Fighting is cool and all, but what about fighting with some true good old fashioned hate behind it? Here the top 15 best MMA rivalries of the past 15 years.
15. Cláudia Gadelha (16-4) vs Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza (14-6)
Basically there has been a history of these ladies of fights that get close enough to the cage, but doesn’t happen. For some reason they got cancelled/rescheduled however what was said behind the scenes about each other was really what shook up the drama.
“She cheated in the fight; she greased before the fight. I was considering saying something to the referee in between rounds. I was going to say, ‘She’s greasing! She’s greasing’, but I didn’t really know how to go about it.” -Carla Esparza
14. “Suga” Rashad Evans (24-8-1) vs Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (36-11)
During the time Evans had the belt and Rampage ended up fighting his best friend and teammate, Keith Jardine, with a three round decision at UFC 96. We can be sure that wasn’t the best feeling for the Champ.
However they got to hash it out even more when they coached their own season of TUF 10: Heavyweights. UFC 114 is where Evans got his hand raised after thee rounds against Rampage back in 2010. As for a rematch? We highly doubt that and it shall always remain in the clubs for now.
“I could see him walk into a room and I start getting ready to throw down. The hair raises on the back of my neck because I know he’s going to say something. I just want to crack him.” – Rashad evans
13. George “GSP” St-Pierre (26-2) vs Nick Diaz (26-9)
It is no secret that the Diaz brothers were the bad boys we all needed in the UFC from the get go. When the match between GSP vs Nick Diaz was created all the talk leading up to the fight was getting to GSP.
“I don’t even understand or speak English very well. I don’t understand most of the things that Diaz says when he trash talks. I don’t really care. I’m just going to focus on hurting him.” -George st-pierre
From there he took the fight very personal and from a birds eye view tasted like a sour gummy bear when you hold it in your mouth for too long. We all felt that. One great thing the night of UFC 158 where all five rounds were acquired with a back and forth battle.
Sadly for Diaz, the talking might have done some damage, but GSP got his hand raised that night in 2013.
12. Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (35-12-1) vs Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (36-11)
The history between these two go way back. Taking it back to 2003 at the Pride Final Conflict 3 where they fought for the first time for the Pride 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix Championship. The fight was pretty close leading up to the controversial standup of the fighters from the referee. From there Wanderlei capitalized with muay thai knees and was declared the winner of the fight.
The striking combinations Silva passed onto Jackson’s face with a side of knee after knee led Rampage lying face down on the ropes for real.
“When I beat Wanderlei ImMa take his belt pull his pants down and spank him for being so ugly.” -RAMPAGE JACKSON
When you look at Silva’s resume passed those days you will see the destruction Rampage had done during UFC 92 and Bellator 126. One KO here one TKO there, I’m sure the revenge seeped rather deep inside his veins of gaining another win to clear out of the tie.
Both fighters are still in Bellator as we speak. Could we possibly see yet another fight? Or are we finally done with it? Real question is, are they done with it? We suppose time will tell because overall they just really don’t like each other.
11. Anderson “The Spider” Silva (36-8) vs Chael Sonnen (29-16-1)
Sonnen is known to be one of the best trash talkers in MMA. Which also means the fact he can get under fighters skin seem to happen more often than not. As for Silva it was a different story.
Sonnen was offered to fight for the title and took it upon himself to say some things about Brazil which was pretty out of hand.
“It’s so confusing to me. I’m not sure where we got off track, you know. I didn’t know they had the internet. You know, what do they expect?” – Chael Sonnen
When Sonnen lost to “The Spider”, who happens to be from Brazil, via triangle armbar at UFC 117 it must have been nice. Even though during the second fight it was going in Sonnen’s favor even after the amped the trash talk, it swayed back into the hands of Anderson. Just two years later at UFC 148 to some knees and punches that was strike two for Sonnen. Clearly Silva made it his duty to not let him win.
10. Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (35-12-1) vs Chael Sonnen (29-16-1)
After the downfall of what Sonnen was preaching about Brazil during his brawl with Anderson Silva right before, Wanderlei wasn’t too thrilled from the jump. That didn’t stop Sonnen for doing what he always does. Especially for a match we were supposed to have a long time ago before they actually met across the cage at Bellator NYC in 2017.
“Listen Wanderlei, I will do a home invasion on you. I will cut the power to your house and the next thing you’ll hear is me climbing up your stairs in a pair of night vision goggles I bought in the back of Soldier of Fortune magazine.” -CHAEL SONNEN
Sometimes failed tests and foreshadowed life bans would do that to you. Giving the hardcore MMA fans what they need who have been around for awhile was an epic surprise to all. Especially when Sonne made Silva eat his words by defeating him with a unanimous decision win.
9. Urijah “The California Kid” Faber (36-10) vs Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz (22-2)
It all started with a mysterious signature of a talented young lad over overriding the undefeated poster boy’s autograph on top of a poster. Maybe Dominick Cruz learned his lesson as they met during WEC 26 where Cruz lost to a guillotine choke in the first round.
Cruz kept his eye on “The California Kid” by returning the favor at UFC 132 where they went all five rounds, but came to a unanimous decision win for Cruz making the rivalry 1-1.
“So you know, for me, who’s a good sport and not a little punk, it would kind of piss me off. I don’t really like the guy very much.” -Urijah Faber
As the brawls kept coming six years later Cruz becomes the new bantamweight Champion by defeating TJ Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night 81. From there he wasted no time doing a trilogy fight with Faber at UFC 199. As they re-live old memories by going another five rounds, Cruz successfully defends his belt by getting Bruce Buffer to shout “AAAAND STIIIIIL!”
8. Luke Rockhold (16-4) vs Michael “The Count” Bisping (31-9)
There was an interview circling around of Michael Bisping claiming to be the unofficial Strikeforce middleweight Champion. Bisping went on to mention things like he got the better of Luke Rockhold in sparring and apparently the Santa Cruz surfer didn’t like that too much. The trash talk went hard between the two. Bisping would do everything in his power to get under Rockhold’s skin by pulling off belts and such. Rockhold tried to hold his ground at times though.
“He’s either going to stand like a man or he runs. It looks like he’s going to run to the finish.” -Luke Rockhold
At UFC Fight Night 55 in 2014, sadly Bisping lost to a clean guillotine with 0:57 on the clock of round two. Through it all Bisping got the shot to fight Anderson “The Spider” Silva and as close as the fight was he manage to defeat one of the legends in the game at UFC Fight Night 84. It was a big moment for Bisping to get that unanimous decision win. Especially when he was planning on facing Rockhold again to defend his belt four months later at UFC 199.
The trash talking continued.
“If you get on your knees and pray to him that things will change, if you can believe that, then you can believe that I can knock the f**k out of Luke Rockhold two weeks from Saturday.” -Michael Bisping
After what was expected to be a five round war actually turned into Bisping knocking Rockhold out clean onto the canvas in round one. “The Count” successfully defended his belt and will always be able to hold that against Rockhold whether he likes it or not.
7. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-3) vs Cláudia Gadelha (16-4)
The beef started when these two strawweights met in the cage for a back and forth war. When it came time to announce the winner at UFC on FOX 13, the tough Cláudia Gadelha wasn’t pleased one bit as the ref raised Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s arm instead with a split decision win.
It was the perfect setup for a rematch. But to spice up things UFC decided to give them their own season of TUF 23: Team Joanna vs. Team Cláudia as coaches. At the end of the show they would fight as the main event during the TUF 23: Finale.
“The things that she did during the show and the things she said during the show was very disrespectful.” –Cláudia Gadelha
They went another hard five rounds and it was like deja vu, Jedrzejczyk kept the crown and remained undefeated against Gadelha.
6. TJ Dillashaw (17-3) vs Cody “No Love” Garbrandt (11-3)
This rival is pretty intense and TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt used to be training partners at Team Alpha Male which included Urijah Faber. There were rumors about TJ leaving to train with Duane Ludwig while leaving his teammates in the dark, but still training with them. Things were already beginning to get sour and it seemed TJ actually left for good.
Through the years there has always been trash talk between the “he said this and he said that” scenario however between the two and it was pretty bad.
Besides all the talking outside of the cage, fans knew their had to be some kind of end to the chapter because we were all going through it as well. UFC 217 came and wow, TJ made Cody feel that in round two where he punched every bad feeling he had into his face.
Garbrandt convinced us how it was a fluke in a way and was given a quick rematch against TJ again. “No Love” was quick to talk trash once again as it went back and forth from there with TJ holding his ground as he seemed to have the upper hand.
“It’s funny for him to start talking about him knocking me out before.” -TJ Dillashaw
Nine months later at UFC 227 it was kind of worse than the last time. Probably because TJ silenced Garbrandt even faster by knocking him out in the first round. We will let you do the MMA math here.
5. Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz (20-12-1) vs Ken Shamrock (28-16-2)
Tito Ortiz beat Guy Mezger, who was a top level student of Ken Shamrock at the Lions Den Gym. All this after losing to Mezgar at UFC 19 to strikes in the first round. From there Ortiz continued with giving the whole Lion’s Den Gym the middle finger and Shamrock lost it and gained full hatred for Ortiz.
The trash talk started from there.
In 2002 at UFC 40, Ortiz beat Shamrock. An Ultimate Fighter Season 3 was created for both fighters as a promise to fight again during UFC 61 where Tito won again, but this time in the first round.
“I’m gonna smash your little head” -Ken Shamrock
Just three months later at UFC Final Chapter, Shamrock lost again to Tito in the first round. we guess he didn’t smash Tito’s little head like he thought. We don’t think these two will ever be friends.
4. “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (12-2) vs Miesha “Cupcake” Tate (18-7)
This was the epic women’s match-up that developed the bantamweight division. Strikeforce was no stranger to these two MMA pioneers. During this time women had minimal direction career wise as a fighter and matches like these helped guide the way. The sunshine state of what’s known as Rousey’s endless armbars was a visual performance we couldn’t get enough of. In 2012, Rousey gave Miesha Tate the perfect armbar defeat in round one that got people talking.
The trash talk between the two was everywhere all the time. Especially during their surprising season as coaches on TUF 18: Team Rousey vs Team Tate. However, it was really supposed to be Rousey vs Cat Zingano (because she won over Miesha to get the coach spot to fight Ronda), but sadly the Alpha Cat got injured and Tate took her place.
This guaranteed a rematch with Tate.
“I think this is not the kind of attitude that you should have when you’re someone who is in the position of Ronda.” -Miesha Tate
As both fighters move to the UFC one year later at UFC 168, “Rowdy” did it again and wins against Tate with a magnificent armbar in round three.
3. Nate Diaz (20-11) vs “Notorious” Conor McGregor (21-4)
The story goes that Nate Diaz was partying on a boat when he got a phone call to fight Conor McGregor for a nice price. Diaz started training as much as he could in a short notice fight camp and did his thing.
During the pre-fight press conference for UFC 196, McGregor was saying some rather questionable things. Things got rather personal and it didn’t even stop from there. At UFC 196, it was ever so satisfying for fans to see the epic rear naked choke Diaz around McGregor’s neck making him the winner that night.
A rematch was granted in the favor of McGregor and the training and the limelight continued.
“You’re playing touch-butt with that dork in the park with the pony tail!” -Nate Diaz
The rematch would be settled at UFC 202 in 2016 where Diaz lost in a very controversial decision. From there the beef has always been heated as Diaz claims he has won that fight. However, between the two and we don’t know if we’ll ever really see a trilogy fight.
2. Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz (20-12-1) vs Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell (21-8)
Tito Ortiz had the belt at the time and Chuck Liddell came to believe that he was getting dodged for the fight. It was Liddell’s next shot in line and Ortiz was giving every excuse in the book to overlook it or “change the subject” if you will.
There were certain accusations spread on Liddell’s behalf of him being a drug addict etc just to fill in the gap of extra time to not fight.
“I see the opportunity to finally shut this guy up and finally get my hand raised on my terms.” -Tito Ortiz
That lasted so long until UFC 47 where Ortiz got knocked out by Liddell in the second round. Then at UFC 66 Ortiz lost again to the same punches in round three.
As both fighters shifted over to Golden Boy MMA at this time they decide to meet for a third time in 2018.
This fight might have just been a blessing in disguise for Ortiz because after all the trash talk and losing to Liddell in the same fashion not once, but twice, the redemption feels must be leaking. Ortiz managed to get what he wanted that night against Liddell with a return of punches in round one allowing revenge to be oh so sweet.
1. Daniel “DC” Cormier (22-1-1) vs Jon “Bones” Jones (24-1-1)
When you have someone as humble as Daniel Cormier, it is hard to hate the guy. Great family man and a coach to his kids. Just don’t get on his bad side and is all we are saying. Of course the young prospect named Jon Jones took those matters into his own hands mentioning to Cormier that he could take him down at any point in time.
Being the perfectionist DC is known to be of course he took offense and it’s really where the bad blood began. At a press event ahead of their first match at UFC 182 there was a scuffle between the two and Cormier threw a show. Yes. You heard that correct.
The aggression lead into the fight where Jon Jones came in a got what he needed; a win. That didn’t make DC happy as it seemed the fans were turning on the good guy over the bad guy. Also it didn’t help DC’s case given all the craziness Jones was going through with testing and legal battles.
A rematch happened at UFC 214 where Jones won again but quickly turned into a No Contest for those exact matters of not passing certain tests with USADA.
The news didn’t get better for Jones given everything and how fighters like his rival Cormier looked at his life. As Cormier stood there being a “Champ Champ” of accomplishments.
After some time Jones came back to fight Alexander Gustafsson for the light heavyweight belt. It was a blowout win for Bones.
“Daddy’s home, DC!” -Jon Jones
Could we possibly see a trilogy fight between DC and Bones? Maybe at heavyweight?