5 Most Brutal UFC Fights in Recent Memory

Year after year, there are fights that just absolutely blow the roof off of the arena due to how brutal it was.

In this page, we'll go over the most brutal UFC fights in recent memory, what the situation was leading up to the fight, and what was the result.

most brutal ufc fights

Table of Contents

    1. MacDonald vs Lawler
    2. Jedrzejczyk vs Weili
    3. Ferguson vs Gaethje
    4. Kattar vs Holloway
    5. Hooker vs Poirier

      1. Rory MacDonald vs Robbie Lawler II


      Lawler was the current Welterweight champion and was going to make his first title defense in a rematch vs MacDonald.

      Lawler had moved back down to Welterweight (from Middleweight) and had a career resurgence, going 6-1 in his last 7 fights. In their first fight, Lawler was able to win with a split decision, but it was widely seen as a very close and 'unfinished' fight.

      MacDonald had received his second loss at 15-1 vs the first time that he had fought Lawler, and had won his last 3 fights to earn his rematch.


      In a monstrous 5 round affair, Lawler would be able to break MacDonald in the last round, in a fight that MacDonald was up on the scorecards going into the 5th round.

      In this lucrative back and forth fight, there were times where MacDonald seemed like he was seconds from finishing Lawler, only to have Lawler survive and fight back.

      The most memorable part of this fight will forever be their epic staredown in between rounds. Both bloodied and cut, they stared into each other's souls and neither flinched.

      Neither fighter would be the same after this fight, as they would both suffer multiple losses, and Lawler in particular would lose 4 consecutive fights shortly after.

      2. Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Zhang Weili


      Joanna had been established as one of the greatest female MMA fighters of all time, who had recently hit a rough patch. She had lost to two elite fighters in Rose Namajunas and Valentina Shevchenko.

      Weili was surging with an impressive 20-1 record, and had just handily dismantled Jessica Andrade to win the Strawweight title in the first round.

      This was a major test for Weili as she would defend her title against one of the greats, who had only lost to other greats.


      This back and forth 5 round affair would be an all time classic and an extremely close match, that Weili would edge out via Split decision.

      Both fighters would have tremendous moments throughout the fight, primarily in the striking department.

      What this fight will be remembered for most however, is the injury that Joanna sustained on her forehead.

      Weili would land a punch directly to Joanna's forehead which would create a giant hematoma in the middle of the fight.

      Despite this, Joanna would show her toughness and not only continue the fight, but be effective and competitive as well for the remainder of the fight.

      Weili would show that she was ready to be a great champion, as she was able to defeat one of the greats in one of the greatest fights of the year.

      3. Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje


      Tony Ferguson had long gone through one of the most impressive streaks in UFC history. Only losing once in the last 8 years, while winning 13 times against absolute killers including Edson Barboza, Kevin Lee and Rafael Dos Anjos.

      Some unlucky timing had prevented Ferguson from being able to fight for the undisputed Lightweight belt. However this fight would be for the Interim belt, and whoever won would unify it the next fight.

      Justin Gaethje was widely known as one of the most exciting fighters, and had fought back from his first 2 losses in his career.

      He was able to win 3 straight fights via knockout or TKO to receive a shot for the Interim title vs Ferguson.

      Both of these fighters were notorious for being must-see fighters, so naturally this fight had tons of excitement leading up to it.


      Gaethje would stun the world by absolutely dominating Tony Ferguson for 5 rounds, prior to the referee waving it off in the 5th round.

      In fact, other than a Ferguson uppercut, it was Gaethje that had all of the biggest moments in the fight.

      Rather than the traditional 'Reckless Gaethje' that fans were accustomed to seeing, Gaethje showcased a 'Composed' and 'Calculated' fighter, who picked his shots and was extremely accurate, while avoiding being hit.

      With this new fighting style that Gaethje imposed, Ferguson was never able to get anything going and absorbed an enormous amount of strikes for 5 rounds.

      Gaethje was able to land 143/197 strikes with a 72% accuracy which is unheard of, especially in a championship fight.

      The ultra tough Ferguson was able to endure all of these strikes, until suddenly his body could no longer do it, and the referee waived the fight off.

      4. Calvin Kattar vs Max Holloway


      Holloway had run through the Featherweight division as the Featherweight champion against everyone not named Alex Volkanovski. His list included beating Jose Aldo, Anthony Pettis, Frankie Edgar, Brian Ortega and Charles Oliveira.

      Kattar on the other hand was surging, as he had won the last 4 out of his last 5 fights, including a brutal knockout of ultra-tough Jeremy Stephens.

      This was seen as a major test for Kattar, who was known to have some of the best boxing in the UFC.


      Holloway would go on to beat Kattar like a drum, and at one point even yelling that he was actually the best boxer in the UFC during the fight.

      Holloway actually attempted 746 strikes and broke a UFC record as he landed 445 strikes.

      Although Holloway would have massive success, and remind everyone that he was here to stay, there's no doubt that Kattar's toughness would shine brightly.

      Holloway admitted that he threw everything including the kitchen sink at Kattar, and despite being on wobbly legs at times, Kattar would stand strong and even throw strikes back.

      This fight was so brutal for both parties that it has been 8 months since their fight, and neither fighter has yet to take on another fight.

      5. Dan Hooker vs Dustin Poirier

      This 5 round barn-burner ended up being the fight of the night, and a fight of the year contender.

      Ironically, this fight took place during the COVID-19 pandemic which means that there were barely any people in attendance. If there was a full crowd, there is a high likelihood that nobody would be sitting down by the end of the fight.


      Dustin Poirier had just lost his Lightweight championship unification bout to Khabib Nurmagomedov, and was looking to rebound against Dan Hooker.

      Dan Hooker had just won 3 fights in a row, was known as an elite striker who always brings the fight, which had fans giddy about the matchup.


      This fight would go on for 25 minutes and Dustin Poirier would win a unanimous decision.

      While this sounds nice and easy, there were times where Poirier was very badly hurt and it seemed like it was only a matter of time until the fight could end. Luckily for him, one of those times the round would end, and he would have time to recover.

      As the fight went on, Poirer would find his rhythm and dish shots back out to Hooker. The two exchanged an enormous amount of heavy strikes back and forth, and Poirier turned up the heat in the later rounds.

      While most fighters would have given up due to the pressure along with the barrage of strikes that Poirier was dishing out, Hooker held strong and was able to finish the fight.

      After the fight, both fighters can be seen in agonizing pain as they had endured countless damage, along with leaving everything that they had inside of the octagon.

      Just take a look at the below video of what they looked like post-fight.

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