UFC: The 5 Greatest Staredowns in UFC History
The staredown offers a glimpse into the minds of two fighters who are about to compete inside the cage.
It gives us a chance to assess where they are at mentally and gauge the authenticity of their rivalry, and, just occasionally, it functions as a preview of what’s to come.
This list celebrates those staredowns that had you rubbing your mitts together in anticipation.
Before you proceed and prepare to complain, go in armed with the knowledge that no fighter is featured more than once.
In compiling the list, I realised that I could put together a top 25 just with the fights of Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida.
That would get a little boring, though.
That being said, feel free to offer your own suggestions in the comments section. You can include as many Sanchez and Guida staredowns as your heart desires.
Without further delay, read on for the top five staredowns in UFC history.
5. UFC 126: Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort
Prior to his fight with Vitor Belfort at UFC 126, Anderson Silva had always remained fairly calm and respectful at weigh-ins.
However, when Belfort suggested that the then UFC middleweight king was, well, less than genuine, things were bound to get a little heated between the former training partners.
Strolling over to his foe for the customary pre-fight faceoff, “The Spider” donned a white mask that must have had Andrew Lloyd Webber mulling over a copyright suit.
The pair then went nose to nose before Silva slipped off the mask and exchanged some choice words for the next 20 seconds.
I don’t think they were swapping cupcake recipes.
4. UFC 137: BJ Penn vs. Nick Diaz
Nick Diaz and BJ Penn used to like each other, but you probably weren't able to discern that from the UFC 137 weigh-in.
Then again, given that maintaining a positive relationship with Diaz must be like negotiating your way through a minefield, was it really a surprise when the pair didn’t brofist and share a man hug?
After both had successfully made weight, “The Prodigy” strode over purposefully for the faceoff. Unfortunately, he got a little too close to Diaz.
When I say “he got a little too close,” what I really mean is that Penn didn’t remain at least two metres away from Nick at all times.
Reacting to the perceived slight, Stockton’s favourite son shoved his forehead into Penn’s face, and a head-wrestling match ensued.
Had they been wearing Rudolph hats, one could have been forgiven for thinking that UFC 137 was being headlined by a pair of elk.
Arguably even more intense was the start of the third round of their fight.
Traditionally, fighters are supposed to remain in their respective corners until the referee gives the go-ahead.
They weren’t interested in maintaining tradition that night.
Penn and Diaz walked straight to the centre of the cage and locked eyes, while the referee did everything in his power to keep them apart.
He barely succeeded.
3. UFC 127: Michael Bisping vs. Jorge Rivera
We knew that Michael Bisping probably wasn’t going to wait until fight night to get in Jorge Rivera’s face.
In the lead-up to their UFC 127 bout, Rivera and his boxing coach Matt Phinney had mocked Bisping tirelessly.
When the two came face to face at the weigh-in, it didn’t take long for the Brit to lose his cool. Before they could complete the faceoff, Bisping began yelling obscenities and threatening his antagonist.
If people had doubted that this rivalry was for real, Bisping dispelled those doubts the next evening when he hit Rivera with an illegal knee and then, after the fight, spat at Phinney in the corner.
All good fun.
2. UFC 52: Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II
Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg have never liked each other.
Despite besting Trigg with a standing rear-naked choke at UFC 45, Hughes’ disdain for the ill-monikered “Twinkle Toes” simmered.
When the rivals met inside the cage for the rematch at UFC 52, Trigg decided to toss some C-4 on the fire by seemingly attempting to make out with the relentlessly masculine welterweight champ.
Hughes didn’t appreciate his foe’s antics and shoved him back into the corner. Undeterred, Trigg blew a kiss in response.
Unsurprisingly, Hughes didn’t reach out and catch it.
He choked out Trigg instead.
1. The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale: Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida
We knew going into this fight that the staredown between this pair would be worth the price of admission.
It’s perhaps an exaggeration to say that Sanchez and Guida are as revered for their mean mugs as they are for their accomplishments, but it isn’t that far from the truth.
When the two gents met in the centre of the cage, they contorted their faces in a fashion that would have guaranteed first and second place at The World Gurning Championships.
Rumours circulated later that children who caught their gaze had turned to stone and are now being used as gargoyles.
What's more, the staredown accurately reflected each fighter's emotions. This wasn't a show of bravado for the cameras.
From the first bell, they sprinted at each other and started swinging for the fences.
If only all staredowns were so genuine.