In two weeks Michael Bisping is going to take on Kelvin Gastelum in the UFC Fight Night Shanghai main event. He is a replacement for the suspended Anderson Silva, who was flagged for an illegal substance by USADA. Bisping is coming off of a devastating loss, having been choked out by George St. Pierre at UFC 217. His short notice bout will be his first step to either regaining his title, or potentially be a final nail in his championship coffin. While big name fighters taking short notice fights may be rare, its especially relevant when it does happen.
Fan favorite Chris Leban fought twice in June of 2010, adding two wins to his record in three weeks time. Donald Cerrone fought twice on a 15-day turnaround, defeating Myles Jury and Benson Henderson. Chas Skelly holds the record for quickest turnaround in UFC history, winning twice in a span of 13-days in 2014. Through UFC history, there have been a number of short notice fights that have gone on to become legendary.
Michael Bisping vs. Luke Rockhold II
Chris Weidman, slated to have his sequel fight against Luke Rockhold, pulled out due to injury. That set the stage for Bisping to get his title shot on just 17 days notice. Rockhold had beaten Bisping handily in their previous match-up and choked him out. Bisping is a well known cardio machine. He made weight despite barely having a training camp, and coming off of a movie set.
Even though he had been busy show fighting Vin Diesel, he was ready. Rockhold, appearing cocky, took a right to the chin from Bisping and was dropped and finished in the first round. The result is one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, and Bisping’s first title reign. He became the first English champion in the UFC, which created a proud moment for the ravenous UK fanbase. He eventually defended the title against long-time rival Dan Henderson before his loss to St. Pierre.
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz
In Conor McGregor’s first attempt to win the lightweight title, his opponent was Rafael Dos Anjos. An injury lead to him pulling out and Nate Diaz was selected as the replacement. Because of it being on 11-days notice the fight took place at 170 pounds. Diaz weathered the McGregor storm in the first and stunned the Irish striker in the second round. He would then get him to the ground, and choke him out to get the win. Shocking the MMA world and leading to feud of the year.
Even though Diaz lost the rematch, the fight was razor close. Many believed Diaz had once again won. Because of these fights, he’s more popular than ever. Diaz is linked to welterweight champ Tyron Woodley for a possible UFC 219 bout. The fight would be Diaz’s second for gold in the UFC. Without taking that short notice fight, its likely Diaz wouldn’t be anywhere near the title picture.
Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson
Daniel Cormier originally was scheduled to fight Ryan Bader in June of 2015. Jon Jones was stripped of the title on April 28, and Cormier was moved to the UFC 187 card less than a month later. Cormier now faced an abbreviated training camp and an incredibly dangerous opponent in Anthony Johnson.
Cormier was nearly stopped in the first round by Johnson’s legendary power, but he was able to recover. Over the next two rounds Cormier wrestled Johnson relentlessly and broke his spirit. He was able to sink in a choke in the third round and win the UFC light heavyweight title.
He went on to defend the title twice, including gaining another win over Johnson. In that fight he again survived a scary first round, this time a brutal, nose breaking head kick. Cormier remains the light heavyweight title holder, thanks to more Jones controversy.
TJ Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao
UFC 173 turned out to be quite the mess of a card. Eight fights were moved or changed in total, before the card was finally set. The original main event was Weidman versus Vitor Belfort. Rule changes regarding TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) were recently put into place, which left Belfort unable to compete. Weidman against Lyoto Machida became the next doomed fight, with a Weidman knee injury to blame.
Renan Barao versus Raphael Assuncao for the bantamweight title was then touted as the main event of the evening. That marquee match-up however was short lived. Assuncao pulled out, citing a rib injury. This would open the door for TJ Dillashaw, who originally was set to face Takeya Mizugaki.
Despite being a massive underdog, the scrappy Dillashaw went on to dominate the champ. A fifth round head kick, and ground and pound, lead to the stunning TKO victory for Dillashaw.
He defended the title twice, including a second stoppage of Barao. After losing the title to Dominick Cruz, in a epic split-decision fight, Dillashaw rattled off wins to get back into title contention resulting in a grudge match against Cody Garbrandt for the belt.
Dillashaw won and is now enjoying his second title reign. He will have his pick of opponents, and a chance to be a two division champion.
Being a late replacement doesn’t always lead to victory, superstardom, or a stunning result. In these cases it created four legendary finishes. Have any to add? Leave your favorites in the comments.