UFC Raleigh: All UFC North Carolina shows ranked from worst to best

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 31: Kenny Florian (black shorts) def. Takanori Gomi (white/flame shorts) - Submission (rear naked choke) - 2:52 round 3 during UFC Fight Night 21 at Bojangles Coliseum on March 31, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 31: Kenny Florian (black shorts) def. Takanori Gomi (white/flame shorts) - Submission (rear naked choke) - 2:52 round 3 during UFC Fight Night 21 at Bojangles Coliseum on March 31, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) /

The UFC will run its sixth show in the state of North Carolina on Jan 25, before that show happens, let’s take a look at the five previous events.

The UFC will showcase Junior dos Santos and Curtis Blaydes for the Rayleigh, N.C. card in the promotions first visit to the city. This will mark the sixth event overall in the state of North Carolina the UFC has run, dating all the way back to UFC 3 in 1994.

Times have changed for the UFC greatly since 1994. Gone are the events that barely drew 3,000 fans. Gone are the days of no time-limits and 36 minute draws. Gone are the days of “human cockfighting” and an alleged visage of “no-holds-barred”. The UFC is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, that draws ten’s of thousands of fans to every event. It’s highly regulated, highly criticized, and highly observed.

With the UFC returning to North Carolina it’s time to look at the history of the region. Some of the greatest fighters in the UFC’s history have stepped into the Tar Heel state and some more will do so again soon. So let’s take a look at the UFC’s illustrious history in the great state of North Carolina.

5. UFC 3

The old days of the UFC saw tournaments galore for the organization. The idea was to have the best fighters in the world (that the UFC could afford) and have them compete in three fights across the night. This night saw Royce Grace, Ken Shamrock and Kimo Leopoldo all set to fight. The card was designed to hopefully get Shamrock and Gracie in the finals, should they both win, but a lot of the early days saw terrible outcomes happen all the time. Gracie won his opening round bout against Leopoldo and had to resign from the tournament, while Shamrock pulled out after two victories due to injuries. Meaning Harold Howard would go into the finals after only fighting for 46 seconds. He’d end up losing to Shamrock’s replacement Steve Jennum.

4. UFC on Fox: Jacaré vs. Brunson 2

Cards are built on name value, that’s just the way things go. When UFC Charlotte took place on Jan. 27, 2018 the only big names on the card were Ronaldo Souza, aka Jacare, and his opponent Derek Brunson. In an era where the events took place on Fox, casual fans weren’t given much reason to tune in; even if the fights were good. Souza got the win in the first via TKO. Six fights went to a decision finish and not many names on the card have risen to a level of headline status. While it’s a solid card, no one will list this as one of the best events ever.

3. UFC: Fight for the Troops

The UFC cashed in on the success of the earliest season of The Ultimate Fighter by frontloading it with season one alums Josh Koscheck in the main event and Mike Swick in the-semi main. Luckily for the fans, Swick dropped Jonathan Goulet by KO as did Koscheck who defeated Yoshiyuki Yoshida a KO as well. UFC mainstay Jim Miller opened up the main card, earning a win against Matt Wiman. Aside from the Ultimate Fighter alum, and Miller, there’s not much more on this card worth checking out.

2. UFC 5

The main event of this card is a disaster, which ended in 36:06 draw Made worse because it was between Shamrock and Gracie, the UFC’s biggest stars of the era. That said, the card was exciting. Oleg Taktarov, Dan Severn, and Guy Mezger all competed on the event. Mezger served as an alternate, while Severn and Taktarov squared off in the semi’s that saw Severn get the win. Despite the Superfight championship draw, the tournament aspect of UFC 5 actually ended up being fun, with Severn and Dave Beneteau getting to the main event. Both men won three bouts, and Severn was able to finish Beneteau with a keylock for the submission victory.

1. UFC Fight Night: Florian vs. Gomi

While you could make a case for UFC 5 being the best North Carolina show, the best show from the state falls to this event. Kenny Florian for newer fans was arguably the best lightweight of all time to never win a world championship. He was an Ultimate Fighter alum from that iconic first season and he ended up facing off with the lone PRIDE lightweight champion and PRIDE legend Takanori Gomi in the main event. Both men were in their early 30’s, and still had a lot left in the tank when this fight rolled around. Florian got the submission victory and sent the fans home happy. Also on the card, heavyweight mainstays Roy Nelson and Stefan Struve squared off in the semi-main, with Nelson KO’ing Struve in just 39 seconds. Fellow Ultimate Fighter alum Nate Quarry also was on the card but lost via TKO to Jorge Rivera. This would mark Quarry’s last fight in MMA. The main event might be the best fight of all the North Carolina fights as of right now, and that alone is why this is the top-ranked show.

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