For mixed martial arts, 2007 has been a year like no other.
UFC is at the height of its popularity and fans have been treated to some of the most incredible moments in the history of the sport.
Here are my top five favourite moments so far this year.
5. Travis (The Serial Killer) Lutter doesn’t make weight
Ok, I admit it – I’m a jerk. This is only on my list because my friends and I began referring to The Serial Killer as Travis (Sorry I Couldn’t Make Weight, Duder) Lutter.
This was made even funnier when Lutter had to bail out of his UFC 74 match because of a herniated disc in his neck. Now we refer to him as Travis (Sorry I Couldn’t Stay Healthy, Duder) Lutter.
It’s not that I have anything against him – after all, he won The Ultimate Fighter 4 and has lasted longer than anyone in the octagon anyone Anderson Silva. But I just can’t say no to bad comedy.
Besides, when he returns, his nickname is bound to change to something more positive…
Travis (Sorry I Was Away So Long, Duder) Lutter.
4. Gabe Ruediger tries – and fails – to make weight in TUF 5
No, all my picks aren’t going to be about guys who fail to stay in shape for their matches. I swear this is the last one. Besides, this was one of the funniest moments in TUF history.
The members of Team Penn knew, and complained, that Ruediger wasn’t watching his diet. And despite some emotional outbursts about how hard it is to not be a fatty, his cries fell on deaf ears. It was clear that he wouldn’t be in shape to fight if a member of Team Pulver chose him.
So after a few episodes Corey Hill finally stepped forward laid out the challenge. This left Ruediger one day to drop over 20 lbs. to make the weight limit.
What ensued was comedic gold.
It started out with good ol’ Gabe sleep walking through some exercises before hitting the sauna. From there, it didn’t take long for him to suffer a compete meltdown.
First, he kept leaving the sauna against his coach’s wishes to check his weight. At only a few pounds over, he got out and lay down on the floor. Then, in a very weak, whispery voice and with tears in his eyes, he asked Penn to pick him up and put him back in.
"I can do it," he said in voice not unbecoming of someone on their death bed. "Just put me back in."
Penn refused that request, citing section 4, paragraph 2 of the "shut up and be a man" act. From there, Ruediger got up, went outside, stripped and fell into the swimming pool. As this aired, the show cut to interview snippets of Penn making fun of him.
Though he failed to make 155 lbs. and was booted off the show by a super pissed off Dana White, his legacy will live on – as the single biggest whiner in the history of TUF.
3. Quinton Jackson makes weight and beats Chuck Liddell for the light-heavyweight title
Okay, we’re onto the serious ones now.
In the build up to Jackson vs. Liddell II, it looked like I was one of the few people who felt Rampage was going to win.
So imagine my glee when Jackson rocked him with a nasty right and went in for the kill.
After being a top player in Pride for so many years, it was nice to see him win a major title, but there’s more to it than that.
See many had speculated Rampage wasn’t the same fighter that took Pride by storm. While Jackson claimed he wasn’t being trained properly, many thought his newly found Christianity had taken away his killer instinct.
After a somewhat plodding match with Marvin Eastman at UFC 67, there were doubts Jackson could take down the red-hot Iceman – wait, isn’t that an oxymoron?
On the night of the big showdown, it took Jackson less than two minutes to knock Liddell out.
2. Gabriel Gonzaga knocks out Mirko Cro Cop
Never in my life have I watched a KO replay as many times as this one. With the blessing that is my rewindable cable box, I sat back in horror over and over again as Gonzaga landed an über-nasty headkick, causing Crobo Cop to crumble to the mat, twisting his leg at a disgustingly unnatural angle.
If this was a match between any other two fighters it would still have made my list, but this was Crobo Cop getting KOed with his own specialty maneuver. You just can’t buy irony like that anywhere.
1. Randy Couture wins the heavyweight title
Well, what do you know? The build-up to UFC 74’s main event takes the top two spots on my list.
I’ve been a huge Couture fan for sometime now – he’s possibly my favourite fighter in all of mixed martial arts. So when it was announced he was returning to fight to Tim Sylvia, I was both excited and scared.
At 6’8", 255 lbs. and with a 1" reach advantage over Couture, Sylvia is a monster.
Also, when Couture retired after his second loss to Liddell, it seemed like the perfect moment for him to hang up the gloves and go down in history as one of the greatest competitors ever in MMA. If he came back, would he be a shadow of his former self?
All doubts were put to rest the moment he rocked Sylvia with a straight-right. For the entire 25 minutes, Couture edged Sylvia in every aspect of the fight – including the stand-up exchanges.
When it was all said and done, Couture had toppled the Maine-iac in one of the most exciting fights in UFC history.