By Jordan Newmark - Although you might not know it by looking at their UFC records, Monday night won't be Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz' first meeting inside the Octagon. The Ultimate Fighter fans will recall that the two fought during season five, with Diaz winning in the second round via guillotine choke.
A rematch is special because these guys have punched each other in the face before, and they are dying to do it again. Whether they lost and want revenge or they won and they want to prove it wasn’t a fluke; the rematch is the purest rivalry we know. Here are 10 of the greatest rematches in UFC history.
By Jordan Newmark
Although you might not know it by looking at their UFC records, Monday night won't be Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz' first meeting inside the Octagon. TUF will recall that the two fought during season five, with Diaz winning in the second round via guillotine choke. Watch UFC Fight Night: Maynard vs. Diaz online or free on Spike.
The history of rematches in the UFC goes all the way back April 7th, 1995, when the “Superfight” debuted with Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock. It was the UFC’s first ever non-tournament singles match... and the UFC’s first ever rivalry. It was the most natural rivalry of them all: the rematch. For nearly two years, Shamrock had been seething over his UFC 1 loss to Gracie. (Their second fight, for the record, was declared a draw after 36 minutes.)
A rematch is special because these guys have punched each other in the face before, and they are dying to do it again. Whether they lost and want revenge or they won and they want to prove it wasn’t a fluke; the rematch is the purest rivalry we know. Here, in reverse chronological order, are 10 of the greatest rematches in UFC history.
1. Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir II – 7/11/2009 – UFC 100
One of the most controversial roster decisions the UFC has ever made was signing former professional wrestling star Brock Lesnar. A mountain of a man, Brock is 6'3", in excess of 260 pounds and has "lunch boxes" for fists. Who would be man enough to take on this behemoth? Former UFC Heavyweight champion Frank Mir. The world abuzz with anticipation, Brock and Frank eyed each other in the cage. A few seconds later, Lesnar drops Mir with a right hand. Strength, power and size was going to win, like logic dictates. Mir had another idea; he kept his composure and allowed his superior ground technique to secure a kneebar on the excited big fella'. Now two years later, Lesnar and Mir are fighting for the right to be called the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion. Lesnar does not make the same mistake twice, as he keeps his composure, fights conservatively, works diligently and secures a well fought 2nd round TKO victory as well as the UFC heavyweight championship belt. Watch UFC 100
2. Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin II – 10/20/2007 – UFC 77
On October 14th, 2006 a remarkable thing happened: Rich Franklin lost. It had only happened one other time in the six years that he had fought professionally and it was bad. Anderson “The Spider” Silva roared into the UFC that summer with the drubbing of The Ultimate Fighter alum Chris Leben. Silva was not well known to UFC fans when he stood across from their middleweight champion, and in a downright shockingly one-sided victory, he was now the champion. In a year’s time, Rich had back-to-back victories over top contenders and Silva was still the champ with back-to-back wins of his own; Franklin was set to win his title back. On October 20th, 2007 Silva did not knock out Franklin in the first round again. Silva knocked him out in the second. Watch their first fight at UFC 64
3. BJ Penn vs. Jens Pulver II – 6/23/2007 – UFC - The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale
It took five years, five months and 12 days for BJ Penn to put his hands on Jens Pulver one more time. In 2002, everyone knew “The Prodigy”, BJ Penn, was going to win the lightweight championship belt. Apparently, no one told the current champion at the time, Jens “Lil' Evil” Pulver, because he outlasted Penn in a classic five round bout. When the UFC decided The Ultimate Fighter 5 would be an all lightweight season, it seemed perfectly fitting to have Penn and Pulver reignite their feud. Marking his triumphant return to the UFC lightweight division, Penn dismantled Pulver on the feet in the first and on the ground in the second, ending the rematch with a tight rear naked choke. Watch TUF 5
4. Sam Stout vs. Spencer Fisher II – 6/12/2007 – UFC – Fight Night 10
Arguably the best fight out of all these rematches, Fisher and Stout traded leather for all three rounds, not giving each other an inch. In their first meeting, Spencer “The King” Fisher took the fight on short notice. That didn’t stop Spencer from battling Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout for the full three rounds. With a noticeable lack of cardio later in the fight, Fisher lost a split decision. In the rematch, “The King” had a full training camp behind him and put on one of the most dynamic striking displays the UFC has ever seen en route to a decision win. Not to take anything away from Stout, who bloodied his opponent and did not stop looking for that one knockout punch even as the final seconds ticked away. On Best of 2007 DVD
5. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Chuck Liddell II – 5/26/2007 - UFC 71
"The Iceman" was on a seven fight win streak (all by KO/TKO) which lasted three years (two of which as the light heavyweight champion). The last man to beat Chuck was Quinton Jackson. The next man to beat him would also be Quinton Jackson. Their first fight was in a ring, not the cage, in Japan for PRIDE. In maybe the highlight of his PRIDE career, "Rampage" Jackson man-handled the great UFC champion for 13 minutes before the fight was stopped in his favor. This rematch was going to be in the UFC, not PRIDE. It was going to be in the cage, in Vegas and for Chuck's belt. This time there would be a different outcome: Rampage knocked out Chuck in less than 2 minutes and a new UFC star was born. UFC 71 DVD
6. Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz II – 12/30/2006 – UFC 66
The #1 MMA gate of all time in Las Vegas -- the UFC's hometown, mind you -- is the rematch between Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz. By sheer numbers alone this is one of the greatest rematches in UFC history, but people don’t love this rematch for the math. People love it because Chuck and Tito were two of the most prolific light heavyweight champions ever. And they really wanted to tear each other’s head off. Former friends turned rivals was the general plot entering both of their storied fights. Also, could Tito’s wrestling and cardio fend off Chuck’s explosive striking power? It hasn’t so far; Chuck won both fights by TKO. Fear not, Chuck/Tito III is in the works as they are scheduled to be the coaches for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. Watch their first fight at UFC 47
7. Matt Hughes vs. Georges St-Pierre II – 11/18/2006 – UFC 65
The classic “old guard” vs. “new guard” match-up. In the initial battle, the “old guard” had won. Matt Hughes was the face of the Welterweight division from 2001 until that fateful night in November of 2006. In that time, Hughes won the belt twice and successfully defended it seven times. One of those successful title defenses was against rising superstar Georges “Rush” St-Pierre, who Matt beat by armbar in the last moments of the first round. Much had changed in two years for GSP. This time he took the center of the Octagon, stared Hughes right in the eyes (St-Pierre avoided looking at the champ in the eyes in their first meeting) and then proceeded to prove why he is considered to be one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world today. St-Pierre stuffed Hughes’ famed takedowns and overwhelmed him standing, eventually dropping him with a headkick and finishing him with some vicious ground and pound. Consider us impressed by his performance. UFC 65 DVD
8. Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz II – 7/8/2006 – UFC 61
This is simple: they hate each other (a recurring theme when it comes to Tito Ortiz and his opponents). By the time these two first fought each other at UFC 40 in 2002, the immense dislike for each other had been brewing for five years. After another four years, their relationship had not grown any friendlier. In 1996, Ken Shamrock retired from MMA on top of the food chain with his fight camp, The Lion’s Den, as his legacy in the UFC. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz debuted in the UFC in 1997 and proceeded to stomp all over said legacy. With Ken outside the cage coaching and Tito inside the cage defeating Shamrock’s disciples, they became enemies. Their first fight marked Ortiz as the clear victor, but their legendary war of words (“I’m going to beat you into the living death”) never stopped. Naturally, the two were a perfect choice to coach opposite each other on the 3rd season of The Ultimate Fighter. After nearly a decade long feud, a title fight, and a full season of The Ultimate Fighter, it took Ortiz 78 seconds to silence Shamrock with a series of elbows to the face. That is until they fought again three months later to an almost identical outcome. Watch their rivalry as TUF coaches
9. Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski II – 4/15/2006 – UFC 59
For much of the last decade, Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia were the top of the UFC’s heavyweight division. At 6’8”, Tim “Maine-iac” Sylvia was a lumbering mohawked giant with knockout power. Meanwhile, Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski was quick and agile for a heavyweight with heavy hands of his own. In the first meeting, Tim began as the champion, but was quickly subdued by a big overhand right from Arlovski and submitted with an Achilles lock. Oddly enough, 26 months later with Arlovski, now champion, and Sylvia, the challenger, the fight begins and almost ends in the same fashion. Arlovski drops Sylvia with a crushing shot to the face and goes for another ankle submission. This time, Arlovski does not secure the submission and they end up back on their feet. Finally, Sylvia lands a right hand of his own, dropping Arlovski. He then subdues Arlovski on the ground with punches. The two would go on to meet for the last time at UFC 61 (shown) three months later. Watch the fight
10. Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II – 4/16/2005 – UFC 52
Nearly identical in age, height, and wrestling pedigree – Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg were born to fight each other. Takedown artists with a desire to throw hands, Matt and Frank on paper were a perfect fit for a championship rivalry. The bald and brash Frank “Twinkle Toes” Trigg started out in the UFC at the top, debuting in a welterweight championship match with a 10-1 record. The quiet confidence of Matt Hughes had amassed an even more impressive 34-3 record and he had already defended the UFC welterweight championhip. It took less than a round for Matt to win via rear naked choke against Frank and send him back to the bottom of the ladder. But less than two years later and after back-to-back impressive TKO wins, Trigg was poised to rewrite history and defeat Hughes. After two minutes, an uncalled low blow, and a flurry of punches, it appeared Trigg was about to beat Hughes with a rear naked choke of his own. But you can never count out the heart of a champion. In a split second, Hughes slips out of the choke, throws Trigg over his shoulder, forces Frank to give up his back and cinches a choke on “Twinkle Toes” for the second time. Watch first fight at UFC 45 on DVD
Honorable mentions: Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin II; Georges St-Pierre vs. BJ Penn II; Matt Serra vs. Georges St-Pierre II; Matt Hughes vs. BJ Penn II; Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell II; Chuck Liddell vs. Jeremy Horn II; Tito Ortiz vs. Guy Mezger II