Picking the best UFC PPVs of 2016 is not an easy task. This year was, after all, a year of incredibly stacked pay-per-view cards.
Under the magnifying glass, however, there were five PPVs in 2016 that seemed to stand a head and shoulders above the rest; cards that were packed not only with big names, but incredible finishes and back-and-forth brawls.
Without further ado, we here at BJPenn.com offer our humble opinion on the 5 best UFC PPVs of 2016. Click “next” to see them!
- UFC 195
- UFC 200
- UFC 198
- UFC 207
5. UFC 196
Originally, UFC 196 was expected to be headlined by a lightweight title fight between then divisional king Rafael Dos Anjos, and featherweight ruler Conor McGregor. When Dos Anjos withdrew from this fight less than two weeks out, however, the card looked like it had been dealt an irreparable hit.
Luckily, the UFC was able to pull a rabbit out of their hat, as they brought in a fired-up Nate Diaz to replace the injured Dos Anjos. With just 11 days to prepare for war, Diaz would go on to shock the world, submitting McGregor in the second round of their hastily arranged fight.
Of course, that’s not where the UFC 196 thrills ended. The card also featured Miesha Tate’s incredible come-from behind submission defeat of bantamweight champion Holly Holm.
4. UFC 199
If you suggested in the year 2015 that Michael Bisping would win the UFC middleweight title in 2016, you would have been laughed at. Yet at UFC 199 in June, that’s just what happened.
Stepping in on short-notice to replace the injured Chris Weidman, Bisping scored a bona fide upset of the year contender by knocking out then middleweight champ Luke Rockhold to win his spot on the divisional throne.
This memorable card also featured a dominant title defense from then bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, Max Holloway’s thrilling featherweight war with Ricardo Lamas, and of course, Dan Henderson’s ridiculous elbow-induced KO of Hector Lombard.
Though it was considered a bit of a dud from the early vantage point, UFC 199 was truly one of the best UFC PPVs of 2016.
3. UFC 206
Like UFC 199, UFC 206 received plenty of criticism for its lack of high-profile fights. When the card lost it’s original main event – a light heavyweight title fight between Daniel Cormier and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson – it was criticized with even more fervour. There was even talk of a boycott by fans in Toronto, where the card took place. Needless to say, it was not even considered as one of the best UFC PPVs of 2016 before it happened.
But then, against all odds, the card went down as an absolute thriller. We saw Max Holloway thrash former lightweight champ Anthony Pettis in the main event, winning the interim featherweight title as he did. We saw Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone weather some early adversity to kick Matt Brown’s head into the stratosphere in the third. We saw Lando Vannata score arguably the best knockout of the year, levelling the veteran John Makdessi with a whistling wheel kick to the jaw. And then, of course, we bore witness to perhaps the best fight of the entire year, a three-round bloodletting between crafty veteran Cub Swanson and torpedo-fisted prospect Doo Ho Choi.
By the time the card had ended, its many critics were nowhere to be found.
2. UFC 202
Though Conor McGregor’s shot at redemption against Nate Diaz was originally scheduled for July’s stacked UFC 200, it ultimately occurred atop August’s UFC 202. It was worth the wait.
For five, frenzied rounds, McGregor and Diaz pummelled each other with the kinds of shots that would have levelled the vast majority of their peers, painting the Octagon red as they did. Yet while Diaz certainly had his moments in this fight, he failed to move to 2-0 over the Irish star. Instead, McGregor walked away with a majority decision win in a clear contender for Fight of the Year honors.
That’s not where the UFC 202 fun ended, either. The main card also featured Anthony “Rumble” Johnson’s thunderous, 13-second knockout of the dangerous Glover Teixeira, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s Tekken-style knockout of the ever-durable Rick Story, and the UFC debut of fan favorite slugger Mike Perry.
Yes, UFC 202 was one for the history books, and undeniably one of the best UFC PPVs of 2016.
1. UFC 205
While there were many unforgettable UFC pay-per-views in 2016, it would be hard to argue that any deserved the top spot on this list more than UFC 205.
The main significance of the card, of course, is that it marked the UFC’s long-awaited debut in New York City – a feat that required literal decades of bureaucratic battle to achieve. That’s not where the historical significance of UFC 205 ended, though.
The card also saw then featherweight champ Conor McGregor make UFC history as the first fighter to hold titles in two weight classes simultaneously, knocking out lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez to add the lightweight belt to his crowded mantle.
Then , of course, there was welterweight champ Tyron Woodley’s unforgettable draw with challenger Stephen Thompson, strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s systematic domination of challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Yoel Romero’s rocket-fuelled flying knee KO of Chris Weidman, and the final fight of Miesha Tate’s hall-of-fame worthy career.
No matter how you swing it, UFC 205 was the biggest, best, and most important event of the year. That’s why it gets the top spot on this list of the best UFC PPVs of 2016.