Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen and the 8 Biggest Feuds in UFC History
The long-awaited rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen is nearly here.
Silva and the one opponent that can truly be deemed his career nemesis will finally hook up again next month at UFC 148. It's one of the most anticipated UFC fights in history, and all because of Sonnen's propensity for saying ludicrous things designed to hype up the rematch and get under Silva's skin.
With that in mind, what better time to take a look at the biggest feuds in UFC history? These are the rivalries that thrilled millions and escalated pay-per-view buyrates to the highest of highs.
Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell
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Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell were two of the best light heavyweights in the world.
According to Ortiz, they were also close friends. They'd trained together at the Pit and Liddell roomed with then-champion Ortiz for a time.
But the friendship didn't extend both ways. Liddell wanted his title shot, and Ortiz wasn't willing to defend the belt, instead choosing to face Randy Couture, who beat Ortiz for the belt.
Liddell still wanted his shot at Ortiz, and the bad blood between the two escalated. They met at UFC 47, where Liddell crushed Ortiz with heavy punches in the second round to earn the TKO win.
The pair would rematch at UFC 66, with champion Liddell defending his belt against Ortiz as the challenger. Liddell defeated Ortiz in the third round to retain his belt in what was the UFC's most successful pay-per-view event to date, pulling in 1,050,000 buys.
Ortiz and Liddell were scheduled to face off one more time in 2010, but an injury suffered by Ortiz forced the bout to be canceled. But the rivalry between the two one-time friends and training partners remains one of the most heated in the history of the UFC.
Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans
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Like Ortiz and Liddell, Jon Jones and Rashad Evans were once training partners and friends. Just how close they were remains a mystery, but both were heavily involved in training at Greg Jackson's gym in New Mexico.
All of that changed in 2010, however. Evans was scheduled to face Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, but was injured while training for the bout. Jones was offered the title shot and accepted it, and the seeds were planted for the friendship to dissolve.
Jones commented to Ariel Helwani on a Versus UFC broadcast that he would fight his teammate if Dana White absolutely insisted on it, because he didn't want to lose his job. Evans took the comments to heart, and a new rivalry was formed.
Jones won the belt from Rua and was scheduled to face Evans in the fall, but more injury woes forced the bout to be canceled. Jones wouldn't face Evans until April of 2012, where he crushed the former champion over five rounds to establish himself as the top dog in the light heavyweight division.
Dan Hardy vs Marcus Davis
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Dan Hardy has a habit of playing mind games. Most of his opponents understand what he's doing, but Marcus Davis took Hardy's antics quite personally.
In the lead-up to their bout at UFC 99, Hardy urged members of a UK MMA website to create Photoshop illustrations showing Davis in compromising homosexual positions. Tasteless? Yes. But the tactic was effective, throwing Davis off his game and undermining his entire game plan for the fight.
Hardy would take a unanimous decision. Davis would never get over the slight for the remainder of his UFC tenure, and though he says he bears no ill will towards Hardy today, it's hard to believe him.
Nick Diaz vs. Georges St-Pierre
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This dream match between two of the top welterweights in the world hasn't happened yet, but that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve a place on this list.
Diaz, while fighting in Strikeforce and other organizations, has taken shots at St-Pierre through the media for years. When he finally came to the UFC, Diaz was scheduled for a title shot at St-Pierre.
But you know the story on that one. Diaz failed to meet media obligations and was pulled from the bout, only for St-Pierre to injure himself while training. Diaz was placed back on the same card against BJ Penn, and after soundly beating Penn, he told the world that he believed St-Pierre was scared of him and scared of defending his belt.
Diaz has riled St-Pierre up like never before, and we all hope we get to see this fight finally come to fruition.
Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz
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Ortiz started his blood feud with Shamrock way back at UFC 18. After beating Shamrock training partner Jerry Bohlander, Ortiz revealed a disrespectful shirt that incensed Shamrock.
The feud heated up at UFC 19 after Ortiz beat Guy Mezger and put on yet another disrespectful shirt. Shamrock lost his marbles this time, jumping on the Octagon and screaming obscenities at Ortiz.
The incident spilled over backstage, where UFC officials were worried that the Ortiz and Shamrock camps would get into a brawl. Cooler heads prevailed, and Ortiz and Shamrock would not square off in the Octagon until UFC 40. The feud was still fresh in the hearts and minds of fight fans, however, and did 150,000 pay-per-view buys—nearly three times the UFC average at that point in time.
Ortiz defeated Shamrock and went on to beat him two more times at UFC 66 and on a free Spike-televised card. It's a rivalry that is often credited with helping the UFC break into the bright lights of the mainstream, and it remains one of the most intense feuds in history.
Rampage Jackson vs. Rashad Evans
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This was a feud born on The Ultimate Fighter, and it remains the biggest non-title rivalry in UFC history.
Jackson and Evans had a major personality clash, and the hatred played out on weekly episodes of The Ultimate Fighter: The Heavyweights. By the time the season ended, fans were ready to see the light heavyweights square off at UFC 107.
But it was not to be. Jackson opted to take a role as B.A. Baracus on the big-screen comeback of The A Team, leaving his fight with Evans in the cold. The decision began a feud between UFC president Dana White and Jackson that would never really be resolved.
Jackson threatened to retire, but thankfully returned to settle his differences with Evans at UFC 114. Evans scored a unanimous decision in a fight that didn't quite live up to the billing.
But fans still tuned in: The event pulled in over one million PPV buys, a major accomplishment when you consider that a championship was not involved.
Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir
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Lesnar, ever the fierce competitor, couldn't stand the idea that he'd lost a fight to someone like Mir, even though the former heavyweight champion was vastly more experienced. Mir played his part to a T, taunting the behemoth in the press and building up to an eventual rematch.
Lesnar rebounded from his loss to Mir and then captured the UFC heavyweight title with a win over Randy Couture. After Mir upset Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 92, the stage was set for the biggest rematch in the UFC's young history.
Lesnar would go on to defeat Mir at UFC 100, the most successful event in the history of the company. The show pulled in 1.6 million pay-per-view buys, cementing Lesnar as the biggest PPV draw in the company.
And though Lesnar would eventually flame out and retire from the UFC, fans still hold out hope that he'll eventually face Mir in a rubber match.
Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen
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Nobody had the audacity to disrespect Anderson Silva. That is, at least, until Chael Sonnen came along.
Sonnen, desperate to make a name for himself in the UFC, began taking potshots at Silva in the media whenever possible after defeating Nate Marquardt to earn a title shot. He insulted Silva's fighting skills, his family and his entire country. The ploy worked, and the original Silva/Sonnen bout was one of the most anticipated Silva matches in many months when it finally played out in August 2010.
Sonnen crushed Silva for four-and-a-half rounds, but it wasn't enough. Silva secured a triangle choke with just over one minute left in the fight, submitting Sonnen and putting an emphatic stamp on one of the most dramatic fights in UFC history.
Sonnen never let up, though, going right back into his carnival barker routine. It's taken nearly two years and plenty of outlandish Sonnen interviews, but the West Linn native will finally find himself back in the Octagon with Silva next month. The world awaits.