5 Teammate vs. Teammate MMA Fights We'd Love to See
Within the context of combat sports, the concept of teams is virtually unique to MMA. Sure, there are plenty of professional kickboxers who come from the same gym, but the dynamic is vastly different.
In some ways, MMA is looked at almost as a team sport. Indeed, we often talk about success and failure in terms of teams.
When the Blackzilians endured a rough patch, they were criticised as a collective. When Duane “Bang” Ludwig guided Team Alpha Male to a period of unparalleled success, we talked about the collective every bit as much as the individual.
It is for this reason that teammate vs. teammate bouts are so intriguing in MMA. The fighters don’t merely occupy the same space; they view themselves as part of something larger, counting their teammates’ successes as their own.
Fighting is a tension-filled occupation at the best of times. The additional tension that comes from fighting a teammate is often a recipe for fireworks both inside and outside the cage.
Read on for the five teammate vs. teammate fights we’d love to see.
Nate Diaz vs. Gilbert Melendez
Let’s be honest: Seeing Nate Diaz against anyone would be a welcome addition to any card right now. The younger Diaz has spent the past several months feuding with the UFC over his contract, so we’ll take what we can get at this point.
With that being said, given their styles, a Nate Diaz vs. Gilbert Melendez bout would almost certainly deliver, with neither man being inclined to take a backward step.
Unfortunately, the chances of it happening are practically zero.
Unlike many mixed martial artists, the Diaz brothers don’t view fighting as competition. They view it, strangely enough, as fighting—and that’s something they just don’t do with friends and family.
In fact, Diaz gave his teammate the kind of introduction ordinarily reserved for Jesus in his post-fight interview after defeating Jim Miller, telling Joe Rogan, via ESPN.com: “There’s only one person above all of us and that’s Gilbert ‘El Nino’ Melendez.”
This fight isn’t happening. We can dream, though.
Rashad Evans vs. Anthony "Rumble" Johnson
Rashad Evans has already endured almost every conceivable consequence that could result from fighting a teammate.
Well, Jon Jones was technically his former teammate when the pair faced off for the light heavyweight title in 2012, but the situation leading up to the fight was so ugly that Evans severed his relationship with longtime coach Greg Jackson.
He now finds himself in a situation where it makes sense for him to fight another teammate in Anthony Johnson. The Blackzilians teammates are near the top of the UFC light heavyweight division, so matching the pair up seems logical.
Unfortunately, neither man is interested in taking the fight. Evans in particular recently told The MMA Hour's Ariel Helwani (via MMA Fighting) that he is in no hurry to repeat what happened the last time he ran into a teammate.
Renan Barao vs. Jose Aldo
Having dropped the UFC bantamweight title to TJ Dillashaw, Renan Barao isn’t quite as hot as he was a few months ago. Still, the idea of him facing off against Nova Uniao teammate and UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo is no less intriguing.
As Barao explained to MMA Junkie last year, the pair are naturally the same weight:
I used to fight at 66 kilos (145 pounds), but when we closed the deal with the WEC, our trainer decided that I needed to fight at bantamweight because I would never be champion, since Aldo had been there forever. ... Actually, I’m naturally the same weight as Aldo, but I cut more to make weight.
However, as you might have guessed from the above, both men are determined to avoid each other. For Barao, it looks increasingly like he’s going to have to start cutting off limbs to make the 135-pound bantamweight limit, so I’m sure he’d prefer to make a home at featherweight.
Let's hope they have a falling out.
We don’t want their friendship to be permanently damaged or anything—maybe they can fall out for a year or so? Just enough time for a fight to be made.
It’s not too much to ask for, is it?
TJ Dillashaw vs. Urijah Faber
Urijah Faber is largely responsible for guiding TJ Dillashaw toward a career in MMA. The California Kid has watched his teammate grow and eventually surpass him as a mixed martial artist.
Assuming Dillashaw is as good as we think he is and manages to hold onto the UFC bantamweight title, an eventual fight between the pair seems like a real possibility.
Both men have been pretty cautious in interviews, being careful not to make any definitive statements either way.
Should the fight happen, the action inside the cage is sure to be compelling. However, the potential drama outside the cage could be a significant subplot, particularly given how close the Team Alpha Male crew is.
Cain Velasquez vs. Daniel Cormier
Now we come to the most obvious entry on the list. It seems like we’ve been talking about a potential Cain Velasquez vs. Daniel Cormier bout for years.
They compete against each other for free every day, so why not get paid to do it on pay-per-view?
So goes the argument from those desperate to see the fight.
At one point, it looked like we might actually get to see it. Cormier was a little hesitant about moving down to light heavyweight, so we thought the door might be slightly ajar.
No such luck.
The former Olympian decided to shed about 40 pounds and drop to light heavyweight, ensuring that he and Velasquez wouldn’t be under any pressure to fight.
The good news? We get to see Cormier take on Jon Jones instead.
Every cloud and all that.