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Most Heated MMA Rivalries of 2013

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2014

Most Heated MMA Rivalries of 2013

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Rivalries breed some of the best action in sports.

    Rivalry weekend in college football is one of the highlights of the year. Basketball has Tobacco Road. The divisional rivalries in the NFL, NBA and MLB bring out the best, and worst, in the players. Rivalries enhance the intensity of the action.

    MMA takes that to another level. Why? Because, if all things go as planned, you get to punch your rival in the face.

    Furthermore, the rise of social media has taken rivalries to yet a whole another level. Fighters tweet, post to Facebook and upload videos to YouTube to take potshots at their rivals.

    2013 supplied many great memories both in and out of the cage.

    These are the most heated rivalries of the past year, and don't forget to add your favorites in the comment section.

Honorable Mentions

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    Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

    Jessica Eye vs. Sarah Kaufman

    This may turn into a rivalry for 2014, but it didn't have enough impact to make the 2013 list. Keep an eye on these two ladies.

    After their fight, Sarah Kaufman took to Twitter to complain about the decision. She then began to lobby for a rematch. Jessica Eye didn't take kindly to it, calling Kaufman a sore loser.

    As they continue to trade barbs on Twitter, this may be a rivalry to watch in the coming year.

     

    Ben Askren vs. UFC

    This may have made the 2013 list, but the UFC largely ignored Askren.

    It is a shame that the UFC did not sign such a quality welterweight, especially considering the loss of Georges St-Pierre for the foreseeable future.

    Askren is active on Twitter, and he took shots at the MMA leader. Now, he's off to One FC.

     

    Conor McGregor vs. Featherweights

    McGregor burst onto the scene with electric performances and has quickly risen up the ranks. Other featherweights have not taken this kindly.

    This fails to make the list because outside of some social media barbs, nothing has come from it. No featherweights stand out, and they are trying to get a fight with someone with a significant fanbase. There is nothing wrong with that, but there is no singular rivalry stemming from this just yet.

     

    Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson

    This could turn out to the best in-cage rivalry, but it isn't quite there yet.

    Jones and Gustafsson had more of a friendly banter between them on Twitter and were respectful of each other during fight week. And it all started with a staredown pic that was tweeted.

    This pairing simply lacks heat. There is nothing wrong with that, and should their second meeting—if it occursequal their first, then we are looking at a pairing that could go down in history. This is not a heated rivalry, but worth a mention.

6. Muhammed Lawal vs. Emanuel Newton

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    This rivalry started prior to their first match, which Muhammed Lawal came in as a heavy favorite. A stunning backfist KO over "King Mo" put a longtime veteran in Emanuel Newton on the national map.

    There was clearly some heat between them heading into that fight, and the way it went down only added to the fire.

    Prior to their second meeting, things got even more heated. The two joined The MMA Hour, and a true rivalry was born.

    Then it was time for the fight, and Newton proved that the first result was not a fluke. They went to a decision, and Newton won on all scorecards to win the interim Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship. Did it conclude the rivalry? Probably not.

    There is still bad blood between them, and the polar opposites could meet again in 2014.

5. Michael Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy

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    Tim Kennedy had been calling out Michael Bisping for a long time, but being in separate organizations had kept them apart.

    Also, Bisping has been higher ranked. He has been fighting for title contention, while Kennedy has yet to reach that level inside the Octagon.

    However, it seems that he has finally gotten to Bisping.

    In recent months, Bisping has started to respond more vigorously. He has been calling for the match so that he can shut Kennedy up, and we could be lucky enough to see these two tangle inside the cage in 2014.

    If the fight comes to fruition, it should put this rivalry to rest—a rivalry that has been brewing for quite some time.

4. Rampage Jackson vs. UFC

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    David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

    @danawhite if I was u I would keep my name out of your mouth. If people ask u a question about me n a interview it's best 2 say no comment

    Quinton Jackson (@Rampage4real) September 12, 2013

    Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was not happy at the end of his UFC tenure, and his performances in the cage caused him to sour in the eyes of management too. The former UFC light heavyweight champion was simply not at the top end of the field anymore.

    Thus, Rampage went to Bellator. The end, right?

    As you can tell by the date on the tweet, it didn't end.

    Rampage and Dana White continued to take shots at each other. They are not on friendly terms, and when asked about each other, they do not have complimentary things to say. The steam went off this rivalry later in the year, but it was a talking point early.

3. Wanderlei Silva vs. Chael Sonnen

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    This rivalry is another one that has been brewing for some time, and it would probably be No. 1 on the list if they had competed in the cage. It's the leader in the clubhouse for No. 1 in 2014.

    They have exchanged words in press conferences, interviews and the like. Silva turned up the heat with some YouTube promos, which culminated in an encounter at an expo that you can see above.

    How would the UFC deal with these two? They would sign them to be coaches on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.

    On UFC Fight Pass, you will be able to see the entire season, and then these two will finally get to beat on each other. This rivalry is almost ready to come to its violent conclusion, but we will get to see and hear a whole lot more in 2014.

2. Eddie Alvarez vs. Bellator

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    One of the most heated rivalries in 2013 did not take place in the cage but rather through the legal system.

    Eddie Alvarez wanted to join the UFC's lightweight division, and the UFC wanted to sign him. Bellator was not letting one of its top lightweights go. Everyone looked bad at the end of it.

    The bottom line is that Alvarez signed the contract, but Bellator came to a resolution that he would have to fight Michael Chandler. A win would mean a trilogy fight, and a loss would mean he could exit Bellator. Alvarez won, and we will get that trilogy fight in 2014.

    This, along with Rampage's barbs toward the UFC, finally started a back and forth between Bjorn Rebney and Dana White. The two had largely had a civil relationship prior to 2013.

    Alvarez's legal battle caused a lot of bad blood and press. It concluded in the summer, and there is just one more fight to go until they go their separate ways.

1. Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    This is without question the most heated rivalry of 2013.

    Some rivalries are fabricated by the individuals, and some are played up by the organizational hype machine to sell the fight. That is not the case with Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. They do not like each other, and the casual audience finally got to glimpse into their personal rivalry on The Ultimate Fighter.

    Some would say Rousey came off poorly on the show, but in the end, she simply came off as real. She does not like Tate and has no desire to play nice for the cameras. Tate's playfulness and poking at the bear of the division earned her a lot of fans.

    From the time she stepped through the doors until UFC 168, this rivalry captivated the UFC fanbase.

    Rousey dominated their fight, but Tate showed her heart and resolve. Post fight, Rousey still had no desire to squash anything between them.

    A real hatred between fighters is rare. That is what this is. Real hate. And throw in an alpha competitor like Rousey, and you reach new heights. If Tate was on Rousey's level, this would be an all-time rivalry that could draw millions upon millions. It's a shame she's not.

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