UFC: Top 10 Teammate vs. Teammate Fights
"It’s one of the things it has to be done. It’s the UFC. It’s the big show. You can’t deny people their dreams. Carlos really wants the title; Georges really wants to keep it. They should have a great fight."
These are comments made by Greg Jackson in a September 13 interview with Bleacher Report regarding the upcoming fight between teammates Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Title. While it's clear Jackson isn't fond of his fighters facing each other, he at least recognizes that fighters should at least have the right to go after their dreams.
At UFC 137, Carlos Condit will do just that. After defeating highly-regarded fighters Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald and Dong Hyun Kim—the former WEC Welterweight Champion earned a shot against St. Pierre. He instead drew BJ Penn. However, after yet another career mistake by Nick Diaz, Condit was given the opportunity to fight his fellow teammate and jumped at it, according to a MMA Weekly Radio interview in July.
"I’m not going to sit here and say that it’s not going to be tough to fight someone who I consider a friend and a teammate, cause it is. But we’re here to become champions, right? We’re not here to make friends."
Condit's comments are exactly the comments you often hear from MMA fans regarding teammates that refuse to fight. The fans want to see the best fights possible. Too many times, fighters in the same camp have decided to refuse to fight their teammates, leaving questions unanswered.
This article gives you the top 10 fights we'd all love to see between teammates, that unfortunately, we may just never get to see…
10. Diego Nunes vs. Jose Aldo: Featherweights: Team: Black House
Diego Nunes is widely considered a top-10 featherweight in the world. Unfortunately for him, his Black House teammate, Jose Aldo is the king of the division.
While Aldo has been clearing out the division (so much so, that Dana White has publicly said he'd like to have Aldo vs Edgar sooner than later), he still has a few challengers left. If he's able to get by Chad Mendes, and maybe a future fight with up-and-coming Erik Koch, would a Nunes versus Aldo fight be out of the question?
Black House fighters in the past have been known to refuse fights with fighters within their camp. Would Diego Nunes pass up the opportunity to fight Aldo, even for the Featherweight Title?
Nunes biggest strengths are his kickboxing and jiu jitsu background. Take into account that he already trains with Aldo, and understands his fighting style better than any of his other opponents, and it could make for an exciting fight.
Aldo has never really been battle tested on the ground. Maybe Diego Nunes could be the first guy to really test the theory that Aldo "is better off his back than on his feet" as it's been said many times before. We may never know.
9. Gilbert Melendez vs. Nate Diaz: Lightweight: Team: Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Nate Diaz's short lived welterweight experiment didn't come off as successfully as he had hoped. After back-to-back losses to Dong Hyun Kim and Rory MacDonald, he returned back to the lightweight division, a place he's a little more familiar with and a place he's better suited for.
In his return fight against former Pride Lightweight Champion, Takanori Gomi, Diaz may have looked the best he's looked in his any of his professional fights. It's quite obvious this top-level jiu jitsu black belt belongs at 155. A deep division where he hopes to have success, get his career back on path and hope to finally win a title.
Standing in his way is teammate, and current Strikeforce champion, Gilbert Melendez. Melendez is a top-five lightweight in the world, and considered by many, to be only No. 2 behind current UFC Lightweight Champion, Frankie Edgar. If he's able to pick up a win over upcoming opponent Jorge Masvidal, it's only a matter of time before he's seen challenging for the UFC Lightweight title.
If Diaz were able to put together a string of wins over some top-level competition and get himself in line for title consideration, would he need to face Melendez to pick up that big "Diaz" payday? (patent pending) Would Melendez even be willing to fight his teammate, if Diaz were the challenger?
While this could be one of the best grappling matches at 155, and a definite fight that would have Submission Of The Year favorite written all over it before the fight even began, it's probably yet another fight we'll never get to see.
8. Donald Cerrone vs. Clay Guida: Lightweight: Team: Jackson MMA
Two more in the extremely deep lightweight division, this time from Greg Jackson's camp.
Clay Guida is on the cusp of a lightweight title match, and if he's able to defeat Ben Henderson, he may finally get his shot. A fighter with the reputation of being relentless in the cage, he is a tough matchup style wise for anyone he faces.
Guida may have the best gas-tank in the world of MMA and loves to push forward. He's got a great chin and is one of the best wrestlers in the division. The Carpenter always comes with a game plan and does his homework on his opponent. If it means grinding you out for three rounds to achieve victory, it's what he'll do.
Donald Cerrone on the other hand, is out to finish fights. He's said it countless times, and he'll never deny it. He always puts on exciting fights and is a true warrior in the cage. You can often hear announcers comparing Cerrone to the Terminator in his fights, because no matter what you hit him with, he just keeps coming.
Guida and Cerrone have nine—count them NINE fight of the night honors under their belt combined. These two warriors are out of put on an exciting fight as soon as the cage door locks. Their styles mesh perfectly for what would be another Fight Of the Night candidate.
While both can, and have, slugged it out on their feet, it may come down to who's better on the ground. Would Guida's wrestling style out-last the jiu-jitsu background of Cerrone?
Hopefully, it's a fight we all get to see down the road. It would be an absolute treat.
7. Nick Diaz vs. Jake Shields: Welterweight: Team: Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Yet, another fight out of the Cesar Gracie jiu-jitsu camp could possibly pit Jake Shields against good friend and training partner Nick Diaz.
While Jake Shields received his title shot and came out on the losing end of a decision to current champion, Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz ruined his opportunity at the welterweight champion by being—well—Nick Diaz—both of these teammates are still top 10 Welterweight contenders and could earn a title shot sometime down the line.
This is a fight where Shields would be much more comfortable on the ground, while Diaz would try to out-box him. It's been proven that Shields's stand up game isn't nearly as strong as his ground game, and Diaz would know that more than any other fighter. He could expose his lack of standup defense more than Dan Henderson did, and it could work to his advantage.
If this fight were to go to the ground, we'd be in for a grapplers dream fight. While many would give the edge to Shields, Diaz's could make things interesting enough to be three rounds of a submission clinic. Something we don't often get to see these days.
Most of the fights on this list won't ever happen. This is a fight I honestly could see due to Diaz's willingness to fight anyone if there is enough money on the table. In this case, his greediness would be for the good of MMA for a change. Go figure.
6. Dan Henderson vs. Chael Sonnen: Middleweight: Team: Team Quest
Dan Henderson is familiar with the middleweight division and is easily able to cut to fight there again. Coming off arguably the biggest win of his career against Fedor Emilianenko, there are rumors that Hendo is on route back to the UFC, hoping to fight for both ZUFFA companies.
Henderson, already knocking off one legend, could try his chance at another before he decides to hang it up. A shot of redeeming his loss to Anderson Silva, he may need to go through teammate Chael Sonnen.
Sonnen is the man that gave Silva his biggest test thus far in the UFC and is aiming for a rematch. If he takes another loss to Spider, he's said he will leave the UFC forever. Personally, I'd rather see Sonnen take on some new comers. Who better than his teammate, Dan Henderson?
These are two of the best wrestlers in the MMA world. It'd be great to see Henderson and Sonnen testing each other in a three (or even five) round fight. Who gets the best of their shoots on the other? Who can time and stuff the others attempts?
Standing, Henderson takes the power advantage and is a better pure striker than Sonnen. Chael would need to take him down, which is no easy task. There, he'd have to impose his will a bit more than he has in the past. Hendo has had problems recently getting off his back, especially in the Shields fight. This would be the best chance for Chael to pick up the victory.
If Chael were to lose to Silva in a rematch and want any chance to get back into any title contention, this could be the way to get back on Joe Silva and Dana White's good-side and show he's devoted to fight anyone at any time.
5. Urijah Faber vs. Joseph Benavidez: Bantamweight: Team: Team Alpha Male
Two of the most exciting bantamweights in MMA today, both on the same team.
Joseph Benavidez may be better suited for the future Flyweight Division, but that doesn't mean he can't at the very least hold his own against current Bantamweights. He has gone the distance twice against champion Dominic Cruz, one of which ended in a controversial split decision. Benavidez is an exciting fighter that pushes forward and comes at awkward angles. He's a great wrestler that is next to impossible to keep on the mat.
What makes this fight even more exciting to fans, is that Benavidez is basically a clone of Urijah Faber. Faber has great submission defense, comes at you at awkward angles, is a great wrestler and is also nearly impossible to put down and hold down.
This match would be best compared to a speed chess match. Both competitors can go non stop and push the action. You wouldn't be able to blink, as you may miss the action. This would be one guy waiting for the other to make a mistake. On the feet, or on the ground, both would be extremely active. Neither would be content with just a decision, as they would try to finish at all times. Whoever can get the take down, is going to be actively relentless, as seen in the past.
You would certainly need to make this a main event on any card, just so it can be a potential five-round fight. This could easily be a Fight Of The Year candidate if it were to happen. Sadly, the chances are very slim.
4. Junior Dos Santos vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: Heavyweight: Team: Black Ho
Another Black House camp fight. The classic striker vs. grappler fight.
While Big Nog has proven he is able to stand and box with his opponent, as seen in the Brendan Schaub fight, he'd be better suited taking this fight to the ground, where he's more comfortable. He's world renown for his jiu-jitsu skills, it's his strength. He would have to use this to his advantage.
Junior dos Santos is known as one of the best pure strikers in MMA today. Dos Santos is dangerous on his feet and can end any fight, at any time, with a single blow.
A power striker like Junior, versus a jiu-jitsu specialist like Big Nog, has the potential for so many different outcomes.
Dos Santos's game plan is simple. Use what he's learned from working with so many great jiu-jitsu practitioners and keep the fight on the feet. Use his elusiveness and power to keep Nog away from him. Dos Santos would have to scrap any leg checks, if one gets caught, the fight could easily end up on the ground aka Big Nog's world.
Nogueira would definitely be looking to shoot a lot or even clinch and pull guard. The danger with this, is eating a lot of shots, strong shots, from Junior in order to get close. Even if he's to pull guard, we've seen what Dos Santos can do from any top position.
In order for Nog to win this fight, he has to get it to the ground, stay active, find an opening and take it for a submission. If he misses even one opportunity, it could be lights out. Either way, this is a fight fans would love to see. Again, sadly, Black House is notorious for not wanting to fight a teammate within their own camp, and with the relationship Junior and Nogueira have, I don't see it happening at all.
3. Jon Fitch vs Josh Koscheck: Welterweight: Team: American Kickboxing Academy
Simply put—this is a fight that unfortunately will never happen. All fighters from AKA have publicly stated they will never fight each other. They've even received criticism for this from Dana White himself because of the talent they possess in the welterweight divison. Between the lately absent Mike Swick, Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck, they could potentially have three guys as viable title contenders.
The fight that makes the most sense is Fitch versus Koscheck. Wrestler versus wrestler. The question is, who's the better wrestler? (confusing, right?)
Many say Josh Koscheck is the best pure wrestler in MMA today, and I'd be hard-pressed to disagree. The ever-improving Koscheck has grown from just another wrestler to a very good all around talent, right before our very eyes. He may very well be the most improved fighter we've ever seen. Would his hard work be enough to get by teammate and training partner, Jon Fitch?
This fight would be very similar to the Henderson versus Sonnen matchup. Koscheck has the advantage on the feet and and wrestling, but Fitch's take-down defense and submission defense may be a bit better.
Fitch also has a rock-solid chin as seen in several fights (most notably against GSP) and can eat enough shots from Kos to at least attempt to take him down the ground to try to finish him. Kos has a top level sprawl and may be able to keep balance, but Fitch's size may be too much to stay up. I see this being a decision-type fight, going all the rounds, but it could be a nice wrestler versus wrestler matchup between two of the very best.
While it'll never happen, both men have had their shot at St-Pierre, Kos getting him twice. If he ever wants to get one more shot, this is the type of fight White and Silva could use as leverage. You fight your teammate—winner gets back into contention. Koscheck has considered a move to middleweight, but before that happens, fans would love to see the "What if…" between these two.
2. Georges St-Pierre vs. Rory MacDonald: Welterweight: Team: Tristar Gym
It's been said that Rory MacDonald is the second coming of Georges St-Pierre. They draw so many comparisons to each other—why not have a battle between the two? The age-old teacher versus student fight.
MacDonald's growing popularity could land him a title fight sooner than later. While this fight might be a year down the road, it's something that every fan would love to see. Rory MacDonald fights enough like GSP…can he out GSP, GSP? (what?)
St-Pierre has turned into arguably the best overall fighter in the world today. While no one has been able to find a flaw in his game since the Serra knockout, maybe it's MacDonald, his pupil, that knows something we don't.
At 22 years old, MacDonald is very young and has a long career ahead of him. Although, if he gets by upcoming opponent Brian Ebersole, and St-Pierre gets by Carlos Condit, you may very well see MacDonald get a chance to redeem his only loss. If he's able to do so, there really shouldn't be much keeping him from a title shot.
If, at that time, St-Pierre still has the title, it's a fight we'd all love to see. The future vs. the present. Many are claiming that MacDonald may end up being better than St-Pierre. He needs to prove that first. As the old saying goes —"In order to be the man, you have to beat the man." This could be a dream match of the ages.
1. Lyoto Machida vs. Anderson Silva: Light Heavyweight - Team: Black House
They're known as two of the most dangerous strikers, the MMA world has ever seen. Elusive, quick—these two can knock you out from any position, and you won't even know what hit you.
It's been said many times this fight will never happen. Many called for the dream match during Machida's title reign, and both Lyoto and Silva said on a number of occasions that they have no desire to fight each other—but the MMA world can still dream, can't they?
While fans and critics alike will always be harsh on guys that enjoy to counter punch and wait for their opponents to make a mistake, these two are the best in the business at it. They're patient, just waiting to strike, and when they do, they're deadly. Just ask the many opponents they've put down.
Rashad Evans, Shogun, Randy Couture, Thiago Silva, Forrest Griffin, Yushin Okami, Vitor Belfort, Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt, Chris Leben. Do I really need to continue? These two have stopped the very best their divisions have to offer, and in some cases, made it look easier than it should have.
There may not be a better potential stand-up battle in MMA than the Spider vs. The Dragon. This fight basically speaks for itself. Two of the best strikers in this history of mixed martial arts, feeling each other out and pouncing when ready.
They say these two are best pals, which saddens MMA fans that would love to watch the dream match. While there is still a possibility of Silva versus Jon Jones and Silva vs. Georges St-Pierre…fans would still love to see Machida vs. Silva, and it may end up being the best fight of the three.
While there is a zero percent chance of this fight happening, who knows. Maybe someone can stir up some controversy, and they end up in a Jones/Rashad situation. I'm not holding my breath, but maybe…just maybe.
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