A typical training camp for MMA fighters can last anywhere from eight weeks to 12 weeks. This doesn’t even include the months spent in the gym training in preparation for training camp and the general shape fighters have to keep themselves in to prepare for a contest inside the octagon. Preparing for a bout is a difficult process and fighters have to be physically and mentally in shape before they step into the UFC octagon. While fighters make legends of themselves with their performances inside the cage, some make their stories with their ability to step up on short notice and fight. It is always an incredible moment when a fighter emerges on short notice and scores an unexpected win.
10) Chris Leben
Chris Leben was just two weeks into his win over Aaron Simpson at The Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale when he was called up to fight again. Leben decided to step up against Yoshihiro Akiyama after Wanderlei Silva pulled out with less than two weeks’ notice. In one of the greatest middleweight battles of all time, “The Crippler” and Akiyama put on a classic performance. The match came to an end when, in the third round, Leben locked Akiyama in a triangle choke to pick up the win.
9) Alexander Hernandez
Alexander Hernandez was an unknown prospect when he stepped up to fight against Beneil Dariush at UFC 222. This was Hernandez’s debut fight in the UFC. Obviously, Dariush was a big favorite over the unknown Alexander. As the match began, “The Great Ape” started well, and within the first 42 seconds of the first round, he knocked out Dariush with a powerful punch to clinch the win.
8) T.J. Dillashaw
The main event of UFC 173 was targeted as the fight between Bantamweight champion Renan Barao and Raphael Assuncao. About a month before the contest, Raphael was forced to pull out due to an injury, and then T.J. Dillashaw stepped up for his first major fight. Despite being a massive, heavy underdog, “Lieutenant Dan” did the impossible. Dillashaw dominated Barao and achieved a fifth-round knockout victory, capturing the bantamweight title as well.
7) Brian Ortega
Brian Ortega stepped up on short notice at UFC 222. The original main event was scheduled to pit Max Holloway against Frankie Edgar, but “Blessed” pulled out. Edgar remained on the card in the co-main event venue facing Ortega, who stepped up on a few weeks’ notice. “T-City” brutally knocked Frankie in the first round, giving him the first knockout defeat of his career.
6) Donald Cerrone
Donald Cerrone had already suffered two defeats to Benson Henderson. However, when Eddie Alvarez pulled out of the bout against “Smooth” 15 days prior, Cerrone had a great option to step up. While Henderson won the first two matchups, “Cowboy” finally picked up his first win in the series at this fight night in 2015. Cerrone won this fight via unanimous decision.
5) Daniel Cormier
Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and Anthony Johnson were scheduled to fight at UFC 187. However, Jones was stripped of his title and removed from the fight due to a hit-and-run conviction just weeks away from the bout. The UFC decided to add Daniel Cormier and set up a fight for the UFC’s light-heavyweight title. After avoiding an early knockdown, “DC” dominated the fight, scored a submission victory in the third round, and won the first championship of his UFC career.
4) Yoel Romero
UFC 221 was set for a middleweight title unifier between Georges St-Pierre and Robert Whittaker. However, the champion was vacated, and the interim champion was set to face Luke Rockhold. However, Whittaker had to pull out due to injury, and Yoel Romero stepped in on a few weeks’ notice to fight for the interim title. He failed to win the title due to missing weight. However, Romero won with one of the most devastating knockouts of all time in the third round.
3) Nate Diaz
Two weeks out from UFC 196, Rafeal Dos Anjos pulled out of his fight with Conor McGregor. Then the promotion called up Nate Diaz to replace him. After surviving the first round, Diaz dominated the fight and made McGregor submit to the rear naked choke in the second round. The win was one of the biggest upsets of all time and started one of the best rivalries in MMA history.
2) Jon Jones
Jon Jones defeated Ryan Bader at UFC 126 and in the post-fight interview, he was immediately told that Rashad Evans had pulled out of his light-heavyweight title fight with Shogun Rua at UFC 128, and “Bones” was asked if he wanted a fight. Jones accepted on one month’s notice and dominated the bout, winning via third-round knockout in the third round. In addition to having one of the most impressive title fights of all time, he also became the youngest UFC champion ever at the age of 23.
1) Michael Bisping
Michael Bisping accepted to replace Chris Weidman on 17 days’ notice in the main event of UFC 199. “The Count” would be facing Luke Rockhold for the UFC Middleweight title, exactly a year and a half after the champion previously dominated him. Bisping then pulled off possibly the biggest upset in MMA history. Just 18 months after their first fight, Bisping scored a knockout in the first round to capture the Middleweight title.