From the likes of an MMA elite such as Anderson Silva, to the face of the fight game’s largest promotion and president of the UFC, Dana White – you’re nobody until you’ve had yourself a good old-fashioned rivalry.
While it hasn’t been an easy task sifting through the plethora of rivalries that have plagued the UFC over the years, in no particular order here are the top five most memorable ones.
5. Matt Serra Vs. Matt Hughes
This rivalry all started when the two appeared on The Ultimate Fighter 4: The Comeback. Matt Serra a contestant and Matt Hughes a coach.
On the show, Hughes boasted about his submission win over Georges St Pierre which set Serra into frenzy calling him disrespectful then hailing Hughes’ UFC Welterweight title victory a “fluke”.
Hughes and Serra both agreed to Coach on The Ultimate Fighter 6 and soon after, the UFC confirmed that they would fight at UFC 98. Mac Danzig and Tommy Speer of Team Hughes made it into the finals leaving Serra’s coaching abilities to be questioned.
The grudge match went the distance and Hughes won via unanimous decision. In his blog, Hughes said “When the fight was over, I was pretty confident I was going to get my hand raised. Some people have asked why I raised his hand at the end. Actually I didn’t, he raised mine. He also told me that, no matter what the decision was, he was done with the rivalry”.
A gracious end to a rivalry, you say? Think again.
Serra wants a re-match and still makes known his dislike for Hughes.
4. Chael Sonnen Vs. Anderson Silva
There is no question about it, Anderson Silva is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the middleweight division.
He was a force to be reckoned with and if there was one person to do that, it was none other than Chael Sonnen.
Silva had twelve consecutive wins prior to his fight with Sonnen, he was indestructible, or so we thought, at least for a little while.
Silva was defending his UFC Middleweight title at UFC 117 and Sonnen shamelessly rocked Silva’s confidence throughout the whole fight.
After landing a punch on Silva that would take him to the floor, Sonnen unloaded barrage of punches and elbows. This would similarly happen over the next four rounds.
With only two minutes left of the fifth and final round, Silva took advantage of his position after ducking under a left hook and proceeded to put Sonnen into a triangle armbar leaving him no other choice than to tap out.
Sonnen started with his trash talk on Silva again. His win over Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping allowed him to face Silva at UFC 148. Sonnen was unable to inflict substantial damage to the champ, and as a result Silva stopped Sonnen with a TKO in the second round.
3. Brock Lesnar Vs. Frank Mir
Brock Lesnar’s introductory fight into the UFC against Frank Mir was one that would keep people talking for many years and not because of the fight itself, but because of the rivalry between the two that would transpire afterwards.
After a defeat at UFC 81 via a knee bar, Lesnar promised revenge, and he got it in a re-match at UFC 100.
Nothing else to be said except, Lesnar simply destroyed Mir in round two with a series of hammerfists.
Once the fight had ended, Lesnar proceeded to walk over to Mir, get in his face and scream at him. Both riled up, these two were not far off a round three.
There was so much bitterness, that Mir went as far as saying that he hoped Lesnar would be the “first person to die inside the octagon”.
2. Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz
Although the fights were one sided, the genuine animosity between Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz was one of the most intense the UFC has ever seen.
It all began when Ortiz beat Shamrock’s Lion’s Den fighters (pre-Zuffa) and then proceeded to disrespect and taunt Shamrock. They exchanged a war of words, bringing them into the octagon to fight it out at UFC 40.
It is safe to say that this fight attracted oodles of attention from UFC fans.
Ortiz dominated Shamrock for the three rounds and won via TKO but it was not to end there. The two faced off again at UFC 61 and UFC fight night 6.5, again, both ending via TKO.
Just to add fuel to the fire, Shamrock and Ortiz made a coaching appearance on The Ultimate Fighter – Season 3 where Ortiz managed to taunt Shamrock causing even more tension between the two.
1. Dana White Vs. Tito Ortiz
Although Dana White and Ortiz have never actually stepped inside the octagon, their feud has hands down been the most memorable in UFC history.
Let it be known that once upon a time White and Ortiz were actually great friends.
White was Ortiz’s manager and the two got along great, but that was to all come crashing down once Zuffa bought the UFC and White was put in charge to captain the ship.
Once Ortiz made it into the UFC, White could no longer manage Ortiz due to legal reasons and was now essentially his boss. Ortiz felt betrayed.
The rift became so great that the two agreed to a boxing match against each other. The fight never actually happened with Ortiz not showing up to the weigh-ins. There were plenty of rumors as to why the fight didn’t happen but White claimed that Ortiz left him a voicemail message saying he would “let him off the hook”
After a series of injuries which set his training back, Ortiz had not had a win since 2006 and his UFC contract was on the line.
White had Ortiz in submission, if Ortiz did not win his fight against Ryan Bader at UFC 132, Ortiz would have to tap out his contract would be no longer. The only tap out that was made was by Ryan Bader in Round 1.
Ortiz is safe and White has a new found respect saying “I’m totally impressed with Tito, I’m blown away that he beat Ryan Bader the way that he did.” So impressed, White gave Ortiz another chance to fight Rashad Evans at UFC 133 after Phil Davis pulled out due to injury. White, all praise for Ortiz went on to say “I’m even more impressed that Tito stepped up and took this fight [against Evans] the way that he did.” Have these two finally let bygones be bygones?
What have been some of your favourite UFC rivalries?