Paul Craig pulled off one of the most ridiculous comebacks in UFC history last weekend in London, defeating Magomed Ankalaev by triangle choke at literally the last second of the fight. He was down on all scorecards and would have lost if it went the distance. That unexpectedness is a major reason why we love MMA. You never truly know what's going to happen.
What come-from-behind victory is our favorite? We asked our panel -- ESPN MMA reporter Brett Okamoto, ESPN MMA editor Greg Rosenstein, SportsCenter host Phil Murphy, and digital contributor Eric Tamiso -- for their takes.
Okamoto: The obvious answer here is Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen I. You have to remember, that was right in the midst of Silva's championship prime. The entire arena was mentally processing, "Oh my God, I'm going to be in the building when Silva's run comes to an end," and -- bang. Triangle out of nowhere. What a night.
But I have to say, my personal favorite comeback is Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard II. When Edgar hit that slam on Maynard in the second round, after nearly getting knocked out three or four times in the first -- that is one of my all-time favorite moments ever. And that fight started a chapter of Edgar's career in which he made a habit of rallying from poor starts. That was a great stretch of UFC lightweight title fight history.
Murphy: Anderson Silva's 11th-hour, leg triangle win over Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 jumps out. It seemed a Sonnen upset of the UFC's pound-for-pound king was imminent, before the Spider added to his legacy with a submission finish from nothing. The restaurant where I watched erupted. It was hard to fall asleep until almost 4 a.m.
But I have to turn to my favorite all-time fight for my favorite all-time comeback.
At UFC 52, welterweight champion Matt Hughes defended his belt against Frank Trigg. The result was the first fight enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame. Hughes was felled early by a groin shot -- missed by referee Mario Yamasaki. Trigg capitalized with ground-and-pound before nearly sinking in a rear-naked choke.
But Hughes, in maybe the defining moment of his legendary career, broke free, picked up Trigg and carried him across the Octagon for a slam. Mike Goldberg's iconic "Here ... we ... go!," was born. Hughes tapped a gassed Trigg, and the MGM Grand erupted.
If you need a fight for MMA evangelism, trying to sell a friend on the sport, pick Hughes-Trigg II. It's among the most dramatic rounds in UFC history and my favorite comeback of all-time.
Rosenstein: In terms of come-from-behind wins, I'm not sure anything surpasses Anderson Silva submitting Chael Sonnen by triangle armbar in 2010 at the very last minute. Chael was dominating through four rounds and could have had a career-defining victory over one of the greatest ever. But he's one of the greatest ever for a reason and pulled out the stunning finish.
My personal favorite may be Darren Elkins' epic comeback win last year against Mirsad Bektic. He was literally getting destroyed in the Octagon -- face covered in blood throughout -- but somehow found a way to battle back from adversity and end the fight with a brutal head kick. When he jumped up and screamed, he did what I envision most people also did from their couches at home that night.
Tamiso: In November of 2006, Pete Sell landed a vicious left hook to the liver of Scott Smith. Seconds later, both fighters laid on the canvas and Smith was the winner. I'd never seen a fight turn in a flash like that before, where Sell put his guard down to finish the fight and Smith threw one final punch that caught Sell on the way in.
Three days later, yours truly, a two-stripe white belt at the Serra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, saw Sell before a class sporting a bad black eye and the disbelief of one of the craziest finishes in MMA history.