10 UFC Rematches We'd Be Fine with Seeing
Lyoto Machida was recently offered a rematch against Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title. Though it was a rematch some believed he hadn't truly earned, Machida still turned the fight down and lost a promised title shot in the process.
After being submitted in his first fight against Jones, Machida would have been a massive underdog in a rematch, but the matchup would have been more intriguing than any other rematch for Jones, as Machida arguably won the first round of his original meeting with Jones.
Still, let's be honest. A rematch between Jones and Machida isn't a fight any fans would have been losing their minds over in a positive sense. With Jones now set to defend his belt against Vitor Belfort instead of Machida, let's take a look at some UFC rematches for which we wouldn't have to manufacture interest.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Josh Barnett
Josh Barnett's chances of returning to the Octagon took a hit with his latest loss against Daniel Cormier. Once stripped of the organization's heavyweight title due to a failed drug test, Barnett needs to give the UFC a reason to bring him back, and he'll have one more chance to do so in Strikeforce against an opponent to be named.
Though, should Barnett perform well against a worthy adversary in his final Strikeforce appearance, there are some intriguing matchups awaiting "The Warmaster" in the Octagon. Most notably, a rubber match with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira would draw plenty of interest from nostalgic Pride fans.
In the final four months of 2006, Barnett and Nogueira met twice, each picking up a decision win against the other. At a time when these veterans have fallen out of title contention and may be short on motivation, a rubber match would give both fighters some extra incentive to perform at their best.
Gray Maynard vs. Nate Diaz
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In the semifinal round of The Ultimate Fighter 5, the season's eventual lightweight tournament winner Nate Diaz earned a submission win over Gray Maynard by securing a guillotine choke in the second round. However, that was not be the only time Diaz and Maynard would meet inside the Octagon.
Three years later, Diaz and Maynard had established themselves as contenders in the 155-pound division and were booked for a rematch that would ultimately put the winner within one victory of a lightweight title shot. That winner was Maynard, though a split decision result did not come without controversy.
Despite his narrow loss to an eventual top contender in the lightweight division, Diaz moved to the welterweight division following his defeat against Maynard. After winning two of four bouts at 170 pounds, Diaz opted to return to the 155-pound division after seeing the success Maynard had achieved in his absence from the weight class.
Since returning to the lightweight division, it has taken Diaz only three fights to become the next fighter to challenge champion Benson Henderson for the 155-pound title. Meanwhile, Maynard still remains within striking distance of another title shot of his own.
As long as the careers of Diaz and Maynard keep heading in the same general direction, it would appear a rubber match is inevitable.
Carlos Condit vs. Martin Kampmann
In the past six years, interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit has only lost against one opponent, Martin Kampmann. In April 2009, the fighters battled to a split decision in Condit's Octagon debut, with Kampmann gaining an edge on two judges' scorecards.
Following his loss to Kampmann, Condit has rebounded with five straight wins to earn a UFC belt and a November meeting with fellow champion Georges St-Pierre. Meanwhile, Kampmann has slowly worked his way to the top of the welterweight division as well, and he could earn himself a title shot with a win over Johny Hendricks in his upcoming fight.
Should Condit and Kampmann both win at UFC 154, or even if they both lose, a rematch would be the fight that would make the most sense for both fighters.
Mauricio Rua vs. Lyoto Machida
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After turning down a short-notice title fight with Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida has lost the title shot that was promised to him after defeating Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4. In an interview with Fuel TV's Ariel Helwani, UFC president Dana White explained that Machida will now have to win another fight in order to earn his spot in a championship fight.
"He's not next in line," White said. "He'll fight another fight."
That other fight could be a rubber match against Mauricio Rua. Like Machida, Rua is coming off of a win at UFC on Fox 4 and is within a victory or two of getting a chance to reclaim the light heavyweight title.
The former champions first met at UFC 104, where Machida defended his belt for the first and only time in a controversial decision. An immediate rematch was scheduled, and Rua was able keep the judges out of it at UFC 113 by knocking Machida out in the opening round.
Two years later, Rua and Machida find themselves in similar standing in the race for a shot at the light heavyweight title they once held. With both fighters having recently rejected a rematch with Jones at UFC 152, a rubber match should decide which fighter deserves to be afforded a full training camp for what could be either competitor's last chance to reclaim the light heavyweight belt.
Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber
Urijah Faber may have lost in his past five title fights, but "The California Kid" probably hasn't seen his final chance to claim UFC gold, especially if Dominick Cruz remains champion after his likely return against interim titleholder Renan Barao.
Prior to his loss against Barao, Faber was originally expected to meet Cruz after the two coached opposite one another on The Ultimate Fighter. However, a Cruz knee injury led to the cancellation of the rubber match between the two former WEC champions.
The third meeting between Faber and Cruz had everything a fan could hope for in a rubber match, including rivalry and a closely contested second bout. This rubber match can still happen before Faber calls it quits, though.
With some favorable matchmaking for Faber and a strong performance by Cruz against Barao, it wouldn't even be out of the question for this fight to happen by the end of 2013. Should Cruz lose to Barao upon his return, a third bout with Faber could come even soonoer, as it would be an easy sell even if it were a non-title fight.
Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez
It's not often a fighter is considered for a rematch with their division's champion less than one year after being knocked out by said titleholder in only slightly more than one minute, but there will be plenty of excitement for a rematch between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez in December.
Despite being swiftly stopped by Dos Santos at UFC on Fox 1, Velasquez was still selected as the most deserving of a title shot in a shallow pool of heavyweight contenders. Considering the outcome of their first meeting, this may seem like a fight that shouldn't be very intriguing on the surface. However, taking into account the youth and talent Dos Santos and Velasquez possess, multiple fights were to be expected between the elite heavyweights.
At UFC on Fox 1, both Dos Santos and Velasquez were battling through knee injuries, which may or may not have had an impact on the fight's result. Either way, it will be interesting see if things play out differently when the fighters enter the Octagon closer to full health. Velasquez will also probably look to use his wrestling early in the rematch, which should make the bout more competitive than the first meeting between these two fighters was.
Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis
Anthony Pettis was supposed to have earned a UFC title shot with his win over Benson Henderson in the final fight in WEC history. However, due to the epic trilogy between then-UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, Pettis was not able to compete for the belt right away and ended up losing his title shot altogether by coming up short in a close fight with Clay Guida.
In the meantime, Henderson was making immediate waves inside the Octagon and ended up earning a spot in a UFC championship fight before Pettis. Henderson made the most of his title shot, beating Edgar to become the 155-pound titleholder, and he has remained champion with a second straight win over Edgar in August.
Pettis has bounced back since his loss to Guida, winning two straight fights and setting himself up for a potential title shot eliminator against Donald Cerrone. As the only fighter to hold a win over Henderson in the past five years, Pettis may be the most dangerous threat to the champion's belt. However, before the two would meet in another title fight, Pettis will have to get past Cerrone and Henderson will have to defend his championship against Nate Diaz.
Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry
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There's no way this rematch could live up to it's original, but I'm alright with that. If only to replay images of the first meeting between Cheick Kongo and Pat Barry on an endless loop in the lead-up, the UFC should put this rematch together.
The first time these two fighters met, Barry had Kongo rocked badly, and I don't just mean the Frenchman was wobbled once or twice. Kongo looked like a new-born deer trying to get back to his feet as Barry looked for the finish. Then, it happened. Glossy-eyed and dizzier than a fart in a fan factory, Kongo threw everything he had into one right hand that left Barry on his back and out cold.
A second bout between the heavyweight kickboxers might not be as exciting as the first, but it will solve the problem that has been Kongo's recently lackluster fighting style.
Clay Guida vs. Diego Sanchez
Their first bout was widely considered the 2009 Fight of the Year and ended in a split decision, so why exactly have Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida not fought again yet?
Well, part of the reason is that Sanchez has been competing in the welterweight division for the past two years, but that will no longer be an issue when he next steps into the Octagon. Sanchez recently announced he'll be returning to the 155-pound division for his next fight, which means we may finally get to see the above staredown once again very soon.
More importantly, we may get to see the exciting version of Clay Guida once again very soon. In his last fight, Guida was very hesitant to engage with Gray Maynard, and it made for a very boring contest, which is not customary of a Guida fight. Locking a fighter inside the cage with Sanchez almost ensures they won't be able to coast.
Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua
Some called it the greatest fight in MMA history. The first fight between Dan Henderson and Mauricio Rua was an instant classic and ended in a controversial decision win for the American.
Now that an injury may have ruined the title shot Henderson earned with his victory over Rua, "Hendo" could be preparing for a rematch against the Brazilian in the near future. If the UFC decides Henderson will need another win before being booked for another title fight, a matchup with Rua could make a lot of sense.
Many called for an immediate rematch between Henderson and Rua after they first fought, so it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to see the UFC set Henderson up with a second straight bout against Rua, who just picked up a win over Brandon Vera in his only appearance since his first fight with Henderson.
It'd be hard for Henderson and Rua to match the epic performances they delivered in their first bout against one another, but a rematch would hopefully give a clearer indication of which fighter is truly better.