Biggest Mixed Martial Arts rivalries (Part 1)
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In advertising; Sex sells. In MMA; Rivalries sell!
It's not unknown to fans, purists and civilians that there are some rivalries that are portrayed to hype fights, and there are some genuine rivalries where the fighters really dislike each other.
(PS: I’m sure by now we know that WWE and MMA are completely different from each other.)
On this week’s write-up in part 1 of the Best and Biggest MMA Rivalries, I would like to speak about 3 of the rivalries that come to my mind.
Also, I would love to hear from you on which is your favorite MMA rivalry (be in from my list or not). Tag us on Instagram (Spogo News and Somesh.Kamra), and hashtag us on Twitter (#SpogoUFC, #MonsterUFC and #SomeshMonster). One randomly picked winner will receive some great merchandise from Monster Energy.
1. Quinton Rampage Jackson vs Wanderlei Silva
We can never speak of rivalries and not mention the names of these 2 legendary fighters.
Rampage Jackson and Wanderlei Silva first met in 2003 at Pride Final Conflict 2003, when both of them were at the peak of their career and popularity.
Their first outing showed the sheer brilliance of Silva’s Chute Boxe Muay Thai where a series of knees ended the fight.
It didn’t take long for Pride to book the rematch and eleven months later, the American and the Brazilian were standing opposite each other in the ring ready to take each other’s head off. This time around, again, it was a vicious right hand by the Brazilian that began the end of the fight. Following up with his vicious knees again, Rampage went unconscious through the ropes of the Pride ring giving Silva a 2-0 lead over this bitter rivalry.
Their 3rd clash would be under the UFC banner after the UFC bought Pride. This legendary clash was going to happen at UFC 92 at the MGM Garden Arena and Silva was confident of wiping out Rampage at any time of the week. But this time, it turned out to be different.
It all started at the weigh-ins when the Axe Murderer shoved Rampage violently.
Silva’s career graph had plateaued while Rampage’s rise in the 205 division was being seen. From the bell, Rampage displayed perfect aggression and was controlling the octagon. Both offensive fighters were moving ahead when Rampage landed a clean left hook to Silva’s chin that put him to sleep.
The rivalry stats went to Silva (2-1), but with that finish in front of 14,000 screaming fans, people still remember Rampage as a winner.
2. Chuck Lidell vs Tito Ortiz
The situations and stories around this rivalry are enough to build a Netflix series. From arguments, to pacts to backstabbing to leaking personal matter online, this rivalry had the spice and still brings back memories to fans of that era.
Tito Ortiz is one notorious name that never stays out of controversy and no better match to the ‘Huntington Beach bad Boy’ than the ‘Iceman’ Chuck Lidell himself.
As the two most recognized faces in MMA at that point in time, this rivalry made perfect business sense for UFC to capitalize on and they did just that.
The pair met for the first time in 2004 at UFC 47. It took the Iceman little under a minute in Round 2 to finish Tito via TKO.
The pair met again at UFC 66, scheduled at MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas and had one of the highest gate sales and PPV buys at around $2 million.
The result however, was the same with Lidell finishing Tito in the later part of Round 3, cementing his place as the greatest 205 lbs fighter in the world. With being 2-0 up, nobody expected a third fight as it was decided that Lidell had the upper hand on all fronts for Tito, but the rivalry was so intense that the UFC booked Lidell and Tito as the coaches of The Ultimate Fighter – Season 11. Everything was going perfect till Tito was taken off the show and replaced by Rich Franklin in the final episode. Tito’s long time issue with the neck surgery had to be taken care of and the UFC was quick to get him help and have a replacement in place.
Unfortunately, we would never get to see a rubber match between these two warriors in their prime.
3. Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier
One of the most fierce MMA rivalries will always have the names of these two Light Heavyweights. Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier; the two fighters that never had liking for each other.
After being crowned the youngest champion at aged 21, Jon Jones made headlines for the right and wrong reasons. Inside the octagon and outside. He almost seemed like the mischievous kid that ran his mouth, spent his millions and still could perform with perfection when the UFC wanted him to. He was a fan favorite, a bad boy and everything in between.
The only loss of Jon Jones was an illegal downward elbow that got him disqualified. This was versus Matt Hamil in 2009. Since then, Jon has had a series of dominant wins and is currently riding a 17-fight win streak.
After facing a bunch of striking geniuses, UFC felt a world class wrestler would be a perfect match-up for Jon. And when we speak of wrestlers in the UFC, the most accomplished name is that of Daniel Cormier. The first encounter was slated at UFC 178 where a pre fight interaction turned into a full fledged brawl at the lobby of MGM Grand. A leg injury during this brawl forced Jones out and the fight was immediately rebooked at UFC 182, again at MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
In a dominant one side performance, Jon outclassed Cormier in every aspect of the game and shocked the world with his skillset making him the greatest 205 pounder to walk planet Earth.
The feud wasn’t over and Cormier wanted his revenge. He knew he had the tools to beat Jones. Both the fighters were vocal about their hate for each other via interviews, press conferences or even social media. There was never a time when Jones or Cormier left their rivals name out of any interview.
Their second encounter was slated at UFC 214 (after being booked and cancelled at UFC 197 and UFC 200). This time the confident Cormier came, all guns blazing on the hit and run incident by Jones post their first encounter and ensured he is going to finish Jones. Also, the fight this time, will be in Cormier’s home state of California that gave him a moral boost and reason to discuss the third and final rubber match.
The fight began with all the hype, aggression and skill. But again, Jon’s reach, technique and fight IQ proved too much for Cormier and he managed to finish the Californian via head kick in Round 3.
Post the fight, Cormier was in tears and clearly mentioned in his post-fight interview that there is no need for a third fight when he couldn’t even manage one win.
The feud was set and Jon mentioned post-fight, he admired Cormier and would like to be a better man like his one-time arch rival.
However, the drama didn’t stop there and Jones was tested positive in his post fight sampling and the fight was turned into a No-Contest giving rise to a back and forth between these two warriors.
Sadly, we will never see a third fight between these two.
We do understand that sport is all about respect and all fight fans and experts love and respect the sport and the fighters. It’s a noble route. But sometimes the genuine rivalries add the spice to the game and let’s be honest; humans love to see two fighters have a go at each other in the cage. Afterall, fighting is in our DNA.
Please note: The above views are personal. The numbering is not a performance ranking, nor is there any order of preference.
Again, I would love to hear from you on your favorite MMA rivalry.
- Make Your pick(s)
- Use the hashtags: #SpogoUFC, #MonsterUFC and #SomeshMonster on Twitter and Instagram
-Tag us: Spogo News (Instagram and twitter)
- Somesh Kamra (Insta: somesh.kamra and Twitter: somesh_kamra)
And you’re set to win!
About the author
Somesh Kamra is a professional mixed martial artist specializing in Muay Thai. He has designed many effective training programs for Superhuman Gym and the Police Academy. His knowledge of hand to hand combat is unbeaten and has been a success story for many students. Somesh Kamra is educated from the University of Gold's Gym in the field of physical fitness that includes strength training, plyometrics & cardiovascular training for muscular conditioning.
He works closely with the UFC for India and serves as the panelist for the TV Show – The Ultimate Guide to UFC and Pit Stop on Sony Sports Network.
Somesh runs India’s first combat podcast – The Fighting G.O.A.T produced exclusively by the IVM Podcast Network.