The award which sends a shudder down the spine of Las Vegas’ oddsmakers every year, the five nominees for ‘Upset of the Year’ at the Ninth Annual Fighters Only World MMA Awards celebrates the occasions when the underdog really does bite back. To help you decide who to vote for, he’s a review of what went down.
Michael Bisping vs. Luke Rockhold (UFC 199)
It was supposed to be his gold Rolex. After years of chasing but failing to land a title shot circumstances dictated Michael Bisping finally got his title shot. UFC 199 was supposed to be headlined by Luke Rockhold vs. Chris Weidman 2, but when Weidman got injured, Bisping stepped up on two weeks notice. Having already lost to Rockhold nobody was giving the Brit a chance, especially without the help of a full training camp. Yet he defied the odds and knocked out Rockhold in the very first round to become the new 185lb champion. Bisping’s odds were +525 (21/4).
Bryan Barberena vs. Warlley Alves (UFC on Fox 18)
Bryan Barberena was already a big underdog winner once before, when he fought Sage Northcutt, causing a huge upset. Yet the bookies made him the underdog once more when he travelled to Brazil and take on Warlley Alves in his back yard at UFC 198. Big mistake. After a close back and forth battle the judges all scored it in favor of Barberena 29-28, taking the unanimous decision victory and defying the odds yet again. His odds were +241 (241/100).
Joe Taimanglo vs. Darrion Caldwell (Bellator 159)
Darrion Caldwell needed to make just one mistake, one error or one bad move for Joe Taimanglo to take advantage and turn this fight into one of the biggest shocks of the year, and that’s just what happened. Caldwell had controlled the first two rounds of the fight with relative ease, but then just seconds into the third round Taimanglo slapped on a rear naked choke to submit the heavily-favored Caldwell, thereby sending the Bellator 135lb division upside down. Taimanglo’s odds were as high as +1400 (14/1)!
Brandon Moreno vs. Louis Smolka (UFC Fight Night 96)
Flyweight is always in need of new stars to emerge and it certainly looked like Louis Smolka was on course to be the next guy. That was until he came up against Brandon Moreno, who was making his debut for the UFC as a huge underdog to the favored -500 (1/5) Smolka. It took just three minutes of the first round for Moreno to lock up Smolka in a guillotine choke, tapping out Smolka at the 2:23 mark. What makes the victory that much more remarkable is the fact Moreno was a short notice replacement. Moreno’s odds were +450 (9/2).
Zac Riley vs. Hugo Viana (RFA 34)
Making a huge statement and started off 2016 with a bang is what Zac Riley achieved when he got an opportunity on a huge platform against UFC veteran Hugo Viana at RFA 34. Riley, armed with a 4-3 record heading into the bout, was a novice two-year pro and yet he was able to defeat -2000 (1/20) favorite Viana on the judges scorecards. Viana hasn’t fought since, while Riley has gone on to fight for RFA again, defeating Boston Salmon at RFA 43 to cap a stellar year. His closing odds were +1150 (23/2).
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