Over the past 25 years the UFC has given us some of the most entertaining rivalries in combat sports. Every weight division has had their fair share of heated rivals, and today I’m picking five of my favorite UFC rivalries.
Bisping vs Rockhold
No doubt Michael Bisping is one of the best trash talkers in the UFC, and he has no problem insulting any middleweight contender. He is not a stranger to having enemies in the middleweight division, but no enemy bigger than former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold. The two faced off on November 7th 2014, the two built up the fight great as they exchanged harsh words. Luke Rockhold got the better of Bisping the night of the fight, finishing him by submission. Luke embraced Bisping after the fight telling him “You’re a warrior”. Soon after Rockhold beat Chris Weidman at UFC 194 winning the middleweight title, and was set to face Weidman again at UFC 199. Weidman pulled out due to injury, so in stepped Michael Bisping. Bisping was coming into this fight on only two weeks notice, but still looked confident and still trash talking. Fans and even Luke himself thought he was going to beat Bisping easily. This wasn’t the case, Rockhold left his hands very low and Bisping dropped him round one and became the new middleweight champ that night. Bisping continued to trash talk even after the fight, and these two are looking to fight again in the near future.
Faber vs Cruz
In the lighter weight divisions no rivalry has been more infamous than Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. This rivalry started all the way back at WEC 26, when Cruz signed over Faber’s face on all the fight posters that were to be given out to fans. Faber being one of the biggest names in WEC at the time didn’t take too kindly to Cruz doing that. Faber won the first fight by submission but the rivalry was far from over. Fight two happened at UFC 132, Dominick Cruz was coming into this fight as UFC bantamweight champion, and the trash talk leading up to this fight was great. After a back and fourth battle Cruz won via decision in one of the best bantamweight fights of all time. Cruz eventually had to relinquish the belt due to injury, and it wouldn’t be until 2016 where we finally saw the third and final fight between the two rivals. Cruz re-won the belt he lost due to injury against T.J Dillashaw at fight night Boston, and this set up Cruz vs Faber at UFC 199. This fight Cruz looked dominant and even dropped Faber in round one. Cruz eventually won the fight by decision and won the trilogy 2-1.
Liddell vs Ortiz
This was one of the first huge rivalries in UFC history. Tito Ortiz has made his fair share of enemies over the years; but no rivalry was bigger than his rivalry with UFC superstar Chuck Liddell. The two former teammates were two of the top names in the sport and made UFC much watch TV. The first time these two rivals met was at UFC 47, Liddell came out throwing punches like a mad man and knocked out Ortiz in 38 seconds. The next meeting between these two was at UFC 66, Ortiz called out Liddell prior to the event. Ortiz lasted till round 3 against the heavy handed Liddell this time, but lost via TKO. The two coached one of the most entertaining seasons of TUF and were scheduled to fight at the end of the season, but Tito had to pull out because he needed neck surgery. Unfortunately both fighters careers went on a decline in the years following, and we never got to see fight number 3.
Silva vs Sonnen
Chael Sonnen pretty much wrote the book of how to trash talk. He is regarded by many as one of the best trash talkers in all of combat sports. Sonnen’s trash talking ability was on full display when he had his sights set on middleweight champ Anderson Silva. Sonnen made it personal by bringing up Silva’s fighting ability, Silva’s wife, and Silva’s home country Brazil. Silva was on an 11 fight win streak at the time and wanted to knock some respect into Sonnen. In their first fight Sonnen shocked the world by staggering Silva in round one and taking him down at ease the next 4 rounds. Sonnen looked as if he was on the verge of becoming the middleweight champ; but it’s not over till that final buzzer sounds. Sonnen took Silva down again in round 5, but Silva caught Sonnen in a triangle choke. Sonnen tapped and Silva remained champ. In fight two Sonnen was constantly calling Silva a fake champ and calling himself the champ. Silva finished this fight off early, as Sonnen missed a spinning back fist and slipped. Silva took full advantage of this opportunity as he pounced on Sonnen followed by some ground and pound. Silva won via TKO. I can’t do any justice to Sonnen’s trash talk by quoting it in the article, but do yourself a favor and look it up. It is by far some of the most entertaining.
Jones vs Cormier
Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier are two light heavyweights at the top of their games. This is probably the biggest rivalry of current day UFC. Jones and DC had some of the most entertaining trash talk in UFC history. This rivalry was even better because it was between the two best light heavyweights of all time in the UFC. DC was undefeated when this Rivalry started and Jones only had one loss via disqualification. From their infamous brawl after a stare down at MGM Grand to their Sports Center interview where Jon was caught talking trash after the interview was off the air. Fight one UFC 182 Jones looked absolutely dominate taking down Cormier at ease and looking smooth on the feet when it came to striking. After the fight, the buzzer went off and Jones threw his hands up cause he knew he just secured a win against his rival Cormier. Cormier didn’t take too kindly to that as he tried to still finish his take down, Jones responded by throwing shots after the buzzer and Cormier fired back. Jones made it clear he had no love for Cormier in his post fight interview and the seed was planted for fight two. After this fight got canceled twice, once because of an injury Cormier suffered, and the other because Jones failed a pre fight drug test. We finally got to see the long awaited rematch at UFC 214. DC came out good in this fight but eventually got hit with a head kick by Jones followed by ground and pound. The rivalry 2-0 Jones, right? Wrong! This fight was later ruled to a no contest because a pre fight drug test sample from Jones came back positive and Jones could now be facing a suspension. Hopefully it is only a minor suspension though, because I think all UFC fans can agree we need to see these two square off one more time.
-Stephen Caloggero (@Steveo_Calo)