In 2015, UFC gold changed hands a lot, after some very exciting bouts. Champions also held on to their belts with everything they had, against hungry and determined challengers.
All in all, the past year had a great deal of phenomenal title bouts. In an exercise of complete subjectivity, albeit sincere, here are my 11 favorite UFC title fights of 2015.
Why 11, you may ask? Because, as "Spinal Tap" taught us, 11 is more than 10.
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Read on, then let us know your favorite championship matches of the past year inside the Octagon!
Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald
It is possible that neither man has ever fought better than both Lawler and MacDonald did on this night in July. That's why the fight had so many twists and turns.
Just when it seemed as though Lawler was controlling the bout, MacDonald nearly knocked him out.
When it looked as though Rory was going to close the show, Lawler managed to survive and chip away at the challenger, with dozens of shots any single one of which would have put lesser men down on their own, until he fell.
Few human beings are able to fight, without reflection, on instinct, until their bodies completely give out. Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald are two members of that rare breed, and proved it in this fight.
Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes
Mendes gave McGregor fits early on, with his wrestling and ground work. McGregor proved to be more than a bully, however, as he created just an instant of opportunity for himself in the second and then capitalized on it like a champion.
This fight was never for a real championship, but it was one of the most important bouts of the year, nonetheless.
Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier
The build-up to this contest was hilarious, toxic and personal. The fight was phenomenal and was a back-and-forth battle involving two of the most-skilled MMA athletes in the sport's history.
The undersized Cormier out-struck Jones from the outside, and Jones dominated in the clinch for most rounds.
Furthermore, up until the final round, Jones was able to control the wrestling battles against the two-time Olympic wrestler.
Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson
Only someone as mentally strong as Daniel Cormier could come back from the draining defeat he suffered against Jon Jones with a short-notice victory over someone as dangerous as Anthony Johnson. Furthermore, Johnson nearly knocked out Cormier in the opening seconds.
In order to beat Johnson, Cormier had to show conditioning, resolve and superior technique of a champion.
Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Like Lawler and MacDonald's welterweight title fight, Cormier and ustafsson's light-heavyweight championship contest was back and forth and grueling.
In the end, Cormier barely edged Gustafsson. The Swede showed once again that he is elite and among the very best of all time.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Valerie Letourneau
Joanna the champion was supposed to run over Letourneau. She did not.
The challenger was too tough for that. Jedrzejczyk was impressive in winning a decision, and used superior movement, volume and speed with her strikes to defend her belt. But Letourneau showed that, in MMA, tough underdogs should never be counted out, and proved a lot in bruising the champion a bit over five rounds.
Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey
This one is here for pure shock factor. Rousey, one of MMA's most dominant champions, was not just knocked out, but completely shut down and dismantled for two rounds.
Holm had answers for the Rowdy one that no one outside Holm's team believed she would, and scored one of the most impressive upsets in recent memory.
Luke Rockhold vs. Chris Weidman
Weidman and Rockhold held nothing back in this middleweight championship bout. As he always does, Weidman confidently took big risks.
Some of them paid off, some didn't. But even in losing he showed heart and impressed those who matter. In winning, Rockhold beat the best middleweight fighter of all time, and did so systematically, in almost exactly how he predicted he would
Demetrious Johnson vs. Kyoji Horiguchi
Savvy viewers could see how 125-pound king Johnson was forced to make adjustments on the fly against the tough, young challenger. In this fight, Johnson showed all of his weapons, his ability to make changes as needed in real time, and an almost peerless will to fight for the finish at all times.
Johnson is a living perpetual motion machine and never stopped pressuring Horiguchi, eventually breaking him down and scoring the latest submission in UFC history, via arm bar.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez
This delayed contest delivered and surprised once it took place. For the first time in his career, Velasquez was unable to get the better of an opponent in a drawn-out fight.
His usual superior conditioning fell by the wayside in the face of an opponent who scored early and often with big strikes. Werdum had taken the time and expense to prepare at high altitude to be ready for the thin air of Mexico City.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Fabricio Werdum's stand-up striking damaged the reigning champion, and prompted him to make the tactical mistakes that ultimately led to the fight-ending submission.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Anthony Pettis
Like his teammate Werdum, dos Anjos reached the top of the mountain in 2015, after years of struggles.
Against the high-flying and kick-defending lightweight champion, dos Anjos seemed like a serious underdog. The grappler came out pressuring and swinging with confidence, however.
He hurt Pettis early and kept the pressure on with a ridiculous pace for five rounds, earning the 155-pound crown.