This was quite the weekend for the underdogs.
At UFC 196 at the MCM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (which was available on Execulink’s PPV service BTW) – both co-main events ended in upsets. The very confident and heavily favoured Conor McGregor lost by submission to Nate Diaz, a man he spent the past few weeks trash talking at any opportunity he had. Earlier in the night in the other co-main event, Meisha Tate upset Holly Holm, who recently upset UFC superstar Ronda Rousey and was considered the top female fighter.
The weekend of sports shockers came to an end on Sunday, where the Los Angeles Lakers, who have one of the worst records in the NBA and have considered their 15/16 season to be more of a farewell tour for superstar Kobe Bryant, defeated the almost-unstoppable Golden State Warriors. This gave Steph Curry and the Warriors only their 6th loss in 61 games.
If you were a betting man (or woman) that usually takes the safe bets by choosing the favourites – you were in for a surprise this weekend.
What made the Diaz win so interesting is how McGregor finally had to eat his own words. He is known as an arrogant trash talker, just take a look at the joint interview McGregor and Diaz had with CNBC earlier this week.
It’s hard to watch that interview today, given the outcome of the fight, without having a strong pathos feeling. As an athlete (well an athlete 15 years ago), I can tell you there is no sweeter feeling than beating someone who is overly-confident and making them eat crow.
To honour this weekend full of dark horse victories, we have compiled a list of our five favourite sports upsets.
Buster Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson
In the late 80’s and early 90’s, Mike Tyson was an indestructible force in the boxing world – in addition to being one of the most notorious sports figures of all time. On February 11th, 1990 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, the undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion Tyson was defeated by underdog Buster Douglas, who only had a 42-1 shot to win the bout. As far as biggest upsets in history, this is considered to be the biggest.
Miracle On Ice
Another very famous sports upset occurred at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. The American Men’s Hockey team, made of only amateur and college players, defeated the Soviet Union (who had won 6 of the seven previous gold medals) in the semi-finals. The USA went on to win the gold medal over Finland. Sports Illustrated named the ‘Miracle on Ice’ as the Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century. This event was also made into a Disney movie entitled ‘Miracle’. Check out Kurt Russel (as head coach Herb Brooks) deliver one of the all-time greatest sports movie speeches.
In the 2007-2008 season, the New England Patriots (led by Tom Brady) had a perfect regular season going 17-0. They won the AFC championship and were set to play the New York Giants in the Superbowl, trying to be the first team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to go a full season (and playoffs) undefeated. Despite being favourites to win the Vince Lombardi trophy, the Giants won the match 17-14 after some late game drama – making the 07-08 Patriots one of the greatest NFL teams NOT to win a Superbowl.
2004 NBA Finals
The Los Angeles Lakers built quite a dynasty in the early 2000’s – winning the NBA Finals in 2000, 2001 and 2002. In the 2003/2004 season, the Lakers were the subject of intense media coverage due to star Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case, and the subsequent fall out between Bryant and other Lakers superstar Shaquille O’Neil. Despite the off-court drama, the Lakers dominated their way through the 2004 NBA playoffs to play the Detroit Pistons who squeaked by to make it to the finals. Detroit ended up winning in 5 games, to the shock and disbelief of many basketball fans.
2002 Winter Olympics – Mens Hockey Quarter Finals
In the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Swedish men’s hockey team was off to a great start, beating Canada in a round-robin game. During the Quarter Finals, a game they expected to win to play Canada in the semi finals, Sweden lost to long-shots Belarus (allowing Canadian hockey fans to breathe easier). The best part of the upset is the ridiculous goal that lead to the Belarus win. A goal that Swedish goalie Tommy Salo will never forget.
As a lesson, remember not to get too confident when you are favoured to win, and never give up if you are the underdog – crazier things have happened.
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