When Alex Pereira stopped Israel Adesanya in the fifth round of their epic clash at UFC 281 in New York City, the consensus thought was that “The Last Stylebender,” because of his general dominance as the middleweight king, deserved an immediate rematch. That comes to fruition just five months after the first bout when they headline UFC 287: Pereira vs Adesanya 2 in Miami, Florida.
Champs trying to get their belt back is relatively top of mind, seeing as former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman tried and failed to do just that against Leon Edwards at UFC 286: Edwards vs Usman 3. Edwards’ performance in his first title defense was impressive, but the champion thwarting the former titleholder in consecutive outings is actually par for the course.
In the Modern Era, just three have reclaimed their belt in an immediate rematch: Randy Couture, Amanda Nunes and Deiveson Figueiredo.
Before Adesanya tries to buck the trend and regain his spot on the throne, take a look at every other instance here:
Vitor Belfort vs Randy Couture 3
UFC 49 – August 21, 2006
After a glove-induced cut forced the belt out of Couture’s hands and into Vitor Belfort, “The Natural” made a statement in the rubber match. Couture dominated Belfort for three rounds before earning a poetic stoppage win.
Frankie Edgar vs BJ Penn 2
UFC 118 — August 28, 2010
After Frankie Edgar became the second lightweight to defeat BJ Penn, there was still some questioning whether he had actually done enough to get the belt. He subsequently lived up to his nickname and answered all those doubts in emphatic fashion as he squared off against “The Prodigy” for a second time. Edgar put on a dominant display and cemented his well-earned status as the lightweight champion of the world.
Benson Henderson vs Frankie Edgar 2
UFC 150 — October 11, 2012
Edgar couldn’t help but find himself in dogfights during his lightweight championship days. After Benson Henderson wrested the belt from “The Answer,” New Jersey’s favorite son came back with a vengeance and put on an ultra-competitive bout. While the margins were razor close, though, the judges saw Henderson’s work more impactful and effective.
Chris Weidman vs Anderson Silva 2
UFC 168 — December 28, 2013
After Chris Weidman emphatically halted Anderson Silva’s legendary winning streak, the two ran it back, with many expecting Silva to do away with a bit of the showboating that got him in trouble in the first fight. Weidman still fought well and clearly had the confidence boost that comes with getting the belt strapped around one’s waist, but a horrific leg injury to Silva in the second round ended the fight before it ever got going in earnest.
Max Holloway vs Jose Aldo 2
UFC 218 — December 2, 2017
This was an accidental immediate rematch of sorts. After Holloway unified the featherweight title with a 3rd-round TKO over José Aldo, “Blessed” was set to defend the belt against former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. A month before the fight, though, Edgar was forced to withdraw, so The King of Rio got another chance at the Hawaiian. The second fight played pretty closely to the tune of the first as Aldo found success early, but Holloway’s pace, pressure and relentless attack proved too much for the Brazilian midway through the fight.
Rose Namajunas vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk 2
UFC 223 — April 7, 2018
After Rose Namajunas ended Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s long reign as the strawweight queen in dominant fashion, the two did battle once again and put on a sharp display of their skills over the course of 25 minutes. The fight showed Namajunas was anything but a fluke, and Jedrzejczyk, at the very least, provided reassurance that losing her belt wouldn’t be her undoing as an elite fighter.
TJ Dillashaw vs Cody Garbrandt 2
UFC 227 — August 4, 2018
In a rivalry that bad blood fueled as much as any, the second bout between TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt played out pretty similarly as the first. After a measured but intense start, fireworks followed, and Dillashaw proved himself just a bit more precise in the flurries, finding the finishing shot early in the second round once again.
Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway 2
UFC 251 — July 12, 2020
People will debate this one forever, but when Holloway challenged Alexander Volkanovski for the featherweight strap on Fight Island, “Blessed” came out like a cannon. Adamant about not getting out-worked as he debatably did in their first matchup, Holloway racked up two knockdowns in the opening couple of rounds to put “The Great” on the back foot. A championship-level adjustment got him back into things, but the bout was close enough to necessitate a trilogy bout two years after this one wrapped.
Daniel Cormier vs Stipe Miocic 3
UFC 253 — August 15, 2020
A heavyweight title trilogy is often the stuff of legacy and legend. Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier’s story is no exception. From 2018 to 2020, “DC” and Miocic crafted their story, and after both picked up a finish over the other in the previous two fights, the rubber match was as high stakes as any in recent memory. The only negative wrinkle to the bout was that it came inside an empty UFC APEX due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other than that, though, this fight is a fascinating watch as both men put the lessons they learned into practice over the course of five high-paced, high-level rounds.
Brandon Moreno vs Deiveson Figueiredo 3
UFC 270 — January 22, 2022
Every time Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo squared off, it just seemed like the two were destined to fight one another. The third fight might have had the most intriguing build-up as Moreno walked into Anaheim that week with the swagger of a freshly minted champion on top of the confidence of having submitted Figueiredo in their rematch. Figueiredo, having moved his camp to Fight Ready MMA to work with Henry Cejudo and company, displayed a refreshed and fine-tuned version of himself to set up an unprecedented fourth fight between the two.
Julianna Peña vs Amanda Nunes 2
UFC 277 — July 30, 2022
Save for Holly Holm’s stunning upset of Ronda Rousey, Julianna Peña’s submission victory over Amanda Nunes was perhaps the biggest upset in UFC history. In Dallas, “The Lioness” not only got her groove back, but she also reclaimed her belt with a dominant effort over the course of five rounds. Credit goes to Peña for taking the punishment and still marauding forward, but Nunes reminded everyone why she is considered the GOAT of women’s MMA.
Leon Edwards vs Kamaru Usman 2
UFC 286 — March 18, 2023
The most recent entry on this list is the aftermath of yet another shocker. After Leon Edwards stunned the world with his head kick knockout of Kamaru Usman at UFC 278, he hosted the former pound-for-pound king in London. With the whole of the O2 Arena backing “Rocky,” England’s second-ever champion guarded his belt with an even better performance than his title-winning effort en route to a competitive decision victory.