Examine five MMA fights that had us scratching our heads for a complete do-over.
There have been countless MMA moments that have left fans turning off their televisions asking ‘what if the outcome had ended differently?’ These are fights that had rather quick endings or the referee made an error that caused the fight to get defined in controversy for years to come.
These bouts are also ones that never got a fair shake or second chance in the eyes of the public. While plenty of fights had a definite close, such as Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock 3 or Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture 3, there are others that never got the benefit of being seen again or even having a chance to get re-done to see what might have happened next.
Although we will never know the true answer, here are five fights that fit the criteria.
1. Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor — UFC 194
Nearly six years ago, Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo were at the top of the UFC featherweight division. McGregor had dispatched the likes of Dennis Siver, Diego Brandao, and Max Holloway on his way to a title shot. For Aldo, he was riding an extended winning steak that spanned all of the way back to the Brazilian’s pre-WEC days. It was only a matter of time before both men would face off against one another at UFC 194. In just 13 seconds, McGregor knocked out Aldo to become the new featherweight champion. But what if the fight didn’t end so quickly?
Chances are, Aldo would have gotten into a striking battle with McGregor before taking him to the ground to secure a finish. As for McGregor, he would have done everything he could to keep the fight on the feet and look for the knockout. McGregor might have still won, but it would have just taken a little longer.
2. Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren — UFC 239
In one of the most famous knockouts of all time, Jorge Masvidal became a massive superstar with one flying knee. In five seconds, the journeys of two men went in the exact opposite directions. For Masvidal, he wound up earning the BMF title against Nate Diaz before earning two title fights against Kamaru Usman.
As for Askren, he would never be the same fighter again, as he has yet to win a fight since March 2019. However, if Masvidal does not land that flying knee, what happens next? Askren was attempting a takedown in that sequence, so, therefore, he likely gets it. As long as Askren keeps Masvidal on the canvas, he might have won a decision.
3. Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin — UFC 116
In one of the most forgotten UFC title fights ever, Brock Lesnar rallied to secure a second-round arm-triangle choke against Shane Carwin in July 2010. But, what most fans don’t remember is the amount of trouble Lesnar was in prior to the comeback.
Referee Josh Rosenthal allowed the champion to recover from a hellacious beating that Carwin inflicted in the first round. Had Rosenthal stopped the fight due to Lesnar being unable to defend himself, Carwin would have become the undisputed heavyweight champion and likely would have not retired as early as he did. Carwin only competed one more time in MMA before hanging up the gloves for good.
4. Jon Jones vs. Matt Hamill — TUF 10 Finale
Jon Jones is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, but the one blemish on his record prevents him from calling himself an undefeated champion. In 2009, shortly after making his debut, Jones took on The Ultimate Fighter 3 veteran, Matt Hamill. In what was a one-sided affair, Jones secured the mount position on Hamill before dropping punches and elbows.
Then, all of the sudden, the fight took a weird twist. Jones landed a downward 12-6 elbow that caused the fight to come to a screeching halt. Illegal under the Unified Rules of MMA, referee Steve Mazzagatti stopped the fight and disqualified Jones for the act, awarding Hamill the upset win. Had Mazzagatti stopped the bout prior to the act, Jones likely would have won the fight by TKO, as Hamill was defenseless before Jones threw the illegal strike.
The moment still remains a footnote in MMA history.
5. Pete Sell vs. Scott Smith — TUF 4 Finale
In a fight between Pete Sell and Scott Smith, two former TUF 4 contestants, one of the most infamous knockouts of all time took place. Near the end of the second round, Sell landed a vicious liver shot that would have ended most fights. Somehow, someway, Smith survived the blow just enough to catch Smith napping, turning the tables, and sending Sell to the canvas. The wild sequence earned Smith the win, as the fight has been replayed thousands of times since.
But imagine if Smith didn’t land the counterpunch? Sell would have likely secured the win in what would have been an ordinary finish. All in all, each of these fights had unique endings that left fans having more ‘what-ifs’ than answers.