The sporting world produced magic moments aplenty in 2018; the biggest names delivered the goods, the underdogs caused shocks and feel-good moments that will be long remembered. Here, RT Sports counts down our Top 5 ‘Wow’ moments.
1. YAIR RODRIGUEZ STUNS ‘THE KOREAN ZOMBIE’
The UFC celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018 with a special UFC Fight Night event in the city where it all began, Denver, Colorado.
And a fun night of fights came to a spectacular end with the main event bout between featherweight contenders Yair Rodriguez and Chan Sung Jung.
Chan, better known to his legion of fans worldwide as ‘The Korean Zombie’, looked to be on his way to a hard-fought decision victory in the fifth and final round, but Mexican sensation Rodriguez had other ideas.
With just seconds to go, the pair high-fived, then swung for the fences in a last-gasp bid to score a knockout victory. And as Chan walked forward looking to connect with one final big punch, Rodriguez threw an unorthodox elbow up from his side and connected flush, knocking out the South Korean star in the final second of the bout for the UFC’s knockout of the year.
2. ‘THE PHILLY SPECIAL’ WINS THE SUPER BOWL
When the Philadelphia Eagles met the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in February, they were considered by many to be huge underdogs.
With their star quarterback Carson Wentz missing from their lineup, the team had performed admirably to make it all the way to the showpiece finale of the NFL season with backup quarterback Nick Foles deputising for the Eagles’ injured star.
But against the Patriots, led by all-time great Tom Brady, they faced a team packed with stars who how to win American Football’s biggest game.
The Eagles needed something special, and they produced just that, with one play in particular giving them the confidence they needed to go on and win the game.
With the Eagles camped by the Patriots goal line on 4th and Goal, coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Foles had a quick conversation on the touchline, with Foles asking for “Philly Philly,” the code word for the trick play they’d rehearsed in the team hotel the night before.
Coach Pedersen hesitated for a split second, then nodded, and the rest, as they say, was history as Foles caught a touchdown pass from tight end Trey Burton for a crucial score as the Eagles went on to defeat the Patriots 41-33.
3. THE KHABIB-CONOR RIVALRY
It all started when Russian UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov confronted fellow Russian – and Conor McGregor’s teammate – Artem Lobov in the UFC fighter hotel in Brooklyn over comments made in an interview.
Then all hell broke loose.
McGregor gathered a group of friends, jumped on a private jet from Dublin and gained entry to the loading bay of the Barclays Center where McGregor proceeded to attack a minibus containing Nurmagomedov and a host of other UFC fighters.
It left two male fighters injured, UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas traumatized and Nurmagomedov begging the Irishman to “send me location” so they could settle their feud in person.
McGregor was arrested, charged and negotiated a plea deal to allow him to return to action – against Nurmagomedov – at UFC 229, where the Russian world champion would get his retribution.
Khabib manhandled McGregor for three rounds, even dropping him with a big right hand, before eventually forcing him to quit in the fourth. But it didn’t end there.
Both men are set to learn their punishments from the Nevada State Athletic Commission in the New Year, but what seems inevitable is their paths will cross in the octagon once again.
Nurmagomedov then jumped the cage to attack McGregor’s training partner Dillon Danis, prompting a melee to break out at the T-Mobile Arena.
4. RUSSIA SHOCKS THE WORLD AT THE WORLD CUP
When Russia hosted the World Cup in 2018, hopes were high for an exciting tournament packed with entertaining, attacking football. But few could have expected the hosts to perform as well as they did in the tournament.
With some pundits rating Russia as one of the worst sides in the 2018 lineup, the host nation proceeded to shock the world as the not only acquitted themselves well, but progressed to the latter stages of the competition.
An opening-game double from Denis Cherychev helped fire Russia to a resounding 5-0 win against Saudi Arabia in the tournament’s opening game. And the followed up that impressive result with another, as they defeated Egypt 3-1 five days later as they sealed qualification to the knockout stages.
Russia then stunned World Cup holders Spain in the Round of 16 with victory on penalties as they reached the quarter-finals of the competition.
Their incredible run ended on penalties as they lost out to Croatia, but their performance had captured the imagination of the Russian public, and was one of the biggest surprise stories of the summer.
5. TIGER WINS AGAIN
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Tiger Woods at the top of the golfing world, but at the 2018 Tour Championship, he rediscovered his form during a thrilling weekend that saw one of the sport’s greats hit the top once again.
Woods hadn’t picked up a significant title for five years but at East Lake he produced a superb series of rounds to secure victory, with his walk up the final fairway one of the memorable moments of the year as he was joined by hundreds of fans, who accompanied him to the final green, where he put the seal on a win to remember.