Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor and the 5 Most Anticipated Rematches in UFC History
Days before Nate Diaz steps into the Octagon again with Conor McGregor, the furor around their rematch has reached a fever pitch. From Diaz's self-assured quips about how McGregor "got his ass beat" to McGregor's extensive talk of the apparently equally extensive changes in his training camp, the bravado came to a head on Wednesday when a press conference erupted (NSFW language) into a beverage-throwing melee and ended early.
With Diaz and McGregor headlining, UFC 202 features one of the biggest rematches in the promotion's history.
Diaz threw a big wrench into McGregor's meteoric rise when he choked the featherweight champion to a tap in their welterweight bout in March. It was McGregor's first loss in the UFC, bringing his 15-fight winning streak to a stunning end.
On the eve of their rematch, we revisit five of the most exciting rematches in UFC history.
There are so many excellent rematches throughout the promotion's 23-year history that we can't include them all. In this slideshow, we present five of the best, but that is by no means all of them.
Other exceptional rematches:
Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua
Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz
Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock (trilogy)
Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Serra
Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin
Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos (trilogy)
Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber (trilogy)
Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes
Lyoto Machida vs. Shogun Rua
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha
Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard (trilogy)
Robbie Lawler vs. Johny Hendricks
Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate
While the rematch took place in the UFC, Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate first met under the Strikeforce banner. Rousey, in her bantamweight debut, dethroned reigning champion Tate via famous first-round armbar in March 2012.
In the time between their meetings, an animosity that was simmering even before their first fight boiled over when Tate replaced Cat Zingano as the coach opposite Rousey for The Ultimate Fighter. The season was filled with trash talking, pranks and Rousey beating Tate (NSFW language) in a wall-climbing competition, which she capped off with "F--k you, b----h!" and a flip of the middle finger while still suspended in the harness.
They next met in December 2013 in the Octagon. It was the second fight in the UFC for both; Rousey introduced women into the promotion when she fought Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 and Tate fought Zingano at The Ultimate Fighter 17 finale.
In the rematch, Tate became the first fighter to ever take Rousey beyond the first round. She avoided submissions for two full rounds before Rousey submitted her again via armbar at 58 seconds into the third.
Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir
When professional wrestling star Brock Lesnar made his MMA debut in June 2007, it was only a matter of time until he signed with the UFC. With his name recognition, where else was there to go in MMA? So it was in his second MMA bout ever that he made his UFC debut, to none other than Frank Mir, who had 11 fights under his belt with the promotion by that time.
It ended quickly; at just 90 seconds into the first round, Mir landed a kneebar, making short work of Lesnar's debut. But Lesnar, being the celebrity he was, got a title shot for his third fight in the UFC, after defeating Heath Herring via decision in his second. He won the belt with a TKO of Randy Couture just over three minutes in the second frame of the fight.
By the time they met again, 17 months later after their first matchup, Mir was the interim heavyweight champion. It took Lesnar six minutes, 48 seconds in the unification bout to stop Mir with punches.
Lesnar went on to defend his title once more against Shane Carwin before losing it to Cain Velasquez via TKO in Round 1 at UFC 121.
Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Hughes
When an unbeaten Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes faced each other in the Octagon for the first time, it was St. Pierre's third fight in the UFC and eighth overall. Hughes, on the other hand, was already firmly established with a whopping 40 fights under his belt, only four of which were losses.
Their first fight in October 2004 was for the vacant welterweight championship; with an armbar in the last seconds of Round 1, Hughes took the title and served St. Pierre his first loss.
Over the next two years, St. Pierre racked up five wins in five fights, including a submission on Frank Trigg and a split decision over BJ Penn. Hughes won his next four, one of which was also Penn, along with MMA and Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Royce Gracie. Hughes won both by TKO.
It was November 2006 that they met again in the cage. This time, St. Pierre nearly stopped the fight at the end of the first with a Superman punch, but the bell rang before he could. Less than 90 seconds into the second round, St. Pierre landed a head kick that dropped Hughes. Following up with punches and elbows on the downed Hughes, referee John McCarthy stopped the fight at 1:25 of Round 2.
Their third meeting at UFC 79 in December 2007 saw a dominant St. Pierre stuffing Hughes's takedown attempts and out-wrestling the All-American. In an echo of their first fight, St. Pierre finished with an armbar after transitioning from a kimura attempt at 4:54 of Round 2.
Hughes retired from MMA in early 2013. In late 2013, St. Pierre went on an indefinite hiatus from fighting.
Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture
When reigning champion Tito Ortiz refused to defend his light heavyweight title, the UFC created an interim belt and brought Randy Couture down from heavyweight to face Chuck Liddell.
In early June 2003, just days before his 40th birthday, heavy underdog Couture surprised nearly everyone when he dominated the fight, ultimately getting a TKO stoppage at 2:39 of Round 3. It was Liddell's second loss ever, his first in the UFC and ended a 10-fight winning streak. The victory also meant Couture was the first MMA fighter to ever hold professional titles in two weight classes.
After Couture unified the belt by beating Ortiz, lost it to Vitor Belfort and then won it back, he met with Liddell again in April 2005. During the opening two minutes of the first frame, the fight was competitive until Couture claimed Liddell accidentally poked him in the eye.
After a brief examination, Couture received the OK to continue and rushed Liddell, a choice that saw him dropped with a right. Liddell followed with hammerfists until the referee stopped the fight at 2:06 of the first round. Liddell was the new light heavyweight champion.
Before their third and final meeting, both fighters fought and won on the same card at UFC 54. Liddell defended his title against Jeremy Horn, winning via TKO in the third round, while Couture stopped Mike Van Arsdale with an anaconda choke.
In the final installment of their trilogy at UFC 57 in February 2006, Couture cited his anger at the eye poke for the restlessness that got him TKO'd. The first round remained relatively even and on the feet until Couture scored two takedowns on the champ toward the end, earning him the frame.
In the second, the fight was progressing much as it had in the first until Couture lost his balance while throwing a right, allowing Liddell to dodge and counter with a right hook that dropped Couture to his knees. As in their second fight, Liddell descended on Couture with strikes until the referee called the stoppage a minute and 28 seconds in.
Immediately following the loss, Couture announced his retirement, although he would return 13 months later to fight Tim Sylvia. He ultimately retired at age 47 after losing to Lyoto Machida in 2011 with a final record of 19-11. Liddell fought for four more years before retiring in 2010 with a record of 21-8.
Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald
Rory MacDonald had only lost once prior to facing Robbie Lawler at UFC 167 in November 2013, and it was at the hands of Carlos Condit in his second fight in the UFC. He boasted a record of 16-1 going into the fight to Lawler's 21-9-1, with wins over Nate Diaz and BJ Penn.
With Lawler's patchy record over the prior three years and MacDonald's dominance at such a young age, Lawler was a considerable underdog. He took the split decision after a three-round brawl, and it put him back on the radar as a contender.
Lawler next fought for the vacant welterweight title, losing a unanimous decision to Johny Hendricks. The bout won Fight of the Night, the first for Lawler. After scoring a TKO on Jake Ellenberger and a decision over Matt Brown, Lawler fought Hendricks again, this time winning the title via split decision.
In the meantime, MacDonald continued besting some of the most successful fighters in MMA. He took unanimous-decision wins over Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Demian Maia and current champ Tyron Woodley and stopped former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine via TKO.
MacDonald was the obvious contender, and with his loss to Lawler coming via split decision, the anticipation going into the rematch was great. The fight, which took place at UFC 189 in July 2015, didn't disappoint. After four bloody, vicious rounds, Lawler finally stopped the fight at one minute into the fifth and ultimately took Fight of the Night honors. According to UFC President Dana White, per Sherdog, MacDonald didn't know what year it was directly following the fight.
Lawler's first title defense was immediately hailed as one of the best welterweight fights of all time by fans and White and earned Sherdog's 2015 Fight of the Year award. Lawler would defend his title once more, against Carlos Condit, before losing via KO to Tyron Woodley at UFC 201 in July.
MacDonald has fought once more since his bid for title, losing a unanimous decision to Stephen Thompson.