Greatest comebacks in MMA history
6. Quinton Jackson
"Rampage" has always been tenacious -- you don't go on winning jags like those on his résumé against the type of competition he's faced without answering to such description. But his loss to Forrest Griffin was humiliation on a level even Quinton Jackson couldn't handle.
The unanimous decision loss came while Quinton was defending his UFC light heavyweight championship and on the heels of coaching on the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter -- to a fighter for whom he didn't appear to have much respect.
The combination pushed Rampage passed his mental breaking point.
Shortly thereafter, Jackson was involved in a hit-and-run accident, followed by a police chase. Unless I'm mistaken, there were also rumors about Jackson being under the influence of some suspicious-sounding "medication."
Regardless of where the truth lies in all that, it was clear Rampage didn't take the loss of his belt well. When the best-case scenario involves a police chase, something's wrong. Some wondered if the wrong wouldn't stick with Jackson for a while.
Rampage returned to the Octagon five months later and clobbered the only man to ever beat him twice, the Axe Murderer. For good measure, he beat the suddenly dangerous Keith Jardine.
And, now, he's got Machida and the belt back in his sights.
5. Royce Gracie
Royce was the Gracie Family spear -- his ancestors may have invented Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and the early forms of MMA, but Royce was the one who brought it to the masses. He took his family's teachings and made them come to life in the ring, then Octagon.
In the UFC's earliest days, Royce would win three or four fights a night in less time than a modern UFC round lasts (five minutes). And they would ALL be much bigger men than he.
The problem was, Royce Gracie wouldn't knock anybody out. He'd roll around on the ground and, suddenly, the other fighter would be desperately screaming and/or tapping to indicate defeat. Until the opposition caught on and learned some defense.
Then, the fights would still follow the same pattern. They'd just take a lot longer. Following a round-less, 36-minute battle to a draw with Ken Shamrock, action was needed.
So the UFC changed the rules -- gloves, timed rounds with rest in between, weight classes, and more and more until Royce Gracie was effectively nullified. Nullification, along with UFC promotional difficulties, prompted Royce to disappear from the scene.
From 1995 to 2000, Royce didn't fight in an official MMA bout.
In 2000, he'd return to fight twice, the last being a defeat at the hands of the "Gracie Hunter" (Kazushi Sakuraba). He'd fight three times in the next three years, each time on New Year's Eve.
Finally, in 2006 while closing in on 40, Royce Gracie would make his much-anticipated return to the UFC and take on Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes. Over a decade after helping to popularize the organization and sport, the Master had returned.
Except the Master was almost 40 and Matt Hughes was in his prime. Still, Royce fought and, just like always, never gave up in the face of insurmountable odds.
Even after Hughes dislocated his elbow, the ref had to stop the fight. Not Royce.
4. Matt Serra
Like him or not, Matt Serra certainly owns one of the best comebacks in MMA history.
This is a guy who was the first American to be awarded a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by Renzo Gracie, which is kind of like getting ordained by Jesus Christ. Furthermore, he was a UFC mainstay from 2001 through 2005 -- fighting at UFC 31, 33, 36, 39, 41, 46, 48, and 53.
Unfortunately for Matt, he lost half of those fights and almost never beat a substantial opponent. Yves Edwards would be the gaudiest skin Serra hung on his wall.
Consequently, a loss to Karo Parisyan at UFC 53 got Matt the boot from the big leagues in '05.
Of course, Serra would famously return via The Ultimate Fighter reality series. After winning the show's fourth season and earning the guaranteed title shot at G.S.P., the Terror would pull MMA's biggest upset to date.
By knocking out the heavily favored Rush and claiming the Welterweight Championship, Matt Serra completed one of the most improbable treks from MMA purgatory to one of its highest peaks.