Mixed martial arts skyrocketed in popularity, state-side, following the finale of the first season of the Ultimate Fighter reality show, where Forest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar ducked it out in a three-round classic. However, the sport had eyeballs glued to TV screens in Japan since the early 1990s, particularly following the inception of the PRIDE Fighting Championship. Today, the UFC dominates the global MMA landscape, with competitors such as Bellator and the PFL not able to come anywhere close to pulling in the revenue numbers that the UFC rakes in. Endeavor Group Holdings, the parent company of the UFC, posts record-breaking earnings virtually every quarter.
The appeal of this sport lies in its unpredictability. While still popular, boxing remains far more straightforward than MMA, and its outcomes are more easily foreseeable. Even the most experienced sports bettors who regularly lay down wagers at domestic and non UK betting sites struggle to break the 50% accuracy barrier when it comes to mixed martial arts matches. What follows is a list of the top ten most massive upsets, odds-wise, in MMA history. These are underdog wins pretty much no one saw coming. Those few that did likely made more than substantial bank on their wagers.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs. Antônio Rogério Nogueira
In 2007, virtually no one knew who Sokoudjou was and what he could do. The Cameroonian who had a judo background began training MMA with Team Quest, helping Dan Henderson prepare for an up-and-coming fight. After quickly losing via KO in the WEC to a then-unknown Glover Teixeira, few gave him a shot when PRIDE FC announced he would face Antônio Rogério Nogueira at PRIDE 33. Nogueira was 12-2 at the time, coming off a TKO stoppage over Alistair Overeem. Sokoudjou was a +1,250 underdog, and Noguiera a -2,500 favorite. Only 23 seconds into their bout, Sokoudjou caught Nogueira with a short left hand, knocking him out, cold.
Hugo Viana vs. Zac Riley
Hugo Viana was a highly touted Brazilian prospect who entered The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil show as one of the favorites to go all the way. However, he lost a unanimous decision to Rony Jason in the show’s semi-final round. After going 2-3 in the UFC, Viana joined the RFA. He fought on their 34th card against the unknown, Zac Riley, who, at that time, had a 3-3 record. Everyone thought this was a gimme fight for Viana, as most sportsbooks had him as a -1,750 favorite. Nevertheless, after a hard-fought bout, the judges gave Riley, the Anointed Warrior, the nod.
Daiju Takase vs. Anderson Silva
Pre-2013, pretty much every MMA pundit agreed that Anderson Silva was the MMA Goat. His string of UFC dominant wins was a sight to behold, unlike anything else fans had seen. Nevertheless, his pre-UFC career got marred by two upset losses in Silva’s PRIDE FC stint. At PRIDE 26, he faced Japanese grappler Daiju Takase, who held a record of four wins and seven losses. Silva was a -1,500 favorite, and Takase a +750 underdog. No one saw a way how the slow Japanese fighter could beat the slick Brazilian. Yet, Takase managed to catch Silva in a triangle late in the first round and take home the submission win.
Abubakar Nurmagomedov vs. Pavel Kusch
Abubakar Nurmagomedov is the cousin of former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Thus, by association alone, fans thought he possessed formidable skill. Such a perception also got boasted by the fact that he was a Combat Sambo bronze medalist. Abubakar made his PFL debut in 2018 against Pavel Kusch, a Ukrainian fighter who had lost his previous fight against UFC drop-out Hayder Hassan. Abubakar was a -1420 favorite in what looked like a shoe-win. Yet, Kusch showed grit, persevering and snagging a submission win in the second round via rear-naked choke.
Mariya Agapova vs. Shana Dobson
Mariya Agapova is a Kazakhstani flyweight fighter that hails from one of the most renowned MMA camps ever, the American Top Team. She first appeared on the UFC airways participating in Dana White’s Contender Series, where she lost to Tracy Cortez via unanimous decision. From then on, Agapova won three fights in a row, with all wins coming by finish. In August 2020, she got matched up against Shana Dobson, who was on a three-fight losing streak and walked into the octagon as a +950 underdog. Dobson TKO’d Agapova in the second round of their fight and claimed the performance of the night accolade for her shocking finish.
Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm
In 2015, it seemed like Ronda Rousey was at the top of the world. She was getting movie roles left and right, and UFC commentator Joe Rogan publicly stated that he thinks she could beat some male bantamweights. Former boxing champion Holly Holm had teased a UFC contract for years before finally signing one in July 2015. Following a split decision win over Raquel Pennington and a somewhat dull unanimous decision over Marion Reneau, no one gave her a chance when it came time for her to go up against the dominant Rousey. Most non GamStop casinos and sportsbooks listed Holm as a +850 underdog. But, a minute into their bout, it quickly became clear that Rousey’s stand-up was not up to par with Holm’s, who brutally head-kicked the California native into unconsciousness at the start of the second round.
Jake Shields vs. Ray Cooper III
For many years, Jake Shields had the reputation of being one of MMA’s best grapplers. He held submission victories over Robbie Lawler, Nick Thompson, and Mike Pyle and even out-grappled Damien Maia in their 2013 MMA contest. In 2004, he defeated Ray Cooper, avenging his 2002 loss to the Hawaiian fighter. Fourteen years after that contest, Shields faced Ray Cooper III, Ray Cooper’s son. Shields was a massive -1,400 favorite, while Cooper III was a +800 underdog. The odds and Shield’s reputation did not impress the Hawaiian, who got the TKO victory in the second round. He would repeat this feat four months later in the same fashion.
Bubba Jenkins vs. LaRue Burley
Bubba Jenkins is a former NCAA Division I champion with a gold medal from the 2007 Junior World Championships held in Beijing. There is no doubt that freestyle wrestling is the best base for MMA. So, when he migrated into the sport, everyone assumed that Jenkins’s MMA career would be a successful one. After a victorious Bellator debut, Jenkins ran into LaRue Burley, a fighter of similar MMA stature, who only had two fights to his name. Coming in as a +900 long-shot, Burley managed to stun the fighting world by ground and pounding Jenkins to victory in the third round of their bout.
Matt Serra vs. Georges St-Pierre I
All MMA fans know about this contest. Matt Serra, stepping in to fight Georges St-Pierre after defeating Chris Lytle in the Ultimate Fighter 4 Welterweight Tournament and winning via TKO mid-way through the first round. Serra not only faced what seemed like an undefeatable opponent but +850 odds. He managed to beat both but lost the welterweight crown a year later to GSP via knees to the body.
Muhammed Lawal vs. Emanuel Newton
The back fist heard around the world. Experienced international and NCAA Division I wrestler Muhammed Lawal claimed he would do big things in MMA following his 2008 debut. In 2010, he won the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship by out-grappling feared striker Gegard Mousasi. He lost the title four months later, and just as it seemed like he was getting back on track, he got matched up against Emanuel Newton, a +700 underdog, who landed his favorite trick, the spinning back fist on Lawal, knocking him out in the first round.
To Sum Up
MMA is the perfect sport to chase upsets on, as unpredictable outcomes occur on every card. Bettors only need to have a good nose of sniffing out these opportunities at non GamStop casinos/sportsbooks, such as these, that offer excellent MMA odds that can allow punters to profit from their correct inklings.