run just over a minute long which was pretty funny considering that the whole hour on FOX was dedicated to this one matchup. This fight caused the UFC to add more to FOX cards and implement five-round fights in all main events.
8. Frank Mir vs. Tim Sylvia – UFC 48 (:50)
Coming into this fight for the Heavyweight Championship, Frank Mir had only one loss on his record and all but three of his wins coming by way of submission. Tim Sylvia on the other hand was undefeated at 16-0 with only two of his wins coming by way of decision. While Sylvia easily had the size and power advantage, it was Mir who had an advantage on the ground, so it was a matter of where the fight took place that would most likely decide the winner.
As the fight started the two would go to the ground and Mir would lock in an armbar on Sylvia. As Sylvia tried to power his way out of the hold his arm would break right below his elbow, causing Herb Dean to stop the fight at fifty seconds. Sylvia would argue with Dean that his arm was fine, but on slow motion replay it was clear that Dean saved Sylvia from further damage as his arm was bending in a way that no arm should. Unfortunately, Mir would never defend his newly won title as he would be in a motorcycle accident and be stripped of the title after 14 months when it appeared that he might not return to fighting.
7. Vitor Belfort vs. Randy Couture – UFC 46 (:49)
At UFC 46, Randy Couture was scheduled to defend his Light Heavyweight Championship against “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort in a rematch of their first fight at UFC 15, which Couture had won via TKO. Couture would attempt to lock Belfort in the clinch in order to utilize his signature dirty boxing, but Belfort would hit a glancing hook that would ultimately open up a cut above Couture’s eye.
The cut was apparently caused by Belfort’s glove and the doctor would ultimately determine the cut to be too bad for Couture to continue, ending the fight at 49 seconds and giving Belfort the belt. The two would have a rubber match at UFC 49 and in an ironic twist, Couture would win due to a doctor stoppage as Belfort suffered a cut in the third round.
6. Andrei Arlovski vs. Tim Sylvia – UFC 51 (:47)
After Frank Mir’s motorcycle accident, an Interim Heavyweight Championship was created in his absence. In what would be the first of a trilogy of matches, Andrei Arlovski would square off against former champion Tim Sylvia at UFC 51 to see who would hold down the fort in the Heavyweight division until the situation with Mir could be cleared up. Both men would come out swinging, with Arlovski quickly knocking down Sylvia with an overhand right. He would follow Sylvia to the ground and quickly lock in an Achilles lock, forcing Sylvia to tap out just 47 seconds into the fight.
5. Tito Ortiz vs. Evan Tanner – UFC 30 (:30)
As the first UFC event under the Zuffa banner, the new owners hoped to make a splash with the main event featuring Tito Ortiz defending his Light Heavyweight championship against future Middleweight Champion Evan Tanner. Unfortunately for Tanner, he would be lifted up by Ortiz as the match started and slammed down to the canvas, knocking him out cold. The match would be called at just 30 seconds and doctors in attendance had to check on Tanner and attempt to bring him back to consciousness.
4. Frank Shamrock vs. Igor Zinoviev – UFC 18 (:22)
After beating Kevin Jackson at UFC Japan to become the inaugural Light Heavyweight, then Middleweight Champion, Frank Shamrock was set to make his first defense against Igor Zinoviev, who was thought to be a challenge for Shamrock as he was a Sambo specialist and kickboxer. That would not dissuade Shamrock though as he would quickly shoot in and lift up Igor before slamming him to the mat and knocking him unconscious. The slam would be so hard that it would break Igor’s collarbone and fracture his C-5 vertebrae, causing Igor to retire from MMA.
T2. Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis – UFC 175 (:16)
At UFC 175, Ronda Rousey was scheduled to defend her Women’s Bantamweight Championship for the fourth time against Alexis Davis who was riding a five-fight win streak. That streak would be broken though as she would get rocked and finished by Rousey’s punches just 16 seconds into the fight, giving Rousey the quickest victory of her career and only the second victory of her career to not come by way of submission. While some may argue that the stoppage was premature, it did not look good for Davis as Rousey landed undefended shot after shot to Davis’s face.
T2. Frank Shamrock vs. Kevin Jackson – UFC Japan (:16)
Now while Frank Shamrock superslammed Igor Zinoviev into early retirement from MMA, at least Igor lasted slightly longer against Shamrock than Kevin Jackson did. Shamrock and Jackson met at UFC Japan to determine who would be the UFC’s first Middleweight, later named Light Heavyweight, Champion.
Going into the fight Jackson was the favorite as he was an Olympic Gold Medalist in Freestyle Wrestling from the 1992 Summer Games and was undefeated in his MMA career. Shamrock would shock the world as he would get a submission victory due to an armbar in just 16 seconds, going on to defend the belt four times before retiring for the first time. Jackson on the other had would retire from MMA two fights later with a record of 4-2.
1. Andrei Arlovski vs. Paul Buentello – UFC 55 (:15)
After it seemed unlikely that Frank Mir would return soon from his motorcycle accident to defend his Heavyweight Title, Interim Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski was promoted to Undisputed Heavyweight Champion as he headed into his title fight against Paul Buentello at UFC 55. As both men moved towards each other at the start of the fight and began to throw punches, Buentello almost immediately fell to the mat out cold and the bell was rung to signal the end of the match.
Fans who had not seen what had happened began to boo the stoppage, but they soon saw the slow motion replay that showed Arlovski landing a perfect shot to Buentello that completely knocked him out. The knockout allowed Arlovski to remain champion while also giving him the distinction of have the quickest UFC title fight in history as well as one of the quickest knockouts in the promotion’s history.
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