Mixed martial arts is a sport in which two men generally come together to settle their feuds and differences in the truest form of problem solving—by punching one another in the face. Generally, this solves whatever disagreement there may have been in the past, but sometimes, we end up with situations like the feud between UFC President Dana White and former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz.
White and Ortiz have a long history of hilarious back-and-forth banter with each man having bested the other somehow on one occasion or another, even though they have never actually stepped in the cage toe-to-toe. Of course, it’s hard to blame White for never fighting Ortiz. After all, he isn’t an elite-level fighter and generally just uses his limited MMA training to stay in shape.
But it all may come to an end at UFC 132 when Ortiz fights Ryan Bader in what could be his final bout in the Octagon. On a long losing streak and battling injuries for the past few years, Ortiz desperately needs a win to guarantee that Dana White won’t get the last laugh by being able to cut him.
But regardless of the result in that fight, their feud has sparked some of the most memorable events in the history of the sport.
So what are some of the other great rivalries that have happened in the sport? Read on as we count down the top 25 best feuds in MMA history.
After putting together an uninspiring record of just 4-4 in the UFC, Matt Serra became a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter Season 4. He went on to win the show and earned what many believe was one of the most undeserved title shots in UFC history. But Serra shocked the world (and himself) by fighting and defeating champion Georges St-Pierre to become the UFC welterweight champion.
Even after he lost the title to St-Pierre in a rematch, Serra was suddenly a star for the UFC. He began throwing verbal shots at fellow former champion Matt Hughes, whom he believed was disrespectful to fellow fighters and was bad for the sport.
The two men were coaches on The Ultimate Fighter Season 6 and eventually fought one another at UFC 98.
Team Hughes would defeat Team Serra on The Ultimate Fighter, leading the way for the eventual showdown between the two men at UFC 98.
Hughes dominated the fight and earned a unanimous decision from the judges. But what was surprising was the respectful post-fight show of admiration from each man toward the other.
"When the fight was over, I was pretty confident I was going to get my hand raised. Some people have asked why I raised his hand at the end. Actually I didn't, he raised mine,” Hughes later revealed on his blog. “He also told me that, no matter what the decision was, he was done with the rivalry.”
One of the first feuds ever in the sport featured two of the best fighters at the time, Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie.
Though there didn’t appear to be a ton of bad blood, they were one of the first duos to ever have more than one fight. Gracie won the first one fairly easily, and the second one was fairly boring and ended in a draw, but it showed an interesting contrast of styles. Shamrock even admitted that he didn’t know much about his opponent after the first fight.
“I didn’t know who Royce Gracie was,” he said. “When I saw him in his gi, I thought he was some karate guy.”
Shamrock couldn’t be more wrong and the loss haunted him in the early days of the UFC.
Shamrock was unable to ever secure a victory over Gracie as his game plan in the rematch was spoiled due to a sudden rule change. The two fighters were prepared to engage in a very long battle, but due to pay-per-view time constraints, they were informed that their fight would be limited to 30 minutes.
The fight ended in a time limit draw due to there being no judges at the time. Thus, Shamrock had to be considered the loser in this feud due to the final 0-1-1 record he held against Gracie.
During Matt Hughes’ run as what was, at the time, the most dominant welterweight champion in the UFC’s history, there was genuine dislike between Hughes and fellow welterweight Frank Trigg.
The feud actually started prior to Hughes and Trigg ever fighting, when Trigg defeated Matt’s brother Mark in a wrestling tournament. But it ended up being one of the more entertaining feuds of the time and produced a memorable finish.
These two legendary fighters hooked horns twice, with Hughes winning both fights by a rear naked choke in the first round. Both contests were for the UFC welterweight title.
In the second bout, Trigg connected with illegal shot to the groin which the referee never saw. Trigg took that advantage and nearly submitted Hughes with a rear naked choke. But after minutes of grappling, Hughes finally broke free.
Moments later, in what is still an epic highlight reel moment, Hughes lifted Trigg off the ground, ran across the entire cage with him in the air and slammed him to the canvas before submitting him with a rear naked choke of his own.
Even years after the fights, Hughes still held a grudge, writing in his book, “You can do a lot in five minutes, change a tire, eat a sandwich or choke out Frank Trigg (again)."
Ah yes, the never-ending war of words between Dana White and...well, the media, I guess?
Fedor Emelianenko was widely considered the best heavyweight fighter on the planet for the better part of a decade, earning himself the Pride heavyweight championship for years before the organization finally folded.
While many of the top fighters left for the UFC, Emelianenko’s management team at M-1 Global drove a reportedly tough bargain for White and the decision-makers at the UFC. He instead opted to fight for BODOG.
When that organization collapsed, many expected him to finally sign with the UFC. It didn’t happen. Instead, he moved on to Affliction. The process repeated itself when Affliction closed its doors, leading the way for Emelianenko to sign with Strikeforce.
Throughout this entire time, White publicly slammed Fedor for not signing with the UFC and opting to fight what he deemed to be weaker competition.
This one is still being written, but when Fedor lost back-to-back fights to Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Silva, Dana White’s simple smiley face tweet said it all. The legendary Fedor had finally lost a fight, and no one could deny that the new No. 1 heavyweight now resided in the UFC.
With Strikeforce now owned by Zuffa, White technically has Fedor under contract. He will be competing in his first Zuffa fight in late-July when he fights Dan Henderson.
Though they actually somewhat look alike, Frank and Ken Shamrock are not actually blood-relatives. Both men were troubled youths who were adopted by Bob Shamrock and eventually became foster brothers.
The two brothers trained together for years as members of the Lion’s Den. Even though the UFC marketed the eventual Frank Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz as a “revenge match” for the Shamrocks, that was not actually the case. Frank and Ken themselves had recently gone through a falling out with Frank leaving the Lion’s Den prior to the fight with Ortiz even being signed.
Despite rumor after rumor of the two brothers eventually having a fight, it never actually happened. It almost seems as if the feud may have been hyped up a bit by both men in an effort to keep their names relevant.
In 2009, Frank was quoted as saying, “There's no point in fighting Ken, he's finished, why beat on an old man?”
Even today, a fight between the two brothers would likely garner some huge attention, but it seems as if we will never see it come to pass.
In his third appearance on this list already, Ken Shamrock checks in at No. 20 for his feud with fellow heavyweight UFC pioneer Don Frye. Though the fight itself happened in Japan, the feud was far-reaching and extremely important in the sport’s expansion.
Frye began the feud by joking about Shamrock leaving his wife to be with his WWF “sister” in a storyline, Alicia Webb (also known as Ryan Shamrock). He also made jokes about how Frank and Ken’s father Bob would actually be in Frye’s corner if the two heavyweights ever fought.
They eventually clashed at Pride 19 in an epic fight that many consider to be one of the best of all time.
Frye won an extremely close split decision but was permanently damaged by the various leglocks that Shamrock applied during the fight. His knees and ankles were never the same again.
“He messed up both my ankles real bad,” Frye admitted. “That caused me to start taking the pain pills and I got a little dependent on the pain meds for a couple of years."
Both Don Frye and Ken Shamrock...But they both lost, as well.
"All I know is that Ken Shamrock, and I both left something in the ring that night,” Frye later said. “And neither one of us have been the same since. I don't know if he will admit it but I’ll admit it."
After fighting for the organization periodically for a few years, Matt Hughes officially joined the UFC on a full-time basis in November 2001 when he fought and defeated Carlos Newton to become the UFC welterweight champion.
Then, 820 days later, after defending the title five times against top-level talent, Hughes would meet BJ Penn who was making his welterweight debut for the UFC. Hughes was expected to run through the young Penn, but things didn’t turn out that way at all.
Penn clipped Hughes early in the fight and eventually submitted him with a very memorable rear naked choke to win the title in one of the biggest upsets the organization had ever seen. Penn would never defend his title, opting to leave the organization instead.
They would eventually fight again years later at UFC 63 with Hughes defending the welterweight title once again. This time, Hughes would not be denied. Penn convincingly won the first round, but seemed to completely gas out in the second and third rounds before Hughes secured a crucifix and landed some 40 undefended blows to Penn’s face and head, causing a referee’s stoppage. We would later learn that Penn had been injured early in the fight while he was still in control, causing the need for a third “rubber match” at UFC 123.
The third fight in the trilogy between Penn and Hughes was expected to be a war, but it ended extremely quickly.
Hughes, not particularly known for his ability in the standup game, attempted a kick which Penn caught and used to land a couple shots from in close. This seemed to daze Hughes, who stumbled back. Though he looked ready to keep boxing, it took only one more right hook from Penn to stun Hughes and send him to the ground, where Penn landed a few more shots to Hughes’ limp body before the referee called the fight.
The two greatest welterweights of all time have met a total of three times, with all three fights being for the UFC welterweight championship (the third was technically for the interim championship as title-holder Matt Serra was injured at the time).
The first came at UFC 50 when an undefeated St-Pierre got his first chance to shine. He had defeated the highly-touted Karo Parisyan in his first UFC fight before knocking out Jay Hieron just a few months later.
But Hughes was the unquestioned king of the welterweight division at the time and was able to secure a submission via armbar late in the first round. St-Pierre would later admit that he was a bit starstruck by being in the cage with Hughes, and that it may have played a part in him being less aggressive and not as on-his-game as he normally is for the fight.
But after Hughes defeated BJ Penn in their rematch at UFC 63, St-Pierre was set to get a rematch of his own at UFC 65. In a memorable post-fight interview, St-Pierre shook Hughes’ hand while telling him, “I’m not impressed by your performance.”
Over two years after their first encounter, the two welterweight legends met again at UFC 65.
St-Pierre won the fight by TKO in the second round after a controversial first round which saw temporary stoppages due to two kicks landing in Hughes’ groin area. Referee John McCarthy warned St-Pierre after the second kick and a third could have very well led to a disqualification.
Though St-Pierre’s crown was not questioned, there remained controversy about whether a third fight would yield a different result. We got our answer just 13 months later when the two men fought again for the then-interim UFC welterweight championship at UFC 79.
St-Pierre had lost his championship in surprising fashion to Matt Serra, but many believed that the bout between Hughes and St-Pierre would determine the long-term champion within the division. Those prognosticators were proved right as St-Pierre submitted Hughes, starting what has now been a four year run as the champion.
To be fair, Phil Baroni is not the world’s nicest mixed martial artist. In fact, many would say he’s just a plain old a-hole. But his dislike for Team Quest may be worse than his dislike for any other person or thing in mixed martial arts.
It all started at UFC 34 when he lost his second fight in the UFC to Team Quest member Matt Lindland by unanimous decision. Then after winning back-to-back fights including one over Dave Menne in which he declared he was the “best ever” in the post-fight interview, he got his rematch against Lindland at UFC 41. But again, Lindland secured another unanimous decision.
This set up a fight between Baroni and Lindland’s Team Quest teammate Evan Tanner who was making his move down to 185 pounds. Baroni dominated the fight in the early going, even opening a cut on Tanner’s face which had to be checked out by the cage-side doctor. Unfortunately, the checking of the cut allowed Tanner to regain his composure, leading him to taking control in the fight.
He eventually brought Baroni to the ground where he began landing some punches and elbows. It was at that point which the referee famously asked Baroni if he wanted him to stop the fight, to which Baroni responded, “Yes.”
The controversy arose, though, when Baroni got back to his feet and got in the referee’s face. He claims that he heard the referee ask, “Are you okay?” Baroni pushed the referee and was suspended for his actions.
Upon his return seven months later, Baroni would get his rematch with Tanner in an emotionally charged fight.
Baroni went on to lose the second fight to Tanner as well, this time by a unanimous judges’ decision. His record against members of Team Quest fell to a measly 0-4.
“The New York Bad Ass” has said on many occasions that he hated anyone associated with Team Quest and that his rivalry with the group would likely continue forever.
There are feuds in just about every sport which seem to divide fans more strictly than others. There is the Yankees vs. Red Sox in baseball, the Bears vs. Packers in football, the Lakers vs. Celtics in basketball and even “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock in pro wrestling.
Despite being a growing mainstream attraction, no UFC fight had assembled that kind of fan war until Georges St-Pierre fought BJ Penn at UFC 58. But when you add in the fact that the event was billed as “USA vs. Canada,” the cultural war was even greater.
The battle between these two fighters put fans on pins and needles throughout. Penn seemed to be winning the standup exchanges, but St-Pierre’s wrestling seemed to negate the Hawaiian’s legendary jiu-jitsu. After three tightly contested rounds, the fight went to a judges’ decision where St-Pierre would win won of the most controversial split decisions the sport had ever seen.
Nearly three years later, the UFC saw their opportunity to pit these two juggernauts against one another once again when Penn, who was the reigning UFC lightweight champion, moved up to fight St-Pierre for the welterweight title.
The fan war was on again as fans took their sides for the rematch, expecting another tightly contested bout between two dominant champions. But what they got was not that at all.
St-Pierre completely smothered Penn, pummeling him big shots on the feet and asserting his dominance on the ground again with some of the best wrestling in the sport. Penn’s corner would eventually throw in the towel between the fourth and fifth rounds, declaring St-Pierre the winner by TKO.
The controversy continued after the fight, though, as Penn and his management pointed their fingers at St-Pierre’s corner, who they believed had been rubbing St-Pierre’s body with petroleum jelly to make their fighter difficult to grab. The charges were investigated by the UFC and the Nevada State Athletic Commission but were dropped when no evidence of wrongdoing could be found.
When Tim Sylvia stepped into the cage to fight Andrei Arlovski for the interim UFC heavyweight championship, he held an impressive record of 17-1, his only loss coming by way of TKO to Frank Mir in a fight where he broke his arm but never submitted. To put it bluntly, he was considered an essentially unstoppable monster.
But Arlovski shocked onlookers when he clipped Sylvia with an overhand right in just the first minute of their fight at UFC 51. As the giant fell to the ground, Arlovski quickly secured an Achilles’ lock, earning the submission.
The two heavyweights would fight again for the title just over a year later at UFC 59, where Sylvia would survive an early knock down from Arlovski, only to return the favor by knocking Arlovski out in the first round to win back his title.
Soon after the fight, Sylvia requested and was granted an immediate rematch with Arlovski, whom he believed he needed to defeat again in a rubber match.
Tim Sylvia would defeat Andrei Arlovski at UFC 61, earning a one-sided judges’ decision to establish himself as the unquestioned top heavyweight in the UFC.
Years later, Sylvia was interviewed by TapouT radio and asked about Arlovski’s recent streak of losses. He responded, “I think I ruined the poor guy, since I knocked him out he hasn’t been the same.”
Outside the sport, Sylvia also began dating Arlovski’s ex-girlfriend, sparking even more bad blood between the two. In a memorable interview with Ariel Helwani (see attached video), Arlovski left us with a quote for the ages.
Tim Sylvia in MMA, Andrei Arlovski with words
It’s not often that a series of MMA fights captures the world’s attention while also remaining relatively civil between the two combatants, but that’s what happened between UFC Hall of Famers Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell from 2003-2006.
The two light heavyweights first clashed at UFC 43 for the interim UFC light heavyweight championship while champion Tito Ortiz had scheduling conflicts. Liddell was widely considered the No. 1 contender for Ortiz’s title and Couture was coming off back-to-back losses to Josh Barnett and Ricco Rodriguez in the heavyweight division.
But it was the new light heavyweight, Couture, who shocked onlookers by lighting up the 12-1 Liddell and securing a TKO victory at UFC 43.
Couture went on to defeat Ortiz easily to become the champion before losing the title to Vitor Belfort, then winning it back from him less than three months later. This set up a rematch between Couture and Liddell who had defeated Ortiz and Vernon White in back-to-back fights himself.
This time, Liddell evened the score with a first-round knockout over Couture and became the new UFC light heavyweight champion in the process.
The UFC loves their trilogies and the cash cow that was the Couture-Liddell feud was no exception. Following their second fight at UFC 52, each fighter won a subsequent fight against a lesser opponent, setting up the third and final bout between the two at UFC 57 in what was one of the biggest fights in the organization’s history at the time.
Unlike the second fight which was quickly dominated by Liddell, Couture actually looked to be on his game and even secured a rare takedown on him. But Liddell’s freakish ability to just stand right up after being taken down was on display as even an excellent wrestler like Couture was unable to keep him down.
Moments later in the second round, Liddell countered another punch from Couture, very similarly to how he did in their second fight, and knocked him out again to retain the UFC light heavyweight championship.
After the fight, Couture announced his retirement from mixed martial arts. Of course, we now know that the retirement only lasted for 17 months, as he would eventually return to capture the UFC heavyweight championship by defeating Tim Sylvia at UFC UFC 68. Still, the disappointment of the loss to Liddell was obviously hard on Couture.
At just 23 years old, it’s weird to think that Jon Jones has already been involved in one of the most fierce rivalries the sport has ever seen, but that’s what has happened in his sudden feud with his former teammate Rashad Evans.
Evans and Jones were pictured together early in Jones’ career, with Jones climbing up the rankings and Rashad already a one-time champion. They were both quoted as being friends and neither man wanted to fight the other.
But when Rashad was forced to drop out of his scheduled UFC light heavyweight title fight against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128, it was his teammate, Jones, who stepped in to fill the void in the title fight. As we all now know, Jones went on to win the fight and become the champion.
This led to some controversy as the two men often trained together and were likely going to have to fight one another at some point, if Rashad ever wanted to get the title back. Of course, being that he is a long-time member of Jackson’s Submission Fighting, Evans believed that Jones should have to find a new camp. But Jackson stuck by his new champion and it was Evans who was sent packing, sparking a heated rivalry between the two.
Jones and Evans were scheduled to fight at UFC 133, but Jones had to drop out of the fight due to a hand injury. Instead, Evans will now fight fellow 205-pound contender Phil Davis at the event while Jones’ first title defense has been delayed until later this year at UFC 135, where he will fight Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
We still have not seen these two warriors fight, but the war of words on Twitter has been epic already. If the fight is anything like the back-and-forth insults, we will be in for a treat.
To be determined
UFC veteran Jorge Rivera had long skated by as one of the “solid” 185-pound fighters in the organization. He had put together some nice wins, but it seemed like every time he was about to get on a roll, he would lose a fight.
At nearly 39 years old, Rivera knew that his time in the sport is likely coming to an end in the upcoming years. To secure his place in UFC history, he and a few others decided to make a splash by insulting and throwing out a challenge to one of the most controversial fighters in the sport, Michael Bisping.
They produced a series of jokingly-insulting videos which caused Bisping to finally accept a fight against Rivera at UFC 127. The fight was placed on the main card and was highly anticipated due to Bisping apparently taking the insults very personally.
Bisping largely controlled the early part of the fight and eventually found himself standing above a downed Rivera who was attempting to get back to his feet from his knees. It was at this point when Bisping delivered one of the most flagrant cheap shots we have ever seen, a knee right to the head of his opponent, which caused an immediate temporary stoppage from the referee.
Rivera collapsed, his head falling into his hands on the canvas. Bisping paraded around the cage with his hands in the air like Rocky Balboa as if he had been victorious in the fight, prompting many fans to change their opinion on him as a person.
Rivera was given time to recover but was clearly still dazed. It looked as if the fight was definitely going to be stopped and either declared a draw or even possibly a victory by disqualification for Rivers. However, the referee asked him if he could continue and Rivera answered “Yes,” prompting the fight to be restarted just a few moments later.
Jorge battled back, but was not mentally there enough to actually compete with Bisping. He was eventually knocked out, and Bisping declared the winner.
After the fight, many fighters have begun calling out Bisping, including Rivera’s friends Tim Kennedy and Nate Marquardt, among many others.
Michael Bisping by winning the fight. But Jorge Rivera was also a winner by making a lot of money on a fight which no one would have likely wanted to see without the incredible amount of promotion that he and the guys at Ranger Up did.
It’s not often that a non-title fight can capture the attention of the casual MMA fan in the way that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s fight against Rashad Evans did at UFC 114.
The fight was a long time in the making due to an injury sustained by Jackson and an entire season where they were coaches on The Ultimate Fighter: The Heavyweights. Throughout that time, the trash talk between the fighters grew to a boiling point, ending with them meeting in the main event of UFC 114.
Despite not being surrounded by much other than Michael Bisping on the rest of the pay-per-view card, the UFC 114 card headlined by Jackson-Evans became one of the few events in MMA history to go over 1 million total purchases.
The fight itself was rather lackluster with Evans eventually winning a unanimous decision, but it did nearly see finishes by both men. After all was said and done, the UFC made a ton of money off of the feud and both Jackson and Evans did as well.
When Mark Coleman and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua fought at Pride 31, it looked like it was just another great fight between two excellent combatants on your average Pride card. But what ended up happening was anything but average.
Early in the bout, Coleman shot in for a takedown and Rua broke his arm on the way down. Not knowing that his opponent was so badly injured, Coleman continued fighting and landed some punches. The fight was stopped quickly and tempers began to flare as Coleman and Rua’s corner yelled at one another.
This prompted both corners to enter the ring, erupting one of the most memorable brawls in the history of the sport. All hell broke loose including Phil Baroni and Wanderlei Silva attacking one another as security tried to regain control.
The two fighters brought their rivalry to the UFC where they battled at UFC 93. Unlike the first fight which was highly emotional, this bout seemed well controlled and almost lethargic at times.
Rua eventually secured a TKO victory with punches late in the third round but was criticized for his lack of aggressiveness against a fighter whom many had deemed to be well past his prime.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
When Brock Lesnar made his UFC debut, it obviously came along with a lot of fanfare. The former WWE champion was already a superstar before ever stepping into the UFC and had dominated his first opponent in crushing and convincing fashion. Of course, it helped that he was also a former Division I national champion wrestler for the University of Minnesota.
The UFC wasted no time with their highly touted prospect, placing him against former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir in his very first fight for the promotion.
Very early in the bout, Lesnar brought Mir to the ground where he was releasing big shots from the top. The referee shot in and appeared to be calling a stop to the fight to declare Lesnar the winner. But in reality, he was stopping the fight because he had determined that Lesnar had landed numerous shots to the back of Mir’s head as he covered up.
The controversy became even greater when, without prior warning, the referee deducted a point from Lesnar. He then restarted the fight.
Though Lesnar seemed to be phased by the point deduction, he again took to dominating Mir with his massive strength advantage. But this time, Mir saw an opportunity and was able to slap on a picture-perfect heel hook, causing Lesnar to tap just 1:30 into the fight.
Lesnar would go on to win the UFC heavyweight championship from Randy Couture just two fights later, but the loss to Mir haunted him. Never one to shy away from the camera, Mir consistently taunted Lesnar.
With Lesnar out for an extended period of time, it was Mir who stepped in and became the interim UFC heavyweight champion.
"You've got my belt,” Mir screamed at Lesnar as he spotted him in the crowd after defeating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. This set up up a rematch between the two fighters at UFC 100.
But unlike the first fight, Lesnar did not make a rookie mistake in the rematch. Instead, he brought Mir to the ground early and often, unleashing some of the most hellacious ground-and-pound we have ever seen on his way to earning a convincing TKO victory.
The feud was not over even after the beatdown, though. As the doctors helped an dazed Mir back to his feet, Lesnar walked back over to Mir and yelled right in his face.
Brock Lesnar for now, but there may very will be a “rubber match” between the two down the road.
Like the war of words between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans, the feud between Nick Diaz and Jason “Mayhem” Miller has not yet produced an actual sanctioned fight between the two men. Of course, that doesn’t mean the two fighters didn’t get into a brawl during Jake Shields’ post-fight interview at Stikeforce: Nashville last year.
Shields, a training partner of Diaz’s, had just defeated Dan Henderson to retain his Strikeforce middleweight title, but it was Miller who attempted to steal the show by getting in the cage and demanding a rematch against the champion. This sparked a fuse in Diaz who responded by throwing a punch at Miller, igniting the chaos.
Diaz and Miller have been slinging insults at one another ever since that night, with both men claiming that the other does not want to fight him. The difference seems to be a weight issue with Diaz being a welterweight while Miller is a middleweight.
Of course, both fighters have fought at or at least near one another’s weight class on numerous occasions, so there is obviously some sort of ducking going on. We just don’t know who it is from or if both fighters truly are “scared, homie.
Neither Diaz nor Miller, until we see them finally fight.
During the “dark days” of the UFC, it was Tito Ortiz who carried the banner of the organization, keeping the company growing despite a largely skeptical mainstream audience. His victories over Wanderlei Silva, Evan Tanner, Elvis Sinosic and eventually Ken Shamrock made him one of the sport’s biggest stars.
But as Liddell grew into a star himself, the two former training partners never seemed to be able to put together the fight which the fans wanted to see between them. But when Ortiz lost his UFC light heavyweight title to Randy Couture, there could no longer be any “ducking.”
Ortiz and Liddell finally met at UFC 47. The feud continued even in the cage as Ortiz taunted Liddell during the first round and even pushed the referee into him after the round, leading to more words being exchanged before the two went to their corners.
But in the second round, Liddell came out with a flurry of punches that crushed Ortiz and ended the fight by TKO. Shortly after the fight, though, Ortiz began claiming that one of Liddell’s punches early in the flurry was actually a thumb which connected with his eye, causing Ortiz to see “nothing but black.”
Tension continued to build again, but the two light heavyweight legends would not meet again until UFC 66 when Liddell defended his UFC light heavyweight championship. Liddell again won the fight, this time in the third round, but again by punches. It was later revealed that Liddell had torn his MCL prior to the fight, but was still able to defend Ortiz’s takedowns and knock him out.
Arguably the most important rivalry during the best days in Pride featured not only fighters, but entire training camps as Chute Boxe feuded with their fellow countrymen at Brazilian Top Team. The biggest display of this feud happened at the 2005 Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix tournament.
In the opening round of the tournament months prior, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua had defeated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson while Antonio “Lil Nog” Rogerio Nogueira had defeated Dan Henderson to earn their way into the quarterfinals against one another. Rua would win a decision over his highly-touted opponent.
That victory sparked major interest in the semifinals round which featured a bout between Brazilian Top Team’s Ricardo Arona against Chute Boxe’s top fighter Wanderlei Silva. Arona surprised many by edging out the “Axe Murderer” in a memorable bout. Also that night, Rua defeated Alistair Overeem to set up the finals between Arona and Rua later that evening.
The entire mixed martial arts community looked on as Shogun etched his name in history by crushing Arona in violent fashion with punches less than three minutes into the first round, earning his title as the 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix champion.
In addition to the tournament, current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva was actually at the center of much of the feud. After having a falling out with the management at Chute Boxe, Silva began training at Brazilian Top Team with the Nogueira brothers.
Chute Boxe Academy, though almost no fighter who was involved in the original feud is still with either team.
When breaking down the best feuds of all time, it would be crazy to forget about the rivalry between seemingly the entire Gracie Family and Japanese sensation Kazushi Sakuraba.
The feud began at Pride 8 when Sakuraba was matched against the undefeated Royler Gracie. Sakuraba was much larger than Gracie in the fight and possessed a much stronger standup game, so the Brazilian spent most of the fight on his back, trying to bait Sakuraba into fighting him on the ground.
With just minutes left in the fight, Sakuraba finally decided to go to the ground with his opponent, where he eventually secured a kimura, where he would earn a referee’s stoppage with just seconds left in the fight. The victory sent shockwaves through the MMA community as it was the first time in many years that a Gracie had lost a professional fight.
The Gracies were very upset about the stoppage given that Royler had never actually submitted, and believed that Pride was cheating them. To get revenge, the Gracies sent over the legendary undefeated younger brother of Royler, Royce Gracie, to compete in the 2000 Pride Grand Prix tournament, in hopes of drawing Sakuraba at some point.
The two men did meet in the tournament quarterfinals where they battled in a legendary 90-minute war which consisted of six 15-minute rounds. The fight’s rules which included no time limit and the fight only ending by knockout or submission, were demanded by the Gracies. But as the fight went on, the rules began to favor Sakuraba who wore him down with countless leg kicks throughout the fight. The bout finally ended when Rorion Gracie threw in the towel, saving his brother from a further beating.
Royce and Sakuraba embrace in the ring after their fight, but Sakuraba was now touted as the “Gracie Killer,” having become the first man to defeat two members of the previously thought-to-be-unbeatable Gracie family.
Sakuraba went on to fight and defeat both Ryan and Renzo Gracie during the same year he defeated Royce in 2000. His most impressive victory came when he defeated Renzo with a kimura, breaking his opponent’s elbow in the process. But in what he called the proudest moment of his career, Renzo refused to tap out even in the face of excruciating pain.
Sakuraba and Royce Gracie would finally meet one more time at in 2007 where Gracie earned a unanimous decision victory, seemingly redeeming his family’s name. However, post-fight drug tests showed that Gracie had been on performance enhancing drugs and he was subsequently suspended while the victory remained clouded by controversy.
Sakuraba did finally lose legitimately to a member of the Gracie family in May 2010 when Ralek Gracie edged him out in a unanimous decision. But Sakuraba’s best days were already behind him and the damage had been done.
Kazushi “The Gracie Killer” Sakuraba
After defeating Kevin Randleman in a No. 1 contender’s match, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson announced his intentions to be the man to dethrone then-Pride middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva. Silva did not appreciate that kind of talk and immediately stepped into the ring where he shoved Jackson, creating one of the more memorable and intense rivalries in MMA history.
After defeating Chuck Liddell in a tournament format, Rampage went on to fight Wanderlei Silva the same night. Worn out from his previous fight and a long first round against Silva, though, Jackson received a memorable beating in the form of relentless knees from the “Axe Murderer.”
Jackson didn’t stop, though, and began taunting Silva with videos on his website that made fun of the way Silva speaks. Silva responded by saying that he would fight Jackson numerous times if he could.
The two men clashed again less than a year later at Pride 28, but although Jackson made it deeper into the fight, the result was an even more violent assault than the first fight. Silva’s knees connected numerous times with Jackson’s unguarded face, resulting in a horrifically broken nose and Jackson being left helplessly knocked out on the ropes.
Upon the closure of Pride, both fighters went on to fight in the UFC where they would eventually have the third fight of their feud at UFC 92. Many expected this fight to end similarly to how the previous two did, but Jackson was determined not to fall to 0-3 against his rival.
Jackson caught Silva with a vicious left hook which knocked the Brazilian clean out. But even after his opponent was unconscious, Jackson followed up with two more huge shots to his undefended face before the referee was able to break up the action.
Wanderlei Silva may have won the war, but Quinton “Rampage” Jackson got the last laugh.
Who would have expected, years ago, that one of the biggest feuds in a sport involving fighting would happen between a fighter and a promoter? Well, if you’ve been watching the UFC for any extended period of time, you’d know that the rivalry between former champion Tito Ortiz and UFC President Dana White is as real as it gets.
White was actually Ortiz’s manager before he became the President of the UFC. But when he left Tito’s side to become the real decision-maker for the organization, things quickly blew up between the two former friends.
Ortiz was arguably the most popular fighter in the UFC and thought that he could manipulate White into giving him more money. Dana White and the UFC refused to budge, leading the two parties to begin slinging insults at one another.
Tito actually left the UFC for a brief period of time before returning to the company under the understanding that he would no longer be dealing with Dana, but rather directly with the Fertitta brothers who owned the majority of the company.
In a memorable showing of disrespect, Ortiz wore a t-shirt which read, “DANA WHITE IS MY BITCH” to the weigh-ins.
Tito and Dana have seemingly made up, or at least somewhat made up, on numerous occasions. However there always remains this tension between the two any time that they are in the same room together, particularly in various post-fight press conferences where the media has egged on the rivalry.
White has wanted to get rid of Ortiz for years now and may finally have his opportunity at UFC 132. Ortiz has not actually won a fight for the promotion since 2006 but has been fighting fellow former light heavyweight champions ever since, with the exception of his most recent fight with Matt Hamill.
If Ortiz is unable to defeat Ryan Bader at UFC 132, look for the final nail to be placed in his coffin with the UFC.
To be determined, but Dana White is a lot closer to victory than Tito Ortiz is.
Yes, two Tito Ortiz rivalries in a row...and for good reason.
The rivalry between Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz can be pointed to as one of the most important things to have ever happened in the history of mixed martial arts. Not only did the rivalry bring in the “old school vs. new school” angle, but it was also one of the very first UFC productions to garner mainstream media attention.
It all started at UFC 18 when Ortiz upset Shamrock’s Lion’s Den teammate Jerry Bohlander and then used his fingers to simulate shooting at the members of Bohlander’s corner, including Shamrock.
Things grew even more heated when he did the same thing to Guy Metzger. Among other things, Ortiz flipped off Metzger’s corner which included Ken Shamrock himself. Shamrock angrily jumped onto the side of the cage and began screaming at Ortiz, shaking his finger at him like a father to his disrespectful son.
Ortiz continued to be disrespectful until he was finally able to convince Shamrock to come back to the UFC and fight him for the light heavyweight title at UFC 40.
The fight was a resounding success, nearly tripling the number of pay-per-view buys that the average recent UFC events had pulled in. For a company which was in deep financial despair at the time, the Shamrock-Ortiz feud was a gift from the MMA gods.
Many in the media expected Shamrock to run through a smaller, less experienced Ortiz. Even though he had gone to the WWF to be a pro wrestler for a few years, Shamrock was still widely considered one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet. Needless to say, the MMA community watched on in awe as these two legends faced off at UFC 40.
But the fight didn’t go the way of the old man, as Ortiz used his wrestling and surprising strength to take down and ground-and-pound Shamrock’s face into what resembled a hamburger patty. Mercifully, Shamrock’s corner threw in the towel between the third and fourth rounds, declaring Ortiz the victor by TKO.
After the fight, Shamrock would reveal that he actually fought Ortiz with a torn ACL. This, of course, sparked controversy that perhaps Shamrock would be victorious in a rematch.
Nearly four years later, the two men would meet again in back-to-back fights at UFC 61 and then at the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 3, which they were the two coaches of.
Ortiz crushed Shamrock in the first fight, but Shamrock protested an early stoppage from the referee, leading to the immediate rematch. He was again pummeled by punches from Ortiz and stopped less than half way through the first round.
With the sudden controversy that the UFC may actually be a monopoly in the United States, it makes sense that the No. 1 feud of all time is UFC (Zuffa) vs. The World (of MMA).
Long before there was the UFC, there were various unsanctioned mixed martial arts promotions throughout the world, but none had really done much to establish themselves in the ever-growing United States economy. That is, until the Ultimate Fighting Championship began in 1993.
While the sport was largely marketed as “bare-knuckle cage fighting,” it was Royce Gracie who exposed the American audience to the dominance of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and the concept that the smaller man is not always at a disadvantage.
It took awhile for the UFC to grow out of its small, niche market; when it did, all hell broke lose in the sport of mixed martial arts. When Zuffa purchased the organization in 2001, they came with the idea of making the UFC, essentially, into the WWF of mixed martial arts. By that, I mean that they were looking to brand the name “Ultimate Fighting” as opposed to “mixed martial arts.”
Lorenzo Fertitta was once quoted in Fighters Only magazine as saying, “I'm getting the most valuable thing that I could possibly have, which is those three letters: UFC. That is what's going to make this thing work. Everybody knows that brand, whether they like it or they don't like it, they react to it.”
As other organizations grew around them, it was the Zuffa-owned UFC product which reigned supreme. The creation of the reality television show The Ultimate Fighter, combined with the epic war between finalists Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar can largely be credited with the explosion of the UFC brand.
Even while Pride rostered the consensus No. 1 fighter in the world in Fedor Emelianenko, the UFC was the organization which steadily grew, eventually purchasing Pride outright in March 2007.
Other organizations including EliteXC, Affliction, the IFL, and now Strikeforce and Bellator have all failed to break into the American market created by Zuffa. EliteXC, Affliction and the IFL are all now defunct while Strikeforce has now also been purchased by Zuffa.
As it stands right now, Bellator Fighting Championships is the only American mixed martial arts promotion which can even say that it is somewhat in competition with the UFC. Meanwhile, the promotions overseas such as K-1 and Dream are having problems keeping their own doors open for business.
By hook or by crook, the UFC has crushed all competition. The UFC is mixed mixed martial arts.