Dana White has been cage-side for the best UFC fights since day one. In that time, he’s witnessed some spectacular bouts with legendary fighters, including Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva, and Dan Henderson. According to the UFC president, none of those big names took part in his all-time favorite fight. His selection generally makes it into the top 10 of most lists, but rarely at No. 1. Here’s a look at Dana White’s all-time favorite UFC fight and why.
Dana White views Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg as a quality ending
When Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg met for the first time at UFC 45, it was special. For starters, the event marked the 10th anniversary of the UFC, and the organization inaugurated its Hall of Fame, which included induction of its first two honorees, Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie.
Matt Hughes entered the UFC Welterweight Championship main event as the prohibitive favorite with a 34-3 record. Hughes had won the title two years earlier, and his matchup with Trigg was his fifth title defense. Trigg was the newcomer with a 10-1 record, and it was his first fight with the promotion.
The fight played out much like the experts expected. The champion didn’t waste much time dispatching of Trigg and did so in spectacular fashion with a standing rear-naked choke in the first round. Hughes would say later it was one of his best fights and favorite finishes and would be tough to top.
Pre-fight hype and trash-talking up to rematch of Hughes-Trigg 2
Dana White said that the rematch between Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg at UFC 52 isn’t just his favorite UFC matchup, it’s his favorite fight ever in MMA, boxing, or any combat sport. White said the build-up for the fight was one of the main reasons the fight turned out to be a classic. Hughes genuinely disliked Trigg and told that to White when he first called him to talk about a rematch.
“I hate him. I already beat him and I’ll never beat him more impressively than I did the first time,” Hughes told White in that call. Hearing that was music to White’s ears. He knew Hughes would come into the match with blood in his eyes.
For the days and weeks leading up to the fight, both fighters savored any opportunity to trash talk the opponent. That animosity reached its apex when the two fighters met in the center of the octagon for the face-off just prior to the start of the fight. Standing inches from each other, Trigg leaned in and pressed his face against Hughes’ face. The champ responded by shoving Trigg backward. And the fight hadn’t even started.
Dana White views Hughes-Trigg 2 as all-time favorite fight
In a fight with multiple turning points in the opening round, the first came when Trigg delivered a low knee to Hughes that went unnoticed by the referee. Hughes retreated, expecting the ref to intervene. It never happened and Trigg pounced.
Hughes fell to the ground after a couple of punches and Trigg tried to finish him off with numerous blows to the face. Hughes survived the onslaught, but then found himself in a precarious rear-naked chokehold. Hughes somehow managed to escape Trigg’s clutches and then performed a move that made the fight memorable all by itself.
Hughes elevated from the ground, picked up Trigg, hoisted him over his shoulder, and darted to the other side of the octagon carrying his opponent. Just before reaching the other side of the cage, Hughes slammed Trigg’s body down landing on top of him.
“17,000 fans came out of their seats at the same time, and the roof came off the building,” White remembered.
Hughes had two attempts at a rear-naked choke, with a flurry of punches sandwiched in between. With less than a minute remaining in the first round, Hughes held on tight in the second clutch and earned his second victory over Trigg by submission in the first round.
Dana White’s all-time favorite UFC fight was also the second-ever fight inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.