Top Ten Iconic Moments in British Combat Sports History

Published on 27 March 2024 at 20:00

Many Britons have made incredible achievements in the Combat Sports industry but only so many can say they have made history and made it iconic. Here are 10 of the most iconic moments where a Briton took the headlines in their selected sport or competition.


10. KSi vs Logan Paul II

Influencer Boxing has seen a significant rise over recent years with big names such as Jake Paul, AnesonGib and Salt Papi being heavily involved in numerous events. However, two names which have stood out the most are KSI and Logan Paul.

The two internet personalities had fought in a huge crossover Boxing match in the Manchester Arena for their first fight as after six rounds, the bout ended as a majority draw. This only meant that a rematch had to be settled to decide a winner.

The rematch would be hosted at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California as the second bout became more anticipating after the fiery press conferences and heated social media posts that were made.

After a six-round war, full of non-stop action, KSI would be victorious as he defeated The Maverick by split decision. There are questions if Paul would have won if he didn't punch The Nightmare whilst he was down on the ground as this resulted in a point deduction. Despite the Brit's success, KSI has moved on from the rivalry and is now business partners with Paul as they own the fastest growing hydration beverage PRIME.


9. Jade Jones wins gold in the olympics

The UK experience gold medals in the Olympics but it becomes a rare occasion when it comes to combat sporting events. Jade Jones is a Welsh Taekwondo athlete who had earned her way into the London 2012 Olympics in the Women's Featherweight division

Jones had previously won a gold medal in the Youth Olympics in Singapore after defeating Nguyen Thanh Thao at 17 years of age. 

The Headhunter advanced to the final after defeating Dragana Gladovic in the first bout, followed by a quarter-final win against Mayu Hamadas and a semi-final win against China's top seed Taekwondo athlete, Tseng Li-Cheng. On 9 August 2012, Jones would be victorious after defeating Hou Yuzhuo by six points to four which would make Olympic history for Britain.

After becoming the first Briton to win a Taekwondo gold medal, Jones would go on to win more gold as she would be on the top podium in the Rio 2016 Olympics as she defeated Eva Calvo by 16-7 to continue a phenomenal career. The Welsh-wonder earned numerous gold medals in competitions like; the World Championships, Taekwondo Grand Prix, 2015 and 2023 European Games, and the European Championships.


8. David Haye defeats seven-foot russian giant

David Haye is seen as one of the most recognisable British boxers in this present day and the reason for that may have been because of this unexpected fight. The Bermondsey-born fighter would face seven-foot Russian giant, Nikolai Valuev, who was the current WBA World Heavyweight Champion in this matchup.

The match would be billed as 'David and Goliath' due to the significant size advantage. Haye almost weighed in 100 pounds less than Valuev as this would be an ultimate underdog story, if the London boxer would be victorious.

The Hayemaker started off slow, having to get use to Valuev's height and reach, as it would prove to be a tricky task. It would be later on into the fight where Haye would be the most impactful as he would counter The Russian Giant with punches, as well as being accurate and efficient with his shots. Haye almost knocked down Valuev in the last round as the Russian stumbled back to the ropes, almost in disbelief.

With an impressed crowd in Nuremberg, Germany, Haye would win the fight by majority decision as not only did he become a world champion in Boxing, but he became the second fighter to defeat Nikolai Valuev. The Hayemaker would hold on to the title for two years before returning to Germany and losing to Wladimir Klitschko by unanimous decision. 

7. Tom Aspinall wins ufc gold on 17 days' notice

Tom Aspinall has been one of the quickest British rising stars in the UFC, making his debut with the promotion in July 2020. Aspinall had recently redeemed a TKO loss a year ago after he defeated Marcin Tybura by first-round TKO to maintain himself as a top contender.

Three weeks before UFC 295, Jon Jones vs Stipe Miocic had been cancelled due to Jones suffering a pectoral injury. On 17 days' notice, Aspinall and his opponent, Sergei Pavlovich, would step up to the plate and fight for the Interim UFC Heavyweight title in the Co-Main Event.

Pavlovich was seen as one of the scariest Heavyweights in MMA after earning six-fight knockout winning streak with all the fights ending in the first round. Just like the Russian, Aspinall finished his opponents quickly as he earned 12 first round wins by KO/TKO or Submission.

In what was expected to be a short but action-packed fight, Aspinall stunned Pavlovich in just over a minute before knocking down the #2 Heavyweight contender to win UFC Gold. He became the third British fighter to win a UFC title as he now sets his sights on facing the undisputed champion, Jon Jones.

6. Anthony Joshua ends Wladimir Kltischko's career

When it comes to British knockout artists in the Heavyweight division, look no further than Anthony Joshua who made history not only for himself but for his nation when he fought Wladimir Klitschko.

After stopping Eric Molina in the third round and successfully making his third title defence with the IBF World Heavyweight belt, it was instantly confirmed that Joshua would face Klitschko for the vacant IBO and WBA World Heavyweight titles. Klitschko had previously lost to Tyson Fury so a redemption win was needed in Wembley.

With a crowd of 90,000 witnessing the next big British star in Boxing, the fight did not disappoint as the Ukrainian was knocked down in the fifth round, despite Joshua being knocked down not long after in the sixth round. As the fight was getting closer to a judges decision, Joshua would please his home crowd, knocking down Klitschko twice in the eleventh round before stopping the fight.

It's rare to see Klitschko lose twice in a row which is what made this so shocking when Joshua would come out as victorious. Klitschko would retire just under three months after his fifth career loss whilst AJ would successfully defend his Boxing titles before facing Andy Ruiz in Madison Square Garden.

5. First one-eyed ufc champion

Michael Bisping has always been a fighter which is recognised in the UFC but not many people believe that he would ever become champion in the promotion, especially after having so many fights with the company in the Middleweight division.

The Count's career would look to take a huge downfall after a knockout loss to Vitor Belfort which resulted in a detached retina in the right eye of the Brit. Unfortunately, he could not see in that eye anymore but it did not stop motivating him for fighting as many believed it would be a huge disadvantage.

At UFC 199, Luke Rockhold was set to defend his Middleweight title in a rematch against Chris Weidman, but the challenger pulled out due to injury and so Bisping would take the former champion's place on 17 days' notice. Bisping and Rockhold had previously fought before so there was no surprise that there would be a heated rivalry along with some trash talk. In just the first round, Bisping knocked out Rockhold to become the first-ever British UFC Champion as well as the first fighter to win a UFC title with just one eye.

Bisping had got an incredible uprise in following as many would respect him after his title triumph. The Lancashire fighter would avenge a knockout loss against Dan Henderson at UFC 204 before losing the title to UFC legend, Georges St-Pierre, at UFC 217 in MSG.

4. Joshua proves doubters wrong against the predator

After a significantly close battle with Tyson Fury, Francis Ngannou would become a surprise to Boxing as things would get more interesting when he would face Anthony Joshua in Riyadh. Despite being on a three-fight winning streak in just a year, many fight fans would not be as confident that the Watford-born fighter would win after Ngannou's previous performance.

It would be a unique fight for AJ as it would be facing a former UFC Champion who was seen as a knockout artist in the MMA promotion. Joshua's last title fight was against Oleksandr Usyk in August 2022 when he lost the rematch by split decision, proving to be a tough loss to take after previously holding those world titles in his career.

Both men would have huge respect for each other leading up to the fight as their was no real rivalry. Many believe the winner would face either Fury or Usyk in what would be an incredible Heavyweight title bout.

Proving his experience to be a big advantage, Joshua knocked down Ngannou towards the end of the first round which left spectators shocked that something had happened so early. AJ then knocked down The Predator again, leaving him shook and confused as the second round would look to be the final round. One powerful punch later, Joshua left the crowd going wild as he knocked out Ngannou and proved any doubters wrong about is recent competition. 

3. Carl Froch ends heated rivalry at wembley

Carl Froch and George Groves may have had one of the most heated rivalries in a British Boxing bout. The two super-Middleweight fighters had previously squared off in Manchester as The Cobra would defend his IBF and WBA World Super Middleweight titles. 

Their first fight ended in controversy as despite Froch retaining his titles by ninth-round TKO, many believed the referee stopped the fight prematurely. Loads of the Great British public demanded a rematch would happen as Groves was ahead on the scorecards.

The Nottingham-born boxer and the West London fighter had a lot to say to each other when it came to press conferences and face-offs as their would be non-stop trash talk, especially after their first bout. The rematch would take place at Wembley Stadium as tickets were sold out quick with 60,000 sold in just one hour of their release, along with 20,000 more tickets becoming available.

Both fighters were looking to outbox each other as it was clear that no one wanted to be knocked down in the fight due to the desperation for winning. Groves would come out aggressive in the eight round, but it proved to be the start of a downfall as after Froch backed him up towards the ropes, he knocked out Saint George with a wicked right hand. Not only did Froch retain his titles and end a fiery rivalry, he would retire from Boxing on an incredible way to leave the sport.

2. Leon Edwards pulls it out of the fire

Not many people can say they have had a Rocky story, but one man in particular can say so after winning in the most astonishing way at UFC 278. Leon Edwards would get his first title shot in the UFC after competing 14 times with the promotion and earning a 10-fight unbeaten streak.

Kamaru Usman would be the undisputed UFC Welterweight Champion, looking to defend his title once again after making five title defences in the space of two years. The two top Welterweights had previously fought before when they were unranked in the division as The Nigerian Nightmare would win by unanimous decision back in December 2015.

Just like many title fights in the UFC, there would be trash talk between the two opponents as Usman looked so confident heading into the fight. It was clear that the Birmingham fighter was the underdog after Usman had such a dominant title reign.

The fight started off in surprising fashion in the first round as Edwards managed to takedown Usman, making it a rare occurrence, as he would look to take control until the round ended. However, it would prove to be tough for the Englishman as the champion dominated with brutal body punches and terrific takedowns in rounds two, three and four, leaving Edwards behind on the scorecards. After some inspirational words from his coach, Dave Lovell, Edwards would shock not only the fighting fans but general sporting fans as he knocked out Usman with a marvellous head kick in the last minute of the fight to become UFC Champion.

It would go down as one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history as well as one of the greatest knockouts in MMA. Edwards would face Usman in a rematch at UFC 286, coming out victorious again with a majority decision win in London.

1. The Gypsy King's resurrection

Tyson Fury has arguably been seen as the face of British Boxing in this generation with the multiple achievements and milestones he has made in his career. However, there has been no more of an iconic moment as to what happened in the Staples Center in December 2018.

After an upset victory against Wladimir Klitschko, Fury stopped Boxing for quite some time as during his time off; he would gain weight, suffer from depression and have potential suicide thoughts which would lead him to seeing a psychologist. The Gypsy King would return after 30 months as he looked to get back at the top level he was previously on. The Manchester-born fighter defeated Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta before earning a WBC World Heavyweight title shot against Deontay Wilder.

The Bronze Bomber looked to be an unstoppable force of nature, stopping seven out of eight opponents with the title triumphs that Wilder had achieved. Wilder's previous performance was against Luis Ortiz as he put on an incredible display to knockout him out in the tenth round, staying undefeated in his career.

With lots of heated words exchanged between the two fighters, it brought a lot of excitement to the fighting fans which is what would make this Heavyweight bout more anticipating. Both men would go back-and-forth for 11 rounds, with Fury being knocked down in ninth round but getting up with ease as the fight looked too close to call for a winner. With a powerful combination in the 12th round, Wilder knocked down Fury on his back with most spectators believing the fight had ended. The referee, Jack Reiss, continued his count to 10 as what was thought that Fury had been knocked out, he had gradually risen to his feet in remarkable fashion which shocked every viewer to witness the event. 

Fury survived the last round but it proved to be costly as the fight ended in a split draw, meaning that both boxers were undefeated but Wilder would retain his title. 14 months later, The Gypsy King would defeat The Bronze Bomber by seventh-round TKO and would clinch the WBC World Heavyweight title, still holding onto the belt in this present day.


What do you believe is the most iconic moment in British Combat Sports history? Which moment surprised you the most out of the following ten on the list?


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Written by Charlie Oxtoby


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