Tag Team MMA: 10 Fighter Tag Teams We'd Love to See in Action
All right, enough. Enough about UFC 167. Enough with all this GSP he-said, she-said nonsense. It's time once again for some real news.
In the wake of groundbreaking revelations that UFC veteran Scott Smith would participate in an honest-to-goodness, relatively legitimate-seeming MMA tag-team match this Saturday, it got us here in the Bleacher Report newsroom to thinking. What if some intrepid genius out there created a tag-team MMA promotion? Who would be the best candidates for such madness?
What follows are the 10 best tag team combinations for the sport of MMA. Are team names, managers and finishing moves included? You are damn right they are.
Two ground rules: First, only active fighters allowed. Second, team partners must be a maximum of one weight class apart, so that this is at least a somewhat apples-to-apples proposition. Otherwise, this would all be downright silly.
One final note: these 10 are the best on an objective level. Might there be other options? No. But if you feel you must kid yourself, please do so in the comments section.
10. Rustam Khabilov and Khabib Nurmagomedov
Team name: The Oligarchy
Manager: Evgeni Kogan
Finishing move: The Chain of Command (concurrently suplexing opponents around perimeter of cage)
This isn't your father's Russian tag team. No more glib Cold War stereotypes. No more narratives of a backward nation obsessed with international and domestic might at the expense of civil liberties and economic prosperity, or of people who wear funny hats.
Gone are those days! In their place is a new model. It's younger. It's fresher. It's essentially undefeated. It's hungry for gold. And it's coming to a tag team tournament near you.
9. Travis Fulton and Shannon Ritch
Team name: The Journeymen
Manager: Jeremy Horn
Finishing move: "Rear-Naked Choke"
One man (Fulton) is 250-49. The other (Ritch) is 52-76. They are prolific, they are ready for anything, and they will fight for gas money.
Plus, given that one has won a lot and the other is more famous for losing, they could do a bunch of odd-couple stuff all the time. Like Fulton could be in trouble and reaching for the tag, but Ritch falls asleep in his corner or something. Wouldn't that be funny?
8. Rousimar Palhares and Paul Daley
Team name: Banned in the UFC
Manager: Babalu Sobral
Finishing moves: Double Underhooks (Paul Harris cranks the heel hook, Paul Daley throws overhands in your face until ref calls the DQ)
Rousimar Palhares joined some rarefied air a few weeks back when his overzealous submission game got him tossed from the UFC. Paul Daley is no stranger to this particular hinterland, having been banned from the Octagon himself back in 2010.
Under the watchful eye of Babalu, these two have found soft landings in tag team MMA. Just cut the check and watch the body parts fly.
7. Erik Perez and Tiequan Zhang
Team name: The Tokens
Finishing move: The Demographic Foothold (dual ankle locks)
We have to include the guy who comes to the ring in a luchador mask, also known as Erik Perez, also known as the man the UFC is hoping will help them make hay in his native Mexico.
They have the same hope for Tiequan Zhang, a Chinese fighter who, despite losing three straight in the UFC, is alive and well with the promotion and will actually serve as a coach on the The Ultimate Fighter season set to film in China.
They'll prove you don't have to speak the language to form a beautiful relationship.
6. Nick Diaz and Nate Diaz
Team name: Don't got one.
Manager: Cesar Gracie
Finishing move: A gogo, or some other kinda joo-jitz-oo. Whatever, bruh. You tell them.
The Diaz brothers are a natural fit for tag team MMA. Much more exciting than those Nogueira brothers.
Like the legendary Demolition tag team of the '80s, the Diaz brothers also have an ace up their sleeve: an unofficial third member. In this case, it's a one Mr. Gilbert Melendez. You literally never know who's going to show up.
T-5. Tito Ortiz and Quinton Jackson
Team name: The Party Crasherz
Manager: Randy Couture
Finishing move: Dana Is My Bitch (Rampage lands powerbomb; Ortiz finishes with big splash, sneaking in illegal and frequently career-ending head butt when possible)
I thought they had already done this. Imagine my surprise when I found out they hadn't.
As they make their way to the cage, The Crasherz are all chains and full-length fake fur, toothpicks and pimp cups, cigars and gold teeth and dragon-headed walking canes. Silky Johnson better watch out, is what I'm saying.
They sure are fun to watch and to listen to, but the problem is, they don't seem to understand their status in the new world pecking order. They can't seem to get over the hump against the top guys anymore. The finishing move is dated and defendable. They can still beat the rank and file, but not the true contenders.
But these wily veterans have their loopholes. Whenever someone gets the best of them, they just fake an injury until they get a rematch or everyone walks away in head-shaking resignation. Quite a sweet little setup.
T-5. Diego Sanchez And...That's It
Team name: Diego Sanchez
Finishing move: None
DIEGO SANCHEZ DOESN'T NEED NO PARTNER, SON.
Tag team partners are for sissies. Just put him in the cage and get out of the way. Hope you popped your popcorn. Next tag team champions, right here. YES!
4. Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes
Team name: The Alpha Males
Manager: Duane Ludwig
Finishing move: The Alphatine (standing guillotine choke by Faber; Mendes back-flips onto opponent's back, thus breaking it)
Think The Rockers, only with slightly less flowing hair and slightly less fluorescent combat gear.
Michaels and Jannetty once gave bigger combos all they could handle. The Alpha Males, as baby as faces can get, are right there with them.
3. Chael Sonnen and Chris Weidman
Team name: The Bad Guys
Manager: Chael Sonnen
Finishing move: Unnamed. Sonnen taunts you; Weidman knocks you out while you're focused on the taunting.
It's the student and the teacher. Uncle Chael is in a kind of Kevin Sullivan player-coach role, with Weidman as the more dangerous, talented member who defers to the old master out of respect and admiration but in so doing unwittingly keeps himself in the shadows.
Nevertheless, Weidman is ambitious, even as he's willing to play apprentice to Sonnen and politely wait for his turn. Then, one day, Uncle Chael purposely holds him back, finally revealing that his ego won't allow him to ever step aside for Weidman. Weidman eventually bucks the yolk, and you can see the fear in Sonnen's eyes. The resulting grudge match, held in a conventional one-on-one format, will do amazing numbers.
Can you tell I put some thought into this?
2. Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida
Team name: The Black House
Manager: "Sensei" Steve Seagal
Finishing move: Double front kicks
Make no mistake: These guys are what you might call the excellence of execution. I just made that phrase up, but they may use it if they care to.
The fire-and-ice combination is truly dynamic. Machida grinds you down, Silva sets you back up and then suddenly you're counting light fixtures.
You either love them or hate them for their game, but there's no denying that they are quite possibly the toughest out in all of tag team MMA.
1. Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos
Team name: Los Mandados
Finishing move: The Pound and Ground. JDS punches for the KO; Cain catches semi-conscious body as it falls back and ends with slam
Let's drop the work for a second. Can you honestly look in the mirror and tell yourself you wouldn't pay money to watch Cain Velasaquez and Junior dos Santos team up for an MMA fight? Forget logistics and everything else. These two would run things forever. The very prospect of their dominance would be boring if it wasn't also so awesome.
Picture this case in point, submitted for your consideration: Daniel Cormier is on his way to beating Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title. Suddenly, an accidental blow renders Mario Yamasaki temporarily unconscious. In come The Bad Guys, archrival to Los Mandados, with Chael and a wistful-looking Weidman wailing on the challenger as Jones stands by, woozy but smirking.
Things look dark for Cormier. When suddenly, why, what's that noise on the PA system? It's "Los Mandados!" Cain and Junior storm down the aisle and clear the cage, saving their friend from a dirty defeat.
And as the vanquished heels reluctantly retreat back up the walkway, Jones produces a microphone.
"I've had it, Velasquez! That's the last straw! You! Me! The UFC heavyweight championship of the world! Cowboys Stadium! Wrestlemania! I mean, Super Bowl weekend! Let's do this!"
Cain remains motionless. Junior whispers something in his ear. Cain's eyes widen slightly. His jaw twitches, almost imperceptibly. And then, the champ nods his head.
I mean, would you lose your freaking mind or would you lose your freaking mind?
Scott Harris is a writer for Bleacher Report MMA. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.
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