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Are UFC Fights Fixed? (4 Famous Examples)

Whether fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship are fixed has long been debated throughout the mixed martial arts community.

Whenever two competitors go one-on-one in a combat sport for money, there will always be conspiracy theories surrounding the legitimacy of a win.

But are UFC fights fixed?

With unusual circumstances surrounding many famous UFC fights, there still has not been any hard evidence to prove that UFC fights are fixed. But there have been many questionable decisions, such as Leanord Garcia winning from the judges despite appearing to have lost and Conor McGregor’s round-winning predictions.

Let’s look at four famous examples from the history of UFC & MMA to see just how likely fixing could be…

The Split Decision King: Leonard Garcia

Whether it’s a dubious decision victory that brings the judge’s scoring into refute or a come-from-behind knockout, you can guarantee there will be a certain amount of speculation whispered on message boards and not-so-whispered on social media. 

Does anyone whisper on social media?

Former UFC fighter Leonard Garcia became notorious for being on the right side of the judge’s scorecards when almost everyone else had the fight scored the complete opposite way. 

Garcia’s controversial wins over Jameel Massouh, Chan Sung Jung (The Korean Zombie), and Nam Phan and an equally debatable draw against George Roop are perfect examples of the judges being in the significant minority.

Chan Sung Jung AKA The Korean Zombie (Source: ACROFANCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

When that happens, some will claim foul play.

As well as the dubious decisions and Garcia’s exciting fighting style, it may very well have been his honesty that kept him employed in the top promotions for several years, as he admitted to the booing crowd after the victory against Phan that he too had scored the fight for his opponent.  

The other F Word: Brock Lesnar

Source: Megan Elice MeadowsCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Unlike professional wrestling, where the outcomes are predetermined, Mixed Martial Arts is a competitive sport. 

Please note I use the phrase “predetermined” in favor of the F word because did you ever see the video of what David Schultz, AKA Dr. D, did to the reporter who called pro-wrestling “fake”? 

Seriously, look it up. 

You went down a YouTube wormhole of people slapping reporters, didn’t you? 

Perhaps it’s understandable that the lines become blurred when the likes of Brock Lesnar – a decorated amateur wrestler turned sports entertainer with the WWE – began fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

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UFC President Dana White was quick to snap Brock up after he had just one MMA fight, signing him to the promotion on a multi-fight, big-money deal. 

This bold move by the promoter had many detractors, but White was shrewd enough to know that not only was Brock (I just call him Brock) legit, he was a money-making machine. 

I think the idea was to replicate this winning formula with former WWE Champion CM Punk… but the less said about that, the better, probably. 

Lesnar was very much the McGregor of the mid-to-late-noughties, but bigger… and without the suits… and the whiskey… but with an equally stupid tattoo on his chest.  

Lesnar was welcomed to the octagon in 2008 by former Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir, and Brock wasted little time doing exactly what everyone expected the NCAA Division I Champion to do; take Mir down and brutalize him with ground and pound

However…

Brock’s inexperience in Mixed Martial Arts would be his downfall, and a bloodied Mir managed to get a hold of Brock’s leg and submit the big man with a kneebar.

Of course, because of Brock’s background and how Mir came from behind to pull the win out of nowhere like an RKO from Randy Orton, some cried “fix”… the other F word.

Anyone with any MMA knowledge at all knows that particular bout was certainly not fixed; Brock Lesnar is an intensely competitive individual, and his loss to Mir was a thorn in his side for a long time. 

Lesnar defeated Heath Herring in his next Octagon appearance before winning the UFC Heavyweight Championship from Randy Couture after that. 

Then came the long-awaited rematch with Mir, the one man to beat Lesnar; the one blemish on his ever-growing resume, and this time the gold was on the line. 

Could Mir prove that his victory over the Heavyweight Champion of the world wasn’t a fluke, or worse, fixed? 

No. No, he couldn’t. 

Brock Lesnar finished Frank Mir via punches in the second round, quipping after the fight that he had just removed a horseshoe from a particular part of Mir’s anatomy and “beat him over the head with it” which is frankly quite unsanitary and most certainly illegal in the Octagon or any shaped enclosure, come to that.

Mystic Mac: Conor McGregor

Source: Andrius Petrucenia on flickr

Brock had silenced the naysayers (or should I say neigh sayers, because of the horseshoe line? No?). The same naysayers, in fact, that called Conor McGregor’s UFC Featherweight Championship win over Jose Aldo fixed. 

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Come on, are Conor McGregor’s UFC fights fixed? Absolutely not!

I mean, yeah, “Mystic Mac” used to predict the rounds he’d knock his opponents out in and be pretty spot on a lot of the time, but that just constitutes to him being bloody good at knocking people out a lot of the time. 

Also Read: Find out how much money fighters are making in the UFC

When you look at McGregor’s aforementioned historical victory against Aldo in December of 2015, UFC fans could almost be forgiven for the claims on social media that it was less than legitimate. 

Let’s look at the facts: 

The UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo had only ever been beaten once before in his previous 26 professional fights; a submission loss in his only Lightweight contest a staggering ten years before.

Aldo had defeated everyone in his path in the intervening decade, winning and defending both the WEC and UFC Featherweight straps (I just call them straps).

So, undefeated as a featherweight, with 15 knockout wins under his many, many belts, Jose “Scarface” Aldo was going to beat McGregor, right? 

Wrong

Oh, well, he’s going to give him a blooming good spot of fisticuffs, right? 

Wrong. 

He’s going to get knocked out after 13 seconds, right? 

Right.

Could Aldo have taken a dive? Deliberately walked into McGregor’s left-hook? Swallowed his pride, relinquished his Undisputed Featherweight Championships, and tarnished both his impeccable record and legendary career? Come on, what do you think?! 

McGregor won the fight before the two competitors had got in the cage; his relentless trash talk, his barrage of insults, his taking Aldo’s belt (strap) from under his nose at the press conference, broke Aldo down mentally and ensured that McGregor picked apart what was left in 13 seconds. 

Baloney: Tito Ortiz

Source: Mingle Media TVCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While I feel it is hard to definitively say whether any fight in the history of the world’s biggest MMA promotion, the UFC, has ever been fixed, elsewhere, the rumblings of deceit are much louder.

In 2017, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz and former UFC Middleweight and Light Heavyweight Championship challenger Chael Sonnen headlined Bellator 170 in Inglewood, California. 

With two of the most iconic trash talkers and recognizable, outspoken personalities in the sport going one-on-one, many eyes were drawn to the Main Event… and many eyes didn’t like what they saw.

Spectators and professional fighters alike smelt something fishy when Ortiz submitted Sonnen at the two-minute mark of the very first round, and they weren’t talking about Ortiz’s antique wrestling groin cup. 

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Claims across social media largely pointed to the fact that Ortiz did not seem to have the requisite pressure on the choke to submit an experienced grappler like ChaelI’ve given myself so many ridiculous nicknames no one could actually name a single one, seriously, try… erm… The American Eagle? The Hotdog Boy?Sonnen

Professional fighters called BS on the contest, referring to it as a “work” which translates as “a fixed or predetermined outcome” in the world of – you guessed it – professional wrestling

Alberto El Patron (Source: Mike KalasnikCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Interestingly enough, two years later, when Ortiz took on Alberto El Patron in the main event of Combate Americas 51, it was Sonnen who was the most vocal in referring to their bout – which Ortiz won via the first-round choke again – as not only a “Fake fight”, but “Fraudulent Combat” and, quite poetically, a “Phoney Baloney Cash Grab”. 

However, the thing that made Ortiz’s encounter with El Patron different is that the result was originally overturned by the Texas Department of Licencing and Regulations to a no-decision.

Eventually, the result was reverted, and Ortiz’s win was officially reinstated. Still, for a while, it looked as if the game was up, and – heaven forbid – Chael “American Side-Parted Thunderman” Sonnen was right! 

Now, the fact that El Patron was a professional wrestler for a large portion of his career, even winning the WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship and prestigious Royal Rumble, and that Ortiz himself has been heavily involved in professional wrestling too, making many appearances in storylines with the promotion Total Nonstop Action, can’t have helped the calls of fix, fraud and the thing about baloney… who said that again, was it Keates?  

With the ever-growing popularity of Mixed Martial Arts worldwide and a vast plethora of promotions, there must be some fights with less than legitimate outcomes. 

But as far as the top companies go, the multi-million-dollar enterprises, you don’t need to fix fights to make money. All you need is a skill set in the octagon or on the microphone. Just ask Conor McGregor, Brock Lesnar, or Chael “Thickly Sliced United States Beef Jesus” Sonnen. 

About the Author

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Tom Holmes is a published author, comedian, and award-winning broadcaster. His podcast The Gaffer Tapes became the UK's biggest fantasy football show and spawned Tom's second book The A-Z of Fantasy Football. Tom has been an MMA fan for 15 years and watched his first live UFC event in 2008 - UFC 85, headlined by Thiago Alves and Matt Hughes. Tom has written for several publications including MMA articles for the SportBIBLE.

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